How a turtle on its back flips over

Filed under my pet turtles, red ear slider turtles, turtles, videos

Ever wonder exactly how an upside-down turtle on its back flips itself over?

Here’s an Interesting video I made that shows my pet red ear slider turtle, Rex, showing us exactly how turtles do it.

It should be noted that this is how aquatic turtles such as sliders, painteds … etc with flatter shaped shells flip themselves. Turtles with other shell-shapes have other physical characteristics (e.g. different necks) and so don’t flip themselves in exactly the same way.

My pet turtle shows us that when he is on his back, turtles use their:

  • shell shape – they aren’t flat on their backs and are always tipped over to one side. Turtles flip toward the side that is on the floor – thus leveraging their shell shape to help right themselves
  • neck – which are long and strong. It provides a lot of leverage that turtles use to push themselves upright
  • tail and legs on the high side (the side away from the floor) – Turtles curve them and keep them pointed toward the side that’s on the floor. By distributing their weight towards the bottom side, turtles makes it easier to flip over and provide balance during the movement. Sometimes, the upper back leg is swung to help with the flipping motion
  • rear leg on the bottom side – Turtles use this leg to push off in tandem with their neck. The pushing motion from this leg and neck gets a turtle right-side up
  • front leg on the bottom side – also used to push off, but after the stronger push from their turtle necks. It’s almost as if the neck gets them completely to their side, then they use this leg to tip themselves over to land correctly.

Turtles use all their limbs, their whole body to flip themselves.

Do you see the same things from the video? How do your differently-specied pet turtles flip themselves?


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