How Long Can Turtles Stay Out of Water? (Detailed Guide)

Turtles can live on both land and water. They are tough and adaptable creatures. It might be the reason why they are one of the oldest living creatures around. Some of these reptiles can live on land but most of them are aquatic. How long can turtles stay out of water?

Without access to clean water, turtles will not survive. Depending on the turtle’s species is how long they can live without water. They need water so that they can stay hydrated. Water is important for them to have proper digestion and metabolism. Without it, turtles will be dehydrated and get sick.

Water is essential for all living beings and that includes turtles. However, they don’t just need drinking water. Turtles need to swim on it and keep their body temperature cool. Although there are times that water may not be available for them in the wild. For pet turtles, you should always provide them access to clean water.

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How Long Can Turtles Stay Out of Water?

As semi-aquatic species, turtles will not survive by staying in the water. They need to have access to land. It will allow them to breathe air since they have lungs. At the same time, it’s not ideal for turtles to stay out of water. They need both land and water to have a healthy life.

Turtles can stay out of the water for between 6 to 12 hours. They will not be at risk of getting dehydrated during those times. When they go on brumation, it can take them between 3 to 6 months out of water. Although it will depend on different factors how long they can do that.

There are three important factors that influence how long a turtle can spend out of water. Those factors are the turtle’s age, temperature, and humidity. If they are in the right circumstances, they can spend days out of water. But if not, they will not even last for more than 30 minutes.

1. How Long Can Baby Turtles Stay Out of Water?

Age is one of the factors on how long a turtle can stay out of water. For hatchlings and juveniles, they can’t last long out of the water like adult turtles. They are not yet fully developed and they still need more time to be as tough as the adults. Baby turtles store a lot of water just yet.

Juvenile turtles can manage to survive out of the water between 6 to 8 hours. Provided that the surroundings are not too cold or warm, the juvenile should be alright. If an adult turtle managed to escape the tank, don’t worry. They can survive for at least 12 hours out of water.

2. How Temperature Influences the Time Turtles Can Stay Out of Water?

The higher the temperature is, the harder it is for the turtle to stay out of the water. The time will be shorter since water can evaporate faster when it’s too hot. It will affect the water on the turtle. That includes the water inside its body which is about 68% of it is made out of water.

The cold weather will not affect the time turtles spend out of water. Although it can still affect them to some degree but not as much as the high temperature. The best temperature for them should be 75 to 86F. Turtles can adapt to different temperatures like humans. If you feel comfortable, your turtle should also be alright.

3. How Humidity Influences the Time Turtles Can Stay Out of Water?

Humidity can also be an important factor for the time turtles stay out of water. It refers to the amount of water present in the air. If the place is at 100% humidity, it means that it’s foggy or it can also be raining. The air carries more water than other areas in this case.

If the turtle is in a place with high humidity, it can stay out of water longer. Turtles will not be in danger of being dehydrated. Although for pet turtles, the humidity doesn’t matter since they have access to water inside their tanks. It usually applies to turtles who live in the wild.

How Long Can a Slider Turtle Stay Out of Water?

The turtle’s body is made of 68% to 74% of water. Like other reptiles, they are cold-blooded. Turtles can’t regulate their body temperature. That is why they can lose water on their bodies when exposed to heat. They absorb the temperature of their environment to stay warm or cool.

Slider turtles will lose water from their bodies faster in hot weather. That means they can’t stay out of water for a long time.

It’s recommended to let the turtle in the water stay hydrated. They also need to be out of water for basking. But they should have easy access to water so that they can swim to cool down.

On the other hand, turtles will lose water at a slower rate when they are in cool weather. It means that they can stay longer out of the water if the temperature is lower. The cooler weather will not dehydrate the turtle fast unlike when they are in a hot environment.

The humidity can also affect the length of time turtles can stay out of water. It works better for them if there’s high humidity around their environment. They can stay out of the water without losing too much water from their bodies. Places with rain or fog will help turtles to keep them hydrated.

How Do Sliders Can Go for Months Without Water?

Slider turtles can’t spend a long time out of the water like other aquatic turtles. But how can they survive for months without water? It’s possible because of brumation which is similar to hibernation for other animals. This period starts during the winter when nothing grows such as vegetation. It happens to be the turtle’s food.

Due to that reason, turtles will hibernate to save their energy. During brumation, the turtle’s metabolism will slow down. That will be enough to avoid their body from demanding more energy. Even their heart rate will also drop significantly. It will only beat enough to keep them alive.

That’s how sliders can go on without water for months. They don’t need to eat as well during this time. But once the spring starts, the turtles will also wake up from their brumation. That’s when they will need to have access to clean water and food. They will resume their usual activities as well.

Can Sea Turtles Live Out of Water?

Sea turtles live in the ocean and they have unique features for their habitat. It helps them to survive in a marine environment. They have lungs instead of gills and they need to breathe air like other turtles. Although they spend the majority of their lives in water, they need to go to land and lay their eggs.

The head and limbs of a sea turtle are fixed outside its shell. Unlike freshwater turtles, they cannot retract inside their shells. It’s their distinctive feature as well as their streamlined shell. This made them hydrodynamic and easily maneuver under their ocean habitat. It also helps them to deal with the water current.

How Long Can a Sea Turtle Stay Out of Water?

Sea turtles have adapted to their aquatic life. They have webbed feet and streamlined bodies. Sea turtles rarely leave the ocean and they spend a lot of time in the water. Except when they have to lay their eggs. That’s when they get out of the water and dig a nest in the sand.

After the nesting season, sea turtles will go back to the ocean. They can’t breathe underwater but can hold their breath for a long time. Their heart rate slows down so they can save their needed oxygen. That’s why sea turtles can stay underwater for a very long time. But it also means they can’t stay out of water for a long time.

How Long Can Aquatic Turtles Be Out of Water?

Even aquatic turtles live in the water, they also get out of it for basking. They can spend between 2 to 8 hours out of the water for this reason. That’s why it’s a requirement to set up a basking area on the turtle tank. Turtles need to warm up and absorb UV rays on land.

When they are in the wild, these turtles only get out of the water to lay their eggs and bask. If they have access to their food sources on water, they don’t have any other reason to get out of it. Hatchlings and juveniles don’t come out of water. They are not fully developed yet to survive out of the water.

What are the Reasons Turtles Come Out of Water?

1. Food Sources

Access to food sources is important for any animal to survive. When there is no available food in the water, it will come out. The turtle will search for food and it will be in danger from being exposed to predators. This could happen even with pet turtles since they will search for food to survive.

2. Oxygen

Turtles need oxygen to breathe and they will come out of the water to get it. If the pet turtle doesn’t have enough oxygen, it will come out of the water. Make sure that there is a sufficient oxygen level in the tank. You can install a filter, air stones, or waterfalls to ensure that the turtle can breathe well.

3. Water Temperature

It’s another factor that makes the turtle come out of the water. The water temperature should be ideal at all times. When the water temperature falls, it will come out of the water and go to the basking area to warm up. Excessive basking is bad for turtles. Get a heater to regulate the water on the tank.

Turtles can stay out of water for up to 8 hours. But it depends on the temperature of their habitat. If it has a cool temperature, it can stay out of the water for several days. However, the turtle will have digestion issues if it doesn’t spend enough time in the water.

How Can Turtles Manage to Stay Out of Water for Months?

Turtles have some impressive feats. Even if they need water to survive, sometimes they can survive without it. Ideally, turtles cannot survive for a month without water. But how can they survive for six months without any water at the same time? That’s because of their ability to go on brumation.

When they hibernate, turtles will sleep for several months. That means they don’t eat, drink, and even breathe. It’s like they are on pause while the condition is too harsh for survival. Although turtles prefer to hibernate underwater, it’s not necessary. They do it to avoid predators from attacking them while on brumation.

A lot of animals go on hibernation during the winter. The cold weather seems to stop vegetation from growing. Small animals or insects are also less active. That means that the food supply will be scarce. So instead of compromising their lives to find food, they hibernate. The same goes for turtles so they brumate instead.

Brumation is the only way turtles can manage to stay out of water. They can do it under the pile of leaves and under a rock or log. Although they prefer to hibernate under the water. That way, they don’t have to worry about predators too much. It will ensure that they will wake up afterward.

Why Do Turtles Stay In the Water Too Much?

The simple answer is that most of them are aquatic. Turtles have evolved from their habitat which happens to be a body of water. They also have better access to their food sources. Almost everything they need to survive is in the water. Small fishes and insects are just around the lakes or ponds which happened to be included in their diet.

Another reason is that turtles are faster in the water than on land. It will be better for them to survive predators and catch their prey in the water. Although they’re not like fishes, turtles can stay on land for a few hours every day. After all, they need air to breathe since they have lungs. But why do they still stay in the water?

It’s all because of the way they evolved through time. In the past, turtles needed to drink water but not live in the water. But they can’t defend themselves against their predators. They move to the lakes and ponds instead. It only has a few predators compared to the land which makes those areas their ideal habitat.

Many years have passed and turtles evolved from their new environment. That’s why they’re extinct makes them feel safer when they are in the water. Many biologists believe that in the future, turtles may evolve to be completely aquatic. Although it’s only a theory, for now, it might happen eventually after several years.

Do All Turtles Need Water?

Yes, all turtles need water to survive. All living beings need water to thrive. Even land turtles live on land, they still need access to clean water. It’s a requirement for all living beings. For turtles, water is also their habitat. Although they don’t stay in the water as fishes do.

Aside from being the turtle’s habitat, they need water to keep them hydrated. It also helps them cool their bodies. Turtles will be dehydrated and may die without water. If the temperature rises, it will be harder for them to survive out of water. Turtles also need water to aid their digestion and metabolism.

Aquatic turtles cannot survive for a long time without getting in the water. Land turtles only require a small amount of water to live. Some turtle species can even survive from the water they get from their food. Although there are diff turtle species around, they all need water to thrive.

Turtles need to have access to clean water all the time. It’s easier for pet turtles since their owners will provide their requirements. In the wild, turtles need to deal with harsh conditions. Some turtles may not even have access to water for months. But they still live as long as they have a water source.

Is Tap Water Bad for Turtles?

If you like to keep a turtle as a pet, consider the type of water that you will be providing. The turtle tank must be set up according to the turtles’ requirements. Tap water is readily available at home. If you’re thinking of adding this to the turtle tank, think again.

Tap water usually contains chlorine as a disinfectant. It’s safe to drink even for humans. But this may cause a reaction for your turtle. It can destroy the useful bacteria on the turtle tank. This can also interrupt the nitrogen cycle. Regular tap water may be present on the tank.

Use some water conditioner instead before adding the water inside the tank. Make sure that the tank is also clean. Turtles stay in the water most of the time. It means that the tank will be dirty for a short time. If the water is dirty, they will be sick.

Maintain the cleanliness of the turtle tank by replacing a portion of the water. It will help to dilute the waste in the water. If you want to avoid the need to replace the water frequently, get a good filter. Choose the filter that will be enough for the turtle tank to fit in and clean effectively.


1. Do Turtles Drink Water?

Yes, turtles drink the same water that they swim in as well. That’s why it has to be clean since they drink it too. A good filter will avoid the turtle from drinking dirty water. In the wild, good bacteria are present in the water. It cleans the toxins from the animal waste in the water. The water is clean in nature because of the good bacteria in ponds or lakes.

2. Will Turtles Die If the Water is Too Cold?

Turtles are reptiles which means that they are cold-blooded. They need to have the right water temperature. It’s the best way for them to thrive and have a better life. If the water is too cold the turtle will not die. At least not instantly but it can cause illnesses for turtles. If they end up having a cold, it can be fatal for turtles.

3. Why Do Turtles Need Water?

Aside from drinking and swimming in the water, turtles need the water to eat properly. They don’t have saliva and the water will help them swallow their food. That’s why turtles stay in the water most of the time. They will swim, eat, and drink while they are in the water.

4. Do Sea Turtles Drink Seawater?

Yes, sea turtles drink seawater since they live in it. They have salt glands which are special glands to process seawater. It can get rid of the salt to make it safe for turtles to drink. After drinking salt water, the salt will enter the bloodstream. It will be transported to the salt glands to process it.

A concentrated solution will come out from the turtle’s eyes. It’s called salty tears and it will be washed away. Sea turtles can drink seawater and get rid of the salt it contains. They will have half of the amount of seawater left and is now freshwater. The salt gland will process the water for them.

5. Will Turtles Survive in a Swimming Pool?

Turtles can survive even in a swimming pool. But they need to get out of the water to go basking. It will be hard for them to get out of the swimming pool. The chlorine in the water will also irritate their eyes and they should not drink it. Keeping a turtle in a swimming pool doesn’t have benefits. They should be in the turtle tank.

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