What symbolism do turtles have? (8 surprising meanings) (2023)

Turtles are unique species that have been with us for millions of years. Because of their looks, demeanor, and overall calm demeanor, they have earned the status of one of the most iconic animals on earth.

What symbolism do turtles have? (8 surprising meanings) (1)

Today and throughout human history, turtles have been described as symbols oflongevityand the ability to survive. And because of their wrinkled appearance, we associate them with virtues usually associated with the elderly, such as:patience,wisdom, miBusiness.

As a spirit animal, the turtle teaches us to take things slowly and not rush things. We should prefer slower, steady growth to a rapid rise with ups and downs. Interestingly, early Christians saw the tortoise as a symbol of opposing forces of evil (although the symbolism of tortoises in Christianity is very different today!)

> This article is from our A-Z series on animal symbolism.

Contents show

8 symbolism of turtles

This is what the turtle symbolizes for us today.

1. Patience

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Turtles move slowly, and we could say that their motto is "You go far by going slow." This motto also applies to many different areas of our lives. Patience is an important virtue, but it's in short supply these days. We tend to rush things and expect overnight results without necessarily waiting patiently.

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Turtles are the exact opposite of that. Because they walk so slowly, they can cover much less ground than faster animals, and they have developed special defense mechanisms for this. Ultimately, this strategy has paid off for turtles throughout their evolution, as well as for those willing to wait patiently rather than rush things.

other animal thansymbolizes patienceIt's the seahorse.

2. Wisdom

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The turtle is one of the oldest symbols of planet earth; we could say that in many ways it is an ancient symbol of wisdom. Cultures from past centuries used the turtle as a symbol.

Turtles are intelligent animals too. They have the ability to take things calmly and live a relaxed life, which partly explains why we so often associate them with wisdom. We see turtles as wise animals because, despite their slow movement and inability to flee quickly, they are able to find their way through life, surviving many natural threats in the process.

Related:13 animals that symbolize wisdom

3. Alter

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Turtles are one of the oldest creatures on planet earth. The earliest known tortoises date from260 million yearsreturn. This puts them on the list of the oldest animal species in history. Although turtles back then were very different than what turtles represent today. They had teeth and no shells and looked a little different.

But the turtles also have a mysterious element. Because of this antiquity, many cultures throughout history have used turtles as a symbol. For example, some Native American tribes called the continent we now know as North America "Turtle Island" because to them the turtle represents the earth itself and its history.

4. Longevity

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Turtles are not only one of the oldest creatures on earth, but they are also known to have one of the longest lifespans of any creature. The average lifespan of most larger turtle species is around 80 years, while the average lifespan of the smaller turtles is 30 to 40 years.

There are several reasons for its longevity. It's their vegetarian diet, laid-back lifestyle, slow growth rates, and ability to reproduce quickly. But they also have the ability to protect themselves with their tanks.

The oldest known tortoiseJonathan, is 187 years old! Jonathan is a giant tortoise and is found in the Seychelles. This means that Jonathan was born during the Industrial Revolution and survived both world wars. Wow, he has some stories to tell!

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Related article: Spiritual meaning and symbolism of the dead turtle

5. Fertility

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Turtles are also very fertile animals. Their reproductive behavior is also unique. They will travel millions of miles just to hatch their eggs somewhere safe on the beach. They can spawn anywhere from a few eggs to over a hundred eggs at a time in a single hatchery.

And because they live so long, they can do that many times in their lives. While spawning rates and ages can vary from species to species, there is definitely a clear reason to see why turtles are considered symbols of fertility.

6. Determination and persistence

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Since turtles move slowly when walking, they are also a symbol of steadfastness. While they are surprisingly fast when swimming, they are quite slow when moving out of the water. However, their patience and ability to assert themselves helped them greatly in their development.

They can be symbols of staying strong when the going gets tough. Turtles show us that it's important to stay focused and grounded, even when things aren't going our way. And that we have to keep our feet on the ground even when things are going well.

Due to their slow movement, turtles are often attacked by larger predators. However, they are by no means weaklings. In fact it's the opposite. They remain determined to defend themselves and have the armor mechanism to protect them when hunted.

7. Relaxed lifestyle

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Turtles are certainly laid-back creatures. As such, they represent a laid-back lifestyle that doesn't care too much about what others think, just as turtles fend off "predators" with ease.

They can also live almost anywhere they want. When breeding, they travel hundreds of miles from their nest just to lay their eggs. And when they are in the water, they can move freely and quickly. This freedom allows them to live their lives in a relaxed manner. (See also: our article onsymbolism of water).

This is epitomized by the jet in Finding Nemo:

(Video) Turtle Facts for Kids

8. Paz

Turtles are peaceful animals. They are the symbol of peace because they are relatively harmless animals that don't actually have any predatory behaviors. They are vegetarian, so they do not fight or hunt other animals. Instead, they live their own lives and go their own way.


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Turtles as spirit animals

Because of all of these qualities and symbolism that we mentioned above, turtles are often present as spirit animals.

Having the turtle as your spirit animal means you are onemoldableperson, even if you arecertainlywhen walking is difficult. You have pretty strong armor when others attack you or when things don't go your way, and that determination allows you to get through tough times.

The turtle guides you to live your life in a relaxed way, although it also teaches you how to do itDon't take things so hardinstead of rushing them.

And just like the turtles, you have to learnlike you go your own waypeaceful instead of restricting others. Because you are determined, you must be able to overcome anything that comes your way without involving or harming others.

The tortoise has been known as a totem for many centuries. In particular, it was an important power animal for Native Americans, where it represented their connection to the earth. But it also had similar meanings to today, like determination and also longevity.

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What does it mean to dream about turtles?

Although a dream about turtles may seem a bit strange, some people still experience them. Especially if you haven't seen turtles in your real life for a while, dreams about turtles can seem quite unusual.

However, there is a symbolic meaning behind these dreams.

  • If you see a turtle in your dreams, then it is a sign that symbolizes your life. Perhaps you are taking things too quickly in your life, especially in your relationships. If you dream about turtles, you need to take things slowly and patiently.
  • If you see a turtle hidden in a shell, it also has a symbolic meaning for you. It could mean that something dangerous is coming into your life and you should be as careful as the turtle hiding in its shell.
  • When the turtle comes out of its shell, then it could mean that you open yourself up to ideas, people and things in your life that you weren't so sure about before. This is positive for your current life situation, because you leave your comfort zone.
  • Dream about sea turtlesit means you want to be free like the turtle swimming in the sea. There could be something or someone limiting you in your current life situation and it is a sign that you need to cut them out of your life immediately. To learn more about sea dreams, take a look at our article aboutOcean symbolism.


Turtles are ancient and unique animals that have been with us for millions of years. They are calm animals that have determination and the ability to survive long and protect themselves from predators.

These virtues mean that turtles are commonly used as symbols of the things we do in life. Turtle symbolism can represent determination, longevity, wisdom, patience and even fertility.

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I'm Chris, running this site - a resource on symbolism, metaphors, idioms, and more! Thanks for the visit.

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What is the symbolism of turtles? ›

Around the world the tortoise and/or turtle can be seen as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge, and is able to defend itself on its own. It can be regarded as personifying water, the moon, the Earth, time, immortality, and fertility.

What symbolic meanings do turtles have in myths? ›

They symbolize personal strength, resilience, and perseverance. The significance of the turtle's symbolism and strength is seen in Hindu mythology, where the turtle was often depicted as holding four elephants on its shell, carrying the world on its back.

What is the spiritual meaning of sea turtle? ›

Sea Turtle Symbolism and Meaning

The sea turtle symbolizes protection. Seeing a sea turtle means that you have a guardian spirit watching over you. If you don't believe in guardian spirits, the meaning might have a different twist. The sea turtle is also a symbol of good luck and longevity.

What does a turtle symbolize in Christianity? ›

In the Bible, a turtle is not a reference to the animal that can seal itself inside its own shell; turtle, in the Bible, refers to doves (turtledoves) symbolic for an offering to atone for sin.

What God is represented by a turtle? ›

Kurma, (Sanskrit: “Tortoise”) one of the 10 avatars (incarnations) of the Hindu god Vishnu. In this incarnation Vishnu is associated with the myth of the churning of the ocean of milk.

What animal symbolizes strength? ›

Tiger. Also known as “the king of beasts,” the tiger is well-known for its ferocity, Earthly power and anger. The Chinese label the tiger as a symbol of strength, courage, determination, and military prowess.

What is a turtle known for? ›

Turtles are easily recognised by their bony, cartilaginous shell. This super-tough casing acts like a shield to protect them from predators – some turtles can even tuck their head up inside their shell for extra protection! 4. Just like your bones, a turtle's shell is actually part of its skeleton.

What does the back of the turtle represent? ›

The turtle's back is a significant symbol used in Iroquoian traditions. It represents the creation of Turtle Island also known as the continent of North America, on the turtle's back or more accurately the “Earth Grasper”, from their Creation Story.

What does a turtle symbolize in Hawaii? ›

To the Hawaiian people, sea turtles or “Honu,” are sacred creatures. They embody good luck, protection, endurance and long life.

What is the spiritual meaning of a turtle crossing your path? ›

What does it mean when a turtle crosses your path? As you may have already figured out, turtles represent good fortune, longevity, and protection. A turtle crossing your path is a sign of good fortune.

What does a green turtle symbolize? ›

The Hawaiian Honu – Symbol of Wisdom and Good Luck

When snorkeling at Kahalu'u on the Big Island of Hawaii, or hiking the coastal trails at Kaloko–Honokohao National Historical Park north of Kona, you will likely be graced by the presence of the Hawaiian Honu, or Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas).

What religion is a turtle symbol? ›

In Hindu mythology the world is held by four elephants standing on a turtle. In Hinduism, Akupara is a tortoise that carries the world on his back. It holds up the earth and the sea. The second reincarnation (avatar) of Vishnu was a turtle called Kurmâ.

What does the turtle symbol mean in Native American? ›

Indigenous people recognize the turtle as the symbol of Mother Earth. Mother Earth provides protection for women through the turtle. The spirit of the turtle is feminine, embodying fertility, patience, nurturing, longevity, fortitude, calmness and resiliency.

What does the Bible say about turtle? ›

kjv 2:12: The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; msg 2:12: Spring flowers are in blossom all over. The whole world's a choir – and singing!

What does turtle symbolize in Japan? ›

Turtles are considered a symbol of good fortune and long life in Japan due to its longevity. Many temple, shrines, and parks keep turtles in their ponds.

What does turtle symbolize in Greek? ›

In ancient Greece the turtle is a symbol of fertility and an attribute of Aphrodite/Venus. A fable exists in which Zeus invited all animals to his wedding, but the tortoise did not attend. Zeus wanted to know why. The tortoise responded, 'Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.

What animal symbolizes god? ›

The lamb was strongly associated with religious sacrifices in the ancient Near East, and was adopted as a symbol of Christ and his sacrifice on behalf of humanity.

What animal means loyalty? ›

Dog - Typifies loyalty, kinship, bravery, perseverance, and happiness and also conveys protection and reliability.

What animal symbolizes protection? ›

Dog - Guidance, protection, loyalty, fidelity, faithfulness, watchfulness, the Hunt.

What animal represents trust? ›

Elephants. Trust often derives from faithfulness, and there is no animal that symbolizes fidelity like the elephant. Ancient rock carvings of elephants suggest that even early humans noticed the strength of the elephant's familial bonds and sought to emulate them.

Why do turtles flip upside down? ›

When swimming, turtles with severe respiratory infections, such as those caused by vitamin A deficiency, can tilt to the side, causing them to flip over. A lack of vitamin A changes a turtle's mucous membranes in their eyes, mouth, and respiratory tract.

What does it mean when a turtle is upside down? ›

Turtles on their backs are vulnerable. It's difficult for many of them to right themselves. If flipping over occurs frequently to your pet, something is wrong with him. If he exhibits any symptoms of illness along with the flipping, take him to the vet for a thorough examination.

What is a lucky turtle? ›

Lucky Turtle is a manufacturer of high-quality cannabis-infused products in Colorado.

What is something unique about turtles? ›

As reptiles, sea turtles breathe air, but they have the ability, under natural conditions, to remain submerged for hours at a time. They even sleep underwater. Most sea turtles spend their entire life at sea, only returning to nesting beaches to lay eggs.

What are 10 interesting facts about turtles? ›

Top 10 facts about marine turtles
  • There are seven species of marine turtle. ...
  • Turtles don't have teeth. ...
  • They're well 'ard. ...
  • Their young lives are a mystery. ...
  • They can be ginormous. ...
  • It's survival of the fittest. ...
  • They make some interesting noises. ...
  • Sad but less salty.

Why do turtles symbolize wisdom? ›

Sea turtles are one of the biggest symbols of wisdom. What is this? Because they've been around for so long on our planet, they have all the knowledge and have gathered the wisdom of this world, just like an old man does when he lives for a long period.

What is the turtle Universe theory? ›

The World Turtle, also called the Cosmic Turtle or the World-bearing Turtle, is a mytheme of a giant turtle (or tortoise) supporting or containing the world. It occurs in Hindu mythology, Chinese mythology, and the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

What is the message of old turtle? ›

In this profoundly moving fable, the earth and all its creatures are suffering, for the people will not share their Truth, which gives them happiness and power, with those who are different from them.

What do turtles represent Chinese? ›

The tortoise is a symbolic animal in Chinese culture.

In ancient China, the tortoise was a sacred animal. Followers of the philosopher Confucius considered it one of the Four Spiritually Endowed Creatures, along with the unicorn, phoenix, and dragon. In Taoist (DOW-ist) philosophy, the tortoise symbolizes the universe.

What does turtle mean in tattoo? ›

The turtle symbolizes longevity, resilience, good luck, poise, patience, reliability, stability, and wisdom in tattoos.

Why do turtles follow you? ›

Like other pets, they never run towards you or give you a warm hug. Turtles usually show affection to their owner by following them around with their eyes or head. If you walk in the room, an affectionate turtle will immediately start to follow you with their eyes.

What does turtle symbolize in Hinduism? ›

In fact, the turtle (or tortoise) itself is a sacred animal for Hindu people, it represents the Kurma Avatar or Bedawang Nala / Badavannala (the God Vishnu's incarnation as a giant turtle supporting the world). Thus, sea turtles are valued as sustainers of life on earth.

What does the Celtic turtle mean? ›

The Turtle is a symbol of grounding and safety.

Is a turtle An omen? ›

Ancient mythology and folklore stories of various cultures from across the globe have considered the turtle as a good sign and positive fortune. They are messengers of inner strength, long life, steadfastness, and peace.

What is the personality of a turtle? ›

There are some personality characteristics that are common to all turtles and tortoises. They are quiet, shy, and harmless yet display intelligence. They can identify their keepers and know when it's feeding time. Turtles and tortoises are very sensitive to loud noises, vibrations, and sudden bright lights.

What does a turtle symbolize in jewelry? ›

The Turtle symbolizes order, creation, patience, strength, stability, longevity, innocence, endurance, and protection wherever and whenever it is worn.

Who is the turtle that created the universe? ›

In Stephen King's book, an ancient turtle named Mataurin, who created the universe, gives those kids, known collectively as the Losers Club, the information to defeat It during a psychic ritual.

Is turtle lucky or unlucky? ›

Stone Turtle

Turtle statues attract positivity. It is believed that having a stone turtle in your bedroom can help fight insomnia. It also attracts wealth, peace, prosperity, power and good luck. The turtle's long life cycle symbolizes immortality.

What do turtles symbolize in Korean culture? ›

Koreans respect turtles as symbols of long life, good life, and knowledge of the future. Many Buddhist temples have stele or tablet turtle monuments that commemorate a monk's life.

What is the Cherokee turtle symbol? ›

ᏓᎩᏏ, pronounced dahc'see, is the Cherokee word for turtle. In Cherokee mythology, the turtle is a symbol of steady progress and unfailing devotion. Perhaps this is why in Cherokee, like in so many other cultures, the turtle is chosen to carry the most precious of cargo, the world.

What is the Hebrew meaning of turtle? ›

Hebrew doesn't distinguish between turtles and tortoises. Both are both called tzav (pl. tza-vim).

Is a turtle Lucky for money? ›

Turtle signifies wealth. Keeping a crystal tortoise in the home or office will help one deal with financial problems and promote financial stability. A crystal turtle or tortoise also helps eliminate some Vastu defects. The tortoise figurine should be placed in the north direction, according to Vastu Shastra.

Are turtles a good omen? ›

The turtle is a symbol of the earth in many cultures including traditional Chinese culture as well as the Native American cultures. The turtle offers protection, providence, and longevity. The turtle is believed to carry the world and even support the heavens. The turtle is therefore a good luck sign.

What are turtles good luck for? ›

The tortoise or turtle in home is an auspicious symbol in many cultures and is believed to bring good health, longevity and good luck. Tortoises are considered celestial animals and in both, Chinese and Hindu mythology, they are important.

What is the Native American meaning of turtle? ›

Indigenous people recognize the turtle as the symbol of Mother Earth. Mother Earth provides protection for women through the turtle. The spirit of the turtle is feminine, embodying fertility, patience, nurturing, longevity, fortitude, calmness and resiliency.

Are turtles considered good luck charm? ›

The Turtle is a Symbol of Good Fortune and is an positive omen bringing 10,000 years of happiness. The turtle carries the world on its back. This is a symbol of fertility, vitality, and great patience. The Chinese believed these animals foretold future events.

Do turtles bring wealth? ›

Turtle statues attract positivity. It is believed that having a stone turtle in your bedroom can help fight insomnia. It also attracts wealth, peace, prosperity, power and good luck. The turtle's long life cycle symbolizes immortality.

What does the turtle symbolize in Hawaiian culture? ›

As the only remaining indigenous reptile in the Hawaiian Islands today, the honu is revered as a sacred symbol of longevity and endurance (in other words, the fable of the tortoise and the hare knew what it was talking about). The green sea turtle is a threatened species and protected under federal and state laws.

What do turtles symbolize in dreams? ›

Seeing a turtle in a dream may evoke several emotions in you. The most common being peace, comfort, and interconnectedness with nature. Spiritually, turtles in dreams represent your view of the world and how you fit into it. Remember, your choices make or break you.

What deities are associated with turtles? ›

Often the turtle appears in company of Gods, like Hermes, Aphrodite, Artemis and Apollo. And sometimes is appears on paintings as a game for children, due to its calm nature. A sea turtle also decorated one of the most ancient Greek currencies: the currency of Aegina.

Why do you give a turtle a gift? ›

More interestingly, when a turtle shows up in your life you should pay attention. They, apparently, represent great life opportunities that you need to approach in the right manner and time. A symbol of power, strength, long life, patience, wisdom, energy, loyalty and good fortune.

Which is the luckiest turtle? ›

The Dragon Turtle

This is a dragon-headed turtle that's associated with courage, auspiciousness, and good luck. The dragon turtle is known to attract wealth and prosperity.

What does the turtle mean in Cherokee? ›

Those images are encompassed by a turtle representing the voice of the people. At ceremonial dances, women wear turtle shell rattles on their legs. The rhythmic sounds of shells as the women dance is said to symbolize the turtles lifting up their voice in song.

Which direction should the turtle face? ›

As per Vastu Shastra, a tortoise figurine must be kept in the north direction of the house, the reason is, this direction is ruled by Lord Kuber. Thus, keeping a crystal tortoise in an office or home facing the north direction is highly recommended.


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