Can Turtles Drown? Can Turtles Breathe Underwater? 7 Cool Facts

You may already be familiar with turtles in the water, but did you know that turtles can drown too? Turtle owners must know this because they may think that turtles are animals that can live in water like fish and breath underwater.

Can Turtles breathe underwater? Turtles are not like fish which have gills to breathe underwater but use lungs like humans. That’s why turtles can drown in certain conditions. Even though using lungs, turtles can breathe underwater with their own mechanism and still need to take in the air before entering the water again.

If this is of interest to you, let’s read more about “can turtles drown” and how long can turtles hold their breath underwater.

Can turtles drown
Can Turtles Drown : Can Turtles Breathe Underwater – can red eared sliders drown?


Can Turtles Swim?

Before we discuss further can turtles drown, we need to know whether turtles can swim? Because when turtle drowning, they need to swim out of the water to breathe again.

Yes, all turtles can swim. Turtles have a streamlined body and webbed feet that help them in swimming. Turtles use their webbed feet and can extend their legs to swim through the water. After swimming for some time in the water, they come to the water surface to breathe.


Can Turtles Drown?

Yes, turtles can drown. Whether they’re in a safety station, at a turtle-protected enclosure, or in the depths of a pond, turtles drown when they fail to receive enough oxygen in their body.

Despite all the adaptations that allow turtles to remain underwater for longer than most other creatures, they can still die under certain circumstances.

There are several factors about can a turtle drown. One of them is the type of turtle. For aquatic turtles, such as red eared sliders, are used to being in the water for swimming, sleeping, and eating. Do they eat rocks?

Can red eared sliders drown? Even red eared sliders can drown if their feet get caught in rocks or tangled up, and they cannot return to the surface to breathe. Make sure the red eared slider turtle tanks are designed properly for the long lasting life.

But box turtles lack webbed feet, so it’s hard to swim even if they can. If you provide a tank with water that is too deep for a box turtle, and there is no area for them to rest, such as a basking area, then your box turtle can drown.


Can Turtles Drown While Sleeping?

Yes, turtle pets can drown when they become stuck underwater and can’t come out for air to breathe. Turtles can become stuck underneath water when their legs become entangled around an ornamental plant rotted, or they may become trapped under something submerged underwater.

If a turtle begins to struggle in an attempt to free itself of the water, its neck might snap backward and cause it to drown.

But basically, the turtle will not drown while sleeping because they will consciously return to the surface to breathe and return to the water to sleep. And this how do turtles breathe again when they sleep.

Do turtles sleep underwater? Yes, turtles can sleep underwater, and some sleep on the water surface.


How Do You Know If Your Turtle Is Drowning?

The sign of turtle drowning includes a comatose state and lack of reflexes. When viewed with an audio graph, it will be seen that there is air in the lung or tissue alterations.

This shows the answer to the question “can turtles drown” because, in addition to turtles using their lungs to breathe, turtles can also drown if they are underwater for too long.

But when turtles drown, not all of them die immediately. When in a comatose condition, the percentage between them can be recovered or not is 50%.


How Long Can Turtles Stay Underwater?

Turtles can stay underwater depending on what they are doing. If they sleep underwater, they can stay a few hours because the turtle’s metabolism slows, and there are no other activities.

It’s the same as when they hibernate because they don’t do much activity, turtles can stay underwater for up to seven hours. Can turtles drown while hibernating? No. They will automatically be going to the surface to gain some air.

For their routine activity, turtles can dive for 4-5 minutes and come to the surface for a few seconds before diving again. How long can a turtle hold its breath? According to a study by C. Lenfant in 1970, turtles can hold their breath for up to 35 minutes without interruption.


Can Turtles Sleep In Water?

Yes, most turtles sleep in the water. Turtles also won’t drown while sleeping in water because they can manage their oxygen in the same way they hibernate.

Do turtles sleep in water? Yes, they do. Turtles will find their sleeping position, then stay still in their position until they want to take a breath or have finished sleeping.

Can turtles sleep underwater? Yes, they can. Turtles will look for a secure and soft place for them to sleep. Turtles are reducing their body activity, thus using less oxygen and reducing their heart rate.

Do not disturb the turtles when they are in a sleeping or hibernating position because it will disrupt their metabolism.


Can Turtles Breathe Underwater?

Many pet owners ask do turtles breathe underwater? Because turtles can last a long time in the water. Despite using lungs and being smaller than humans, turtles can hold their breath for much longer and up to several hours.

Turtles do not breathe underwater but hold their breath. How long they hold their breath depends on the activity they are doing. Can turtles drown when they’re not breathing underwater? No. Turtles have a mechanism in their bodies to use less oxygen when they are underwater.

For aquatic turtles like painted turtles or red eared sliders, they may be able to hold their breath longer in water because they are used to being in the water.

But what about box turtles? Can box turtles breathe underwater? Box turtles can’t breathe underwater, but they can stay underwater for 15 to 30 minutes.


How Long Can A Turtle Hold Its Breath?

When we think of aquatic turtles, we typically think of them holding their breath while submerged in water. They certainly can do that, and it does take them much less time than land turtles.

As for how long turtles can hold their breath, it also depends on the species. How long can a box turtle hold its breath? About 15 to 30 minutes. How long can a sea turtle hold its breath? Depends on their activities.

The table below is a brief description of aquatic turtles in how long they can hold their breath.

How longActivity
10-15 minutesNormal dive
45-60 minutesRoutine activity
4 to 7 hoursResting or Sleeping
1 month or moreHibernating

Sea turtles can hold their breath longer because they are also more active in the water than land turtles.


Can Red Eared Slider Turtles Drown?

Aquatic turtles like red eared sliders have activities that are almost entirely underwater. Can red eared sliders drown? Only in extreme conditions like tangled up, stuck in the net, or having a severe health condition.

How long can red eared sliders go without air? About 20-30 minutes without taking a breath. Make sure your red eared slider is not stuck under your aquarium because of plants or rocks. If they look like they’re trying to swim up but feel like they’re stuck in something, you help them right away.

Can turtles drown when too long in the water? Even red eared sliders need to take a breath occasionally. That’s why they can drown if they stay too long in the water.


How Long Can Red Eared Sliders Be Underwater?

How long can a turtle stay underwater? For red eared sliders they can swim and do activities ranging from 40 minutes to an hour. If at that time, the red eared slider is stuck into something, they can drown and need recovery. Can red eared sliders drown in that condition? Yes.

Can turtles breathe underwater? Red eared sliders or other turtles can’t breathe underwater. They hold their breath for a very long time. Even underwater, they can use less oxygen when resting or sleeping.

Can turtles drown if swimming too much and getting tired out? Turtle knows when they will rest because they have been swimming for too long. Especially aquatic turtles are more often underwater. They can rest underwater or go out to the basking area occasionally.


Can Yellow Belly Turtles Drown?

Yes, yellow belly turtles can drown. They need water for their lungs. Can turtles drown when they run out of air in their lungs? Yes.

How long can turtles breathe underwater? Yellow belly turtles do not breathe underwater but hold their breath. If they are resting, it will take longer to hold their breath underwater.


How Long Can Yellow Belly Turtles Be Underwater?

Yellow belly turtles can go underwater for up to 40 minutes without taking the air. Yellow bellies include aquatic turtles such as the red eared slider, and they often sleep underwater.

How do turtles sleep underwater? They look for a safe and soft place, then stay still until they wake up. Can turtles drown in that condition? No. It is very rare for turtles to drown when they sleep. In fact, almost none.


Can Snapping Turtles Drown?

Snapping turtles are turtles that do a lot of activities in the water, such as red eared sliders. That’s why so many people ask about “can snapping turtles drown?.”

Yes, Snappers or snapping turtles can drown. If snapping turtles swim too deep to the bottom, they will tire before they can get out of the water and breathe again. Their condition is almost the same as how long can red eared sliders stay in water because they are both aquatic.


How Long Can Snapping Turtles Hold Their Breath?

The activities of the red ear sliders and snappers are mostly underwater. If the red eared slider can hold its breath for up to 60 minutes, then the snapping turtle is the same, or even longer.

Can turtles drown when doing a routine activity? Yes, they can, if they’re stuck on a ghost net, plant, rocks, etc. If they are undisturbed, they will not drown.

How long can a snapping turtle hold its breath can also be seen from its age and size. Because the bigger their lungs, the longer they can last. Can red eared sliders drown like snapping turtles? Yes, only if they swim too deep or are stuck into something on the surface.

Can turtles drown
Can Turtles Drown?


Can Baby Turtles Drown?

Yes, in fact, baby turtles are the most prone to drowning because they still don’t really know how to hold their breath in the water.

Remove the baby turtles from the large tank, and allow them to adapt to the less-deep water. How long can box turtles stay underwater? Maybe it can be likened to an aquatic baby turtle because they can’t stay in the water for too long.

Let’s say the box turtle can only stay underwater half the time faster than the red eared sliders, so it’s the same as the baby red eared sliders.

How long can red eared sliders stay underwater cannot be equated with baby turtles because of their size and experience in holding their breath underwater.


How Long Can Baby Turtles Hold Their Breath?

Baby turtles can only be up to 15 to 30 minutes. This is the same as how long can box turtles hold their breath. In comparison, baby box turtles will be much faster than that.

Can turtles drown in a large tank? For baby turtles, it will be a strong possibility because in addition to their small bodies, and still don’t have much energy, and baby turtles also can’t hold their breath for too long.

Can red eared sliders drown when they are babies? Yes, same with all baby turtles. Their ability to swim or hold breath is still not perfect because they have to adapt.


Can Sea Turtles Drown?

Yes, sea turtles can also drown because they have lungs. Can turtles breathe underwater? Sea turtles also cannot breathe underwater but hold their breath.

How long can freshwater turtles hold their breath? This is the same as the question “can red eared sliders breathe underwater” because both of them are aquatic. Both of them have the same estimated time to hold their breath.


How Long Can Sea Turtles Hold Their Breath?

The estimated time is the same as how long can turtles hold their breath underwater, between 4-7 hours if they are sleeping or resting. Their body condition is like hibernation because they can use less oxygen and less heart rate to stay underwater.

Can turtles drown when they are resting? Now. Turtles know when to breathe again before they resume resting or other activities.

Can sea turtles breathe underwater? No, but sea turtles can hold their breath and return to the surface to seek a portion of food or avoid predators.


Can Painted Turtles Drown?

Painted turtles, the same as red eared sliders, namely aquatic turtles. How long can painted turtles hold their breath is the same as red eared sliders, and they can drown too.

How long can a painted turtle hold its breath? It’s about 45 to 60 minutes. If they want to sleep or rest, painted turtles can hold their breath for up to 4 to 7 hours. Can turtles drown when they are not awake? No. They will consciously take a breath before going back to the water.


How Long Can Painted Turtles Stay Underwater?

Painted turtles can stay underwater as long as they sleep or rest. Do painted turtles sleep underwater? Yes, same with other aquatic turtles.

Do red eared sliders sleep underwater? Same with painted turtles, they will lower their body functions, so they can hold their breath longer underwater.


How To Revive A Turtle?

When you ask about “can turtles drown,” and you understand that every turtle can drown, you must know how to revive them.

Can turtles drown and get water in their lungs? Yes, they can. Proper handling is required so that no water remains in their lungs.

Grasp your turtle’s head gently and extend the neck as much as possible. Open their mouth with a head-down position, make sure the body is vertically facing down.

After this position, some water will be dripping out. When you’re done, put your turtle on a flat surface and straighten the legs as much as possible. If your turtles haven’t moved in a while, take them to a veterinarian for extra oxygen.

How long can turtles stay underwater also determines how long you take the CPR process for turtles because if it’s not too long or less than an hour, the turtle’s revival process won’t take that long.



Can Turtles Drown In Too Much Water?

Yes, because they can get tired of continuing to swim and can’t take a breath. This happens a lot with baby turtles, so you need to separate baby turtles from large tanks.

Red eared sliders or painted turtles won’t be bothered by too much water because they spend time underwater. It’s just that they also need a place to rest, such as a basking area for their metabolism.


How Long Can A Turtle Live?

Turtles can live longer than many pets. They can live 10 years up to 80 years. The bigger the turtle species, the longer their lifespan.


How Long Can A Red Eared Slider Be Underwater?

It is about one hour before they need to take air for breathing.


How Long Can A Red Eared Slider Stay Underwater?

More than 4 hours and up to 7 hours when they are sleeping.


Can Red Eared Sliders Drown?

Yes, red eared sliders can drown like any turtle. They have lungs like humans and capable of swimming under water only for a limited time. After that, they need to come to the surface and breathe air before swimming again, even though they can swim underwater much longer than humans. Sometimes, they could drown because they failed to come to the surface and breathe.


Final Verdict On Can Turtles Drown

Many pets may not know that turtles can drown. Although aquatic turtles live and move more in water, they are not like fish that can breathe underwater. That’s why many pet owners ask, “how long can red eared sliders breathe underwater?” However, the question is wrong.

The right question is, “can red eared sliders drown?” Because they need to get air when they lack oxygen. Turtles hold their breath underwater and can go for long periods of time until they need air to breathe.

Can turtles drown
Can Turtles Drown : Can Turtles Breathe Underwater – can red eared sliders drown?

How long a turtle can hold its breath underwater is determined by the species. For a box turtle or tortoise, they are terrible swimmers and can’t last too long underwater. They can only last 15 to 30 minutes and need to breathe. Make sure their shells are healthy.

While aquatic turtles can be up to an hour or more underwater without breathing, even when they are sleeping, it can be up to 4 hours more underwater.

Pay attention to your turtle’s environment, don’t let there be gaps or places that can make your turtle stuck or tangled up because that’s the main reason they can sink. Also, make sure their ramp or ladder is not too slippery so they can rest in the basking area when they are tired of swimming.

As a pet lover, make sure to learn about pet more and give your pet turtle a good and comfortable life!

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