Turtle Throwing Up : 7 Clear Reasons And How To Stop

It can be very disconcerting to discover that your turtle is throwing up. Upon making this discovery, you will want to know why the turtle is throwing up, and what you can do about it. Read on, to find answers.

If you have a turtle throwing up, it may be on account of eating too much food. It may also be on account of eating the wrong type of food. Further, a turtle may throw up due to stress, intestinal blockages, parasites, poor tank conditions (especially low temperatures) or infections.

Once you identify the reason why your turtle is throwing up, it becomes easier to solve the problem. This may entail changing what you feed the turtle. Or it may entail improving turtle tank/enclosure conditions. It could also entail taking the turtle to a vet for treatment.

Turtle throwing up
Why is my turtle throwing up?


Do Turtles Throw Up?

Upon discovering that your turtle is throwing up, the first thing you will want to know is whether it is something that happens to all turtles. Or whether it is something that is only happening to your turtle. In other words, you will want to know, do turtles vomit?

So, indeed, do turtles vomit? The answer is ‘yes’. Turtles do vomit. Often, they vomit when they overfeed. This seems to be the commonest reason for turtles throwing up.

But there are also cases where turtles vomit due to low temperatures in their tanks/enclosures. Then there are other cases where they vomit due to infections.

Stress is another thing that can make turtles vomit. So can being given the wrong type of food – including food that is new to them or food that is spoiled.

Of course, it is important to differentiate turtle vomiting from turtle regurgitation. In vomiting, the turtles throw up partially or almost fully digested food. In regurgitation, they throw up food that is totally undigested, typically from their esophagus.

The bottom-line is that turtles do vomit, though in some of them, it is a rare occurrence.


Is It Normal For Turtles To Vomit?

Another question you are likely to have, upon learning that your turtle has been throwing up, is as to whether it is normal for turtles to vomit. The answer is ‘yes’. It is normal for turtles to vomit, though in some of them, it can be rather rare.

Now saying that it is ‘normal’ for turtles to vomit doesn’t mean that it is ‘alright’. When you find a turtle throwing up, it is an indication that something is not right with him.

That applies whether it is a box turtle throwing up, red slider turtle throwing up, eastern box turtle throwing up… or pretty much any other type of turtle.

It is normal – in the sense that, in the turtle’s body, it serves the purpose of expelling stuff that would otherwise overwhelm the turtle. But whereas it is normal for a turtle to vomit, it is not alright. It means that there is something wrong with the turtle.


What Does Turtle Vomit Look Like?

Turtle vomit typically looks like partially digested turtle food. One may mistake it for turtle diarrhea, especially if you don’t get to see the turtle actually puking. 

There are cases where the turtle vomit is white in color. We also have cases where turtle vomit is red – like where you have turtle throwing up blood.

Depending on how long the food stayed down before coming back up, the vomit may be somewhat chunky. Or it may be more of a liquid.

Related to the question on what turtle vomit looks like is the one on how turtles look when they are sick. 

So, indeed, what do turtles look like when they’re sick? The answer is that they tend to look lethargic, with eyes that are swollen, runny noses and they often have buoyancy problems.


Why Do Turtles Throw Up?

Upon learning that your turtle has been vomiting, you will almost certainly want to know why this happens. More specifically, you will want to know, why is my turtle throwing up?

And the answer is that there are many possible reasons for turtles throwing up. The commonest and arguably most benign reason for turtles throwing up is overfeeding.

If you give your turtle too much food, it may throw up. If you give your turtle food in chunks that are too big, it may also throw up.

But a turtle may also throw up if it has an infection. 

Or the turtle may throw up if it has parasites that are affecting its digestive system. Further still, the turtle may throw up if it is under stress or anxiety. This includes the stress that is associated with the turtle being handled too soon after eating.

If temperature conditions in the turtle tank are too low, the turtle may end up throwing up.

 Further still, if a turtle eats food that is spoiled, or simply food that is new to it, it may throw up.

At a more fundamental level, turtles may throw up in order to expel things that they can’t hold down. These may be things that their bodies perceive as potential toxins – as in the case of spoiled food. Or they may throw up because there are obstructions in their digestive systems.

So food items that can’t go further down the system are brought back up – as vomit.


Turtle Throwing Up Food – What Does It Mean?

One possibility is that the food is too much for the turtle. So it ends up vomiting it.

Another possibility is that you are presenting the food to the turtle in the wrong manner. For instance, you could be presenting the food to the turtle in chunks that are too big. So they come right back up.

The food that you are giving to your turtle may also be spoiled. So the body perceives it as a potential toxin, and brings it right back up.

At another level, there may be an obstruction in the turtle’s digestive system. This may be on account of the turtle having ingested the rocks/gravel in its enclosure (or something else). So because of the obstruction, food can’t travel down the digestive system: hence the vomiting.

The turtle may also be under stress, which makes them prone to throwing up. Or the turtle may be in a place that is too cold, which sometimes also makes them throw up.

So these are the possibilities to consider, should you see your red eared slider turtle vomit. They would still be the possibilities to look into, if you have your box turtle or any other turtle throwing up food.

Whenever you have a turtle vomiting food, these are the possible reasons.


Turtle Throwing Up Blood – What Does It Mean?

Where you have a turtle throwing up blood, it may mean that there is some irritation in its gastro intestinal tract. Or it may mean that there are outright injuries in the turtle’s GI tract: perhaps on account of having eaten sharp rocks/pieces of gravel that hurt it.

Of course, you can’t rule out the possibility of the blood in the turtle’s vomit being due to an infection or due to parasites.

But irritation or other injury of the GI tract is the more likely cause.

If I were to discover that my turtle is throwing up blood, my first instinct would be to immediately set out in search of a turtle vet near me. This is because blood in a turtle’s vomit is not really a good sign.

Turtle throwing up
Why is my turtle throwing up?


Turtle Throwing Up White Stuff – What Is It?

In the case of a turtle throwing up white stuff, one possibility is that of it being mucus. So you find that the turtle is throwing up mucus, perhaps due to an infection.

More ominously, in the case of a turtle throwing up white stuff, it could be lung tissue. So you find that the turtle has a lung infection that causes it to throw up white stuff.

Either way, a turtle vomiting white stuff requires urgent veterinary care. That is because whether it is mucus (due to a GI infection) or lung tissue, it is a serious condition either way.


Why Does My Turtle Keep Throwing Up?

One possible reason is that the conditions in the tank/enclosure where you are keeping the turtle are improper. For instance, you may be having temperatures that are too low. So the turtle is perpetually in a condition of unease, which causes it to keep on throwing up.

Another possibility is that the turtle has some sort of blockage in the gastrointestinal tract. So this is making it hard for food that the turtle eats to progress down the gastrointestinal tract. This may cause the turtle to keep on throwing up.

There may also be an infection or parasite infestation that is making the turtle keep on throwing up.

All in all, if my turtle keeps throwing up, I would be inclined to seek urgent veterinary attention. This is because the condition may soon or later lead to worse symptoms.

So while it may be tolerable to have your turtle throw up once in a while, a situation where the turtle keeps on throwing up is quite worrisome.


Turtle Throwing Up – What Should I Do?

Firstly, you need to figure out exactly why the turtle is throwing up. Then use the appropriate strategies to resolve the issue.

Where it is due to the turtle overeating, consider giving smaller rations. Also ensure that you give the turtle food in small enough chunks.

Where the throwing up is due to giving the wrong type of food, consider changing it. Identify the specific food that the turtle is unable to tolerate. Then eliminate it from the turtle’s diet.

In a case where the throwing up is due to poor enclosure/tank conditions, consider improving them. For instance, raise the temperatures, and also ensure that the basking spot is easily accessible.

Where it is due to an infection or parasite infestation, consider taking the turtle to the vet, for treatment.

All in all if, for instance, you have a Res turtle throwing up, those are the strategies to consider using.

At this point, one may ask, what can I feed a sick turtle? And one strategy you can use is that of switching from pellets (for a while) to live food – such as various worms.

Or just give the turtle treats it loves, in order to get its appetite up again. Thereafter, once the turtle gets better, you can switch back to the normal food.


Baby Turtle Throwing Up – What To Do?

As we said with regard to adult turtles, the starting point is still to identify why exactly the baby turtle is throwing up.

If you have a baby throwing up turtles, it may be due to overfeeding, poor tank/enclosure conditions, spoiled food, stress or infections.

You may consider changing the food you are giving to the baby turtle. Also ensure that the rations are not too big, and the chunks are not too big for the baby. 

Ensure that the enclosure/tank is adequately warm. And where there are any infections/parasites, have a vet treat them.


Final Verdict – Turtle Throwing Up

A turtle typically throws up because of overfeeding. But it may also be because it is getting food that is spoiled, or food that is new to it. 

It could also be due to stress. This includes the stress that comes from too low temperature conditions in the cage/enclosure or being handled during or soon after eating.

Sometimes, to get the turtle to stop throwing up, all you need to do is change how much food you give it (or what type of food you give it).

Turtle throwing up
Why is my turtle throwing up?

Improving tank/enclosure conditions can be helpful too. But where the vomiting is due to things like GI obstructions, infections and parasites, it may be best to take the turtle to a vet.

As a pet lover, make sure to learn about pet more and give your pet turtle a good and comfortable life!

If you have a dog and a cat as a pet, then check out what to do if dogs throws white foam and cat throws up pink liquid since they’re really bad. Additionally, check dog vomit color chart and cat vomit color chart since each vomit color needs different level of attention.

Post Disclaimer


The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, food recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or for pet food related questions.

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