How Long Do Baby Turtles Sleep?

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

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Babies are not always fond of sleeping, right? Turtle hatchlings are no exception. At the early stage of their life, turtle babies stay active and most enthusiasts. With growing age, they might become the biggest fan of sleeping. Now you can ask, “How long do baby turtles sleep?”

Baby turtles usually sleep around 4 hours a day. They prefer playing, swimming, doing exercises, and moving here and there inside the enclosure than sleeping. After stepping into a young age, their sleeping hour will become 4 to 8 hours a day.

How will you ensure the sound sleep of the baby turtles? Or does sleeping status indicate the hatchling’s health condition? Find out everything on a baby turtle’s sleeping habit from the following article.

How Long Do Baby Turtles Sleep?

Turtles love to sleep. You will often find your young turtle taking a nap sitting on the basking station. Whenever the turtles feel tired, they close their eyelids and rest for a while.

When it comes to baby turtles, the sleeping cycle is a bit different. The hatches do not like to sleep that much. Rather they prefer swimming and moving around the enclosure. While a mature turtle sleeps for 4 to 8 hours a day, the babies sleep for only 4 hours.

Experts claim the less sleeping hour is due to the young age of the baby turtles. As the hatchlings grow, they prefer sleeping more than engaging in daily activities.

How Do Baby Turtles Sleep?

How will you tell if your baby turtle is sleeping? Do they sleep inside their shells? Questions like these often come to mind, especially when you are a beginner. There is not much difference in the sleeping style of an adult and a baby turtle.

The babies can keep their legs either retracted or extracted out of shells while sleeping. It totally depends on how much the pets feel secure in the enclosure. Experts believe that sleeping with retracted legs is a wild survival instinct of baby turtles. They can not help doing it no matter how safe your place is.

The hatchlings believe that their shell works like a shield. It will protect them from any predators or unexpected accidents. Well, another thing. The eyelids of the babies will be closed during sleep. While napping or resting, they also close their eyes. It helps them relax their muscles.

Where Do Baby Turtles Sleep?

In my previous blog, I have mentioned that turtles sleep where they feel more comfortable. That is no exception for the babies. You will be surprised to know that even these babies have a sense of safety and protection. They will select that place for sleeping that offers relaxation and protection from any predators.

Different species prefer sleeping at different places. Depending on the species, your pet baby turtle may sleep on the basking station, at the bottom of the tank, near the edge of the land area, in the middle of the water, or at the surface.

The baby turtles have the tendency to sleep at the same place every day. They will discover the bed that matches their requirements and make it permanent. But it does not mean they can not sleep anywhere else. If required, the babies look for another bed for sound sleep.

Can Baby Turtles Sleep Underwater?

You already know that turtles sleep at their preferable places. You can not force the pet to take a nap anywhere. Some species like map turtles, mud turtles, painted turtles, red eared sliders, and mask turtles prefer sleeping underwater. On the other hand, sea turtles sleep in deep water or in between rocks near the shore. Again, box turtles sleep in dry places,

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In a simple sense, if your baby turtle is aquatic, or semi aquatic, it will probably sleep in the water. For underwater sleeping, the turtles have to switch their body mechanism. Why? It is because the oxygen is not available in abundant amounts underwater. So, how do turtles sleep underwater?

Well, most turtle species are bi-modal, which means they can breathe in both air and water medium. While sleeping, the turtles drop their metabolism level. As a result, their heart rate and oxygen requirements fall. So, the pets can stay underwater for a long time.

An adult turtle sleeps underwater for 4 to 8 hours a day with several breaks. Whenever it feels the need for air, it comes to the surface and replenishes the lung. Then dive back into the water for sleep. Now the question arises if it is safe for the baby turtles. Or can the baby turtles sleep underwater?

Well, why not? If the species of your baby turtle is biologically programmed to sleep underwater, it will definitely take a power nap there. And it is totally safe. A baby turtle will not take a risk if its lung is not capable of holding the breath for long underwater.

Usually, experts advise keeping the water level in the enclosure relatively low. The lesser height will help the babies to come to the surface faster. So, in case the baby turtle needs to replenish its lung with air, it will not have to struggle much.

Only an aquatic and semi aquatic baby turtle may sleep underwater. When it comes to land turtles, for example, baby box turtles, sleeping underwater is not an option. The terrestrial turtles are not biologically programmed to sleep in the water. Rather those babies require a dry space for a comfortable sleep.

I am mentioning again and again that each turtle has its own preferable place for sleep. If you do not know much about the care of your turtle hatchlings, consulting a vet will be better.

When Do Baby Turtles Sleep?

A baby turtle’s sleeping hours depend on its species. You will be surprised to know that turtles can be nocturnal. It means they sleep during the day and stay wide awake at night.

Actually, some turtle species have adapted to this sleeping schedule for the sake of their own protection. During the nighttime, most ferocious predators roam around for prey. Staying alert throughout the dark happens to be the safest option for them. So, in the wild, the nocturnal baby turtles sleep for 1 to 4 hours in the daytime.


A captive turtle usually becomes diurnal with time. Diurnal means those turtles sleep at night and stay active during the day. These baby turtles sleep for around 4 hours after the evening.

Captive baby turtles become diurnal to cope with the human routine. They get their food early in the morning. And so, they play and swim throughout the day. The owners turn off the light when it is 7 to 9 pm and the babies fall asleep.

Do Baby Turtles Need Night Light?

You know adult turtles can sleep in the dark. But what about the baby turtles? Can they take a nap in the black? Or do they require lights?

Like the adults, baby turtles can also sleep in the dark. They do not need any light source for getting a sound sleep. Even the darkness is all they need to relax.

Baby turtles sleep closing their eyelids. So, the outer brightness may irritate their eyes. It will mess with their sleep cycle. As an owner, you do not want that right? That is why experts suggest keeping the room and tank light off during the night.

Turtle owners may install night lights inside the baby turtle’s terrarium for 2 reasons. Such as,

  1. The baby turtles are curious by nature. They will try hard to escape the enclosure and explore the world outside when it is night. So, a night viewing light helps the owners to keep an eye on the babies.
  2. If your baby turtle sleeps on the basking dock, it will require heat to pass cold nights. Using night lights will be a perfect fit to fulfill this cause. These bulbs provide no light at all and a considerable amount of heat.
  3. However, in the cold season, keeping the night lights on benefits the baby turtles by providing heat.
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So, setting up a night light is not a bad idea when you are raising baby turtles. You can not use any bulb as a night light. There are proper night viewing or infrared lights available in the market specially designed for turtle’s night tanks. These bulbs provide red or blue lights that do not mess with the baby’s sleep.

To get a full guide on turtle’s night light, click here.

You can ask if a baby turtle sleeps only 4 hours a night, how do they spend the rest? Well, you do not know which 4 hours the pet will sleep. So, keeping the light on is not an option. Again, peeping into their enclosure may disturb the baby turtle.

If this question is annoying you, then stop worrying. You will be surprised to know that the baby turtles can see in the dark. So, even if they are not sleeping, they can move or play around the enclosure when the lights are off. Find out how turtles see in the dark from this article

How To Create A Perfect Sleeping Environment For The Baby Turtle?

No matter if you have a baby turtle or an adult one, a proper sleeping environment is mandatory. You can not sleep in an uncomfortable space. So, do not expect it from your adorable pet.

You may know that the diurnal turtles spend the whole day in two cycles, a day and a night cycle. During the daytime, the baby turtles stay active and spend their time playing and swimming. But when it is night, they will look for a place to crash.

Without a proper environment, a baby turtle will not get a sound sleep. And do you know what sleep deprivation can lead to? Lethargy, sickness, and so on. That is why you must make all the arrangements so that a baby turtle gets its night’s sleep.

Here are some tips that may help you arrange a night sleeping environment for the baby turtles:

  1. First of all, make sure the tank is placed in a quiet place. With continuous chaos and cheering, the babies will feel anxious.
  2. If you have more than one baby turtle, go for a bigger aquarium. The hatchlings will have trouble sleeping in a congested space.
  3. The diurnal turtles prefer sleeping in the dark. The bright light irritates their eyes and messes up the sleep cycle. It is the same for the babies. The babies sleep closing their eyelids. So, turn off the room light when it is their bedtime.
  4. Like adult turtles, baby turtles also prefer sleeping in the dark. But you must set up a night light for the hatchlings. The babies will require heat if they sleep on the basking station. The night lights give off a little amount or no brightness with a considerable amount of heat. Check out the best turtle night viewing light deals by clicking here.
  5. Turn off the UV and heating light. You must keep these bulbs on for 10 to 14 hours a day and that will do the work.
  6. If your baby turtle sleeps underwater, lower the water heater temperature by a few degrees. Why? The lesser the temperature, the longer the babies can hold their breath underwater. It is because, in fall temperatures, the babies do fewer activities. Thus their oxygen requirement reduces. However, a severe fall in the temperature may have adverse effects on the baby turtles.
  7. Depending on the species, the baby turtles will choose different places to sleep. Painted turtles, map turtles, red eared sliders sleep at the bottom of the tank. Place rocks, a layer of a substrate, and small vegetation there. This will give a natural vibe to the babies and they will enjoy the sleep even more.
  8. The lung of a baby turtle is not developed like an adult. So, you should keep the water level low. So that the babies can easily come to the surface to take a breath.
  9. Low quality water can hamper the baby turtle’s sleep. So make sure the water filter is working properly. Even though the device eliminates the dirt or impurities, you have to replace tank water twice or thrice a week. Also, disinfect the whole enclosure and clean the substrate too.
  10. Cover the tank with a lid. This will protect the babies from any outside danger. Also, the baby turtles will not be able to escape the tank during the black.
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With all these arrangements and modifications, the terrarium will be ready for your baby turtle’s good night’s sleep. Remember, these are only for aquatic or semi aquatic species. If you have a baby box turtle, then prepare the land area for its sleep. For more information, check this link.

Can Baby Turtles Drown?

Most turtles spend their whole life in the water. So, the question can seem funny to some people. But the fact is, a turtle can still drown. And if it is a baby turtle, the risk is even higher.

A baby turtle may drown in 2 situations. Such as,

  1. If the baby turtle is trapped, it will experience a tragic death.
  2. If the baby turtle is at the bottom of the tank and the water level is too high for it to reach. The pet may drown without the oxygen.

Usually, a baby turtle can stay underwater for a long time in the cold temperature. But during the average condition, they can not survive more than 30 to 45 minutes. That is why professionals advise keeping the water level minimum. The ideal depth of the water should be 3 or 4 times the baby turtle’s height.

Why Does My Baby Turtle Sleep All Day?

You already know that baby turtles sleep less than adult ones. But what if your baby turtle is sleeping all day? What does it indicate?

If the winter is approaching, then sleeping more than usual is normal. Again, if the tank temperature drops suddenly, then the sleep cycle of the baby turtles may extend. Why does this happen?

You know turtles are ectothermic species. They can not generate heat in their bodies and solely depend on the environmental warmth. Dropping in the temperature affects them a lot. Even the baby turtles slow their metabolism, heart rate, oxygen requirements, and daily activities. It causes lethargy and the pets spend time sleeping.

Another reason responsible for your baby turtle’s all day sleeping is sickness or disease. An ill baby turtle can not participate much in the day long activities. Most of the time they bask under the heating bulb and seek warmth. In the worst cases, they sleep more than usual.

No matter what the reason is, you should always be prepared. Take your pet to a vet or consult with a professional. Consider hibernating in the winter. But in captivity, it is recommended not to put your baby turtles in hibernation as it can be a stressful process for the babies.

Recheck the water quality, the heating light, and UV bulb status. Make sure the tank heater is working properly. If after all these, the baby turtle still sleeps, then there is something wrong. A proper medical check up is a must.

Why Is My Baby Turtles Not Sleeping?

Though the turtles love sleeping, the outer environment can mess with the cycle. A baby turtle may deprive of sleeping in the following conditions,

  1. If the room is full of chaos and noise
  2. If the tank light is turned on
  3. If the water quality is not good
  4. If the tank temperature is unbearable for the baby turtles

If your baby pet turtle is deprived of sleeping, determine its problem first. Then solve what is messing with their sleep cycle. Consulting with a vet will also help you in this condition.


A sound sleep is a must for the baby turtles to maintain good health. Though they do not sleep that much, you have to create a proper sleeping environment for them. Eliminate or resolve any problem that messes with the baby turtle’s sleeping pattern.

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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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