Yes, absolutely. Return turtles can remain underwater for long periods the time, they can not breathe underwater. Under the right circumstances, turtles deserve to drown.

You are watching: How long can a turtle stay underwater

Can turtles Drown?

A turtle deserve to drown under certain circumstances.

What space the best circumstances?How long have the right to turtles organize their breath? What if they do drown, is there anything you have the right to do?

How carry out Turtles Breathe?

You probably recognize that fish deserve to breathe underwater. They can do this due to the fact that they have actually special organs dubbed gills.

Turtles, top top the various other hand, room a lot prefer us. They absence gills and also instead have actually lungs. And although their lungs are significantly smaller than ours, they space still an effective enough come let them remain submerged underwater for lengthy periods the time.

However, lock do have to surface every now and also again.

How can A tortoise Drown?

How quickly a turtle deserve to drown depends on several factors. One of the most important determinants is what species the is.

Red-eared sliders for instance, commonly spend about most the their lives in the water, swimming around, sleeping and eating. They are super comfortable in the water.

Most box turtles, however, are disastrous swimmers. They lack webbed feet and also prefer to continue to be in really shallow water areas.

Tortoises are even worse. Not only do they absence webbed feet, yet they likewise are not provided to the water in ~ all, and would quickly drown if placed in a deep lake or pond.

Can Turtles breathe Underwater?

This is a tricky question. Turtles can breath underwater, but not how you could think. Unlike fish, turtles carry out not have gills that deserve to intake oxygen from the water. Instead, they space able to relocate the water across their scales which save on computer red blood cell that have the right to intake tiny amounts the oxygen from the water. However, the quantity of oxygen the turtles get from this an approach is an extremely miniscule, and can just support a turtle the is brumating (similar to hibernation) and not moving around and using energy. You have the right to learn more about just how turtles breathe underwater by analysis my write-up on what perform turtles do in the winter? A turtle the is proactively swimming about is no able to breathe underwater.

There space some species of tortoise that stay underwater because that a lengthy time and are able come absorb oxygen there is no breathing with their lungs, however they cannot remain underwater indefinitely. Some world may acquire confused and also think turtles deserve to breathe underwater since they will regularly blow bubbles the end of their mouths as soon as submerged.

This, however, is simply air escaping from your bodies. It definitely doesn’t median they room breathing!

Note: if you ever before see a turtle blow bubbles outside of the water, it’s a usual sign of a respiratory tract infection!

Best Cheap Essentials for tortoise Care
ProductPrice Range

Drowning is not usual in pet turtles, but it can happen if girlfriend don’t have actually an easily obtainable basking dock.

Can crate Turtles Drown?

Certain other species, commonly box turtles, are occasionally labeled as drowning dangers depending ~ above what type of environment they are in. Reeves turtles, and also mud turtles, are 2 typical examples.

Box turtles often tend to tire the end much, much much faster in deep water contrasted to aquatic species, so you will must be extra careful when constructing your tank. Prevent putting too lot water into it.

Can a resting Turtle Drown?

I have to admit, this concern has definitely crossed my mind.

A many pet turtle species sleep underwater. In fact, my red-eared slider is able come sleep underwater for what appears to it is in an incredibly long time. Even my box turtle will periodically sleep in the water.

But walk that mean a sleeping turtle could actually drown?

The price is no.

For turtles that sleep underwater (usually aquatic types like sliders and painted turtles), this is totally normal. What frequently happens is that they will normally make their means to the surface ar (usually simply drifting there) and also take a breath or two.

If they start to continue to be down too long, they will certainly wake up and also consciously swim to the surface ar to obtain air.

Do turtles Breathe throughout Hibernation?

I want to make a rapid note about a turtle’s capability to breath underwater. What about when they hibernate/brumate?

There space certain types of turtles the are able to absorb oxygen on details parts of their body, but this ability is yes, really just limited to hibernation. This occurs in the wild throughout the cold winter months, as soon as wild tortoise will frequently submerge themselves in mud or water (or both!).

So no, turtles cannot breathe underwater, and they most certainly can drown.

What are the most typical reasons because that a turtle drowning?

There room 2 key causes:

The turtle doesn’t have actually a basking point out or a means to get out of deep water, so it ultimately tires out and also drowns.The tortoise accidentally flips end and/or it s okay stuck under the water, trapping it.

Both the these causes are exceptionally rare.

Turtles just don’t typically drown. Lock are fairly intelligent creatures and most that the time, castle can gain themselves out of any kind of predicament they might be in. It will certainly take a lengthy time to tire the end a turtle.

That being said, if the water in her tank is as well low, and your turtle flips over and is unable to right him or herself, it can drown. Thus, it’s imperative the you fill her tank with the correct amount the water.

Can friend Revive a drowning Turtle?

Note: If this case ever wake up to you, please be careful and also gentle! i am not a licensed vet, therefore if your turtle walk drown, that is super vital that you take it it to your regional vet ASAP!

I’ve got great news and bad news when it concerns resuscitating drowning turtles.

The great news is that your tortoise may still have a fighting chance.

The poor news is the you will have to take your turtle come the vet ASAP, no matter what.

Whatever girlfriend do, below is the ONE cardinal ascendancy that you might NEVER break as soon as it pertains to a drowned turtle.

Never, ever turn a drowned turtle on the back! Secondly, don’t shot to execute something silly like fit a straw into its mouth and give that mouth-to-mouth.

That is exceptionally dangerous and also your solid breath is most likely to damage its inner organs.

If you carry out do this, any type of remaining air left in the turtle may be forced out unintentionally.

The an initial thing to carry out is come remain calm. Turtles are unlike humans. If a person is lifeless because of drowning, you need to act fast. As in, within minutes.

With turtles, you in ~ least have a small bit much more leeway in regards to time. That is since they don’t require quite as much oxygen as people do in bespeak to save everything an ext or less functional inside of them.

How to Revive a drowned Turtle

Here’s some common, an excellent old-fashioned advice when taking care of a drown turtle:

Take the turtle the end of the water, and hold the vertically, so the its head is sharp down.Very gently, seize the turtle’s head best behind that ears and also pull that neck out until it is extended, together you carry out this water will most likely leak the end of its mouth.Next, placed the tortoise on a stable, dry surface ar upright (NOT top top its back).Grab the front legs, and pull castle gently till they are completely extended, and then push them in again, watch as water will probably drip the end of the mouth again.Do this v the hind legs as well.Alternate pulling the front and also hind legs until no more water drips the end of the turtle’s mouth, this will probably take a few minutes.If the tortoise is showing any type of signs the life, such together movement, good! take it it come the vet ASAP!If the turtle is still lifeless, try one much more thing.Gently ar the tortoise in your palm and gently grab its head, then swing your arm from side to side, therefore that any kind of remaining water might be thrown the end from inside its body (be careful!).No matter what, you’ll should take it come the vet at this suggest (even if the revives).

Even if your turtle is maybe to be resuscitated, you will still need to take it to the vet.

Here’s why.


Pneumonia can be fatal to turtles and often establishes in tortoise that have drowned.

Your vet will certainly probably carry out antibiotics in order to stave it off.

The various other threat is absence of oxygen, so plenty of vets will hook increase a small tube the fits into the turtle’s mouth in bespeak to deliver pure oxygen. Various other antibiotics will additionally likely be given to stimulate the turtle and force the to remove the staying water in that system.

When it concerns resuscitating drowning turtles, baby turtles regularly do not fare an extremely well, therefore the younger the turtle, the quicker you will must act.

See more: Faq: What'S The Difference Between Lo Mein And Mei Fun, Chinese Cuisine


Turtles can and do unfortunately drown (although the is rare).If your turtle drowns, never ever place that on its ago or offer it mouth come mouth.Be gentle, follow the actions outlined over and take it it come the vet ASAP.Most pet turtle species are may be to remain submerged beneath the water for 15 come 30 minutes.