Why is my baby turtle scared of me Unlocking the Fear of your Baby Turtle

A baby turtle can make a wonderful pet, but they may be scared of you at first. As the owner, it’s important to understand why your baby turtle is afraid and how you can help them gain trust. With patience and a little bit of understanding, you can create a loving bond between yourself and the turtle. Learning why your baby turtle is scared of you will not only benefit your relationship with them, but also give you peace of mind. Having a pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it is important to understand why your pet may be scared of you. If you have recently acquired a baby turtle, it is not uncommon for them to be frightened by their new environment and the people in it. It can be difficult to identify why your baby turtle may be scared of you, but there are some key factors that could contribute to this behavior. Having a pet turtle can be both fun and rewarding, yet sometimes it can be difficult to understand why your pet may show fear or apprehension. Many owners become concerned when their beloved pet turtles appear scared of them. If you’re trying to figure out why your baby turtle is scared of you, the good news is that you’re not alone. This article will explore why my baby turtle is scared of me and the possible causes and provide several tips on how to help your baby turtle feel more at ease around you.

Why is My Turtle Suddenly Scared of Me?

Turtles are one of my favorite animals, and my opinion is shared with plenty of people. Their adorable little old man (or woman) faces remind us of dinosaurs, their slow but purposeful movements look like they’re on a mission in slow motion, and the way they can duck inside their shells at a moment’s notice are all things that people love about turtles. Turtles are solitary creatures by nature and while they can still make great pets, their behavior can baffle humans at times — we’re a social species, after all! They often jump off their basking rocks into the water, swim down to the bottom of their tanks, or hightail it into their hides when we come near them for what seems like no reason. My son found a turtle in a cardboard box on the sidewalk once, and she was always hiding from us at first. However, after a while she came around, and would even look for her food at feeding time! This is a perfect example of turtle behavior: it takes time for them to see us as trustworthy.

These solitary turtle behaviors can be normal under certain circumstances, but when it starts to happen out of nowhere it makes us wonder: why is my turtle suddenly scared of me? If you’re wondering why your turtle wants nothing to do with you all of a sudden, don’t worry — we’ll get to the bottom of it in this post.

Why is My Turtle Suddenly Scared of Me?

The short answer to this question could be a number of things. It could be something you did that frightened him, someone that came over that he felt uneasy around, or even a hidden heath problem. The long answer to this question is explained below. Here are some reasons your turtle might suddenly be scared of you, and what you can do to regain his trust:

You Make Sudden Movements

To most animals, sudden movements are scary. They’re unpredictable, could possibly be threatening, and make the animal feel like he needs to run for cover. Turtles are no different in this respect, but unlike most animals, they can’t run away as fast when something startles them. Their most common reaction will be to retreat into their shell, or if they’re in their tank, to swim as far away as they can.

If you think this might be the problem with your turtle, try being aware of how quickly you move around him. Slow, intentional movements consistently and over time will hopefully gain back his trust.

Eventually he’ll come to realize that you’re not a threat, and you can become friends again. It definitely won’t hurt to associate yourself with food, either — feeding him his favorites at the same time every day will soon have him waiting happily to see you!

You’re Being Louder Than Usual

Turtles are quiet, sensitive creatures, despite their hard shells and adorably expressionless faces. They hear things differently than us, being better at hearing underwater than out of it — but they’re still super sensitive to vibrations and do not do well when exposed to loud noises.

This goes for whether your turtle is underwater or out on the rocks, so it’s important to be aware of your volume when you’re around him. If he’s associated you with scary loud noises, this might be why he shrinks away when you come into view. Like with the sudden movement advice, just take it slow and let him rebuild his trust in you.

Letting him see that you’re not loud and scary all the time will eventually start to take hold. You don’t have to whisper for the rest of your life or anything, just keep loud noises to a minimum and with time, he’ll come around again.

You Approached Him from the Side

Just like you don’t approach a horse from the front, you shouldn’t approach turtles from the side. They cannot see you there — they have literally no peripheral vision when their heads are retracted — so when you suddenly appear out of nowhere you surprise them.

Surprises are not a good thing in the eyes of a turtle (or any animal for that matter) and will likely cause him to retreat into his shell or down to the bottom of his tank, until he feels safe to come out again.

This one is an easy fix: just remember to approach your turtle head on so he can see you coming. However, don’t expect him to trust you again right away — patience and consistency are key here.

Make a habit of only approaching him from the front every time, and after a while he’ll start to get it. A piece of lettuce in your hand might sweeten the deal for him if he’s not too scared to take it, hopefully shortening the process a little for you!

He Doesn’t Have an Escape Option

Turtles are shy, solitary animals, and need to have a place to be alone sometimes. When they’re scared, tired, or just don’t feel like being social (which is a lot of the time) a half log or other type of hide in their tank is essential for them to have their “turtles only” space This is called a “safe zone,” and if your turtle doesn’t have one, he’s likely pretty stressed out most of the time. It’s also a good reason for him to be afraid of you: he has nowhere to go!

This is easily remedied by getting him a little cave for himself, which can be found easily at any pet or aquarium store. Make sure it’s wider and longer than he is so he won’t feel claustrophobic (or worse, get stuck), and put it on the opposite end of the tank from his basking rocks and heat lamp.

Let him have his alone time and don’t be too attentive — but watch him and see how relaxed he becomes over time. He’ll soon realize you’re not so terrifying when he has a place to run (or swim) to.

He’s Just Being a Turtle

As we discussed earlier, turtles are not super social animals. They’re cute, funny, and interesting, sure. But they probably (make that definitely) don’t think the same way about humans!

There’s a good chance that your turtle will become more social over time, once he develops positive associations with you being around. Try not to take it personally if your turtle seems afraid when you’re in the room with him — sometimes that’s just how turtles are.

Adhering to the advice in the above points, associating yourself with positive things (food, mainly), and not trying too hard to be friends when your turtle obviously wants to be alone will help him to build trust in you.

Remember that many turtle species live for over a century, so they’re slow when it comes to a lot of things — trusting people included! Patience and consistency will be your golden ticket to winning your turtle over again, so try not to get frustrated if things move a little slower than you’d like.

When to Seek Help

Just like any other animal, turtles should have regular vet appointments to make sure they’re healthy. It’s a little trickier with these guys since not all vets are equipped to care for turtles, but there are plenty out there. Having the number of your turtle’s vet on hand is always a good idea, especially when they start acting differently out of the blue.


Shy turtles are short on entertainment value, although you can use several easy strategies to get your pet turtle to come out of his shell. The key to building a friendly relationship with your turtle is regular interactions and patience. Turtles are naturally shy, but they will eventually let some of their guard down when you are present.

Regular Observation

Regular observation is important when attempting to make positive associations with your turtle. Determine where the turtle is most comfortable in his cage, when he’s most active and what scares him. Sudden movements and noise are common ways of scaring a turtle. Stand near the cage and make slow movements while you watch the turtle. This allows you to make observations as the turtle becomes accustomed to your presence.

Food Association

Food is the key to developing a routine and relationship with your turtle. Feed at the same time each day to build a routine. Begin by placing food in the cage and watching while the turtle eats. Make slow movements to let the turtle know of your presence without disturbing the feeding. Gradually begin attempting to feed by hand. Hold a piece of lettuce or other vegetable 6 inches from the turtle and wait patiently until he eats from your hand. If the turtle remains in a shy state of mind, try feeding crickets and other live food to really engage and distract him.

Petting Turtles

Many turtles enjoy physical petting but they will not accept the action without acclimation to humans. Work on the hand-feeding process until the turtle is comfortable with your presence. After the turtle accepts regular feeding, lightly pet his neck and head while he eats. If the turtle retracts, stop and wait until a nice level of comfort is regained. Petting the turtle on a regular basis will establish a positive action and reduce shyness around humans.

Build a Safe Zone

Always provide a safe zone for your turtle to hide, and do not enter the safe zone. Half logs and commercially sold houses for turtles are abundant, and they provide a comfort zone for your shell-bearing pal. Providing the hiding place reduces stress in the turtle. When you feed and interact with the animal, he knows a safe area exists in case of a threat. The hiding place is calming — not entering the zone demonstrates that you are not a threat.

Minimize Interactions

Turtles are not overly social by nature, and you should limit your interactions. If the turtle is resting or hiding, do not harass the animal. Wait until he voluntarily enters and open space to feed and socialize.

Frequently Asked Questions:

After the turtle accepts regular feeding, lightly pet his neck and head while he eats. If the turtle retracts, stop and wait until a nice level of comfort is regained. Petting the turtle on a regular basis will establish a positive action and reduce shyness around humans.

As an alternative to petting the turtle, you can enjoy bonding with it by allowing it crawl on you or sit in your lap. Just make sure it doesn't fall off. Turtles will urinate when you pick them up, so use caution when putting them on your body.

The question was simply about how often to handle pet turtles. The person asking the question was told to handle their turtles once a day by a pet store employee. We say handle them as much or as little as you like. Handling them will not hurt them.

In fact, turtles' eyes have UV receptors and turtles are capable of seeing colors that humans can't imagine.


In conclusion, it is important to understand why a baby turtle might be scared of its owner. It is not uncommon for young reptiles to be fearful at first and it is important to give them time to adjust in their new environment. Taking the time and care to build a connection with your pet can go a long way in helping them become comfortable around you. Additionally, providing the right kind of food, habits, and environment can help create an atmosphere of safety for your pet.

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