Why Does My Turtle Keep Swimming into the Glass

Why Does My Turtle Keep Swimming into the Glass?

It is quite normal to see turtles swimming inside the tank. But concerns arise when the movement of the turtle is erratic. Sometimes, turtles are seen swimming and scratching against the glass wall of the tank.

So, why does my turtle keep swimming into the glass? Turtles swim into the glass if they are scared, stressed, or pregnant. In other cases, the tank condition might be too unhealthy for the turtle, and it wants to escape the tank. Improper nutrition or unhealthy turtle shell shedding also makes a turtle swim into the glass.

Let’s discuss every possible reason behind this behavior of turtles in detail here.

Why Does My Turtle Keep Swimming into the Glass?


Be it baby turtles or painted turtles, seeing one swim inside the glass tank is pure joy. But the swimming behavior of turtles can change anytime. Here are the reasons that cause turtles to swim vigorously inside the tank and against the glass.

Why Does My Turtle Keep Swimming Into The Glass

New Environment

When a turtle is brought to a new environment, it takes a bit of time to adjust to the environment. Whether it is a box turtle or any other species, it may act abnormally after the turtle is placed in a new environment. 

Why Does My Turtle Keep Swimming Into The Glass

During this time, turtles may swim into the glass over and over again because they aren’t fully aware of the environment. It is also a part of their behavior to find the safest place in the vicinity. So, they will keep swimming into the glass to search for a suitable place to rest.

Out of Fear

Turtles get frightened quite easily. Even moving the turtle aquarium from one place to another can scare turtles enough. When they get scared, they will swim across the tank and into the glass to find a safe escape. It happens primarily due to their natural instinct, and baby turtles are often the most scared.

Why Does My Turtle Keep Swimming into the Glass

A tiny aquarium, like a fish tank, might also scare turtles when they feel there isn’t enough safe place for them to hide.

Stress, Confusion, or Anxiety

Though turtles are usually tranquil, they can be highly sensitive to noise, handling, etc. Baby turtles are more susceptible to noise. As they have an excellent auditory system, they can hear from a distance. 

If the noise level in the surroundings is too high, turtles easily get stressed. For example, if you play loud music in the room where the turtle tank setup is located, turtles will be too stressed.

Turtle Keep Swimming into the Glass

The same happens when kids or adults scream loudly in the room. Sometimes, hitting on the tank might create noise, disturbing turtles. These situations will either confuse or stress the turtle. In such cases, the turtle will start swimming vigorously into the glass to find a safe place.

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Water Temperature Is Too Low or High

Turtles greatly rely on the water temperature inside the turtle aquarium to collect enough heat for biological functions. As they are cold-blooded, they can’t produce the necessary heat for digestion and other functions. 

So, maintaining a certain temperature level inside the tank is crucial. This temperature should be anywhere from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the species.

Turtles Keep Swimming into the Glass

When the water temperature inside isn’t right, turtles tend to swim across the tank to find a suitable area with the right temperature. In most cases, they will swim into the glass to find more heat. But if the water temperature is too high, the turtle keeps swimming in the corner to find a cooler place.

Insufficient Basking Temperature

Basking is extremely important for turtles. They usually bask under direct sunlight in the wild. But when captive, they need UV lights for basking. If the basking lights aren’t providing the right temperature for basking, turtles may crazily swim into the glass to find heat. 

Turtle Keep Swimming into the Glass

Improper Nutrition

Painted turtles or any other species need a specific amount of nutrition to live happily. As they can’t collect food on their own inside the tank, they need to be provided with a healthy diet. If turtles don’t get proper nutrition, they will start swimming into the glass in search of food.

Turtles Keep Swimming into the Glass


It is another common reason behind turtles swimming into the glass. Turtles do this because they want to find the right place to lay eggs. They usually change eating or basking behavior during pregnancy.

Why Does My Turtle Keep Scratching the Tank?

Besides swimming into the glass, turtles are also seen to keep scratching the tank. There is nothing to worry about in this behavior, as an old or unhealthy turtle shell is shed after a certain period. Turtles tend to scratch the tank with their head, body, or back to accelerate the process.

Why Does My Turtle Keep Scratching the Tank

Turtle back has scutes that get shed normally. But sometimes, they have infections on the shell, which can cause them to scratch the tank.

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Why Does My Turtle Keep Swimming into the Side of the Tank?

If the turtle tank setup isn’t right, turtles will feel uncomfortable inside the tank and find a way out of the tank. For example, if the tank is too small for the turtle and it feels cramped, it will swim to the side of the tank. Hence, avoid using an aquarium as the size of a fish tank because that might be too small for turtles.

Why Does My Turtle Keep Swimming into the Side of the Tank

And if the water or other elements inside the tank is dirty, turtles will try to get out of the tank by swimming into the side of the tank.


Here are answers to a few commonly asked questions about turtles.

Q: Why is my turtle trying to climb the glass?

Turtles need to rest their head on something above the water level. So, they will try to climb the glass if the water level isn’t right.

Q: Do turtles prefer clean or dirty water?

Turtles always prefer clean water. Dirty water can affect the health of pet turtles.

Q: Why do turtles swim to the corner in cold water?

If the temperature inside the turtle tank setup is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it will become lethargic and swim to the corner.


A box turtle or any other turtle species shows the typical behavior of swimming into the glass when captive. Most owners ask this question often, why does my turtle keep swimming into the glass?

If the turtle is scared or stressed, it can swim into the glass frantically. Insufficient heat or nutrition, pregnancy, or dirty tanks can also cause them to do so. And they scratch the tank when the turtle back starts shedding. 

All these are symptoms of something that isn’t right about your pet turtle, and you should give it more attention.

Why Does My Turtle Keep Swimming into the Glass

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