How Fast Is The Fastest Turtle?

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

The swiftness of turtles is not well recognized. Instead, these kinds of animals are renowned for moving slowly. Although turtles are slow-moving animals, this is typically on land. Aquatic turtles are significantly faster and more dexterous in the water. Although slower than orcas, marine turtles can compete.

The leatherback sea turtle can move at a pace of 35 kilometers per hour (22 miles per hour), making it the fastest turtle. However, because they must stop frequently, they are unable to maintain this speed for longer periods.

Throughout the course of my study, I discovered that although a good number of turtles are, in fact, fairly sluggish, some of them can be extremely fast and that there are certain turtles out there that are capable of reaching speeds that would be faster than a lot of automobiles.

So, let’s take a more in-depth look at the actual speed that turtles are capable of.

How Fast Is The Fastest Turtle/Tortoise?

RankTurtle and TortoiseMaximum speed (miles per hour)
1Leatherback turtle22
2Green sea turtle19
3Soft-shelled turtle3
5Bertie (Fastest leopard tortoise)0.63

The Guinness World Records organization has recognized the ordinary leopard tortoise known as Bertie as the world’s fastest tortoise.  A staggering 0.6 miles per hour (0.28 meters per second).

That’s correct, Bertie has surpassed the old best that was established in 1977 to become the quickest tortoise in the world.

Bertie completed the task over a distance of 5.48 meters while ascending at a grade of 1:12. The whole time it took him to finish the race was exactly 19.59 seconds.

However, in general, tortoises of the genus Gopherus including the texas tortoise, desert tortoise, and gopher tortoise, have been observed crawling at speeds ranging from 0.13 to 0.30 miles per hour. Gopher tortoises, in particular, are among the fastest documented tortoises.

How Fast Is The Fastest Turtle On Earth?

It is not always easy to determine which species of turtle is the quickest in the world since there are several situations in which turtles are capable of moving at speeds that are really remarkable.

When it strikes, a snapping turtle is capable of reaching speeds of up to 280 kilometers per hour (174 miles per hour).

At this speed, it is capable of maintaining contact with a typical vehicle. However, this speed can only be sustained for very short amounts of time, considerably below one second. But could this be taken into account?

On the other hand, turtles often defecate upon both the ground and in the water where they live.

In addition, the pace they are able to get underwater is not even close to being comparable to the rate that they achieve on land.

Thus, in order to determine which species of turtle is the quickest, it is possible to classify them according to how quickly they move both in the water and on land.

How Fast Is The Fastest Turtle In The Water?

While on land, turtles are not capable of reaching speeds that are particularly astounding, whereas when they are in the water, they may move pretty quickly.

Sea turtles are the most common species in this group. There are just seven different kinds of sea turtles in the world, and they are all very fast swimmers.

The leatherback sea turtle is the biggest and most swift of all of the world’s turtle species. There have been reports of leatherback sea turtles reaching speeds of up to 22 miles per hour (30 kilometers per hour).

This may not seem like a very spectacular accomplishment, nevertheless, when you take into account the fact that the majority of them weigh about 1,500 lbs (700 kilograms), it becomes rather an astounding performance.

This is because the protective shell that turtles have is not enough to provide them with a significant degree of protection. They must also be able to move rapidly in order to avoid being caught in the inevitable danger that awaits them.

Turtles are able to move significantly more swiftly when they are scared. In point of fact, the speed of a terrified leatherback sea turtle, which was swimming at a rate of 10 meters per second (22 mph), is the one that holds the record for the fastest speed ever recorded.

What Is The Fastest Turtle On Land?

softshell turtles are very fast when they are on land or in water. On land, softshell turtles are capable of reaching speeds of up to 3 miles per hour while they are fleeing for their lives making them the fastest turtles on land.

The soft shell of this particular turtle is the primary contributor to its total superior speed compared to the others.

The majority of turtles have bony scales covering their shells, which contribute significantly to their overall weight.

In contrast, the shell of the softshell turtle is coated with a leather-like skin, which is far less dense than the scales.

Moreover, Cooters are capable of traveling at a pace of 0.47 meters per second while they are walking on land. In terms of miles per hour, this equates to 1 mph.

What Enables Turtles To Swim Quickly?

Even the softshell turtle, which is known to be the fastest turtle on land, can only sprint at speeds of around 3 to 4 miles per hour.

However, the typical turtle is capable of achieving swimming speeds of 10 to 12 miles per hour.

As can be seen, turtles travel around three to four times quicker while swimming compared to when they are walking on land.

Turtles can glide smoothly in the water thanks to their webbed or flipper-like feet and their streamlined bodies, both of which enable them to completely submerge.

Because of their aquatic lifestyle, aquatic turtles spend the majority of their time in environments that are mostly water-based.

They swim often, therefore it should not come as a surprise that they are proficient swimmers. Turtles that live in saltwater, commonly known as sea turtles, are more adept swimmers than turtles that live in freshwater.

This is due to their more streamlined design, big size (that includes huge limbs), and flippers. Additionally, their size allows them to swim more efficiently.

In spite of their pitiful appearance on land, these turtles are very swift migrants, capable of speeds of up to 10 knots.

These sea turtles propel themselves forward by moving their forward flippers in an up-and-down manner, and the rear flippers function as rudders to guide them through the water.

Leatherback Turtle Speed: How Fast Do The Turtles Swim?

Compared to other sea turtle species, leatherback turtles swim faster. According to the San Diego Zoo, the species can swim at 22 mph (miles per hour) or 35 Km/h (kilometer per hour).

However, this may not be a constant velocity of the leatherback sea turtles. But the species can only reach this speed for a limited time. For example, when the turtles face a predator, they will immediately speed up to escape the situation.

Green sea turtles are also popular for their fast swimming habits. As per the record, the species can swim at 1.5 to 2.3 km/h. Sea turtles have swift movement because of their streamlined shell structure and flippers.

Find out the swimming rate of sea turtles and the secret to their speeds from this link


So, it’s true that turtles move slowly, but not necessarily in the way that most people imagine they do.

When they are on land, turtles may move extremely quickly in response to perceived threats, but, once they are in the water, it can be challenging to keep up with their speed.

These awkward animals that are slower on land turn swift in an aquatic environment because they are equipped with flippers or toes that are webbed. They can achieve speeds up to 22 miles per hour.

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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