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Home > Turtles > Why Does My Turtle Stare at Me? 5 Likely Reasons

Why Does My Turtle Stare at Me? 5 Likely Reasons

woman hold European turtle

It happens to many turtle owners. They walk into the room where their turtle tank is, and they find that their turtle is staring back at them. At first, it seems cute or funny, but as you go about your day, you might realize that your turtle continues to stare intently. This raises an obvious question. Why is my turtle staring at me? Is staring normal? Does my turtle want something when it is staring? The answer to these questions is multifaceted. Turtles can stare for many different reasons. Here are five common reasons why your turtle is staring at you.


The 5 Likely Reasons Your Turtle Stares at You

1. Your Turtle Wants Food

Turtles will stare at their owners when they enter the room or get near the tank in a bid to get food. Some people are trainable, meaning that when a turtle stares and the staring results in them getting food such as a treat or a snack, they will continue to stare at their owners in the hopes that the behavior will repeat itself. If you find that your turtle is turning around and fixing you with its gaze when you come in, and you have a habit of giving your turtle snacks when you visit, your turtle might be silently asking you for more food.

Turtles might also stare at you around mealtime for the same reason. If they are hungry and they know that their next big meal is coming, they will stare in order to ensure they don’t miss you or miss the food that you are fetching for them.

turtle outside foraging for food on a sunny day in its enclosure
Image By: Karen Dole, Shutterstock

2. Your Turtle Recognizes You

Turtles might not be as smart or as active as other pets like dogs and cats, but that doesn’t mean that they are dumb. Over time, turtles will grow to recognize you. Staring can be a part of this recognition process. In the beginning, when your turtle is new to you or your home, they might stare at you in order to learn who you are and make sure you are not a threat. After your turtle starts learning your face, they will stare when they recognize you. Your turtle could be staring to make sure that you are the person they recognize and to make sure that you are not a threat.

Many owners report that after owning their turtles for a while, they learn to recognize them and will stare when they enter a room. This is a silent turtle greeting bestowed upon people that they know and recognize.

3. Your Turtle Is Displaying Affection

Turtles cannot climb onto your lap and purr like a cat, and they won’t jump at the door when you come home like a dog does. Turtles are slow, quiet, and confined by default. But that does not mean that your turtle cannot show you affection. Turtles can recognize their owners, and they know where their meals come from. That means that turtles are capable of feeling and expressing affection. Turtles express affection in two main ways. First, they will swim or walk over to the side of the tank that you are on. Second, they will stare at you. These are the only two things that turtles can realistically do to show you affection and get your attention. Your turtle might not look like it at first glance, but they could be feeling warm and fuzzy inside while they gaze at you.

4. Your Turtle Is Examining You

If your turtle isn’t begging for food, greeting you, or trying to show you affection, they might just be examining you or looking at you. There is not a lot to look at in a turtle tank, and if you enter the room, they might stare at you just to see what you are doing. This can be especially true of turtles who are not entirely familiar with their surroundings or their owners yet. Your turtle might be trying to get the lay of the land, figure out who you are, learn your schedule and your mannerisms, or they could just be chilling.

In fact, turtles look at things and watch things in a way that makes it seem like they are staring when they might not be staring at all.

Pond Slider turtle sitting on the stone above the water in aquarium
Image By: YKD, Shutterstock

5. Your Turtle Is Bored

Lastly, your turtle might simply be bored. As mentioned, turtle tanks are not always the most exciting places in the house. Turtles might simply be posted up and waiting or looking for something to do. If you are concerned that your turtle is frequently getting bored or feeling cooped up, there are some things you can do.

One thing to do is to increase the tank size. Giving your turtle more space to move around, more water to swim in, and more rocks to climb on can drastically reduce the rate of boredom in turtles. Another thing you can do is consider getting your turtle a tank mate. A second turtle will give your turtle something else to stare at other than you, and interacting with another member of its species will help keep it occupied during the day.

If you have a single turtle in a small tank with little else going on, it is no wonder that they get a little bored sometimes and choose to stare off into space.


Why Do Turtles Stare for So Long?

Turtles seem like they are staring a lot because they blink very infrequently. Turtles only blink once or twice per minute. That number can decrease further if they are moist or are using a special membrane to dampen their eyes. That means that you may think that your turtle is staring intently when, in fact, it just isn’t blinking as much as you expect.

Humans blink 14 to 20 times per minute. That means that humans blink roughly 14 times more than turtles do. People sometimes think that their turtles are creepily staring at them or are fixated on something when in reality, they are just looking at something normally. They just don’t move or blink as much as other animals. The bottom line is that you should not get in a staring contest with your turtle because you will likely lose.

a female owner holding her pet turtle
Image By: Ivan Smuk, Shutterstock

Can You Bond With Your Turtle?

Yes. It is possible to bond with your turtle. The process is not as straightforward as with other animals, but you can do it. One of the best ways to bond with your turtle is to feed it treats. Turtles can be highly food motivated. You can also give your turtle attention when they are staring at you. Another way to bond with your turtle is to handle them by taking them out of the tank, petting them, and offering them unique foods.



Turtles can stare at you for a number of different reasons. They could be hungry, bored, or showing affection. Turtles do not blink or move very much; so many times, it looks like they are staring intently at something when they are just living out their normal turtle lives. If you want to bond with your turtle and increase affectionate behaviors, you should give your turtle food and attention when they start staring at you.

Featured Image Credit:, Shutterstock

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