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do turtles see color

Do Turtles See Color | Are Turtles Color Blind or Not?

Turtle owners are curious about their pets and often want to know about different things about turtles. One such curiosity is related to the eyesight of turtles and their color observation ability. In fact, we have seen many turtle lovers asking us, “Do turtles see color?”

The straight answer is, yes, turtles can see colors. In fact, their color recognition capacity is more than humans. A man can only see colors from 400nm to 700nm spectrum. On the contrary, turtles can easily see in the ultraviolet spectrum. That means they can see more colors than we humans can.

Also, turtles have pretty good eyesight both on land and on water. Eyesight is important for them to survive in the wild.

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Do Turtles See Color?

Earlier, it was believed that turtles are more or less color blind, and they only observe their world in grey. But that concept has changed, and we now know that turtles can actually see colors; in fact, their world is more colorful than humans.

Also, different researchers have found that turtles can easily differentiate between many colors. Turtles are adept at seeing over 700nm, so they can see more colors than us.

On top of it, they can easily differentiate between various shades of red color. The red color sits at 780nm in the spectrum and comes in many varieties. Turtles can pick up all those various shades of red color and so show better eagerness and activeness in red light.

Also, you will see them reacting differently to different colors. It happens due to the position of colors in the spectrum and their visibility to turtles. Ideally, the turtle can see better in high-spectrum. So, they love orange and yellow colors more along with red.

A recent study by The Royal Society suggested that turtles can see red color better due to their unique rod and cone in the eye. It enables them to recognize the variations in color shades faster and act accordingly to survive in the wild.

Turtle’s Response to Different Colors

Turtles have different responses and eagerness against different colors, which depends on their position in the spectrum. Yes, individual turtles may have an affinity for different colors. But, the overall color response of turtles remains the same-

Red>Yellow>Orange (In terms of color response)

Now let’s elaborate on it to know them in detail. Also, note that turtles are naturally attracted to colorful elements since colorful plants and fungi are their main source of protein in the wild. So, it is more of a survival instinct.

  • Red: Multiple scientific reports show that turtles can see red colors better than anything else. They can identify more shades of red color than a human can do in reality. They recognize the red color in between crimson and scarlet, which is different from human beings too. The CYP2J19 gene in turtles is responsible for this incident. Also, scientists commend that turtles’ response to red color matches with dinosaurs.
  • Yellow: The next favorite color of turtles is yellow.  We have found many turtle owners reporting about their pets showing an insane affinity for yellow colors. Some even linked it with turtles’ love for bananas and other yellowish veggies.
  • Orange: Orange color has a rather shocking impact on turtles. Some owners reported that their turtles tried to hide whenever they saw orange light or any orange objects. Some owners reported that their turtles stopped going close to their favorite treat or fish when they were kept close to any orange-colored objects.

Can A Turtle See Underwater?

Turtles are mostly aquatic or semi-aquatic. Thus, they spend the majority of their life in water. And it means their eyesight in water needs to be pinpointed and highly improved. Turtles have developed a unique lens design for their underwater visibility.

Turtles’ eyes have both spherical lenses and flat corneas. The spherical lenses are much like the fish you will see. It enables the turtle to see clearly in water without any obstacles. Therefore, they enjoy perfect eyesight underwater.

Also, turtles have a special kind of tears. It is a type of mucus. When turtles are in the water, the mucus protects their eyes in water to keep their sighting ability intact. It is essential for their survival and hunting underwater.

Turtles’ visibility on land

We have already mentioned that turtles’ eyes have both spherical lenses and flat corneas. While the spherical lens comes in handy underwater, flat corneas have turtles on land. The flat corneas of turtles are much like human eyes.

It allows turtles to see on land as clearly as a human sees. On top of it, the rod and cone of turtles are designed to recognize more colors in UV spectrum. Therefore, turtles have a clear view of the land, so they can keep themselves safe from predators and also collect food safely.

Possible eye problems for Turtles

Yes, turtles have excellent eyesight and natural protection for their eyes. Yet, turtles can face different eye problems, which, as an owner, you must understand and take possible steps quickly. Turtles mainly suffer from two different eye problems. These issues are-

  1. Eye infection: The main cause of eye infection is bacteria. If you see infections in the turtle’s eye, you must treat it ASAP. If it is left untreated, it will allow the bacteria to reach the turtles’ nasal passage to cause respiratory tract infection. It can eventually lead the turtle to death.
  2. Swollen eyes: If your turtle is suffering from vitamin A deficiency, it will most likely have swollen eyes too. Also, it is a sign of bacterial infection. The turtle’s eyes will become puffy, and gradually, turtles will be unable to open their eyes. You must consult the vet when you see swollen eyes of the pet.


Do turtles see colors? Yes, turtles can see color, which is different from the early belief that turtles are colorblind. They can identify more shades of red and yellow than a human can. Also, their eyes have mucus which protects their eyesight in water. And the flat cornea helps in proper eyesight on the land.

Nonetheless, you should look for swollen eyes and eye infections in turtles. If you see such incidents, you should consult the vet ASAP and follow their treatment guideline.

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