Can Turtles Sleep In Water? (How, How Long, And Which Ones)

Image of a woman sleeping

Turtles are adaptive creatures and are found almost everywhere throughout the world. They are aquatic, semi-aquatic, or terrestrial. You must have noticed turtles live in the water as well on land. And like all other animals, turtles do need sleep to rest. So, a common question that comes up often is whether turtles sleep in water?

Turtles can sleep in water for long hours without drowning. While sleeping, their metabolism rate reduces. So they need less oxygen while sleeping than when they are awake. Painted turtles, mud turtles, musk turtles, sliders, and sea turtles sleep underwater, while box turtles sleep on land.

There are a lot of turtles species with varied sleeping habits. So let’s understand in-depth where turtles sleep and which species of turtles sleep underwater.

But first, let us understand whether turtles can stay underwater and for how long.

How Long Can Turtles Stay Underwater?

Aquatic turtles can stay underwater by holding their breath for several hours. But this depends mainly on the species, locality, and the temperature.

If turtles are sleeping underwater, they can stay there for 4 to 7 hours on an average. It all depends on their level of activity.

While sleeping underwater, they will just come to the surface in between to move their head above the water’s surface for a moment to breathe. They will then return beneath the surface to resume sleeping.

Alright! Now that you know turtles can stay underwater for a considerable amount of time, let’s also understand their sleeping pattern and behavior.

Recommended Further Reading:

How Do Turtles Sleep?

Just like humans, turtles also sleep. However, their sleeping pattern is different from that of humans.

Different species of turtles have different ways of sleeping. Some turtles sleep underwater while other species of turtles will find a place on land to sleep.

Turtles do not sleep deeply. They do not sleep at any place either. They choose a secluded spot that has adequate temperature and provides them with extra protection from predators.

The turtles that sleep underwater will find a suitable spot to sleep in the water. They will then remain submerged in water till the time they complete their sleep.

While sleeping, turtles stop moving entirely, and they withdraw themselves into their shell for taking rest.

Their body is adapted in such a way that they can remain asleep in water for several hours without drowning.

Now, let us take a look at the species of turtles that sleep underwater.

Which Turtles Sleep Underwater?

As mentioned earlier, turtles do not sleep anywhere. They choose a suitable secluded place for themselves to sleep by taking into consideration the temperature and its safety.

The sleeping place of turtles depends on their species. Different species of turtles sleep in different places. The majority of the aquatic turtles sleep underwater, whereas some sleep on the dry land, like the basking platform.

Species such as painted turtles, mud turtles, musk turtles, red-eared sliders, and sea turtles sleep underwater.

Mostly all aquatic turtles, like the sea turtles, can sleep on the water surface when they are in deep water. They even sleep on a seabed that is relatively close to the seashore. They locate places where there are rocks and place themselves under hanging rocks to sleep and rest.

Semi-aquatic turtles, such as map turtles, usually dig themselves partially or completely into moss or marshy area of grass to sleep.

Snapping Turtles burrow themselves in mud or under submerged logs, debris, or shallow water to sleep. They are mostly found in Northern areas, and they hibernate from October to April, either alone or in groups.

That was about the marine turtles. Have you ever wondered where freshwater turtles sleep? Do they come out on the surface to sleep?

Let’s talk about that as well.

Related Further Reading:

Do Freshwater Turtles Sleep In Water?

Freshwater turtles are small in size as compared to marine turtles. They look different and have adapted themselves to live in different habitats. They are mostly found in lakes, ponds, and rivers.

Unlike their marine counterparts, freshwater turtles bury themselves in sand or mud at the bottom of the pond to sleep. They prefer aquatic vegetation where they can hide and sleep.

During sleep, they absorb oxygen from the water to breathe. They can survive underwater for many months as their metabolic rate is slow during hibernation.

Just like freshwater turtles, painted turtles also hide in sand or in mud underwater when they sleep.

On the contrary, box turtles do not sleep underwater. They dig a hole under the rocks or in loose soil to sleep. When they cannot dig a hole to sleep, they crawl in the dense vegetation to sleep.

Okay! That was all about the various species of turtles in the wild. But, what about pet turtles? Where do they sleep?

Do Pet Turtles Sleep In Water?

Pet turtles sleep at any place they feel comfortable. Since they are home-grown, they feel safe. They do not have to hide and sleep as there is no danger of predators at home.

You will find some pet turtles sleeping at the surface of the water in the tank. While others prefer to sleep outside the tank, maybe in their basking spots. You can also find some turtles sleeping at the bottom of the tank or even midway between the aquarium’s water surface and bottom.

The place of sleeping entirely depends on where they feel secured and relaxed.

Certain species do not sleep in the water. If you have box turtles as pets, they will not need an aquarium to sleep.

They primarily live on land and are terrestrial. So, they require a dry surface to sleep.

Interesting Further Reading:

Things To Remember…

Turtles are solitary creatures that sleep underwater and can stay there for long hours without breathing. They do this by reducing their metabolism rate, wherein they use less oxygen than when they are active and roaming around.

So, if anytime you see a turtle underwater for a longer period, you can assume that it is sleeping and taking rest.

However, if it is a pet turtle, you need to frequently monitor its movements to ensure that it is okay.