How To Transport Turtles In Cold Weather? [Take Precautions]

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

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Last year, on a very chilly day, I had a vital assignment: I had to take my pet turtle to the doctor. The cold weather was a major concern of mine, as I’m sure it was for many turtle owners. Whether you’re taking your turtle to the doctor or heading out on a winter vacation, it’s important to know how to keep them warm and healthy.

Transporting turtles in the winter takes advanced preparation. Keeping the travel container at a temperature that is comfortable for your turtle is essential. Avoiding subzero temperatures, and utilizing warming packs made specifically for transporting reptiles is also important.

Here, you’ll learn all you need to know about getting your turtle from one place to another throughout the winter months. We’ve got you from the moment you pack your turtle’s carrier until the moment you arrive at your destination.

According to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) in 2021, 67% of U.S. households own a pet. Of those pet owners, 56% have traveled with their pets in the past year. 

Key Takeaways

  • The health of turtles being transported in the winter requires meticulous planning and preparation.
  • Maintaining an appropriate temperature during travel is essential since cold weather may cause stress in turtles, weaken their immune systems, and reduce their activity levels.
  • If you want to keep your turtle safe and comfortable, you should choose a carrier that has insulation, a tight closing, and enough ventilation.
  • An inspection, temperature control, and slow acclimation to new temperatures are all part of getting your turtle ready for a trip in the cold.
  • Your turtle will be more happier and healthier if you take the time to insulate the carrier, install heating elements, and install temperature monitoring equipment.
  • A successful and risk-free trip with your turtle in cold weather may be greatly aided by having enough food, water, and waste management, as well as consulting an expert.

What Are The Cold Weather Risks For Turtles?

Since they are ectothermic (rely on their surroundings to maintain body temperature), cold weather may have a major influence on turtles. Because of the cold, they become less active, which might have negative effects on their health as a whole. It’s important to know the hazards involved while moving turtles in the winter:

Temperature stress occurs when a turtle is exposed to temperatures that are too low. Their immunity may be compromised as a result of the stress, leaving them more prone to sickness.

Less Active Colder temperatures cause turtles to slow down and become less active. As a consequence of not moving around as much, muscles might get stiff, which can impair breathing and digestion.

As a result of the cold, turtles might have respiratory problems. Their breathing rate may decrease, causing them to have trouble exchanging oxygen.

Due to the reduced temperatures, turtles may delay drinking, increasing the risk of dehydration. Many health issues may arise from being dehydrated.

Stress from cold conditions may lower a turtle’s immune system, leaving it more vulnerable to illness.

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It is crucial to be aware of these dangers while transporting turtles in the winter. In order to keep your shelled friend healthy and safe throughout the trip, you need to take the necessary precautions.

Owner: Elizabeth Nicole Hartin

Checklist: Traveling With Your Pet Turtle Infographic

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Which Carrier To Use For Transporting Turtles In Cold Weather?

If you need to move a turtle during the winter, be sure to use a suitable carrier or container. Some suggestions are as follows:

Carriers with Insulation: Choose a container intended for transport in sub-zero temperatures. These containers are usually insulated to keep your turtle at a constant, comfortable temperature.

Size and Space:  Check that your turtle has sufficient room to move about in the carrier without making it too big and cumbersome to keep warm. It’s important to give your turtle ample room to move about without making it too difficult for it to maintain a steady body temperature.

Secure Closures: Look for carriers that have secure, adequately insulated closings to make sure no breezes can get inside. Make sure there aren’t any cracks or holes that may let the chilly air in.

Ventilation: Insulation is crucial, but ventilation must still be allowed in the carrier. Moisture accumulation within the container may be avoided with good ventilation.

Padding and Bedding: Insulate and ease your turtle during transport by lining the carrier with a plush blanket or other bedding substance. Don’t use newspapers or other items that might be unpleasant if damp and chilly.

Minimum Opening: Make sure you can easily reach your turtle throughout the trip and see how it’s doing by choosing a carrier that allows for this. However, in order to keep heat in, openings should be kept to a minimum.

If you’re transporting your turtle in the winter, look for a container with these qualities to ensure its warmth and security.

My Recommended Turtle Carriers For Cold Weather

For transport turtles in cold weather, I would recommend only one carrier. And ironically, that product is not used as a carrier for turtles.

I am talking about Penn-Plax Turtle Topper.

I know this is a basking platform for turtles. However, it can be used as a carrier during transportation. It has a built-in ramp and a clear plastic top that provides visibility and ventilation for your pet.

All the other carriers I have looked for are either not made for turtles, or too open for trapping any heat inside.

So, if you are traveling in cold weather with your turtle, I would recommend only Penn Plax Turtle Topper.

However, don’t use the turtle topper just as it is as a carrier. Go through the previous section and prepare the topper to act as a good turtle carrier.

How To Prepare Your Turtle For Cold Weather Travel?

Before venturing out with your turtle in the winter, you must take preventative measures to protect their safety.

1. Start With A Physical Exam:

Make an appointment with your vet for a checkup before you go. This checkup will ensure that your turtle is healthy and prepared for the rigors of cold winter travel.

At this time, you and your veterinarian may also talk about any special care requirements associated with your turtle’s breed and health.

2. Keep Heating System:

The effects of cold weather on turtles may be devastating. Keep your turtle’s box or container at a comfortable temperature to help it adjust.

The use of a heating pad, heat lamp, or under-tank heater may all help with this. The environment should be kept at a temperature similar to that in their native habitat so that they remain comfortable on the trip.

3. Gradually Adjust Your Turtle:

Occasionally, turtles have trouble adjusting to rapid temperature swings. Before taking your turtle on a journey, reduce the temperature in its cage by 10 to 15 degrees over the course of several days.

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This gradual change helps them acclimatize and lessens the impact of being suddenly exposed to cold while on the road.

4. Keep An Eye On Behavior:

Observe your turtle carefully as it adjusts to its new environment. Seek advice from your vet if you see worrying behaviors like decreased activity or altered appetite.

The dangers of transporting turtles during cold weather may be greatly reduced with the right planning, such as controlling the temperature and progressive acclimatization. You may help make the trip more pleasant for your shelled friend by following these guidelines.

The most common mode of transportation for pets is by car, with 89% of pet owners traveling with their pets by car. However, air travel is also a popular option, with over 2 million pets and other live animals traveling by air each year in the United States.

How To Regulate Temperature During Transport?

The health of your turtle depends on keeping it at a comfortable temperature within its container or a box during transit in cold weather. Here’s how to ensure your turtle remains comfortable:

1. Insulation: Make sure the container you choose provides enough insulation. Transporting your turtle in an insulated bag can help keep it warm and safe from draughts.

2. Heat bulb: Consider placing a heat bulb or heated pad within the carrier if the temperature outside is exceptionally low. Make sure they are firmly fastened so your turtle can’t get its shell caught on them and burned.

Put them where you want a temperature gradient to form, so your turtle may adjust its position relative to the heat source.

3. Warming Packs: If necessary, utilize warming packs made specifically for transporting turtles. These packs are designed to provide a steady stream of warmth for a certain amount of time.

Keep a constant temperature by storing them in the container as directed by the company that makes it.

4. Thermometer: Keep a close eye on the temperature inside the container at all times. Make sure the temperature never rises above or falls below what is safe for your turtle by using a quality thermometer.

Maintain a steady and pleasant climate by adjusting heating equipment or adding/removing insulation as required.

5. Additional Heating Sources: Have a backup heating system in place in case your primary system fails. Bring along some additional blankets, heat sources, and towels in case you end up needing them.

If you want to keep the turtle safe throughout transit in the winter, you need to make sure it doesn’t get too cold. If you follow these measures, your shelled friend will have a pleasant and secure trip.

How To Provide Adequate Food, Water, And Waste Management?

If you must bring your turtle somewhere in the winter, be sure to keep these things in mind.

Decrease your turtle’s normal feeding time a few weeks before a trip. Eating a small lunch before a long trip might reduce gas and bloating from digestion.

Although turtles need accessibility to water year-round, it is especially important to keep water from freezing during the winter months.

To prevent your turtle from drying out, use containers with insulation or warm water sources. Maintain a constant watch over the water supply.

Absorbent substances should be used to line the carrier for managing waste. Waste may freeze in very cold settings, therefore it’s important to check out and disinfect the habitat at regular intervals to keep the turtle happy and healthy.

With these factors in mind, you can ensure your turtle’s safety and comfort on a trip through the winter. They need clean water and proper waste disposal for survival.

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Why Take Expert Advice For Traveling With Turtles In Cold Weather?

Consultation with a turtle specialist or veterinarian before taking your turtle on a trip in the winter may make a big difference in the animal’s well-being and survival.

It’s a good idea to get advice from experts in the field of turtle care. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends seeing a veterinarian who specializes in reptile care for guidance on how to best care for your turtle.

Depending on characteristics including species, size, and health, professionals may provide tailored recommendations for traveling in cold weather.

Seeking professional help is the best way to make sure your turtle is ready for cold weather travel and is adequately taken care of. Their knowledge and experience may make an enormous impact on the well-being of your pet.

Owner: Josh Kelley

What Are The Common Challenges For Cold Weather Turtle Transport?

There are some unique problems associated with transporting turtles in the winter, but with preparation and experience, you can get them there safely. Some frequent problems and their answers are as follows:

1. Temperature Fluctuations:

One potential threat to your turtle’s health is temperature fluctuations, which can occur in the carrier during cold weather. turtles experience stress when exposed to sudden temperature fluctuations.


It is suggested by turtle specialists that you use heaters or heat packs to keep the temperature inside the carrier at a constant and suitable level. Acclimating to the new temperature gradually before leaving might also be beneficial.

2. Stress:

Traveling in cold weather can be stressful for turtles, potentially impacting their overall well-being.


The solution is to get advice from a veterinarian or turtle specialist on how to make the travel process as stress-free as possible for the turtle.

Using the animal’s own bedding, keeping the carrier dark, and limiting noise are all good examples of this.

3. Insufficient Preparation:

Having not adequately prepared for your turtle’s needs may cause it discomfort and even health problems.


Make sure you have the right carrier and heating equipment, and acclimatize your turtle to colder temperatures with the help of a professional.

4. Monitoring Temperature:

Keeping an eye on the temperature inside the carrier is crucial in avoiding hypothermia during long periods of transit.


One way to ensure that the internal temperature of the carrier remains within safe parameters is to have a good thermometer on hand.

You can make sure your turtle has a good trip even if the weather is chilly by anticipating and fixing these typical problems.

What temperature is too cold for a turtle?

Different species of turtles have different tolerances to temperature, but generally speaking, water temperatures below 10°C (50°F) can be dangerous for many aquatic turtle species, and ambient temperatures below 10°C can also be harmful for terrestrial turtles.

However, some species, like the Blanding’s turtle, can tolerate colder temperatures, and even remain active under the ice in frozen ponds during winter.

For pet turtles, it’s crucial to maintain an appropriate temperature range which is typically around 22°C to 32°C (72°F to 90°F) depending on the species, and provide a heat source to help them regulate their body temperature.

Before You Go…

When moving turtles in the winter, special consideration must be given to the requirements of the turtles.

Even in cold weather, your turtle can travel safely if you know the hazards, choose the correct carrier, get your turtle ready, control the temperature, give it what it needs, and consult an expert.

Read How Can I Ship My Turtle? [Foolproof Guide] to learn more about the details of transporting turtles. Shipping Guidelines for the Protection of Turtles. This article gives helpful advice for safely transporting your turtle throughout the winter or any other time of year.

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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.


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.