Why Did My Turtle Die?

No matter what kind of pet a person decides to get, they are signing up for a lifetime commitment. And sometimes that commitment can come to an end suddenly. Whether you own a dog, cat, horse, rabbit, or turtle, having your companion die can be devastating, especially if it is not expected.

When this unfortunate and inevitable time eventually comes, you might have a few questions. How did your turtle die? How can you keep turtles healthy? And what are you supposed to do when your turtle dies?

Why did my turtle die?

The main reason turtles die is because of drowning, improper diet, poor habitat setup, untreated medical conditions, and old age.

Drowning: If you own a turtle, it is important to know whether it is a semi-aquatic turtle or a land turtle. Land turtles are unable to swim, and can easily drown if they are submerged in water with no quick and easy way out. Semi-aquatic turtles, while able to swim, are also susceptible to drowning if they have no access to land.

Incorrect feeding: While many people assume that all turtles need to eat the same thing and have the same amount of food, this isn’t correct. Some turtles are herbivores while others can eat small amounts of meat matter. If you are incorrectly feeding your turtle, you could potentially be harming your turtle by not giving it the correct nutrients it needs to survive. To learn more, check out my article on how much to feed a pet turtle.

Improper habitat setup: Setting up the perfect habitat for any animal is an essential part of deciding to bring one into your home. This goes for turtles, too, and can be one of the hardest parts of owning a turtle. Not only do you have to make sure you have the right amount of water and land, but you also have to keep the entire habitat heated and clean! Additionally, most turtles require a basking setup that has access to UVA and UVB light.

If your tank water is too cloudy for too long, it can eventually kill your turtle. Learn some good tips in my video below on how to fix cloudy water.

Untreated medical conditions: If you have an improper habitat set up for your turtle, it may develop some health conditions down the road such as shell rot, respiratory infections, and even more. These can be due to unclean and unheated water. For this reason, it is always important to do a daily checkup on your turtle to make sure they are healthy. The sooner you spot a change in behavior or health condition, the easier it is to treat it. If you notice your turtle’s shell is white, you should take them to the vet. Respiratory infection is a common illness in turtles that can cause death. The turtle below has a respiratory illness.

5. Old age: If a turtle is very well taken care of, it can live around 30 to 50 years! When a turtle surpasses 30, a turtle will start to grow tired and exhibit symptoms of old age. You should be proud that your turtle was able to make it to this old age before passing.

How can you keep a turtle healthy?

Now that you know all the ways a turtle can die, it can seem pretty daunting to try and keep one alive. There are a few key things that you can do to ensure that you are doing everything you can to keep your turtle friend happy and healthy.

  1. Proper tank size: Every kind of turtle requires a certain type of tank and environment. This being said, every breed of turtle is going to need a good amount of space to be as happy and healthy as it can be. Make sure you are doing the necessary research about the specific breed of turtle you want to own, and understand how much space in they will need to live a happy, healthy life. For a guide on tank size, check out my guide on pet turtle tanks.
  2. Proper tank setup and care: Having the right size tank is just the beginning when it comes to keeping your turtle happy. You also have to make sure that you set it up properly and keep it as clean as you can! Some turtles are land-dwelling only, and will only need water for drinking. On the other hand, semi-aquatic turtles need to have plenty of safe water to swim in along with some land spots for basking. You will also need to make sure that you keep the entire enclosure clean and heated to the proper temperature.
  3. Take your turtle to the vet when needed: One of the biggest causes for a turtle dying is when their owner doesn’t take them to a vet when the turtle is suffering from a medical condition. More often than not, any health condition that a turtle develops is easy to spot and will get worse over time. When left to its own devices, a turtle may end up dying instead of getting better.

What should you do when your turtle dies?

When an animal suddenly dies, the owner is probably going to be devastated. Many questions will start flying through your heady, including what you should do with the turtle and the habitat it left behind.

For starters, you are going to want to take care of your turtle’s body. Many people will choose to decorate a box and bury their turtle in a place that is meaningful to them.

If you would rather not bury your turtle, you could always call your reptile vet or other local veterinarian offices to see if they offer cremation services for turtles. This will allow you to keep your turtle close to you no matter where you move.

Once you know what you are going to do with your turtle, you need to take care of his old habitat. You are going to want to thoroughly clean it, especially if you suspect your turtle had salmonella. If your turtle died due to an illness or other health condition of some kind, be sure to check out your turtle’s habitat as you clean so you know what could have led to your turtle getting sick.

No matter how your turtle dies, it is an incredibly sad thing to go through. Be sure to take as much time as you need to grieve.