Turtle Ears – Does your pet turtle recognize your voice?

A drawing of a turtle, with a simple question scrawled across the bottom, “Where are the turtle ears?” it came to my desk the other day. The drawing, sketched by a small child, showed the tortoise without ears. The boy asked me “How do you hear?”

In fact, turtles have ears, which are actually small holes on the sides of the head that allow sound waves to enter.

In the past, people thought that turtles were deaf. This presumption most likely arose from the fact that turtles do not have visible or physical ears that protrude from the sides of the head, as is the case with most animals.

Although turtles do not have this pair of visible external ears, they can nevertheless discern sounds and “hear.” They do not listen as acutely as humans, but they do have the necessary auditory nerve and the corresponding brain center required to sense and decipher the surrounding vibrations. Sound waves are collected through small external holes in the side of the turtle’s head and transmitted through the middle ear, which is well designed to increase the volume of sound waves. Therefore, although scientists feel that turtles rely more on their much more developed senses of sight and smell, they are definitely capable of hearing.

As the anatomical composition of each animal has a physiological function, the reason why the turtle’s ears are located inside their heads is so that they are more aerodynamic corresponding whenever they are in the water. This would allow them to detect sounds and vibrations in their environment.

Although turtles do not have eardrums or eardrums that collect sound waves for more defined hearing, turtles are capable of detecting low-frequency sounds and feeling vibrations, whether they are in the water or on land.

Because of this, they mainly rely on their vision and sense of smell to help them move. There are even theories that suggest that turtles’ refined sense of smell allows them to return to the exact beach where they were originally hatched to mate and lay their eggs.

Turtles have been known to find or identify food, mate, and territory by their sense of smell. The vision of the turtles is also excellent. They can differentiate between colors and shapes, things that are crucial for animals that live or spend time in the water. What turtles lack in a refined sense of hearing, they make up for in their smell and excellent vision.

Some people consider their pets as important as their children. Whether it’s true or not, some turtle owners imagine that their beloved pets are capable of recognizing and responding to their voices.

We have no objective data to prove or disprove this theory. The way a turtle responds may, as some experts claim, come from the way they feel vibrations around them. It’s probably not so much the sound or the distinctive quality of the voice coming through the turtle’s ears, but the vibrations that come from closing doors and other vibrations-inducing movements or stimuli around it. Hopefully future research will help us determine the truth about turtle ears!

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