Pet turtles are interesting to keep and they have sweet personalities. However, they do have very specific needs for their habitat and their nutrition as well.
Many people may wonder how long turtles sleep and if their turtle is okay. The answer is yes, they do sleep, but not all of them sleep for the same amount of time each day.
Turtles’ sleep requirements depend on their age, the type of turtle, and its activity level as well. In a broad sense, turtles need a minimum of five hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. Besides actually sleeping, turtles do take “cat naps” and rest periodically. If your turtle is sleeping quite a bit longer than this, it could be a health-related issue or a temperature problem.
How Do Most Turtles Sleep?
Most turtles retract themselves into their shell when they sleep. This is because, in the wild, it protects their head and legs from predators.
Pet turtles usually do this as well. Sea turtles, interestingly enough, do not retract into the shell to sleep because they have soft shells and it wouldn’t protect them sufficiently.
Wild turtles find a secluded spot out of the way in which to sleep. It also needs to be an appropriate temperature for them to be able to sleep. Wild turtles like to sleep on rocks to use as a disguise or in a hole that they dig into the sand or mud.
Digging into the sand or mud at the bottom of a pond allows them to get enough oxygen while they sleep.
Pet turtles don’t need to worry about predators and they may sleep in their warm basking spot or burrow into the substrate at the bottom of their enclosure or even at the surface of the water.
Different Types of Turtles and Sleep Habits
Aquatic turtles will generally sleep in their warm basking spot or on the surface of the water.
Land turtles, such as box turtles, usually retract into their shells and sleep anywhere that is quiet. Painted turtles generally bury themselves into the substrate in their environment to sleep.
You may wonder what it looks like when your turtle is actually sleeping. They will be very still and their eyelids will be shut while they sleep, no matter where they decide to take their naps or get rest.
Most pet owners of all types of pets enjoy watching them and interacting with them in the daytime when they are awake.
You can encourage your pet turtle to sleep at night by turning off the lights near the enclosure, so you have more time to spend with it in the day.
Aquatic turtles can sleep in the water, as they naturally should. They can hold their breath underwater for several hours and then rise to the surface for air.
Aquatic turtles have a very slow metabolism that allows them to do this. So there’s no need to worry if your turtle is going to drown.
How Many Hours Do Turtles Sleep?
Wild turtles can hibernate for months at a time when the temperatures fall in the winter. Hibernation lets them preserve their energy until the weather warms up again.
Pet turtles have different amounts of time they sleep depending on several factors, including the species, the age, and the habitat conditions, such as the temperature.
Baby turtles need more sleep than adult turtles, just as humans and other pets do. Large land turtles need the most sleep and aquatic turtles need anywhere from four to seven hours a day.
Do Turtles Sleep at Night Or In The Day?
Turtles do sleep mostly at night. Wild sea turtles stay awake at night when they lay their eggs by digging into the ground and then they may sleep in the day after laying the eggs.
Turtles need warmth to bask in, so they are usually awake in the wild during the day for the much-needed warmth of sunshine.
It is important for the development of their bones and shells to be able to bask in the light. Also, turtles don’t see well in the dark, so that’s usually when they sleep.
Pet turtles generally sleep at night and stay awake in the daytime to have time with their humans and to be fed.
Is My Turtle Okay? He’s Sleeping a Lot
Some turtles like to sleep more than others. Watching your turtle will allow you to know what is normal for your particular turtle.
As a turtle grows up from a baby, it will be more active as a juvenile. Then, as your turtle continues to age, it will start sleeping more, and when it’s old, its activity level will drop.
Since turtles go into hibernation mode in the cold of winter, if your turtle seems to be sleeping more than what is normal, then you should check your heat source in the habitat. If the temperature drops in the habitat or around it, your turtle will naturally sleep more.
You should be diligent in maintaining the water temperature for your aquatic turtle. The water should remain between 70 and 75 degrees F at all times.
Depending on where you live, you may need to use a water heater to keep it at this temperature in the colder months.
If you have a box turtle or any other land turtle for your pet, the warm side of the enclosure should have a heat source to maintain a temperature of about 85 degrees F. This is the side of the habitat that will be its basking zone.
Maintaining these temperatures will keep your pet turtle from entering hibernation. All turtles can’t survive hibernation unless they are in prime shape, so it’s best not to let your turtle hibernate.
If your turtle seems to be sleeping more than normal, you should first check the temperature in its habitat. If your turtle is moving around less and eating less, but not a lot less, it’s probably fine.
However, if it’s eating very little to nothing and sleeping a lot, you should contact your veterinarian.
Do Turtles Have Different Sleep Patterns With The Seasons?
Since turtles are affected by light and temperature, that is what determines how long they sleep and not the actual seasons of the year.
They conserve energy by sleeping more when it’s cool in their habitat and by sleeping less when it’s warm in their habitat.
How To Set Up The Perfect Turtle Environment
The perfect turtle environment will help your turtle to get the rest that is needed on a nightly basis.
The first thing to decide if you are getting a turtle is which kind of turtle you want for a pet. It can be a land turtle or a semi-aquatic turtle as the most common type.
Most turtle owners use an aquarium or tank for a turtle enclosure and these work very well. For one turtle, a 50-gallon tank is sufficient in size, but if you are getting two turtles you should get a 100-gallon tank so they have enough room.
It’s best to set up your tank as being semi-aquatic–meaning that it has both land and water in it. Semi-aquatic turtles spend more time in the water and they need more room to swim. You should have about 75% of your tank in water for a semi-aquatic turtle enclosure.
Land turtles, such as box turtles, live primarily on land and they should have somewhere between 75 to 90 percent of their habitat on the land.
Create a basking spot on one side of the tank where rocks or a shelf of some sort is protruding out of the water. Put a heat lamp above this spot and set it so that the basking spot is between 75 and 95 degrees F. You may need a water heater to heat the water side of the tank to between 72 and 82 degrees also.
You can then add some extra items to the tank such as fake plants, rocks, and other decorative items so that your turtle can find a hiding spot when it wants to.
Make sure and set up your turtle’s environment and let it come to the correct temperature for at least 24 hours before you introduce your new pet to its home.
Turtles do need sleep and rest for good health and overall well-being. This is how turtles rejuvenate, just as humans do after we sleep all night.
Keeping your turtles’ environment at the right temperature and turning off lights at night will make your turtle a healthy and happy pet.