Do Turtles Sleep In Their Shell?

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

Sharing is caring!

Have you ever watched your turtle sleep? Does it like to nap inside the shell or keep its head out? Let’s talk about the sleeping habits of our pet turtles. Shall we?

Turtles mostly sleep by retracting their heads and limbs inside the shell. It keeps the pets safe from predators. Many turtles, for example, sea turtles and snapping turtles, cannot retract their bodies inside their shells. These species nap, sticking their heads and limbs out of the shell.

A detailed discussion is awaiting below.

Key Takeaways

  • Turtles sleep at night.
  • These reptiles feel secure when they are inside the shell.
  • Turtles choose to sleep, hiding in the vegetation.

How Do Turtles Sleep? Head Sticking out or inside The Shell?

Many experts will tell you turtles only sleep retracting inside their shells. I am not saying they are lying. But the statement is not entirely correct either.

See, I have found them very underconfident and scared. Sure, they throw a friendly gesture to us, owners, now and then. But if you put these reptiles in an unknown place, you can see how insecure they get. Stressed and anxious turtles mostly stay inside the shell.

Do you think these panicked turtles will risk sleeping outside that armor? Not a chance! This is why you mostly spot your turtles napping retracting in their shells.

See also  Do Turtles Need A Dock?

The shells serve 2 purposes for the turtles when they sleep. First, the creatures can blend into nature, and predators can not find them. Second, even if the beasts do spot the turtles, the shells are too hard to crack.

Well, well, well! I am going to say something contradictory to the facts I have fed you just now. But bear with me, please.

Not all the turtles sleep in their shells

Apparently, sea turtles can not duck inside their armor. I know it makes these majestic creatures vulnerable. But here is the trick.

Sea turtles carefully select hides to doze off. Their favorite spot to nap is the narrow porch between the reef and coral. These turtles will rest their heads against the rock and enjoy a sound sleep.

Such careless sleeping habits are also noticed in pet turtles. In fact, my red eared sliders and painted turtles will sleep, sticking their heads out of the shell.

Some people claim that turtles sleep with their heads out only when they are tired or feel pressure inside the shell. One of my friends said it has something to do with a weary blood vessel and a weak neck.

Of course, all of these are valid points. I had my turtles checked, and they were perfectly healthy.

The vet cleared up the confusion. Apparently, turtles lose the tension if they feel secure in any environment. It was possible that my turtles were too comfortable in the enclosure. So they did not feel exposed or vulnerable sleeping outside the shell.

Where Do Turtles Sleep?

By now, one thing is clear. Turtles look for privacy and security when they go for a good night’s nap.

See also  How To Provide Calcium To Turtles? [8 Sources]

Sure, going inside the shell makes them feel cozy and comfortable. Still, turtles want a place where they can doze without any fear. That is why the spots behind the leaves and between the rocks are perfect napping sites for them.

However, yes. As I explained earlier, turtles can sleep on the basking dock or the rock exposed to the world. They only nap like this when they feel secure in their surroundings.

I have mostly seen turtles sleeping in a bushy place at night. But when it comes to the daytime nap, they will doze off on the land, sticking out their heads and limbs. Again, spending the night under the heating lamp indicates that the pets are cold.

Before You Go

Turtles have eyelids. Have you ever noticed that? Do you think they close their eyes when asleep? Or do they prefer open eyes to scare away the predators? I have discussed this topic in detail in the attached article.

Do Turtles Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Sharing is caring!

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.


This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.