Why Do Turtles Hate The Color Black

Turtles are interesting reptiles that have been around for over 200 million years. But one peculiar behavior of many turtles has puzzled turtle owners and biologists alike – why do turtles hate black color? You will find turtles do not hate black like humans, yet turtles dislike black for other reasons. It’s common for turtles to aggressively attack, lunge at, or flee from black objects, such as if you approach them wearing black shoes.

So, if you have turtles as pets, understanding why turtles think something dark-colored is perceived as a threat can make their life much less stressful. Depending on the species, the color black triggers a defensive reaction since it appears indistinct, dark, and ominous compared to brighter colors. Black also resembles dangerous black animals like snakes, birds, and mammals that harm turtles in the wild.

In our guide, you can learn more about why turtles hate black. By the end, you’ll better understand why turtles attack black things and the real reasons turtles hate black shoes. (Read Difference Between Boa And Python)

Turtles Hate The Color Black

Why Do Turtles Hate The Color Black?

Turtles are cold-blooded animals on Earth for over 200 million years. As reptiles, they have unique behaviors and characteristics that sometimes seem strange or irrational to us humans.  One such quirk is that many turtle species appear to hate or attack the color black. It appears turtles have color issues, with dark colours to a great extent.

However, they struggle to distinguish between different dark colors, including black, yet these seem to be the colors that turtles dislike the most.

Do Turtles Really Hate Black?

Turtles likely do not experience emotions like hate. Instead, their brains are wired to perceive certain stimuli as threats.

Dark colors, especially black, tend to trigger a defensive reaction, and you’ll see they typically only attack black. So, they don’t hate black per se, but it appears that turtles see this as potentially dangerous.

Why Would Turtles See Black Shoe as a Threat?

In the wild, several black-colored predators pose a risk to turtles, such as:

  • Snakes: Many snake species have black scales or patterns that help them blend into vegetation and ambush prey. Turtles would have evolved to be wary of black snakes.
  • Birds: Crows, ravens, and other predatory birds are black and may raid turtle nests to attack turtle eggs. Turtles hate color like this, as dark feathers help such birds hunt stealthily.
  • Mammals: Skunks and minks have black fur and will eat turtle eggs and young hatchlings if given a chance.

Turtles may love bright colors over shades of black because they need to regulate their body temperature. Because of this, they need to venture into the sun to warm up. Turtles have sensitive skin and can be under threat as turtles rely on the sun, which leaves them in the open.

So, turtles and tortoises can associate the color black with things that may attack them when they are sluggish, and they love bright colours as it makes them feel good like humans do. (Read Why Farmers Separate Sheep From Goats)

Turtles Attack Black Color

How Do Turtles Attack Black Color?

A turtle’s vision and perception of color are crucial in understanding its aversion to black and brown colors.

Here are some color vision facts about turtles:

  • Turtles can see color, but many turtles have poor color vision because of the lack of cones in their eyes. They do have a good perception of shorter wavelengths like blue and green but a poorer perception of longer wavelengths like red and orange.
  • Most turtles have two color photoreceptors, allowing them to distinguish some color but cannot see the full spectrum.
  • Turtles or tortoises have color limitations in their sense of color; turtles likely see black, brown, and red hues as very dark and similar to each other. This can explain why turtles hate black things and react to dark red or brown objects besides these overly dark colored items.
  • Some turtle species, like the painted turtle, may have a third photoreceptor, so these turtles are able to see additional color in the yellow/red range. But their perception of long wavelength is still the area where turtles sight is poor.

So when a turtle looks at a black object, it appears dark and indistinct compared to brighter colors. This darkness causes the turtle to instinctively react as if it is a potential threat.

So while turtles can’t see color as precisely as humans, they can distinguish black from other dark shades through some combination of visual acuity, instinct, and experience.

Do Pet Turtles Hate Black Shoes?

Many pet turtle owners have noticed their turtles can attack black objects, and many turtles have been known to lunge, hiss, or attack things like black tank decorations, black shirts, or socks.  So, why things that are dark colored is a perceived threat? But why does this predator response still occur in domestic turtles?

There are a few explanations for pet turtles exhibiting fear of black:

  • Innate instinct: Even after generations of captive breeding, pet turtles retain their wild instincts, like black aversion, because it is deeply ingrained in their genes.
  • Handling stress: Pet turtles are more prone to perceive threats when stressed. A black object seen out of the corner of a turtle’s eye may provoke an instinctual attack reaction.
  • Poor vision: Domestic lighting is different than natural light, so black objects may appear even more indistinct and alarming to pet turtles.
  • Lack of socialization: Pet turtles normally have limited interaction with humans/handling and do not become accustomed to black clothing or objects. Wild turtles, in contrast, eventually learn that black shoes or clothing on tourists pose no threat. (Learn How To Crack Whole Corn For Chickens)

Why Do Turtles Attack Black Things?

Turtles have specific triggers that provoke an aggressive reaction towards black objects. These include:

  • Movement: A black object that moves quickly or erratically resembles predators like snakes where they recognize the patterns.
  • Approaching too closely: A black object within the turtle’s danger zone will trigger a lunge or bite as it could look like another turtle.
  • New objects: Any new black item suddenly introduced into the turtle’s habitat may trigger an aggressive investigatory response. Shoes around turtles can also look like other turtles.
  • Corner of eyesight: Because of turtles’ limited neck movement, a black object in the periphery of their vision can cause instinctive attack behavior.


Turtles are extraordinary reptiles that have been around for ages but see our world much differently than we do. Their turtle eyes perceive black as ominous, like human eyes do not. But it’s not hatred that makes turtles lunge at black shoes or shy away from dark figures overhead.

Instead, it’s an innate, evolved response to potential predators that we must appreciate. If turtle owners avoid triggering that instinct, we can better understand these peaceful creatures.

Turtles don’t want to attack black objects out of spite. They want to feel safe in their habitats as they have for millennia. We should provide bright, welcoming environments with care and empathy for their ancient turtle needs.

Turtles Dont like of Black

FAQs Turtles’ Dislike of Black

Are turtle species other than turtles also afraid of the color black?

Many tortoise and terrestrial turtle species are known to live by avoiding or showing aggression towards black objects because they think black color objects are going to harm them.

Sea turtles, however, don’t see black objects as threats since they are common in their ocean environments. In addition, this type of turtle may also see ultraviolet light when turtles live in the water.

Do turtles attack me because I’m wearing black?

Turtles sometimes attack black clothing, especially loose items like shoelaces that resemble small animals. Many things dark-colored turtles perceive as a threat, so wearing non-black shoes and clothes can prevent unwanted nips or collisions.

Will my turtle ever stop attacking black objects in its tank?

With proper acclimation, some adult turtles may eventually tolerate how they see the color black. However, they may have an innate discomfort, and defensive response to new black objects will likely always remain. (Learn How To Keep Raccoons From Climbing Downspouts)

Should I avoid wearing black when handling my turtle?

Sudden bites or scratches can happen if black clothing triggers your turtle’s instinctive attack response. For safety and stress reduction, wear brighter colors when interacting with your turtle, or if it’s your shoe, wear a white one.

Why Do Turtles Hate The Color Black

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