An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Turtle Eyes

6-16-13 painted turtle eye line 226When a turtle moves its head, its eye moves to compensate, so that its eye remains in the same position – parallel to the horizon or pond surface — no matter what position the turtle’s head is in. This type of eye stabilization is called vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR). Humans have a very similar reflex, but it’s easier to detect on a Painted Turtle (pictured) because of its dark eye line. A turtle’s eye structure is stabilized to the horizon, which makes sense, as turtles spend their life close to the ground and/or the pond surface, and this reflex enables it to align its vision horizontally in order to find food, a mate and predators.

6 responses

  1. Heinrich Wurm

    Small but important typo: vEstibuo-ocular reflex – hard to read without it!

    June 17, 2013 at 11:08 am

  2. Gayle Fish

    I think it is ‘vestibulo-ocular! Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2013 10:59:18 +0000 To:

    June 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm

  3. Fran Volkmann

    That’s really fascinating! Amazing what I don’t know about turtle eyes.



    June 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm

  4. viola

    Who would know?!!! Fascinating information! including the fact that someone noticed the eye and the turning and made a study of it. Nature never ceases to amaze!

    June 17, 2013 at 5:25 pm

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