Do Turtles Dance And Why? (All Reasons Explained)

Copyright: samum

Cats and dogs are man’s favorite pets since they can dance and do goofy things that can melt your heart and put a smile on your face.

However, amidst the bad wrap and the notion that turtles are dull and slow, did you know that they can actually dance?

As human beings, we dance to express our emotions and put ourselves in a positive mindset. Often, when we dance, it is a sign that we’re happy and ecstatic.

The bugging question is, could this also be the same case for turtles? Definitely, turtles too dance to express their excitement and happiness. However, the dancing may also signal something else, such as responding to tactile sensation on the shell, wanting to defecate or mate.

So, if you thought turtles were dull creatures that spend the entire time sleeping or lazing around, you might be wrong.

In a video posted on Twitter, a small turtle is seen wiggling and thrusting its behind from side to side as it gets showered with a jet of water. From the footage, you can clearly see that the animal was enjoying the bath to the fullest.

So as it turns out, turtles are not that boring!

How Do Turtles Dance

Unlike cats and dogs, which can mimic their owners and make various dance moves, turtles boast a few signature moves that can be interesting and pleasing to the eye.

If you haven’t seen a turtle dancing, here is an idea of what you should expect.

First and foremost, you’ll love to see these creatures wiggle. One move you’ll likely find amusing and exciting in turtles is the wriggling of the butt from one side to the other.

 Sounds interesting? Please wait until you see a turtle doing this passionately when it’s in the rain, or it’s being scratched on the shell.

Secondly, some turtles are seen sticking their heads out and bobbing them up and down with excitement. Other turtles wiggle their tails and nails when trying to be territorial or show signs of mating.

If you thought that turtles don’t dance, you now know the moves to keep an eye on.

 It may take time before you see these creatures get out of their docile cocoons and break out with a dance. However, if they are well fed and taken care of, they might surprise you with an incredible performance.

Why Do Turtles Dance?

If you are a turtle owner, it won’t be difficult to notice your pet turtle dancing. And for those who are extra keen, you might even see which circumstances make these cute pets rock back and forth.

For turtle owners who haven’t had the privilege of catching a turtle show, here are some of the situations that would make them dance.

When Their Shells are Rubbed/Scratched

Although a turtle’s shell is tough and rough, it boasts multiple nerve endings, making it highly sensitive. When you scratch, rub or pet your turtle on the back, it gets stimulated and feels a profound sensation that forces it to reciprocate by moving its backside from one side to the other.

Therefore, when you rub or scratch the turtle’s shell, you might even stimulate it to “shake what it has.” 

You can scratch or rub a pet using your finger and tilt it in a circular motion or a straight line from top to bottom for increased stimulation. Moreover, you can do it using a soft-bristled brush.

However, remember that this area is highly sensitive, and care should be taken when rubbing the turtle, especially with a brush, to avoid being too rough. Failure to handle the shell with care can irritate and make the pet agitated.

In the wild, turtles are seen wiggling their backside as they try to rub their shells against rocks or shimmying their bodies under a finger of coral. They shake their backs as a response to the nice and smooth scratch.

When Rained on or Sprayed with Water

In a series of turtle dancing videos posted on Twitter and YouTube, turtles are observed wiggling from side to side when showered with a jet of water. Conversely, these docile creatures are also seen dancing when the rain starts hitting their shells.

It is believed that when water drops on the turtles, they can feel each drop as it lands on the shell. The sensation of water falling on their skin makes them pleasantly stimulated, and that’s where they respond by dancing. The dance is just a means of relishing the sweet feeling.

In another perspective, it is believed that the rain or water from a jet replicates the turtles’ natural aquatic lifestyle. And since these creatures love being in the water, they respond by shaking their body as a sign of fulfillment and excitement. 

So, when you spray your turtle with water, and it starts to dance, don’t panic; it’s just having a blast being bathed. 

As a Sign of Mating

Have you ever wondered how turtles display their urge to mate? They start dancing. However, this is not the usual wiggle and bobble dance they show when sprayed with water or scratched. You’ll see them wagging their tail.

Actually, the actual dance can happen before or when they’re mating. Often, the male turtles are the culprits when it comes to dancing when mating.

Usually, a male turtle will start groaning and wagging its tail when inviting attention from the female turtle. However, the most typical time to find a male turtle fashionably wagging its tail is during mating.

Although experts reiterate that tail-wagging helps the male turtle maintain balance, some owners tend to think that it’s a display of affection or signs of joy and excitement.

Marking their Territories

At times, turtles can be seen wiggling their tails to rocks and objects outside of their tank. They try to make it known that this is their territory and warn other turtles against coming closer. 

The male turtles are usually the ones with this habit, especially during the mating season. In rescue centers, people tend to adopt turtles that wiggle their tails to people’s fingers on the outside of the glass. This is because they are considered more interactive and easy to handle.

When They Want to Defecate

Another reason why turtles may start performing the tail-wagging dance is when they are about to defecate. Pet owners who are observant will discover that their pet turtles usually wag their tails rhythmically when they are about to excrete waste products.

Hence, the tail-wagging turtle dance doesn’t always mean that these creatures want to mate. It can also be a sign that the pet is about to discharge its feces.

Do Turtles Dance to Music?

Most turtle owners claim that their pets respond to music stimuli by dancing. This might be true for cats and dogs that stand on twos and try to dance, but what about turtles. Do they really enjoy music and dance to it?

In many of the turtle dancing videos posted online, the owners have added background music. Although this makes the footage heart-warming and exciting, people also assume that the turtles are dancing to the music.

But do turtles dance to music? Unfortunately, science doesn’t prove or support the notion that turtles enjoy or dance to any form of music.

So, if you see a turtle dancing when you put on some music, the most probable thing is that they’re experiencing something else like some bowel movement or it’s ready to mate.

However, this doesn’t mean that they can’t grow to enjoy and respond to songs you play to them regularly. However, you can take it to the bank that no matter how many years you let a turtle listen to music, they will never respond by dancing like they do when sprayed with water or petted.

How Do You Make a Turtle Breakdance Move?

If you thought that turtle dancing was all talk and no show, wait until you learn a dance named after these gentle creatures. The popular turtle breakdance evolved from hip hop’s famous street dancing style that took the world by storm in the 2000s.

For those hearing about turtle breakdance for the first time and those who have heard about it but don’t know how to do it, we’ll help you learn the basics of perfecting this dance.

The move requires upper body strength since you’ll have to hold your entire body weight with your hands.

First, you need to kneel and bend forward such that your palms are on the ground looking away from your body.

The next step is to place both of your elbows into your stomach line slowly. With your palms still on the floor, ensure that you’ll be able to support your body weight with your hands through the elbows.

The third step is to lift your legs off the ground. This means that the only parts that will be touching the floor are your palms. The rest of the body will be hoisted up in the air. Make sure that your legs are about 70 degrees apart for improved stability.

Move your right arm forward and tilt your body in a circular motion. Your left arm should remain in the original position to carry your weight during the turn. 

Once you move your body weight to the right hand, lift the left hand and put it next to the right one. Let your body weight rest on the left arm again and move your right hand again to attain a complete cycle.

Repeat the steps slowly, and once you feel like you’re moving flawlessly, you can add some pace and attain fast 360-degree cycles. 

You are on the right path if you manage to make a few spins without putting your legs down. However, you have to practice a lot to be good at this move.

Should I be Concerned If I See My Pet Turtle Dancing?

All turtles are inclined to break out in dance when they are exposed to favorable stimuli. So, you don’t have to fill your heart with worries just because your pet turtle has started to wiggle its butt when petted or rained. This is a natural reaction that should be appreciated by all.

Don’t waste a minute of your time worrying just because your turtle is dancing. The right thing you to do is pull out a camera or phone, record this wonderful moment, and let other people share the joy of seeing a turtle wag its tail or wiggle its butt.

Should I Stop My Pet Turtle from Dancing

Unlike unruly drunkards who can injure themselves when dancing, a turtle won’t harm itself by showcasing a few of its adorable dance moves.

Therefore, there’s nothing that would drive you to curtail the slow-moving pets of this happy endeavor. You need to relax and feast your eyes on the beautiful spectacle of a turtle making some killer moves.

Just like you wouldn’t want anyone to get you out of the dance floor, you shouldn’t interfere with a turtles dancing session.

Why Do Radiated Tortoises Dance in the Rain?

Besides turtles, radiated tortoises also make strange dancing movements when sprinkled with a light stream of water or rained on.

 Unlike turtles which seem to be having a blast when in the rain or sprayed with water, radiated tortoises seem to be doing something totally different.

According to various sources, radiated tortoises have developed an instinctual behavior where they literally dance like they are trying to shake off debris off their backs.

The dancing is a natural reaction to the flooding and monsoon seasons in their native habitat in Madagascar. Their dancing seems like an attempt to try and avoid flash floods that are synonymous with Madagascar.  

When studying this strange reaction through Florida Tech University, River Grace, a middle school student, become a top winner of the 2013 Broadcom MASTERS, taking home a whopping price of $25,000.  


If you thought turtles were all dull, you haven’t seen them showcase some adorable dance moves when elated. When turtles feel drops of rain or sprays of water on their shells, they respond by performing the wiggle dance. Some pop their heads out and try to bob them up and down.

Sometimes, pet turtles perform the tail-wagging dance, which indicates that they are about to experience some bowel movement or are ready to mate. 

Therefore, turtle owners should not feel worried when their turtle pets start dancing. It’s a natural reaction to one of the stimuli mentioned above.

Next time you see a turtle feeling a little bit bored or moody, gently scratch its back with a brush or drench it with a light spray of water to get it dancing. 

FAQs about Turtle Dancing

Why do turtles wiggle their bum?

Your turtle will thrust its backside from side to side to react to the pleasant sensation when you scratch or rub its shell. It may also respond the same way if you spray it with a light stream of water or when it starts raining.

Why do turtles wiggle their tails?

Like bum wiggling, tail-wagging happens when your turtle is experiencing two things. First male turtles shake their tail when attracting female turtles. Then they do the same when they are about to defecate.

Why do turtles dance in the shower?

Turtle’s shells boast a network of nerves that make them highly sensitive. It’s believed that turtles can feel every drop of water as it falls on their shells. When you spray them with water or let them get in the rain, they feel a sensation that makes them showcase a few dance moves.

Do turtles dance to music?

Online videos of turtles dancing may have misled you to believe that turtles are dancing to the background song, but this is further from the truth. Turtles respond by wiggling their behind only when they feel the sensation of water or when petted. Although you can train your turtles to recognize certain songs, it’s unlikely that they’ll start dancing to these tunes.

Do tortoises and turtles enjoy getting their shells rubbed?

When in the mood, tortoises feel really good when scratched. If you don’t believe this is true, try and watch their reaction. Their counterparts from the sea are no exception. If you’re a turtle or a tortoise owner, it is crucial that you gently pet or rub your pet on the back to give them that sweet sensation.

Why do radiated tortoises dance in the rain?

Unlike turtles that relish the feeling of getting sprayed with water or getting rained on, radiated turtles react with strange dancing moves due to weather patterns in their original habitat. Since their original habitat in Madagascar experiences monsoon and floods, they respond by dancing movements that seem like they are trying to shake off debris or avoid floodwater.   

Has anyone actually seen turtles dance?

Yes, there several pet turtle owners who have seen fist hand as their animals wiggle from side to side. Some even went ahead and recorded videos and posted them online. You’ll find plenty of such videos on YouTube and even Twitter.

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