Can Tortoises Sleep Outside?

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

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As terrestrial reptiles, tortoises thrive in the wild. So, most tortoise owners prefer to keep their pets in an outdoor enclosure. If you are a new tortoise owner, you are probably concerned about your tortoise’s safety outside. You may not be at home for a night or a few days. So, can tortoises sleep outside? 

You can let your tortoise sleep outside if the tortoise enclosure is predator-proof, and the weather is favorable. If the weather gets cold at night, you can provide a heating lamp. But during hibernation, keep your tortoise indoors in a box. 

You need to consider several factors to understand whether you should let your pet tortoise sleep outside or bring them inside at night. In this article, you will learn about these factors and how you can keep your tortoises outside comfortably.

Can I Leave My Tortoise Outside Overnight?

So, can you leave your tortoise outside overnight? The answer depends on the facilities you can provide. Here is what you need to consider: 

Is the Weather Suitable for The Tortoises? 

Tortoises are reptiles, which means they are cold-blooded. Hence, they rely on their environment to maintain their body temperature. You can keep your tortoises outside overnight if you live in an area where the weather is mostly warm all year round.

The ideal temperature for tortoises is between 90 degrees Fahrenheit to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the species. The night temperature should be between 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Tortoises will not have a problem staying outside overnight when the temperature remains above 60-degree Fahrenheit. They can survive chilly nights of 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. But keeping tortoises outside in cold temperatures can cause respiratory problems. 

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You can provide heat lamps to keep your pet comfortable at night. Put the heating lamp at a safe distance from your tortoise as your tortoise might get burned. 

Is the Enclosure Safe?  

The weather is not the only concern for tortoise owners when it comes to tortoises staying outside. You must make sure that the outdoor enclosure for your tortoises is predator-proof. 

You may live in an area where winter can get quite cold. When the temperature goes below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the tortoises hibernate to survive the winter. Leaving them outside in a hibernating state can put them at risk. Hibernating tortoises become almost immovable. As a result, they cannot protect themselves when a predator attacks. Even a rat can cause great harm to tortoises. 

Tortoises are slow reptiles which can be defenseless against ferocious animals. When you keep tortoises outside without protection, predatory animals like raccoons, rats, foxes, coyotes, skanks, snakes, and predatory birds can attack them at night. 

If you are sure your tortoise enclosure is well protected, you can let your tortoises spend the night outside. You can install some equipment and devices to protect the tortoise enclosure. Electric fence chargers, motion sensors, or water deterrents are some options you should consider. 

Does The Tortoise Enclosure Have a Shed or Place to Burrow?

During sleep, many tortoises prefer burrowing in soil or other soft substrates. This way, tortoises can keep their body warm. So, the tortoise enclosure should have dedicated space to burrow.  

Keeping a burrowing spot is not enough for a tortoise to sleep comfortably in the enclosure. Sometimes it can rain. Then your tortoise may want to find a shelter to avoid getting wet. Therefore, you must build a shelter in the tortoise enclosure. The tortoises should be able to move into the shelter whenever they want to. 

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If the conditions are favorable for your tortoise, you should not have much problem keeping them outside overnight. You do not need to worry much about their comfort. Tortoises have the instinct to live in the wild. So, they should be fine. 

When Should You Get Your Tortoise Inside?

You might live in an area where the temperature is warm in summer. But in spring and fall, the temperature can get below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at night. In that case, you better bring your tortoise inside because a heat lamp may not be enough to keep the tortoises warm. 

You should also bring your tortoise inside if the outdoor enclosure is not secure enough to prevent predators from harming your tortoises. Transfer them to a room where the temperature remains 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night. When the temperature increases in the morning, you can transfer the tortoises back into their outdoor enclosure. 

Do not underestimate animals like raccoons, rats, and foxes. They can quietly get inside the enclosure and eat your tortoise. You may wake up of next day and find your tortoise missing a limb. So, bring your tortoise inside if there is a high chance of animal attacks at night.

Can You Keep A Baby Tortoise Outside?

Similar to adult tortoises, you can keep your baby tortoises outside. But you have to be more careful about the baby tortoise. They are not experienced and strong like adult tortoises. 

Baby tortoises need a few degrees higher temperature to survive outside. So, they cannot live in cold weather for a long time like an adult tortoise. The ideal night temperature for baby tortoises is at night is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

It is better not to keep baby tortoises outside when the weather gets cold. Baby tortoises may not survive in constant low temperatures. Besides, baby tortoises are more vulnerable to attacks from predators. 

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Therefore, owners should keep baby tortoises indoors most of the time. You can bring them out during the day to let them bask under the sun. Let them spend some time outdoors. Eventually, when the tortoises grow up, you can put them in the outdoor enclosure. 

Do Tortoises Need A Heat Lamp At Night?

Tortoises that live outdoors do not need a heat lamp, as they can have sufficient light and heat from the sun. But at night, they may need a heat source to stay warm when the temperature gets low. 

Then again, a heat lamp is not always necessary at night for tortoises. Tortoises can keep some of the heat in their body that they get from the sun during the day. However, provide a heating lamp if the temperature is between 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night. 

Now the question is, do you need to keep the heat lamp on all night? Many heat lamps not only produce heat, but they also produce light. As a result, your tortoises cannot sleep when the heat lamp is turned on all night. So, you can keep the heat lamp on for a while at a low heat and then turn it off to let your tortoise sleep. 

The good news is that you can now get heat lamps without lights. One of my personal favorites is the Simple Deluxe Ceramic Heat Emitter. The heat lamp does not produce any visible light that can harm the sleep cycle of your tortoise. So, you can keep them turned on for as long as necessary. 


So, can tortoises sleep outside? You must have got your answer by now. If you have favorable weather and a predator-proof enclosure, you can keep your tortoise outside overnight. But during chilly nights or hibernation periods, you must bring your tortoises inside to keep them warm.  

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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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