How Long Can Aquatic Turtles Be Out Of Water

How Long Can Aquatic Turtles Be Out Of Water?

The natural habitat of aquatic turtles is inside water. As such, you may wonder how long your turtle can survive outside water without developing any health problems. We have researched this topic and prepared this guide to inform you about how long your pet can be out of water.

How long can aquatic turtles be out of water? Aquatic turtles can be out of water for around 8 hours. However, the exact time depends on the environment of the land they stay on, surrounding temperatures, and even their age.

The following article discusses more details on how long you should keep your poet aquatic turtle outside water. We have also touched on the factors affecting how long this type of turtle can stay out of the water and other helpful information you need to know.

How long can aquatic turtles be out of water?


Unlike land turtles, the aquatic turtles can spend around 8 hours out of water without showing signs of dehydration or developing any other health issues. During hibernation, they can spend even longer, up to 3-4 months without water.

Despite water bodies being their natural habitat, these turtles will still need to spend some time on land. The main reason they’d come out of water is to breathe, bask in the sun, lay eggs (for the females), or simply roam for fun.

How long can aquatic turtles be out of water

That said, there are specific factors affecting how long these turtles can stay out of water.

Let’s take a closer look at these factors:

Age of turtle

The hatchling and younglings need more water to keep them healthy. Living without water needs a lot of body energy which the baby turtles lack.

Plus, the juvenile turtles are yet to develop their bodies for the survival game. This means you should expect the baby turtles to survive for less time out of the water than their adult counterparts.

Surrounding temperature

Turtles are ectothermic creatures and their temperature is dependent on the surrounding weather. If temperatures drop, these animals slow down their metabolism to enable them to survive the weather.

They stop eating and drinking and their activity level goes down. Since they use less energy during this phase, they’re able to survive for days without water.

Also, if the temperatures are lower and the humidity is high, the turtle will survive for a week without water or longer. This is because the humidity in the air will help keep them hydrated for long.

Brumation factor

During the extremely cold months of winter, turtles undergo brumation to help them cope with the severe weather.

They’ll go for long periods during this phase, say 4-7 months, and they’ll rarely come out for eating or drink.

However, this hibernation cycle is mostly for wild turtles as the captive turtles enjoy ideal temperatures inside their enclosure.

Why do turtles spend so much time in water?

Water is life. That’s not only true for humans but also applies to turtles. They depend on water for many reasons that are directly related to their health and wellbeing. This explains why they spend most of their time in the water.

One reason why turtles spend so much time in water is it helps them to cool off. This is especially the case during the summer months when the temperatures are quite high! The water will help bring their body temperatures down, enabling them to survive the hot weather.

Why do turtles spend so much time in water

Another reason water is life for turtles is that it aids in their eating process. The creatures don’t produce saliva, so they’ll use the water to help moisten their food and make it easy for them to swallow.

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One more thing, turtles will need to drink water to help speed up their metabolism rate. This is crucial to helping their bodies produce a lot of energy.

Why is my aquatic turtle staying out of water?

We’ve said severally that aquatic turtles can come out of water for various reasons. But sometimes you may notice your pet avoiding getting back into the water.

This should raise eyebrows since these creatures love water and something bad could be stopping them from going back in.

Why is my aquatic turtle staying out of water

Potential reasons why your turtle may be avoiding the water include:

The water is too cold

Turtles are ectotherms and their body temperature changes with their surroundings. If the water inside their enclosure gets too cold, your turtle would feel uncomfortable and even try to get out for sunning to warm its body. Always ensure the water temperature inside the turtle tank stays between 75 and 85 °F.

The water quality is bad

Turtles are messy eaters. They also produce a good amount of waste inside the water. Add these factors and your turtle’s tank water quality can get easily compromised when not cleaned regularly. Turtles don’t like dirty water so you’d want to keep their tank water clean if they keep wanting to get out.

He’s being bullied by other turtles

Turtles are mainly solitary creatures and don’t always get along with each other. If your tank houses more than one turtle, there could be some power struggle going on inside for territory dominance. And this can make the bullied turtle want to get out of the water. Check for signs of injuries inflicted by bullying to ensure your pets aren’t at wrangle.

Crowded space in the tank

Also, if you have more than one turtle in the same tank, you want to ensure the tank is big enough for all of them. We recommend at least 10 gallons per inch of shell for each turtle. If you have a small tank, consider upgrading it to ensure all the parties live comfortably and peacefully inside.

Why won’t my turtle come out of water?

If your aquatic turtle won’t come out of water, it’s simply because it loves swimming or staying in water. Aquatic turtles are fond of water and your pet turtle not coming out to spend some time on land generally isn’t a problem.

Some species of turtle such as the soft shell turtles may not even come out for basking as they love spending most of their time in water.

Your turtle friend may also stay in water if the temperatures are too cold inside the tank. This may trick their body into thinking it’s time to brumate. They’ll stop doing any activity and stay at the bottom of their tank and won’t come out.

Why won’t my turtle come out of water

However, your turtle shouldn’t stay in the water forever and refuse to come to land at all. if this happens, it means there could be a problem. Staying inside the water could lead to shell rot, respiratory infection, and other common aquatic turtle diseases that can severally affect their well-being.

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Provide your pet with a basking dock to encourage it to come out of water and spend at least 8 hours on land. Also, ensure the water inside their tank stays at the ideal temperature range of 76 to 85 degrees F so your pet doesn’t get into brumation unnecessarily.

How much water do aquatic turtles need?

10 gallons of water per inch of shell is the recommended amount of water to put in your aquatic turtle’s tank. Note that the correct way to take this measurement is vertically from top to bottom.

This means that the type of aquatic turtle you have will give you an idea of how much water you need to put in their enclosure. if you own a red-eared turtle, for instance, its shell can grow to 6-8 inches, meaning you’ll need to put 60-80 water gallons of water in its tank.

How much water do aquatic turtles need

Some turtles can get even bigger than this, so be sure to follow the above rule of thumb when deciding the amount of water to provide them with.


1. Do aquatic turtles have to be in water all the time?

No, aquatic turtles don’t have to spend all their time in the water. They need to come out of the water to breathe or get some UV rays from the sun. These activities are essential for helping maintain a healthy turtle. However, these turtles can’t stay on land for long, compared to land turtles such as the box turtles.

2. How long can red-eared sliders be out of water?

Red-eared sliders turtle species can be out of water for around 8 hours. These turtles are semi-aquatic and are capable of staying out of water for many hours at a time, or even longer if the conditions outside allow.

3. How long can baby turtles stay out of water?

Final Word

Aquatic turtles can survive for about 8 hours out of water. However, the exact length of time they can stay on land is dependent on their age, the surrounding temperature, and whether they’re brumating or not.

Your aquatic turtle coming out of water is necessary and quite helpful in giving them time to bask in the sun, breathe, or roam around for fun.

But we discourage keeping your turtle out of water for long periods of time as this can seriously affect their digestion and even dehydrate them. This makes them vulnerable to long-term health problems.

How Long Can Aquatic Turtles Be Out Of Water

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