When you get a new pet, you often wonder what the expected behavior is and what is not. This is especially true of baby pet animals like turtles. If you get a baby turtle as a pet, then you might notice it sleeping a lot. So, why do baby turtles sleep a lot?
Baby turtles don’t sleep a lot. If a baby turtle is sleeping a lot during the day, it’s a problem. The tank may have the wrong temperature, or the UV light might be insufficient. It could also mean that the baby turtle is sick. Turtles are diurnal. They sleep at night and are awake during the day.
If your baby turtle is sleeping a lot, it can indicate something wrong, either with their tank set-up or with their health. Let’s look at what is normal and what is not when it comes to a baby turtle’s sleep.
When Are Baby Turtles Supposed To Sleep?
Some people say that turtles are nocturnal, but this is not true.
Turtles are actually diurnal creatures, which means that they sleep at night and are awake and active during the day, just like humans.
So, if you have read that they are nocturnal and now you are worried because your baby turtle is sleeping all night, then be rest assured, this is the way it is supposed to be.
Are Baby Turtle Sleep Patterns Affected By Seasons?
Turtles are cold-blooded animals, which means that their internal body temperatures depend on the temperatures of the external environment.
This impacts how long a turtle will be awake and when it will be most active during the day.
When it is neither too hot nor too cold during temperate months, turtles will be active throughout the day.
But during the hot summer months, they will be more active in the morning when it is cooler.
This does not mean that they will sleep the rest of the day during summer; they will just be less active.
During the cold winter months, turtles will be more active around midday.
In the wild, they can hibernate when it becomes very cold.
However, in captivity, you can regulate their tank temperatures to prevent the need for complete hibernation.
Recommended Further Reading:
- Do Pet Turtles Hibernate? – The Actual Facts About Turtle Hibernation
- Why Do Barnacles Attach To Turtles? Can You Remove Barnacles?
- Are Turtles Good Pets? [How Hard Is It To Keep Turtles?]
Is It Normal For A Baby Turtle To Sleep A Lot?
How much sleep is considered to be a lot? Well, this depends on how much sleep is normal.
Research On Turtle Sleep Patterns Is Limited
Unfortunately, turtle sleep patterns is not a topic that has received much attention from researchers.
Furthermore, the research that has been conducted involved wild turtles and not those in captivity.
One research paper reports the activities of red-eared slider turtles over the different seasons.
The paper only reports activities from seven o’clock in the morning to nine o’clock at night.
This could be because the turtles are not active between nine at night and seven in the morning.
It could also be because the researchers did not consider these hours to be normal hours for turtle activity, so they were not included in the study.
Another paper looked at the sleeping patterns of wild green turtles.
This research found that the turtles were active for approximately 72% of the day and were only active for about 20% of the night.
Possible Answers Based On The Limited Research
From these studies, we can extrapolate the data and say that up to ten hours of sleep at night is considered normal for a baby turtle, and if they sleep for a small portion of the day, that is also fine.
Captivity Has An Influence
You should also note that turtles in captivity will have different sleep patterns to those in the wild because they do not have to forage for food or worry about keeping away from predators.
Furthermore, their environments are regulated when it comes to temperatures.
So, they should have more consistent sleep/wake patterns compared to wild turtles.
Use Intuition To Decide How Long Is Too Much Sleep For A Baby Turtle
A good way to approach the question of how much sleep is too much for a baby turtle is actually to rely on your instincts.
If your baby turtle — whether it is a baby box turtle, baby snapping turtle, or baby red-eared slider — is sleeping so much that you start to take notice, or if they suddenly start sleeping a lot more than when you first got them, then this can indicate a problem.
Related Further Reading:
- Why Do Turtles Slap Each Other? [And How To Stop Them]
- Why Do Turtles Eat Straws? [Why It’s Bad And How To Prevent It]
- Can Turtles Eat Tomatoes? [Why Are Tomatoes Toxic To Turtles?]
- Why Do Turtles Float? + Why They Float On Their Backs & Sideways
2 Reasons Why Baby Turtles Might Be Sleeping A Lot
Given below are two common reasons why baby turtles might sleep a lot.
1. Their Tank Is Too Cold
Remember, turtles in the wild will often hibernate during the colder months to stay alive.
So, if their tanks are too cold or they are kept in an outside enclosure, their natural adaptations will cause them to hibernate.
Hibernation is not abnormal, and it is not a bad thing, provided you are certain that your turtle is healthy enough to survive a hibernation period.
Additionally, if it is the middle of summer and you keep your house so cold that your baby turtle starts to think it’s the dead of winter, then this can be a problem.
So make sure their tanks are always at the right temperature.
What Is The Correct Temperature For A Turtle Tank?
Different turtles species need different temperatures.
Given below are the ideal temperatures for some common species of turtles:
- Common snapping turtles need the tank temperature to be between 75°F to 80°F.
- Red-eared sliders need the temperature to be around 75°F.
- Box turtles need the temperature to be at 65°F to 80°F.
2. They Are Sick
Turtles need a lot of UV light to survive and thrive.
A good turtle tank is equipped with a basking area located underneath an appropriate UV light bulb.
The basking area needs to be slightly warmer than the rest of the tank.
You need to make sure that you purchase a UVB bulb, not a UVA bulb, as this will not provide them with the correct light rays.
Turtles also need dechlorinated water to swim in and drink, healthy and good-quality food, and regular clean-up of their poops (often requires a water change).
Without these things, your turtle can become sick, which can lead them to sleep a lot.
Related Further Reading:
- Why Do Turtles Bask? And Why They Don’t?
- Why Do Turtles Hide In Their Shells? (Contrary Scientific Evidence)
- Do Turtles Make Noise? (How, Why, And Which Ones?)
- What Do Red-Bellied Turtles Eat? (In The Wild And As Pets)
Why Is It Common For Baby Turtles To Sleep A Lot?
There are two reasons for this:
- The first reason is that pet stores do not always keep their turtles in the right kind of environment or look after them correctly. So people end up buying sick turtles.
- The second reason is that many new owners don’t actually know how to look after their turtles. Some people assume that they are easy pets to take care of, but they actually require quite a bit of maintenance and care.
Additionally, it is not always a lack of research into the proper care of baby turtles that causes this problem.
The exotic pet forums and turtle forums are full of discussions about how pet stores misinform their customers when it comes to turtle care.
Sometimes, it is also a combination of these two reasons. If the pet store doesn’t keep them in the right environment, then they are not knowledgeable enough to provide new owners with the correct information.
How Do Baby Turtles Sleep?
Some turtles will often nap in their basking spot during the day, but they don’t often sleep there at night.
Terrestrial turtles, like the box turtle, will burrow under something to sleep.
Freshwater turtles like the red-eared slider will probably sleep in the water.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Why Do Turtles Hiss? (Cause And Cure)
- Why Are Turtles Slow? (Factors Affecting Turtle Speed)
- What Do Turtles Do In The Winter? (How Do They Survive Winter?)
Keep This In Mind…
If your baby turtle is sleeping so much that you start noticing, or if you have to wake them up to feed them, or encourage them to swim around in their water, then these are indications that something is not correct.
Another indication is if your turtle suddenly starts sleeping more frequently or for longer periods.
Some common reasons why baby turtles sleep so much is that their tanks are at the wrong temperature, or they are sick.
Your turtle could be sick because the pet store did not take proper care of it, it is not receiving enough or the correct UV light, the tank water is not dechlorinated, etc.
If you are concerned that your baby turtle is sleeping too much, then get it checked by a veterinarian.
The best option would be an exotic pet veterinarian.