Turtles are known for being slow-moving creatures. Your pet turtle will often laze around, seemingly immobile. As a result, it is not always easy to know if a turtle is dead. Because they are not very energetic when alive, there may not be obvious signs that your pet has passed away. Plus, there is often a lack of warning signs when your turtle is ill, making it difficult to tell that he might pass away soon. Here’s how to know if a turtle is dead:
- Gently touch your pet turtle. Gently prod your turtle, with a soft stick or with your finger, to see if you can elicit a reaction. If your pet moves at all, then he is definitely alive. Still, if he seems slower or more lethargic than usual, he may be sick, and you should take your pet turtle to the vet. However, a complete lack of movement can indicate that your pet turtle is ill or has already died.
- Tempt your turtle with food. If you can’t get a reaction, or you’re not sure if your turtle moved, tempt him with his favorite treat. This can get even the laziest turtle to take notice. Wave the food right in front of his face where he can smell it.
- Turn him on his back. Turn your turtle over to look at his underside. Most turtles hate this, and will squirm to try to turn themselves over. A turtle that does not move at all when you turn him on his back has more than likely died.
- Look at his eyes. If your turtle has died, his eyes will probably be glazed over, and he will not blink when you blow at his eyes. The eyes may also have a sunken appearance.
- Note any odors. Though turtles who have recently died should not have a noticeable odor, you will be able to notice a smell if you have ignored your turtle for quite some time. If your turtle smells very bad, then chances are he’s no longer alive.
- Get veterinary attention. If in doubt, visit the vet before you bury your pet turtle. A vet will be able to tell you conclusively. Never bury a turtle unless you’re absolutely certain that he is dead. Your turtle may be very ill and in need of medical attention immediately if he is not moving around the cage like usual.
Do not buy a turtle that appears to be sick or dead. Some pet shops will try to persuade you that the turtle is only sleeping, swindling you by selling you a dead turtle. Avoid this disappointing purchase by only buying turtles that appear relatively lively.