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Can Turtles Get High? Puff Puff Pass.

Can Turtles Get High? Puff Puff Pass.

Jaguars. Horses. Bees. You’d be surprised to know there’s a whole bunch of animals that can get more high than we do. From locoweed and alcohol to shrooms and urine — the stimulating agents in the animal kingdom are just as quirky as the animals that take them. 

So, where do turtles fare? Are the rumors of them being high on consuming jellyfish true? Let’s find out all the answers today. 

Can Turtles Get High?

Yes, turtles can indeed get high. As reptiles, turtles have cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2, which allows them to be stimulated and sensitized by cannabis and other similar hallucinogens that contain THC.

Before moving to other interesting questions, I’ll quickly explain what THC is and how it works for those who aren’t sure. 

THC And Its Effects On Turtles

THC, also called Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana plants. THC can stimulate the brain to release dopamine – leading to a sense of euphoria. The effect kicks in usually 10-30 minutes after ingestion and can last up to 3 hours. 

The marijuana plant, also referred to as cannabis, contains up to 60 individual cannabinoid compounds. However, only THC is known to have psychoactive effects. 


Another popular cannabinoid is Cannabidiol (CBD), which’s best known for its medicinal properties like helping chronic illness, insomnia, anxiety, and so on. Thus, they’re often used for pets like cats, dogs, and even horses in the form of oils, chews, and treats. 

As for turtles, there are neither scientific studies to underpin the benefits of CBD nor curated products available in the market. 

So, I’d suggest steering clear of marketing gimmicks with claims to ‘soothe’ and ‘heal’ your turtle in the name of natural wellness. 

And if you are wondering if too much THC kills a turtle or not, here’s the answer for you.

Will THC Kill Turtles?

If your pet turtle has inhaled via vaporizers, or ingested food that has THC in it, the situation can be fatal. It is similar to poisoning and you need to take your pet to a vet if it shows symptoms like restlessness, rapid involuntary eye movement, or freeze completely. And yes, overdosing on THC can result in your pet’s death.

This is why you need to disclose the whole truth before the vet. Only then will they be able to diagnose and perform the right medication.

What Other Food Can Make Turtles High? 

There’s no concrete evidence on if and how turtles get high in the wild. It’s also unsure if they do it on purpose. However, since they have C1 and C2 receptors, THC can make your turtle high. So, anything that contains cannabinoids, from marijuana and black truffles to cacao and black pepper, has the potential of making your turtle high. 

As for CBD, scientists aren’t 100% sure how it interacts with the Endocannabinoid system. As a matter of fact, it’s certain that CBD doesn’t bind to C1 and C2 receptors the way THC does. So, turtles do not get high on cannabis.

Smoking Near Turtles: Does It Harm Them?

Though studies haven’t been done on these queries, turtles do get irritated with smoke around them. So, I’d suggest you not smoke in the same room where your pet lives, be it a cat, dog, or turtle.

The effects of cigarette smoke on turtles can be similar to that of a person who is affected by passive smoking. And as it is evident that turtles are highly susceptible to respiratory disorders, so it is likely that smoking near your turtles can trigger illnesses related to respiratory tract infections.

However, there was an article piece that I stumbled upon years ago where it said that turtles themselves can get addicted to cigarettes. Amusing, isn’t it?

This was a snapping turtle from Changchun city in China.

The turtle first had a chicken bone stabbed in its body accidentally. So, when the owner tried to pluck it out, the turtle snapped and became aggressive. However, he managed to pluck the sharp-edged bone from its body.

However, the turtle was still restless and aggressive and wanted the bone back. So, instead, the owner who was smoking and handling the turtle at the same time threw the cigarette near the turtle. And to his surprise, the pet immediately grabbed the cigarette with its mouth and started inhaling.

From then, the owner said that whenever he lights a cigarette, the turtle chases him and only stops when shares his smoke.

Quite a story, isn’t it?

Here’s a candid photo of that turtle.

Can Vaping Affect Turtles?

Though vaping is considered to be safer than smoking, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t harmful to you or the bystanders nearby. So, if you are smoking in a room that you share with a turtle, you are damaging your pal’s lungs.

Suggested Readings:

Do Turtles Need a Heat Lamp? This is What Happens if They Don’t Have One

How Often Do Turtles Poop? Everything You Need to Know About Turtle’s Poop

What Do Box Turtles Do in the Winter? Here’s How You Can Help

How Do Hallucinogens Affect Turtles?

Since turtles aren’t too expressive, it’s hard to ascertain the effects of THC on them. Contrary to popular belief, turtles don’t walk backward or have visibly red eyes when they are high. But if you are really aware of your turtle’s personality, you might see subtle differences in their behavior. Your best bet would be lethargy and drowsiness. 

Can Turtles Get High?

That being said, I can’t possibly think of any situation where your pet turtle gets high unless a stack of marijuana ‘accidentally’ falls into their tank. 

In many forums, I have seen queries and experiences about deliberately getting your turtle high by exposing them to the smoke, with some even going as far as suggesting injecting THC into their bodies. 

By no means, that’s the right thing to do. As a responsible turtle owner, you should make sure that there’s not even one instance ever where your turtle gets high forcefully or by accident. 

That’s because there are no substantial studies that have been conducted to study the effects of marijuana and THC on turtles. You never know how it will affect your pet reptile’s health immediately or in the long run. 

Experimenting to see can turtles get high can lead to lifelong health issues for your turtle and even death in some cases. 

Do Turtles Get High On Jellyfish? 

Sea turtles that consume jellyfish usually go for the tentacles instead of the nutritious bell. And while that’s a strange choice for a meal due to the painful sting that’ll shortly follow, the answer is no. None of the seven recorded species of sea turtles are known to consume jellyfish to get high. 

A group of jellyfish
A group of jellyfish

When humans are stung by jellyfish, the skin contact triggers small, harpoon-like structures called nematocysts that inject venom into the victim’s skin. 

But turtles are less vulnerable to these nematocysts due to scaly skins. The only vulnerable regions are its eyes, which are effectively shielded with flippers. 

After all, it seems like we aren’t the only animals on the planet to like a little bit and a sting in our meals. 

So, all this begs to the question, why do people think turtles can get high?

The animated movie from the 90’s “Finding Nemo” has more or less to do with this popular belief. The sea turtle “Crush” in that movie is portrayed as a laid-back surfer dude who seems to get high from eating jellyfish. Obviously, it is a fictional movie where the writers reflected that turtles get high from consuming jellyfish.

And of course, sea turtles do eat jellyfish, but not all of them do. Mostly, it is the leatherback turtles, the largest among turtles, who have an appetite for jellyfish.

I have found fellow turtle bloggers who have misquoted on this particular topic that green turtles eat jellyfish. However, that is untrue because green turtles are herbivores.

Conclusion On Can Turtles Get High

In short, the answer to can turtles get high is, “yes, they can, but they shouldn’t.” 

As reptiles, turtles have cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2. These receptors allow them to feel stimulated and elusive and get high on THC, the psychoactive agent present in marijuana. 

But there’s no documented case of turtles getting high on any stimulant by themselves in the wild. 

Likewise, there is no adequate scientific data and research that studies the effects of psychoactive agents like marijuana on turtles. There could be adverse reactions, and we wouldn’t know anything since turtles aren’t expressive creatures. 

Thus, by all means, you should never let curiosity get the best of you and experiment to see can turtles get stoned or not. 

Relevant Readings:

Are Turtles Smart? They Are Smarter Than You Think

Why Is My Red Eared Slider Not Eating? 8 Reasons Why Your Turtle Isn’t Eating

How Old is My Red Eared Slider Turtle? 6 Ways to Know it