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Can Turtles Cry? — Let’s Find Out!

People smile when they are happy and sometimes cry when they are sad. Is it applicable for turtles too?

Read below to find out if turtles do cry out their hearts.


Can Turtles Cry?

Yes! However, unlike humans, they do not cry to express their emotions. Turtles cry because they need to remove the excess salt in their body. Some turtles also cry to remove dirt from their eyes and to keep their eyes moist.


What Are Tears Exactly?

Tears are fluid released by the eyes. They have the same composition as saliva.

It’s majorly composed of water, as well as salt, fatty oils, and different proteins that could take up to 1500 in numbers.

The sample electrolytes in tears are sodium (which gives the salty taste in tears), bicarbonate, chloride, and potassium. It also contains calcium and magnesium.


Trivia About Tears

  • Watery eyes are a sign of dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome happens when the quantity and quality of tears are inadequate to lubricate the eyes.
  • Even if you cry every day, your tears won’t run out. This is because your eyes can produce about 15-30 gallons of tears annually.
  • As we get older, the tears being produced decrease. This is more common for women after their menopause.
  • Crying is a sort of visual signal to show other people what you’re feeling. 
  • There is a condition that can cause uncontrollable tears, which is known as Pseudobulbar affect (PBA). It can be identified by having episodes of uncontrollable laughing or crying.
  • Lack of tears can damage your eyes because they serve as protection against infection. Insufficient tears can cause injuries (e.g. Corneal abrasion), eye infection, corneal ulcer, and vision disturbances.
  • Some research shows that women are more prone to crying as compared to men.
  • Sleep-crying is possible and this can be due to nightmares, night terrors, grief, depression, stress and anxiety, chronic pain, and allergies.


Are Human Tears Same with Turtles?

No, people cry because they are sad or hurt. According to Scientists, when people cry, their bodies release oxytocin and endorphins.

These messengers remove emotional distress and physical pain. Therefore, crying helps soothe your feelings and body.


Why Do Turtles Cry?

Turtles are commonly found in salty waters where they drink and live. However, they need to excrete the excess salt that they intake because too much salt is poisonous for them.

That’s why turtles cry to remove the salt accumulation in their bodies. They have glands in their eyes used for the excretion of salt.

Humans excrete salt through urine, but since turtles cannot do that, they release it through tears instead.


Do Tortoises Cry Too?

Yes, like sea turtles, tortoises cry too but it’s for a different reason. 

Since tortoises live on the land where it’s not salty, they don’t need to remove excess salt through their tears.

Instead, tortoises cry to keep dirt from getting in their eyes and to keep their eyes moist.

Crying protects the tortoises’ eyes from wind, dry climate, and other types of climate conditions. 


Turtles Cry While Laying Eggs

Some people see female turtles crying while laying eggs. That’s why they think that laying eggs must be painful for the female turtles.

However, this is not the case. Just like mentioned earlier, turtles cry to remove salt from their body.

Turtles do it anywhere and anytime, and it was just accidental that they saw female turtles crying while laying eggs. Tears are also more obvious to see on land rather than in water.


Do Turtles Also Produce Sound While Crying?

Turtles do not make a sound while crying but they make sounds during mating and other social interactions. Some turtles can cluck, hiss, and make high-pitched sounds. 

These sounds are their way of talking to other turtles, and their expression of emotions.

They do not have vocal cords but they can produce sounds that people cannot hear. 

 Maybe you’re wondering how they can do that even if they do not have vocal cords. Well, they produce sounds by removing air from their lungs.


Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears

It was really interesting that people were able to capture images of butterflies drinking the tears of turtles.

This phenomenon is known as “lachryphagy,” which falls under mud-puddling. 

Mud-puddling is an activity of butterflies and other insects to gather nutrients (like amino acids and salts) from moist substances such as wet soil, urine, dung, sweat, or carrion. Mud-puddling is different from acquiring nutrients from pollen and nectar sources.

Since turtle tears are rich in sodium, butterflies drink their tears to obtain this mineral that they are deficient in. 


Some Fun Facts About Turtles

  • Turtles may shed tears due to injury or irritants.
  • Turtles are one of the oldest types of reptiles because they evolved millions of years ago. They can live from 10 to more than 150 years. 
  • Turtles can be found around the world. 
  • Turtles can be classified as semi-terrestrial, semi-aquatic, and aquatic.
  • Turtles require water for soaking and swimming and some even need to bask on land. Their needs depend on the species.
  • The largest species of turtles, such as the leatherback turtle, weighs 600-2000 pounds. Their length can reach up to 8 feet.
  • Baby turtles, also known as hatchlings, have “egg tooth” which helps them break out of their shell.


Frequently Asked Questions About Do Turtles Cry


Do Turtles Cry When They Are About to Die?

Some people who saw turtles when they are about to die saw tears from their eyes. This was unclear though if this was because of their need to release salt or if it was because they are sad.


Do Other Insects Also Drink Turtle Tears?

Yes, besides butterflies, moths and bees are known to drink turtle tears. They also do this to get sodium and other minerals from the tears.



Turtles cry because they need to remove the excess salt from their body. This is because too much salt can be deadly to them. 

Crying is also an efficient way to keep their eyes wet and to remove dust from reaching their eyes.