If you haven’t been around a turtle or tortoise very often, you may never think about their ability to pass gas! But if you own one, you will quickly realize that they do indeed fart! This is most obvious to see when they are in close range and even being soaked in water (under supervision).
Do tortoises and turtles fart? Tortoises and turtles do fart! Farts can range in size and sound just like humans. They will probably not be as loud but they can be just as pungent. The tortoises’ diet contributes to their farts as well as the amount of gas build-up they experience during the day.
If you have ever wondered how the excretory system of a tortoise works, keep reading! Many people do not spend much time thinking about turtles and tortoises farting and defecating, so this is a perfect opportunity for you to learn something new! We all go through this experience as animals, so here are the details!
Tortoises & Turtles Pass Gas Too
To answer the question, yes, they definitely do! Or you could call it, passing air that they have built up!
First of all, you may be wondering why farts occur. Farts are essentially a build-up of gas in the body. Most commonly farts are caused by swallowed air and carbohydrates that have not been fully ingested. Swallowed air is built up from what we eat as well as air that is swallowed throughout the day!
Carbohydrates are not good for turtles and tortoises but most foods they eat will contain some level of them. Food many not get fully digested in the intestines and will be turned into gases.
Turtles and tortoises experience gas in much the same way. Turtles specifically can get more gas in their bodies from bubbles ingested in water. Build-up in their stomachs will trigger gas! But how do we know this?
Just like other animals we can tell that tortoises fart because:
- We can see it
- We can hear it
- We can smell it
Farting for tortoises and turtles is most common in water. Water allows them to relax and they often feel more comfortable urinating, defecating, and farting! You will see bubbles arise in the water from their backside.
This is probably the most common way you will experience a tortoise or turtle passing gas. A lot of times you will not be in close contact to determine otherwise. Giving a tortoise a soak allows you to be up close and personal with them.
Another key way to know a tortoise or turtle has farted is by sound. Like other animals, this can have different high and low pitches, varying volumes, and consistencies.
Smell is also a key indicator that your turtle or tortoise has farted. Based on the experiences and stories of many owners, farts can be incredibly smelly. This can be further exacerbated by what is in their diet.
Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and asparagus are known to cause excess gas. They also contribute to bad smells! If you feed your turtle or tortoise any of these vegetables, expect there to be additional smells and more gas!
The variations in size, smell, and sound vary from species to species as well as the size of the tortoise. Larger tortoises are more likely to be audible than smaller ones.
These indicators are pretty similar to how you would determine if other animals pass gas. There are plenty of videos online for you to check out if you want to experience it for yourself!
Turtle and tortoise owners have uploaded their pets doing a variety of things, including farting. Some of them are actually very similar to those of other animals.
The Tortoise Excretory System
Tortoises have a very thorough excretory system in order to absorb the most nutrients possible. In the wild, food can be very scarce and the food available may be limited.
Tortoises’ bodies have adapted to this and are able to pull out as many nutrients as they can before passing the rest as urine and excrement. The excretory system is broken into two different parts.
Waste goes through two steps:
- Through the intestines
- Finally released by the cloaca
Food is passed through the intestines where nutrients are taken out and then put back into the bloodstream for the tortoise to use.
Then the waste is further passed to the cloaca (which is the final part of the intestines, humans do not have these) where it is released from their body as excrement.
Tortoise urine is also very interesting for nutrients and water retention. Wastes are sent as urine to the bladder where they are held until they are passed through the cloaca. Often times, you will see a tortoise leaving white powder or paste around their enclosure.
This is uric acid! Uric acid is their urine minus the liquid. Because tortoises are often found in very dry and warm environments, they have adapted to conserving as much liquid as possible. So, if you see them emitting this white substance, do not worry!
Digestion and defecation in a tortoise is a slow process! They are slow moving creatures, both in how fast they move and how their bodies work!
The coolest part about a tortoise’s urine and feces is their ability to pull significant amount of nutrients. The process’ length also contributes to the attention their bodies take to getting these nutrients out in the first place.
Because they don’t know when they’ll eat next in the wild, they need every little vitamin they can get!
So How Often Should Pet Tortoises Excrete Waste?
Like in any animal, more food consumption will lead to more excrement. You can expect more frequent and larger poops to take place when the tortoise is given more food. Some tortoises will poop every day while others will poop once a week. It all depends on the tortoise and their living habits.
Tortoises have very slow digestive tracts, so every couple of days to a week or so is normal for a tortoise for excrement. Urine can be on about the same time schedule, but is often infrequent due to water retention.
This can be quite a range, so do not worry that your tortoise is not pooping enough unless it doesn’t happen for weeks upon weeks! Different species of tortoise will vary in their pooping schedule.
The rate at which they ‘use the bathroom’ depends on:
- Amount of food consumed
- Type of foods
- Exposure to sun
Type of food will also impact if they are pooping. For example, pumpkin is supposed to be a great laxative and, if any, should be used in small doses as they are high in carbohydrates. Brussel sprouts also impact the smell and consistency of excrement, just as they do in humans.
A Few Final Points
Exposure to the sun and basking is necessary for tortoises to properly digest their food. They need to absorb Vitamin D and activity during the day triggers proper bodily function. If your tortoise does not get enough access to the sun it will stop important body processes, including breaking down foods for nutrient absorption.
A popular technique for getting your tortoise to urinate and defecate is soaking it in water, preferably lukewarm. But also, tortoises should be soaked in water regardless to allow for proper hydration and cleaning elements.
When they are in contact with the warm water, they tend to relax and their bowels will loosen up. They will often do this directly in the water and should be removed immediately as it is not sanitary.
The Case of the Disappearing Poop
Often times if you are worried about a tortoise not using the bathroom enough, especially if you do not see the remnants in their enclosure, they could be eating it! It is very normal for a tortoise to eat their own poop.
There really is no way to stop this other than cleaning it up, but there is a chance you will not be there to get to it before they do. It may be more gross than harmful! Their poop still contains nutrients that can be digested and absorbed further.
You can think of it as a really gross snack that can actually be beneficial! Make sure the tortoise does not eat other animals’ droppings that may end up in their enclosure. Again, this is hard to catch, but try to prevent for contaminants.
Don’t worry about how often your tortoise uses the bathroom if you think it is not often enough, as long as it is consistent. There will be quite a range from tortoise to tortoise but as long it is consistent you should not be presented with any issues! Soaking is a good technique to encourage passing!
But always remember
you may be missing the poop if they eat it! Focus on proper diet to ensure they
are getting the nutrients and that they are getting enough exposure to the sun!
These are the most important elements to their health and they will poop… even
if it takes a while!