Do Turtles Sleep With Their Head Out?

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

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There’s no denying that turtles spend a lot of time sleeping. But, knowing for sure whether your turtle is resting well or if their sleeping habits are typical, isn’t always easy. As turtles sleep differently than most other pets, reading up on the topic is a good idea.

Most of the time, turtles sleep with their heads within their shells. But, occasionally they sleep with their limbs spread. If your pet sleeps with its limbs out, it’s probably attempting to raise its core temperature. The turtles’ extended bodies let them absorb more heat.

When it comes to sleep, pet turtles are unlike canine and feline companions, and even other reptiles. Find out why turtles may sleep with their arms and legs spread out below. Furthermore, check out our tips for keeping your turtle safe and sound when it rests.

Do Turtles Sleep With Their Head Out From The Shell?

Most of the time, turtles will snooze with their heads nestled neatly within their shells. This does not imply that they are completely immobile.

However, turtles may wriggle or swim ahead a few centimeters before retreating inside their shells after making a move.

But, the majority of the time, they will begin by tucking their necks inside their shells. After that, they will continue to curl farther under themselves until their whole bodies form one continuous coil.

Why Does Your Turtle Stretch His Neck Out?

When you examine a turtle attentively, you’ll see that it has a structure known as a carapace, or hard outer shell. Their carapaces serve as armor, shielding the vulnerable areas of their bodies, including their stomachs and bellies.

Hence, when turtles wake up, only their faces are visible to the outside world, while the rest of their bodies remain concealed and protected behind their shells.

Moreover, due to spending most of their lives submerged, turtles have weak neck muscles. They maintain their necks extended out in order to improve blood flow across their body, which helps them fight weariness and perform effectively.

In addition to that, it prevents dehydration and keeps them cool. If turtles were to coil their shells any more tightly, they would experience a loss of water pressure in their lungs, which would put them in danger of drowning.

Why Does Your Turtle Stick All His Limbs Out?

If you see that turtles are sleeping with their limbs spread out, this might be an indication that the temperature of their water or tank ought to be raised. 

See also  Do Turtles Float When They Sleep?

Due to the fact that they have cold blood, turtles have no ability to regulate the temperature of their bodies from the inside. 

To elevate their core temperature, they sunbathe to obtain warmth and UV radiation. They may increase the amount of heat they capture by extending out their limbs.

As you watch your turtle stretch out its legs, you’ll probably notice that its feet do the same thing simultaneously.  Your pet will be able to absorb far more warmth as a result of the rise in surface area. 

In addition to this, its metabolism will speed up, and both its digestive tract and immunity will function at a much improved level.

As long as you maintain an aquarium temperature of between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you need not be too concerned about the behavior since your pet is receiving proper care.

There are species of turtles that sleep with their limbs extended, while others slumber with their limbs completely retracted inside their shells. This is mostly determined by the species and the habitat in which they live.

Where Do Turtles Sleep?

Turtles kept as pets may find comfortable dozing off in a number of different spots inside their tank. They will often sleep wherever they are able to get the best night’s rest. 

This might be done either below their preferred basking areas, or even on the water’s surface. There’s a possibility that you’ll find your pet turtle dozing off in the bottom of its tank, or maybe moving around submerged under the water’s surface.

Some people keep their pet turtles in the same position where they sleep every night, but most of them will move around sometimes to find new places to rest. 

The box turtle is an exception to this rule since it is a terrestrial species. This indicates that they do not need an aquarium since they dwell on land. They should be housed in a dry terrarium as an alternative.

Some turtles are able to spend as long as four to seven hours without taking a breath, but regardless of where your turtle sleeps, it will still need to take breaths at regular intervals. 

When your turtle needs to refuel their oxygen supply, it will rise to the water’s surface to do so, and then go back to its usual resting posture.

Can Your Turtle Drown In Its Sleep?

There is no reason to be concerned about your pet turtle passing away while it is sleeping as long as the tank does not have any barriers that may prevent it from surfacing to breathe when it needs to. 

See also  How Long Do Baby Turtles Sleep?

When it senses a need for fresh air, your turtle will bring itself to the water’s surface on its own. If your turtle, on the other hand, is still young, you will need to take additional safety measures to ensure that it does not get hurt.

The majority of specialists advise keeping the water level in the tank at around 2.5 times the size of the baby turtle. This will allow the turtle to reemerge without completely emerging from the substrate.

Diet Of A Painted Turtle In Captivity

Do Turtles Get The Same Amount Of Sleep As Humans Do?

Turtles, unlike most people, often do not sleep for a continuous period of eight hours at a time. Instead, some aquatic turtles may sleep for 2 to 4 hours at a time, but the vast majority will sleep for between 4 and 7 hours on average. 

The great majority of turtles will sometimes pop their heads out for air. They are able to remain submerged for such a considerable amount of time due to the chilly temperature of the water.

This slows down their metabolism and thus reduces the amount of oxygen they use while they are doing so. On the other hand, tortoises and land turtles get far more sleep than people do. 

They may sleep anywhere from 12 to 18 hours per day, which means that they spend more time sleeping than they do awake. 

Do some study on the kind of turtle you have if you are wondering about the appropriate amount of time it should be spent sleeping. The many species of turtles may exhibit a great deal of morphological and behavioral diversity.

How To Ensure Your Turtle Sleeps Well?

The vast majority of turtles kept as pets are diurnal, which implies that they sleep throughout the day. 

Turning off the lights in the evening to create an environment that is as black as the night can help your turtle get a good night’s sleep, which is important if you want to keep it healthy.

One last piece of advice is to stick to a regular day-night schedule. This indicates that you should turn the lights in the tank where your turtle resides on for 10 to 12 hours every day and then turn them off for the same amount of time each day. 

It is essential to have the same schedule maintained on a daily basis to preserve the natural cycle of a day, 

The requirement for ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which can only be obtained during the day when turtles bask in the sun, is the reason why turtles sleep throughout the night. 

Turtles kept as pets often doze off throughout the day while basking in the sun. While many turtles doze off submerged in their water, you’ll want to check on the quality of the environment that your pet turtle calls home. 

The maintenance of an appropriate amount of oxygen in the aquarium is the single most essential thing that must be done. 

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There is no cause for concern on your part so long as the enclosure is capacious enough to house your turtle and you have a filtration system or pump that is operational.

Why Does Your Turtle Sleep So Much?

While not sleeping, turtles do spend a lot of time relaxing. The temperature in your turtle’s tank may be to fault if it seems to be unusually lethargic and uninterested in its surroundings.

Your turtle will likely spend more time than normal sleeping if the temperature drops very low. While wild turtles tend to sleep more when temperatures drop and winter draws near, owners of pet turtles shouldn’t expect their pets to follow this pattern.

Just raising the aquarium’s water temperature will solve the problem. A temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit should be maintained at all times.

Temperatures in the range of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit are considered to be comfortable for adults. 

But, if you are caring for a young turtle, the water temperature should be increased to anywhere between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Always keep a close eye on the temperature in the enclosure where your pet turtle lives.

Investing in a water heater that includes a thermostat that allows for temperature regulation is a quick and easy way to fix the problem of water that is too cold.

You are going to want to keep a close watch on the temperature at all times since, if it is very warm, it might be harmful to your pet.

Have in mind that as they become older, turtles become less active, which is an important fact to keep in mind. It is natural for elderly turtles to need more sleep and rest than younger turtles do.

What Happens If Your Turtle Sleeps Poorly?

A turtle in good health sleeps soundly. If your turtle does not receive enough sleep, this may regrettably result in anxiety as well as health difficulties, and it may also cause your turtle to lack its appetite.

A simple and fast solution is to raise the temperature of the water in the tank that houses your turtle. If, after warming the water, your turtle is still having trouble falling or staying asleep, you must visit the veterinarian so that any potential health issues may be ruled out.


If you observe that your pet turtle is sleeping with its limbs out including its head, this is not a cause for concern. rather, it signals that your turtle is striving to soak up as much heat as it can while it is resting. 

 As already mentioned turtles sleep differently than most other pets, learn more about their sleeping patterns- Do Turtles Float When They Sleep?

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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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