Are Turtles Nocturnal? [Traits of Turtles]

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Whether in the wild or in an aquarium, turtles are interesting to watch. When the lighting goes down at night, pet turtles may be even more lively than they are while it’s daytime.  This raises the question, “Are turtles nocturnal?”

The vast majority of turtle species are diurnal, not nocturnal. Since they can’t see in the shade or utilize their additional senses to their advantage, turtles don’t come out in the dark to avoid being eaten. The daytime activity and nighttime rest of turtles make them a diurnal species.

Since turtles typically sleep for about half the night (four to six hours), they will be rather busy during the other half, albeit their movements won’t make much of a sound. They won’t do anything different than normal throughout the short times of the night when they’re up.

As such, the remainder of this page will explore the nighttime habits of turtles, including what they do, why they aren’t nocturnal, and what you, as a turtle keeper, need to understand. First, however, it’s important to distinguish between diurnal and nocturnal species.

What Is The Difference Between Diurnal And Nocturnal?

Animals may be classified as either diurnal or nocturnal based on their activity pattern, with the former being more common throughout the daytime and the latter being more common at night.

Animals may be either diurnal (active during the day) or nocturnal (active at night) depending on a number of environmental conditions.

Furthermore, certain animals’ increased instincts make nighttime conditions favorable for them. Let’s now go into more information regarding diurnal or nocturnal creatures.

Diurnal Animal Traits

Animals classified as diurnal are awake throughout the day and sound asleep throughout the night.  The majority of animal species are daytime active.

The ability to see in the darkness is not a survival trait for these creatures.

Animals were once thought to have been diurnal. Since this was the case, the carnivores used to have an upper hand.

Enemies used to remain active throughout the day, causing problems for certain creatures who were defenseless after the sun went down. Thus, a discrepancy existed.

Some creatures become nocturnal as a result of this change throughout geologic time. This restored harmony, since each species’ chances of survival, were equalized.

Dogs, squirrels, lizards, elephants, and butterflies, just to name a few, are all excellent examples of diurnal creatures.

Nocturnal Animal Traits

Night-living creatures are called nocturnal creatures. Because of this, they are daytime sleepers.

The rising temperature is one explanation for why animals are nocturnal. It is because of the extreme heat that so many nocturnal creatures live in deserts.

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As a result, these creatures have a tough time beating the heat. In the increasing heat, they get exhausted.

These creatures are unable to forage or kill in daylight hours. As a result, they have evolved by locating a place to rest throughout the day.

These creatures save energy in other ways, too, by resting throughout the day. It is only when the temp decreases at night that nocturnal creatures are able to emerge from their sleep

Consequently, it is challenging for fearful creatures to survive since they are highly vulnerable to these hunters.

Further, these creatures are too afraid to forage openly for food because of the risk of getting harmed and eaten.

Since this is the case, they tend to sleep and lurk throughout the day. These creatures are nocturnal predators, active only when it’s dark outside.

Nighttime is a great time for many animals because of their increased activity and the fact that many nocturnal species have specialized abilities that help them thrive.

The bat, black rat, hyena, owl, red fox, and scorpion are just a few of the numerous species that are active at night.

To put your knowledge of diurnal and nocturnal creatures to use, let’s examine why turtles are the former.

How Do Turtles Sleep Underwater

Why Are Turtles Not Nocturnal?

Since they are most active throughout the day, turtles do not belong to the nocturnal animal group. Most of what they have to complete must be done during the day, so they are awake then.

Because of their own light sensitivity, turtles can’t survive exclusively at the night. Some of the most crucial explanations for why turtles don’t come out at night are as follows:

1. Poor night vision:

Turtles avoid the night because they have poor night vision. The turtle’s eyes are completely focused in front of it.  When their eyes acclimate to the night, turtles have a vision similar to that of humans.

After making the necessary adjustments, turtles’ vision can function in the dark, but only at a significant reduction in quality compared to when there is sufficient light.

A tapetum lucidum is what allows some animals to look in the darkness. Back of the eye lies a reflective membrane called the tapetum lucidum, which serves as a mirror.

it is responsible for sending light signals back to the eye. Taking a picture of an animal with a flash may quickly reveal whether or not it has a tapetum lucidum.

Photographs of animals with tapetum lucidum will show the animal’s eyes to be brightly illuminated.

On the other hand, if the eyes don’t light up, then signifies the animal lacks a tapetum lucidum. Turtles cannot see in the dark because they lack it.

2. Lacking in strong senses:

Animals that are active at night need to have keen senses so that they can seek foods and avoid being eaten by predatory creatures.

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Turtles’ senses aren’t great, but they’re not terrible, either. The inability of turtles to see in the dark means that they can’t go foraging at night.

Furthermore, turtles’ skill to hear isn’t as acute as that of other creatures in the wild. Without an eardrum or tympanum, two key components of hearing, turtles have limited auditory capabilities. 

Adaptations include good night vision, acute hearing, and a keen sense of smell are necessary for an animal to be considered nocturnal.

Turtles are not nocturnal creatures because their senses of vision and hearing are underdeveloped.

3. UVB light for basking:

Whenever possible, a turtle should sunbathe in the sun. In order for their skeletons and shells to grow properly, they must be exposed to UVB light.

The UVB sun aids in the body’s metabolism of calcium, leading to strong skeletons and a robust carapace.

During the day, turtles bask in the sun and soak up some of the ultraviolet radiation B (UVB) that the sun emits.

The turtle’s shell becomes stronger and the amount of algae on it decreases while it basks. A properly functioning shell will never have any kind of bacterial infection.

Because of their nocturnal activity and slumber during the day, turtles cannot benefit from UVB rays. Because of this, their development as a whole will be stunted.

Because of this, turtles rest throughout the night and actively forage during the day.

Most turtles, therefore, are nocturnal rather than diurnal. When it comes to pet turtles, however, things become complicated. Do they show any nighttime habits?

Are Pet Turtles Diurnal Or Nocturnal?

In contrast to popular belief, turtles kept as pets do not sleep throughout the day. When kept in captivity, turtles develop diurnal patterns. This happens because pets take on the habits of their caretakers.

Turtles as pets are awake throughout the day but sleep at night. It is impossible for turtles to get any shut-eye during the day while confined because of the constant noise in their native surroundings.

In general, we tend to get a lot done throughout the day, thus our homes tend to be rather lively and bustling places.

The turtles’ slumber is often disrupted by day visitors. The fact that pet turtles are fed throughout the day is another cause they are not nocturnal.

Turtles are often fed by their caretakers at the same time of day that the caregiver eats. That’s why captive turtles end up adjusting to their new surroundings.

In addition, most pet turtles like a sunny afternoon bask in the sun. Most people who keep turtles as pets provide a special spot for them to sunbathe.

So that their pet may obtain the necessary UVB rays for carapace and bone development, some owners will put UVB lights in the basking area.

The fact that most people who keep turtles as pets choose to take care of them during the day contributes to the fact that most pet turtles are diurnal.

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In the event of sickness, owners bring their turtles to the vet during regular business hours.

Do Turtles Sleep With Their Eyes Open

Are Sea Turtles Nocturnal?

The sea turtle is not a night creature. Diurnal means that they are most productive during the daylight hours and rest at night.

During the night, sea turtles may hover on the top of the ocean or crawl beneath a nearby rock to sleep.

When sea turtles are laying eggs, they come out solely at night. During the night, female sea turtles make their way to shore to deposit their eggs.

Sea turtles avoid predators by laying their eggs at night. After sea turtles have finished nesting, they head straight for the water.

Are Box Turtles Nocturnal?

Box turtles, like most other species of turtle, are not typically nocturnal. Nonetheless, there are box turtle species that are nocturnal. Examples of such creatures include the Asian box turtle.

Most of the time, however, North American box turtles are diurnal and lively throughout the day.

Unlike snakes, box turtles possess eyelids to protect their eyes. When in rest at night or experiencing pleasure, box turtles often shut their eyes.

The box turtle has excellent night vision. Plus, they are able to see color when it’s dark outside. While most turtles are active during the day, this does not imply they sleep all night.

A short night’s sleep is followed by a busy day for them. The question then becomes, what kinds of things do turtles get up to after the sun goes down?

What Do Turtles Do During the Night?

There is nothing in particular that turtle’s do after the sun goes down. After waking up from their nightly slumber, turtles are busy in the dark.

Wild turtles typically sleep for 5–6 hours each day and then spend their waking hours foraging or hiding. The indigenous turtles’ nocturnal habits are influenced by their natural surroundings.

Turtles will often seek cover when they are in an area with large, dangerous creatures. When a sea turtle is preparing to deposit her eggs, she will be most lively at night.

In order to deposit their eggs, female sea turtles make their way to the coast. They use their flipper to make a burrow in the soil, where they will deposit their eggs.

Female sea turtles only come ashore to lay their eggs, and then they immediately return to the ocean.

Closing Remarks

Indeed, turtles are one-of-a-kind animals. While most turtles are active during the day, others, like the Asian box turtle, prefer the night.

Because they cannot see well at night and have worse senses generally, turtles have evolved to live a diurnal lifestyle.

Even though they are busy throughout the day, turtles really wait until nighttime to deposit their eggs. This is done so that the eggs are safe from being consumed.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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