Why Did My Turtle Pee on Me?

All animals have defense mechanisms, but some of them may seem stranger than others. Some animals make noises or bite, while others may run and hide. Most pet owners can recognize when their pet is stressed or feels like it’s in danger, but some behaviors can take you by surprise!

So why did my turtle pee on me? It’s likely that the way you handled your pet made it feel like it was in danger. Turtles urinate when they’re stressed; this is a natural reaction to feeling threatened.

Luckily, it’s possible to make your pet turtle feel more comfortable around you. Not only will you be able to avoid getting peed on in the future, but your turtle will be much happier and can even grow to form a bond with you. Read our advice on understanding turtle behavior and forming a relationship with your turtle below!

Turtles and Stress

The most common reason for your turtle to pee on you is that they’re experiencing stress. Usually this is a result of being handled or picked up suddenly, especially if they’re not used to being held.

Urinating can also be a deliberate defensive response if a turtle feels like it’s in danger. It’s possible that your turtle may also defecate if it feels truly threatened. Some turtles will also hiss under stress. Hissing expels air while urinating and defecating allow more space for your turtle to withdraw into its shell.

The best way to avoid your turtle peeing on you is to handle it properly. Forming a bond with your pet over time and gaining its trust will also help to prevent it feeling stressed when you pick it up.

How to Pick up a Turtle

Start gently and gradually. The first several times you handle your pet turtle, you should only hold it for a few seconds. Even if your turtle is used to being picked up, try not to handle it for an extended period of time.

Approach the turtle slowly, and make sure it can see you. Coming up behind your pet is a surefire way to scare it! Make sure not to shake your turtle, and don’t hold it too far from the ground.

Make sure your turtle feels secure–imagine how scary it must feel to be held high in the air with its feet scrambling around! It’s best for your turtle to have something to rest their feet on, whether that’s your hand, arm, or another solid surface you can hold.

Another option to get your turtle feeling more comfortable is to handle it in water. Turtles feel much safer there and you can gradually get them used to being touched without feeling scared.

How Can I Make My Turtle Feel Comfortable Being Handled?

Patience and regular interaction with your turtle are the best ways to help it grow more comfortable with being handled. Start off by observing your pet turtle on a regular basis. Figure out when your pet is most active, what scares it, and when it seems the most comfortable. While observing your turtle, stand near its aquarium and make slow movements. This will help your pet get used to your presence.

Another great way to make your turtle more comfortable with you is to use food to develop a relationship. Build a consistent routine by feeding your turtle at the same time everyday. As your turtle eats, watch it and make slow movements so your pet is aware of your presence.

After awhile, you can try to feed your turtle by hand. Don’t force it–hold a piece of lettuce about six inches away from your pet and wait patiently. If your turtle doesn’t show any interest, try using live food like crickets to engage with it.

Petting Your Turtle

Many turtles enjoy being petted, but first they must get used to humans being present and interacting with them. Once your turtle is comfortable eating from your hand, try lightly petting its neck and head while it eats. If your turtle resists, stop petting it immediately. Keep working on hand-feeding, and with time and patience, you can try petting your turtle again.

To get your turtle to feel more at ease when you pet it, set it on the ground first. If your pet feels stable and safe, it’ll be more receptive to interaction. If your turtle opens its mouth and moves its head upward when you pet it, you should stop because this is a sign of discomfort.

Remember that just because your turtle accepts your affection sometimes does not mean that it will always be receptive to human interaction.

When stroking your turtle’s shell, take note that it is much more sensitive than you may think. Some owners even choose to use a soft toothbrush to pet their turtle’s shell.

A good idea for reducing stress related to handling is to create a safe zone in your turtle’s aquarium where it can hide and find comfort. Never enter the safe zone! It should be a calm hiding place where your pet doesn’t have to worry about being bothered. With a safe zone, your turtle can easily escape any unwanted interaction.

Remember that it’s not in the typical turtle’s nature to be extremely social. Don’t ever bother your turtle when it’s hiding or resting. It’s best to wait until your turtle chooses to enter an open space where it can eat and socialize.

How to Form a Bond With Your Turtle

Contrary to popular belief, turtles can become attached to their owners. Over time, they can learn their owner’s voice, pick up their scent and even recognize them by sight. Many turtle owners report that their turtle comes up to the surface of the water to greet them when they enter the room.

Turtles are more active and playful than most people realize, but they are also naturally nervous and shy animals. This means that they tend to be quite skittish around people they don’t know. But with patience and effort, you can build a strong and rewarding bond with your pet.

There are a few main aspects of survival that are essential to turtles, and if you can take care of these needs, you’ll be well on your way to creating a close relationship with your turtle. The most important things to do are to provide a healthy diet, a comfortable environment, and regular exercise. If you can get your turtle to associate you with these essential parts of their life, they’ll feel more comfortable around you.

First, keep your turtle’s aquarium warm. Generally, a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit is good. Turtles tend to be more receptive and energetic when they’re warm. It’s also important that your turtle gets enough natural sunlight and UV rays.

A good opportunity to handle your pet turtle is when it’s getting some sun. Do make sure to read its body language. If your turtle snaps, bites, or hisses, that’s a pretty clear indication that you should take a step back and work on bonding with your pet another time.

How to Tell If Your Turtle Is Happy

In general, an unhappy turtle is a lazy turtle. If your turtle is energetic and active, that’s a great sign that it’s comfortable in its environment. In addition, if your turtle greets you and interacts with you, it’s easy to see that they’re happy. 

Happy turtles will eat their meals enthusiastically and appear excited when presented with food. They may even beg for treats, similar to a dog! A turtle that is in good health will actively hunt any live food you give them. If your turtle seems uninterested in food and hunting, it’s likely to be unhappy. Splashing around in the water and basking regularly are some other signs of a happy turtle.

Empty conch shells and ping-pong balls can make for fun toys for your pet turtle, and they’ll also help to stimulate your pet mentally. Digging and moving around in the aquarium are also positive behaviors that mean your turtle is happy.

Happy and healthy turtles will have normal bodily functions such as defecating on a regular basis. If your turtle doesn’t seem to be digesting properly, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet. There’s never any harm in asking for advice and getting a quick checkup!


If your turtle pees on you, they’re probably feeling scared or threatened. You can prevent this behavior by bonding with your pet turtle over time. Simply make sure that your turtle is provided with a healthy diet, clean water, a well-conditioned tank, and a warm basking spot. Taking good care of your pet is the first step to relieving any stress it may feel.

By carefully taking note of your pet’s behaviors and body language, you’ll be able to make sure your turtle feels safe, comfortable, and happy!





I’m Devin Nunn, an average joe that just so happens to have a deep love and passion for everything to do with reptiles. Because taking care of them for the vast majority of my life wasn’t fulfilling enough, I decided to begin educating others about them through my articles. read more...