Do Tortoises Yawn? (Yes. Now Find out Why?)

Tortoises are tranquil animals that are just starting to gain a reputation as wonderful exotic pets.

Commonly, you can find them in animal sanctuaries or zoos.

One of the interesting questions that you may have in mind about tortoises is whether they yawn or not, just like other animals.

So, are they yawning? If yes, what are the reasons why they yawn?

Do Tortoises Yawn?

Yes. Turtles yawn by opening their mouth as wide as they can.

Tortoises are charming animals that behave almost just the same as other reptiles.

They are yet to be numerous in your neighborhood as they are not the typical domesticated animals we used to take care of in our homes.

With the limited encounter with tortoises, most people are not familiar with their personality and behavior.

Exotic pet enthusiasts are the ones who usually get tortoises as they are knowledgeable of their needs.

If you are a new tortoise owner, you want to know all of it, for sure!

One of your questions might be whether tortoises yawn or not.

The answer is yes; tortoises do yawn! Just like other animals, they yawn by opening their mouths.


What Does It Mean When A Tortoise Opens Its Mouth?

When a tortoise opens its mouth, it could either be yawning or having some health-related concerns.

Generally, opening a mouth among humans means trying to talk.

As for tortoises and all other animals, it could be a way of communication too!

Some animals are making sounds with their mouths open which are their ways to express their feelings.

Opening the mouth can also mean yawning. Humans and animals like tortoises are yawning by opening their mouths.

However, a tortoise opening its mouth may simply not want to yawn. It may be a sign of some serious health issue in the mouth, throat, or respiratory system.

Why Do Tortoises Yawn?

Tortoises yawn because of the hot temperature, insufficient oxygen level, overfatigue, and to work out their airways.

Tortoises are yawning for the same reasons as humans and other animals, which are all based on recent studies.

The first cause of the yawns of tortoises is the hot temperature.

Just like humans, you may see your tortoises usually yawning when they are in a warm environment.

That is the reason why you can notice them doing such behavior when they are basking under the sun or under the heat lamp inside their enclosure.

Temperature is very essential for tortoises since they are reptiles. Reptiles are cold-blooded creatures so they need to ensure they are getting enough heat to maintain their wellness.

Another reason why tortoises yawn is due to the insufficient supply of oxygen.

Most of the belief is that yawning allows humans’ brains to get more oxygen whenever there is a shortage. This benefit is assumed to be similar to tortoises’ yawning too!

According to studies, yawning is a helpful way to cool down the brain by transporting the needed oxygen to cool the bloodstream.

Tortoises are yawning also due to much exhaustion.

Tortoises may be slow in motion, but this does not mean that they are not getting tired. Being slow does not mean being lazy in their case!

Tortoises can actually be playful and curious. They simply love to look around their enclosure.

Once they get tired, you could see them yawning.

Getting exhausted does not simply mean physically, rather mentally as well.

If your tortoises are not comfortable with their environment, they could be stressed. To prevent this, you must ensure to provide them a well-maintained and relaxing enclosure.

Your tortoises might be experiencing vitamin deficiency as well so it is important to provide them with a nutritious diet.

Lastly, tortoises are yawning to exercise their airways.

According to some research, yawning is a great way to work out airways which is important to ensure these are working properly with no kind of blockage.

Yawning then will make sure that the breathing muscles of tortoises are in excellent form.

Do Tortoises Make Noise When They Yawn?

No. Tortoises are not making any noise when they yawn.

Basically, when tortoises yawn, they will just open their mouth as wide as they can.

They will be pulling or lifting their heads as well.

There will be no sound coming out of their mouth while yawning so you will not know they are doing such unless you are watching them.

Is It Normal For A Tortoise To Yawn or Should You Be Worried?

Yes. It is normal for a tortoise to yawn as it is its way to make itself feel better and cope with its environment.

Tortoises are adaptive creatures that have been living for thousands of years already.

Without their effective survival characteristics, they will not be living up to this moment.

Just like other animals, their bodies are crafted to survive no matter what.

Yawning is like a survival tactic for them.

They yawn to effectively adapt to an environment they are not comfortable with.

Basically, they yawn if they are tired, feeling hot, or experiencing a decrease in oxygen.

They yawn to make themselves feel fine again after experiencing a situation that is not very suitable for them.

Why Do Tortoises Yawn A Lot?

Your tortoise mabe yawn a lot as it might be terribly sick, needing some immediate medical attention.

It is normal for tortoises to yawn occasionally as it is a natural action needed to do for adaptation.

However, if you notice your tortoise is yawning too much than usual, then you should be more observant of its behaviors.

It will surely concern you if your pet is doing something you are not used to.

Too much yawning can be a sign of various health issues such as mouth and throat diseases, likewise, an upper respiratory infection.

Your tortoise might look yawning, but in reality, it might be feeling pain.

Too much opening of the mouth can be mistaken for mouth infections or mouth rot.

Tortoises are very prone to viral infections. They can still acquire these infections, which can soon lead to mouth diseases and pneumonia, despite having a clean environment.

Likewise, your tortoise might have a respiratory tract infection if it is continuously opening its mouth.

If your tortoise has this disease, it will open its mouth due to breathing problems. Tortoises are not breathing through their mouth so opening it can mean their nose is blocked.

Opening their mouth can be helpful to put pressure off their nose, trying to remove whatever is blocking.

A respiratory infection is caused by vitamin deficiency, specifically, Vitamin A. Respiratory infection can also cause your tortoise to sneeze, loss of appetite, low energy, and mucus in the nose, eyes, and mouth.

To cure such an illness, you should seek your veterinarian’s advice for medications and a nutritious diet.

To prevent vitamin deficiency, you should feed your tortoise with quality pellets, leafy greens, and small insects for supplemental protein.

It is important to always consider bringing your tortoise to a reptile veterinarian if you feel something is wrong with it.

Are Baby Tortoises Yawning?

Yes. Baby tortoises are yawning too.

Just like the grown-ups, the cute baby tortoises are gaping as well.

Caring for these babies is much harder than the adult ones as they need more attention.

Baby tortoises are highly vulnerable since they are not yet fully developed. They can get sick easily so you need to make sure that they have all they need in their enclosures.

You can notice that baby tortoises yawn more often than adult ones as they are not yet as strong as them.

Yawning is a great way to exercise these babies’ airways which is important for their breathing.

Likewise, yawning can mean they are exhausted already or feeling too hot.

Temperature is very important to these little ones since they are cold-blooded creatures. They need to maintain their temperature to prevent sickness.

Be sure to put a light and heat lamp on their home so they do their basking ritual. This will help them to grow faster and healthier.

Do Russian Tortoises Yawn?

Yes, Russian tortoises do yawn.

Just like other tortoises, the Russian tortoise is yawning too!

This is one of the most popular pet tortoises.

With their small size, they are not hard to keep as they do not need a huge space.

They are very active compared to other tortoises and can be feisty too.

Yawning will make sure that their breathing muscles are in good form and working excellent.

With too much activeness and energy, they can be easily exhausted. Too much tiredness is a reason for yawning.

If a Russian tortoise is feeling exposed to a high temperature, you will notice it yawning as it can help it to cool down.

Do Sulcata Tortoises Yawn?

Yes. Sulcata tortoises do yawn.

Sulcata tortoises are one of the top pick tortoises if you are planning to get one.

It is known for its unique personality of being fun, active, and curious.

It is growing quite big with a brown shell and large scales.

Since it originated from the deserts of Africa, it is used to living in very hot places.

One of the reasons for yawning is being exposed to a high temperature. Since Sulcata tortoises prefer to live in hot places, they will yawn to regulate their body temperature, for sure!

In captivity, Sulcata tortoises require 85 degrees to 95 degrees temperature during the daytime. As for their basking area, it should be at least 100 degrees.


McLeod, L. (2021, June 30). A guide to caring for Sulcata tortoises as pets. The Spruce Pets.

Tasker, A. (2011, October 6). Is yawning among tortoises contagious? BBC News.