Why Do Turtles Suddenly Die? | 5 Reasons

Last Updated on May 25, 2021 by cmoarz

Turtles are fascinating creatures that can be enjoyed in many different ways, but sometimes they die suddenly for no clear reason. It’s hard to know why this happens, but there are a few common factors that might contribute to the death of your turtle. In this blog post, we’ll explore five reasons why turtles suddenly die and what you can do about them.

Why do turtles die suddenly?

1) Stress: Turtles have their own unique personalities just like any other animal, and some turtles may experience stress when they’re not allowed out of their tanks often enough or if too many people come into contact with them at once (e.g., petting).

The opposite can also be true, given the unique personality of the turtle. Some turtles can’t handle being touched at all while others may want to be handled as much as possible. It’s important not to force your turtle into handling any more than they’re comfortable with and to give them a sense of control over how often they interact with humans or other animals.

Human interaction or lack thereof isn’t the only thing that can cause these little guy’s stress either. Everything from loud noises on the road in front of your house, to your neighbor’s loud annoying dog, To the type of food your feeding can all induce various amounts of stress on your turtle.

Even the smallest changes can cause turtles great stress, such as moving furniture around in the house. Turtles are remarkably fragile creatures and stress can certainly be a cause of death.

2) A bad diet

Poor diet is another factor that can lead to a turtle’s sudden demise, which is why it’s important they’re fed in moderation and with the right types of food.

The best way to prevent a turtle from dying suddenly is to ensure that it has an ample and healthy diet comprised of the appropriate portions. Nutritional deficiencies are often easy to notice far ahead of the turtle’s death, as it drastically affects their weight, growth, and even the look of their shell.

So it’s unlikely this will be a cause of ‘sudden death’ it can lead to death in fairly short order. Turtles need the proper nutrients including calcium and Vitamin D for bone and shell development.

In addition, it’s important to note that turtles of different ages have different nutritional needs: juveniles require extra protein, while adults require more calcium in their diet than younger turtles.

3) Overfeeding

As humans, sometimes we overeat. The same can happen to a turtle. Only, a turtle doesn’t get up and hit the fridge every 30 seconds, Humans need to bring him his food.

The problems start coming up when you are overfeeding your turtle. This causes the turtle to become fat, lethargic, and its shell growth will not be able to keep up with the amount of weight the turtle is gaining.

This might not cause instant death, but it certainly causes much suffering in the turtle and can directly lead to death via constricted blood, breathing, and even heart attack.

4) Underfeeding

Just like a bad diet and overfeeding, underfeeding can lead to death. If a turtle is underfed, it will cause the shell growth to slow down or stop all together.

In fact, underfeeding is the number one cause for domestic aquatic turtles dying suddenly. Although it’s not actually sudden, it may appear to be to the untrained eye. A turtle’s shell generally won’t shrink when it’s not getting enough food, But the turtle inside the shell can slowly waste away out of sight.

Each species will have its own food requirements so it’s best to look up exactly what your turtle needs to live and be happy with proper diet and nutrients.

5) The most commons reason, A dirty tank

Some people just can’t be bothered to really take care of their turtle’s needs, and when they die they act shocked like they never could have possibly seen this outcome coming.

The truth is the most common reason why turtles die “suddenly” is because of bad owners not taking care of the turtle’s enclosure. Shame!

Turtle tanks need to be cleaned out as often as any aquarium needs to be. It needs water changes, and cleaners, live plants, filters.

Unfortunately, many people just don’t seem to understand that, and that’s why this is the most common reason.


Owner of AquariumGravel.com and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!