Some pet owners like to play music for their pets when they’re gone, claiming they respond well to musical stimuli. It’s certainly true for one of our cats who sits under me when I play some guitar! But what about turtles and tortoises? Can they enjoy music and do they need it when you’re gone? We’ve done some digging and asked other owners too. Here’s what we found out.
Do turtles and tortoises like music? There is no scientific proof that turtles and tortoises actually like music. On the flip side, there is no proof that they dislike music either. But some turtles and tortoises do grow to respond to certain songs that their owners play often.
So as we’d expect, it seems that it’s subjective. Some tortoises may like music while others won’t. Some enjoy some exposure to certain types of music. The environment they’re in, their age and their personality are all factors that come into play here.
What Science Knows About Tortoises and Music
It’s unclear whether tortoises like music or if they’re simply responding to something else. It may be a response to their owner being happy or increasing his activity when a favorite song comes on. It may also be that the tortoise likes the vibrations created by certain songs or types of music, not necessarily the music itself.
If your tortoise seems excited, active, and interested while you play music or sounds, they probably enjoy some aspect of the music. If, however, they seem to hide or act agitated when you play certain songs, they probably don’t like the sounds. You can try playing different songs, stopping the music, or just turning it down to see how your tortoise reacts.
Will my tortoise like music?
Maybe. It is hard to speak for all tortoises out there, but some may enjoy the vibrations of certain songs or tunes. They may even show a preference to certain voice frequencies, too.
A few tortoise lovers and owners play music or sounds of nature for their precious friends. They claim that when they play soothing nature sounds, like waterfalls or burbling creeks, the tortoises seem more active and lively. They report that they seem more shy or timid when sounds with birds or other predators are played.
Interestingly enough, other owners claim that their tortoises seem to come out for food only if a sound or music is playing in the background. When no sounds or music were playing, the tortoises stayed in hiding.
And of course, if the tortoise was raised from a hatchling around a very musical or active area, then they are more likely to enjoy music. It may even comfort them and make them feel safe enough to come out of their shell, so to speak. This is the same for tortoises raised around loud pets or noisy kids—these sounds will help them feel safe and at home just because they’re used to them.
Can you help a tortoise enjoy music?
As we’ve seen, we can’t know for certain if a specific tortoise would enjoy music. The best we can do is expand their musical horizons and pay attention to their behavior.
For example, if your tortoise hides when you play country songs, maybe switch it up. Try something with more vibrations, or different levels of bass, or maybe no bass at all. Remember that your tortoise is stuck inside a hard shell—a shell that is very sensitive and can sense vibrations in the air. Maybe Hard Rock tickles, while soft piano music feels like a gentle massage!
Or perhaps your tortoise would prefer some nature tracks? If music always seems to stress him or her out, maybe your tortoise just isn’t into music, no matter the style. Some owners claim that their beloved pets respond better to a white noise machine with soft nature sounds like waterfalls and rain.
The best way to help a tortoise enjoy music is to expose them early and often. If you play music during feeding time, they may come to associate specific songs with the enjoyment and pleasure of eating a good meal.
Is there any harm in playing music or nature sounds for my tortoise?
No, but there are some tortoise keepers out there who claim that giving a tortoise nature sounds may cause the tortoise to act out or behave unpredictably or even undesirably. This is purely anecdotal. No notable research shows that music or noises will negatively impact your tortoise.
But that doesn’t mean your specific tortoise won’t be bothered by extra noise. If the tortoise seems distressed or upset by these sounds, then just remove the offending noise.
What Do Tortoises Hear?
A tortoise can hear some of what you do, but they hear better at a different frequency. That’s why it seems that more tortoises don’t enjoy deeper sounding songs, things with more bass and bigger vibrations. It is speculated that those big sounds remind them of large predators stomping toward them.
Can your tortoise hear you?
Probably. It is a tricky question to answer. There is a common misconception that tortoises are completely deaf. This is not true. Your tortoise can certainly hear you but it’s not how we are used to hearing. In fact, it is far more likely they can feel the vibrations when you talk and this is especially true for people with deeper voices.
We also know that they respond to scent more than hearing. If you have food, for example, and they are hungry, then they are more likely to respond to you. This makes it seem like they are coming when you call them over. Granted, we can’t know how every tortoise will respond so maybe yours is actually coming when called.
Tortoises might enjoy some music or nature sounds but always keep an eye on their behavior. If they seem scared or upset, remove that sound or try something different. Some tortoises do actually seem to like music, but they are all different, so that is up to you and your tortoise to discover.
Are tortoises sensitive to loud sounds? Yes, they may not hear like most other animals or humans, but a tortoise does have quite sensitive hearing. If there are loud noises near them, for example, they will most likely show signs of extreme stress. It would be best to keep louder sounds away from tortoises or at least lower the volume. You should not place the tortoise next to devices like TVs or radios. It may be fine if it’s across the room, however, just monitor the tortoise and be sure they are okay.
Do tortoises understand music? No, tortoises do not understand music or singing the way humans do. The way we perceive music happens in the way it does because of our specific human brains. The experience of music is very human! Having said that, tortoises are aware of sound and they do feel the vibrations around their sensitive shells and bodies.