Can Turtles Breathe Underwater?

One of the fun things about turtles is that they live on both land and water. Watching a pet turtle climb up onto its basking platform, or a wild turtle scramble up onto a rock is a real highlight.

However, unlike fish, turtles dont have gills that draw oxygen out of water. The painted turtle can receive some oxygen underwater, but will still surface for air, even during sleeping hours.

However, they are able to hold their breath for a significant amount of time, which is why we have so many people asking this question! For the sake of dolphin and whale watching its a very good thing that these mammals come up to the surface to breathe, or else wed probably never see them! There isnt a straightforward answer to this question because it varies according to the turtles species, age, and location.

Additionally, the temperature of the water also affects how long a turtle can stay underwater. Sea turtles have the ability to hold their breath and stay underwater the longest. The most important thing is that you shouldnt flip the turtle upside down, as it keeps some air in its lungs for hibernation even after drowning.

Turtles are able to hold their breath for a lot of time so there should be nothing to worry about if were talking about a tank setting. However, even a turtle that lasts has good breath-holding skills can drown quickly if things go wrong. When theyre agitated, they might start to struggle to release themselves from the obstacle, causing them to lose air at a much higher rate.

Young turtles are more at risk of getting trapped or even misjudging when they need to return to the surface for a breath. The actual length of time will depend on their breed and their level of activity underwater.

How long can turtles breathe underwater?

This involves very little movement. Although turtles can hold their breath for 45 minutes to one hour during routine activity, they normally dive for 4-5 minutes and surfaces to breathe for a few seconds in between dives.

Can you drown a turtle?

Yes, absolutely. Although turtles can remain underwater for long periods of time, they cannot breathe underwater. Under the right circumstances, turtles can drown.

Can turtles breathe underwater for a long time?

Sea turtles cannot breathe underwater, however they can hold their breath for long periods of time. … When turtles hold their breath, their heart rate slows significantly to conserve oxygen – up to nine minutes may pass between heart beats!

How long does it take for a turtle to drown?

It takes approximately ten minutes for a turtle to drown. A frantic turtle gasping for air cannot hold its breath for much longer and will drown in a moment. This usually happens when a turtle feels it has been trapped and won’t reach the surface when it needs air.

Though all turtles breathe air, aquatic turtles such as sliders (Trachemys scripta) and painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) can stay underwater for quite some time. Because of their slow metabolisms and adaptations for extracting oxygen from the water, some species can even spend the entire winter underwater.

At night, this may change as your pets metabolism slows a bit — sleeping turtles may stay underwater for a few hours at a time. During this time, most turtles absorb some of the oxygen they need directly from the water via specialized structures in the throat and cloaca.

Sometimes, oxygen levels in the water can drop dangerously low, particularly in extremely cold lakes.

Sea turtles cannot breathe underwater, however they can hold their breath for long periods of time. Sea turtles can hold their breath for several hours depending on their level of activity. For instance, a resting turtle can remain underwater for 4-7 hours whereas a foraging individual may need to surface more frequently.

Can Turtles Breath Underwater?

Yes, turtles can drown in water if they stay or get trapped underwater for longer than they can handle. Although it varies between species, most turtles spend a lot of time underwater. However, unlike fish, turtles don’t have gills that draw oxygen out of water. Instead, they have lungs.Turtles do sleep underwater, so sometimes you might be tempted to think your turtle has drowned when really he’s only asleep. The painted turtle can receive some oxygen underwater, but will still surface for air, even during sleeping hours.Just like whales, dolphins, and humans, turtles need to hold their breath while staying in the water and must come up to breathe. However, they are able to hold their breath for a significant amount of time, which is why we have so many people asking this question!For the sake of dolphin and whale watching it’s a very good thing that these mammals come up to the surface to breathe, or else we’d probably never see them! The same goes with turtles – we get to enjoy them all the more because they cannot breathe underwater.

Can You Save A Drowned Turtle?

There isn’t a straightforward answer to this question because it varies according to the turtle’s species, age, and location. Additionally, the temperature of the water also affects how long a turtle can stay underwater.Here are some examples:Sea turtles have the ability to hold their breath and stay underwater the longest. They can be underwater for periods of 4 – 7 hours – pretty incredible!

How To Prevent Turtles From Drowning

Turtles are able to hold their breath for a lot of time so there should be nothing to worry about if we’re talking about a tank setting. However, even a turtle that lasts has good breath-holding skills can drown quickly if things go wrong.The most common cause of turtle drowning is getting stuck in a certain part of the aquarium – behind a rock, under something on the surface of the water, or around some aquarium driftwood. When they’re agitated, they might start to struggle to release themselves from the obstacle, causing them to lose air at a much higher rate. This can raise their chances of drowning.That’s one of the main reasons why you should make sure that your aquarium and turtle toys are all turtle-friendly.

Can Baby Turtles Drown?

Baby turtles are perhaps most at risk of drowning because they are inexperienced and untested.One must be careful, especially when keeping young turtles in a large tank, that there is nothing that might impede the turtle from coming to the surface to get oxygen. Young turtles are more at risk of getting trapped or even misjudging when they need to return to the surface for a breath.

Can Turtles Drown – FAQs

Here are a few other frequently asked questions about turtles and drowning.
Most breeds of pet turtles can hold their breath from 15 – 40 minutes. The actual length of time will depend on their breed and their level of activity underwater. Sea turtles, on the other hand, can hold their breath for up to 7 hours!
Yes, turtles will get tired of swimming. They cannot be constantly left in the water without a basking platform or rock. Leaving them in a tank without access to a resting zone will ultimately lead to their drowning death.
Some turtle breeds can indeed breathe through their anus. One example is the white-throated snapping turtle of Queensland, Australia. The somewhat unbelievable skill is also known as cloacal respiration, though ‘breath through their bum’ is easier to say. The process really does let these turtles take oxygen directly from the water.
We’ve already covered this above, but we often get asked this question relating to specific breeds. So yes, red eared sliders, box turtles, painted turtles, snapping turtles, and sea turtles will all eventually drown if they do not come up to the surface for air.

Basic Biology

Turtles are ectothermic animals, commonly called “cold-blooded,” that warm their bodies via external sources like warm water and sunlight. While a turtle’s metabolic rate is always rather low compared to warm-blooded animals, it does fluctuate with the temperature. When the temperatures are cool, the metabolism of a turtle is slow; when the temperatures are warm, the turtle’s metabolism speeds up. The faster the metabolism is, the more oxygen a turtle needs.

Typical Behavior

Most often, pet turtles will only stay underwater for a few minutes at a time. In warm temperatures, where most pet turtles are maintained, they must breathe regularly. At night, this may change as your pet’s metabolism slows a bit — sleeping turtles may stay underwater for a few hours at a time.

Scientific Data

Few studies exist documenting the breath-holding behavior of turtles while at high temperatures — most work has been done on hibernating turtles. One exception is a study conducted in 1970 by C. Lenfant , et al, of the University of Washington. This study observed the breathing behavior of the mata mata turtle (Chelys fimrbiata). In the study, turtles held their breath for an average of 35 minutes when undisturbed.

Hibernating Turtles

Some aquatic turtles from northern areas will hibernate underwater. Typically, the turtle swims to the lake or river bottom and buries itself in the substrate, at which point the turtle’s metabolic rate drops significantly and the turtle needs little oxygen and no food for a period of months. During this time, most turtles absorb some of the oxygen they need directly from the water via specialized structures in the throat and cloaca. Sometimes, oxygen levels in the water can drop dangerously low, particularly in extremely cold lakes. Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) and painted turtles are able to survive in these anoxic waters by using anerobic metabolism and active chemical buffering processes.