Can Turtles Smell Underwater and On Land?

Can turtles smell? Although turtles don’t hear very well, they do have the ability to see, taste, touch, and smell. They are able to move, to forage for food, and to do basically whatever they need to survive and thrive. Since their hearing abilities are quite limited, their other senses are all more developed than normal.

Researchers are generally of the opinion that turtles have the ability to smell. This idea is based on experiments that were conducted on baby sea turtles who reacted to the scent of shrimp underwater. Their ability to smell other creatures underwater helps them locate food.

The five senses of turtles

How well can turtles see?

The sense of sight is sufficiently well developed in turtles. They have the ability to see sharply underwater and on land. This helps them find food for their young and for themselves. They are also able to distinguish between different foods. Sharp vision is very important for turtles to avoid predators as well. Turtles can see in color and distinguish between shapes and patterns.

How well can turtles smell?

Turtles have an excellent olfactory capacity, both in water and on land. Instead of having nostrils, the tortoise has bumps under the chin, known as barbels. Nerves are located on these bumps and allow the turtles to identify smells. Land turtles use their strong sense of smell to stay away from predators. Sea turtles find this sense of smell very useful in the mating season as it helps them search for the pheromones of females ready for mating.

How well can turtles hear?

Turtles do not have a very strong hearing as they do not have eardrums, like most other animals. They are however able to hear the deepest vibrations and sounds, both on land and in the water. However, the turtle’s ear has organs that allow it to hear any changes in water pressure, which alerts them to predators coming.

How well can turtles feel touch?

Although turtles have leathery skin that looks rather coarse, it’s very sensitive to touch. Your turtle can feel your touch on the skin or shell due to the nerves, both under the shell and on the skin. Try giving your pet turtle a neck massage, but only if it’s tame, and you will see that it actually loves it!

How well can turtles taste?

There are turtles that have taste buds and others that don’t. Most sea turtles have taste buds and can enjoy food as they eat it. Some varieties, such as snapping turtles, lack the taste ability. Because of this, they can sometimes risk eating food that can be toxic. Some species, such as Hawksbill turtles, are able to eat poisonous jellyfish species without causing themselves any harm.

Interesting Facts About Turtles

Can turtles smell underwater and on land


Being one of the earliest species, turtles have lived on earth for over two hundred million years. Turtles evolved even earlier than birds, mammals, crocodiles, lizards, and snakes. Before evolving into their current form, turtles had teeth and were unable to retract their heads. Despite these major changes, today’s turtles are very similar to the original species.


Many species of turtles, such as box turtles, are capable of living up to 100 years of age or even more. Although the age of the turtles is not well documented, a giant Indian ocean turtle was captured at the age of around 50. She was kept in captivity and lived to the age of 202.


Turtles are able to live and survive in any climate, as long as it’s warm enough to carry out their reproduction process. Several species of turtles have lived on all continents except Antarctica. The reason is that most turtle species can’t stand the cold. The only exception is the well-known Blanding turtle which has been spotted in the icy waters of the Great Lakes.


The smallest turtle is the marsh turtle which is only 4 inches large, while the largest, the leatherback turtle, weighs around 1500 lbs.


The most unique part of a turtle’s body is its shell. The top of the canopy is dome-shaped and is known as the carapace. The lower part is known as the plastron. Altogether sixty bones meet and connect to form the turtle’s shell.


If you want your pet turtle to thrive, you need to be very careful in creating and maintaining a better environment. A larger space will make the turtle healthier. Turtles need at least eight hours of exposure to sunlight or a reptile lamp due to their essential need for vitamin D. Most often, pet turtles do not hibernate. They may start to eat less, but it is very likely that your pet will do some activity throughout the winter as long as he is kept indoors.

Surely you will already have the answer to the original question. Yes, turtles are able to smell.

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