Do Turtles Like Mirrors?

Turtles make great, low maintenance pets. All they need is a clean tank, food, a basking area, and a little love…and they’ll be happy for life. That said, turtles are by no means boring. They have a few little quirks that’ll definitely keep you entertained as a pet owner. For starters, have you heard the rumors that turtles like mirrors? There’s not really any research to support turtles liking mirrors, but there is some evidence that shows these long-living reptiles enjoy staring at their own reflections.

But just how much do turtles like mirrors? And is it just a presumption from us humans, or are they just really into gazing at their reflections? After browsing turtle forums, scrolling through articles, and watching YouTube videos, here’s my take on the topic of turtles and mirrors.

Mirrors Can be Fascinating to a Turtle

Mirrors are typically given to pet birds as a way of providing them with cheap entertainment. But birds aren’t the only animals that find mirrors interesting. According to many turtle owners, these laid back reptiles love having mirrors in their tank. They find them simply fascinating.

Some turtles will stand in front of a mirror for hours, just gazing at their own reflection. It’s not really clear why they’re fond of mirrors, but videos show they’re definitely intrigued by seeing their own reflection. Or perhaps they think they’re seeing another turtle? A companion in their tank? Or maybe they’re looking for you…

Mirrors Can Make Life Less Lonely for a Turtle

While there’s no research related to turtles, studies have shown that mirrors can improve the quality of life for certain laboratory and companion animals, such as cats, dogs, monkeys, rabbits, and birds. Even farm animals like cows feel a lot more satisfied and less stressed when there’s a mirror in view.

Research shows that most species can’t recognize themselves as reflections. So why would they find mirrors comforting? It could be because they think the animal staring back at them is another member of their species. A companion to make them feel less alone in their environment.

There’s a good chance this theory applies to turtles too. If you only have one pet turtle, he might seek companionship through a mirror. And it could be the reason he stands for hours in front of it. At the end of the day, if a mirror makes your beloved pet feel more content, it’s gotta be worth a try, right?

This Turtle Can’t Get Enough

Do turtles like mirrors? The proof is in this YouTube clip. In the video, a turtle stands directly in front of a mirror with his nose touching his reflection. Later on in the clip, he even attempts to walk into the mirror as if trying to get closer to his reflection. Clearly, the dude can’t get enough!

So what exactly is he seeing in that mirror? My guess: he’s just discovered that he’s actually a pretty handsome dude and he can’t lure his eyes away from what he’s seeing. Either that, or he believes he’s met a new acquaintance. Maybe a lady friend, even?

I’m not sure how long this turtle stayed in this position, but for someone to make a video from it, I’m guessing it was a fairly long time.

Some Turtles Try to Attack their Own Reflection

Not all turtles are fans of what the mirror shows them. Some, like this one in the video, actually try to attack the mirror. Most likely, the turtle feels threatened by the reflection, believing it to be another turtle entering their territory. Clearly, different turtles feel differently towards mirrors. The one in the last video clearly felt content at seeing his reflection, while this one looks like he’s desperate to get away.

An animal’s reaction to mirrors can definitely be confusing to us humans. After all, mirrors are a totally regular thing in our lives. But research is so limited when it comes to what exactly animals see in a mirror and how it makes them feel.

What’s clear is that turtles certainly don’t understand a mirror is a reflection of themselves. Very few animals like dolphins, apes, magpies and humans have only demonstrated this awareness.

At the end of the day, if you’ve never seen your reflection before and then there it was straight in front of you, wouldn’t you be slightly overwhelmed? I know I would!

Sometimes, Mirrors Can be a Health Hazard

As amusing as mirrors might be to many turtles, they can be a health hazard if you’re not careful. When putting one in your turtle’s tank, make sure you triple check the mirror has no rough edges that could cut your beloved pet.

You also want to keep an eye on the mirror, as over time it can become vulnerable to rusting. Make sure you change it from time to time to keep your turtle’s environment happy and healthy.