Turtles are marvelous and fascinating creatures that have been around since the prehistoric ages. With approximately 356 recorded species globally, these hard-shell reptiles are built to sustain and found on land, saltwater, and freshwater bodies. As such, many people decide to keep all kinds of rare and common turtles as household pets. While these creatures can indeed make for a great company given their low maintenance, history, and are admiring to look at, many still ask, do turtles sleep at night? If they do, what might a turtle sleeping schedule look like? How do they sleep?
Yes! Turtles need rest like many reptiles do; however, their sleeping patterns and position will vary depending on the different species. Turtles in a state of sleep will often find a highly secluded and peaceful area underwater or above, make sure the temperature is where they like it, and duck underneath its shell for an extended period. This state is more so considered a resting form than actual sleep. So yes, depending on their species, turtles can sleep at night!
Here, we will take a deeper dive into whether turtles sleep at night or during the day, as well as some other facts you may not have known.
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Do Turtles Sleep At Night? [ In Detail … ]
When people think about turtles and tortoises, the first word that often comes to mind is “slow.” Yes, turtles and tortoises are indeed much slower than your average reptiles. However, people often underestimate just how much these creatures must carry daily, requiring them to get some form of rest at a given time. See the difference between a turtle and a tortoise here.
There are four main types of turtles and tortoises globally: marine turtles, freshwater, desert tortoises, and temperate tortoises. All these different types of turtles tend to sleep in separate areas underwater and at night. These areas will vary between mud, dense vegetation, submerged structures, caves and tree stumps, basking areas, soil, and leaf litter.
These creatures tend to enjoy shallow water areas against large rocks located far out in the ocean, better known as sea turtles. These turtles will often wedge themselves underneath these large rocks and remain hidden and under shallow water. Sea turtles are aquatic-based turtles and therefore only need a quick second to breathe above the surface. These reptiles are also diurnal, meaning they choose to sleep at night.
Freshwater turtles, such as painted turtles, are more prone to burying themselves deep into the mud where they can absorb oxygen from the water as they sleep. Other turtles, such as the map turtle, are considered semi-aquatic turtles and therefore burrows themselves into tall grass or moss. These turtles are also diurnal, so they sleep at night.
Generally located in the Southwestern United States, tend to sleep most of the day and at night. Unfortunately, these turtles are only active when the temperature is between 65° – 105° Fahrenheit. After, they will burrow underground for the hottest parts of the day and the coolest parts of the night.
Most commonly known as pond box turtles, typically obtain their rest through hibernation. They often live harsh winters for these small turtles, so they must remain in a heavy hibernation with prayers that no predator finds it. This process will allow for temperate turtles to survive until spring.
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How Many Hours A Day Do Turtles Sleep?
Turtles can often sleep for an exceptionally long time, whether it be due to cold temperatures or to them just being tired. A study conducted by Manfred Enstipp from the University of Strasbourg in 2016 showed that turtles generally sleep around 11 hours per day. However, most pet turtles typically sleep around 4 hours per night in a safe and comfortable spot for them.
In doing so, they are only using about half as much oxygen as they typically would while awake and moving. Keep in mind that this will vary depending on species, habits, and other factors. Turtles that live in the wild will often be nocturnal, whereas captivity turtles such as those you would keep as pets are diurnal.
Some notice their turtles sleeping more than they should, and when this happens, it can be an unhealthy sign. It may be due to it being too cold in the aquarium for them to handle. Turtles are sensitive to temperature change, so it is essential to keep the aquarium at a comfortable temperature for your turtle, depending on their age, maturity, and other factors. These beautiful reptiles are highly active when placed in the proper setting.
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Do Turtles Sleep In The Water?
Turtles are aquatic-based reptiles, and as such many of them are more than capable of sleeping underwater wherever they see fit. It is essential to note the difference between turtles and tortoises. As we talked about earlier, tempered tortoises and desert tortoises such as a southwestern box turtle will generally sleep on land. They are terrestrial reptiles. However, most turtles such as sea turtles, red-eared sliders, and painted turtles can sleep underwater for around 4-7 hours a day.
Sleeping underwater makes it quite simple for the turtles to find a safe area for them to rest. However, they must come up for oxygen now and again to replenish their lungs. When this happens, they typically bob their head out of the water for a few seconds and go right back to napping. You may have seen this around your local body of water from time to time.
Turtles are fascinating in the way they can breathe on both lands as well as underwater. If you ever see this around your local body of water, you can rest assured a turtle is getting a good nap in. If you own a pet turtle, then watch and enjoy the cuteness of it from the comfort of your own home.
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Do Turtles Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
In general, most turtles and most terrapin tortoises will sleep with their eyes closed. It may make it hard to get a good view on if the turtles tucked away safely. The turtles will typically be shelled off in their domes. However, it is not particularly unusual for a turtle to sleep with their eyes open, depending on the species. This could be a turtle’s way of sleeping! However, most turtles in the world, mostly pets, are likely to sleep with their eyes closed unless coming up for a breath.
How Long Do Baby Turtles Sleep?
Pet baby turtles will typically spend around 4 hours a day sleeping along with a dark/light lamp on for more than 10 to 12 hours a day. This is long enough for turtles to get enough rest and back to their activities in no time.
Baby turtles often take naps throughout the day since their tiny bodies will usually expend a lot of energy. However, there is no need to be alarmed unless your baby turtle begins sleeping excessively. In this case, it may be the right move to check the water temperature.
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So yes, while many turtles do sleep at night, there are many factors at play that decide this. Different turtle species are nocturnal and diurnal, depending on where and how they are kept, fed, and cared for. Sleeping during the night also depends on the turtle’s species; as many have different habits and locations, they like to sleep to ensure their safety.
It is important to note that a turtle nor a tortoise should ever oversleep. Oversleeping can lead to health issues for your pet turtle if not caught fast enough. If they begin to oversleep, check the water temperature. Temperatures being too cool is likely the cause of your turtle oversleeping. You’d be surprised what difference it makes in your turtles’ mood and sleep habits with just a few degrees of change-up.
Turtles are marvelous creatures and while they may require low maintenance to keep as pets, they do at times require special care for them to thrive!