Red Eared Slider Sleeping Habit [Everything Explained]

Red Eared Slider Sleeping Habit

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

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When you wake up from your sleep and turn on the light you may see your turtle is awake and swimming on the surface or walking at the bottom of the tank. It is not that your turtle doesn’t sleep. It was sleeping until you turned on the light. Red eared slider’s sleeping habit is quite similar to that of humans.

As it is with any animals, sleep is essential for red eared sliders. Without sleep, their body function collapses. To ensure a healthy and jolly red eared slider there is no alternative to efficient sleep. So it’s important to know about your red eared sliders sleeping habit.

From here you will know all about its sleeping behavior and how you can help your red eared slider to sleep properly.

Do Red Eared Slider Sleep Underwater?

When you are about to know about your red eared slider’s sleeping routine, the first thing you need to know is where it sleeps. If you don’t know about its normal sleeping place you may not be able to detect its abnormal behavior.

Do red eared sliders sleep underwater? Yes, they do. While sleeping they either float on the surface or sink at the bottom of the tank. The turtle inflates its throat in order to help him float!

You will never see them sleeping on the basking spot or anywhere else. They usually sleep at night.

Red eared sliders sleeping habit doesn’t differ much from that of humans. They will go to sleep as you turn off the light. They will wake up when the surrounding lights up. They are very responsive to light.

Where do they sleep? They normally sleep underwater. A healthy red eared slider will either sink at the bottom of the tank or float on the surface while it sleeps. But the sleeping spot differs from time to time.

As red eared sliders are semi-aquatic animals they can’t stay underwater for too long. Maybe after an hour or so they will float up to the surface and sleep there. To float while sleeping they will put their head up above the water. They need air to breathe. They will take the help of their inflated throat to keep floating.

Do Turtles Sleep With Their Eyes Closed?

Both turtle and tortoise sleep with their eyes closed. Despite the position and place, they need to close their eyelids in order to sleep. They try to avoid light as much as possible.

Closing their eyes also allows them to relax. Whenever turtles wander around too much they get tired. They close their eyes to relax and chill (basically whenever they need to take rest).

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But if you notice your red eared slider keeping their eyes closed for a longer time you have things to worry about. It is surely a sign of disease. See if the eyes of the turtle are swallowed or not. Take your turtle to the vet if you notice anything unusual of this kind.

Turtles close their eyes to sleep. But as it can also be the reason for severe diseases, you should be alert about its habit.

How Long Do Red Eared Slider Sleep?

A healthy red eared slider will sleep for 4 to 7 hours daily. They don’t sleep during the day. But in some rare cases and in the case of illness they can sleep or doze off any time of the day. But normally they need to sleep 7 hours to maintain their health.

The sleeping time can vary. It depends on the season. The water temperature determines their sleeping time. In the winter the water remains cold. During winter turtles tend to spend more time on the basking area. They seek heat in the winter to keep their body warm and comfortable. As the red eared slider sleeps in the water, they spend less time sleeping during winter.

But in the summer the water is warmer. It suits the turtle. To them the water is comforting. This condition allows them to sleep for a longer period. Thus they spend more time sleeping during summer.

No matter what season it is, it’s not good if your turtle sleeps for more than 7 hours or don’t sleep at all. They can indicate several problems. It’s your duty to address the problems properly.

Why My Red Eared Slider Isn’t Sleeping?

It can be hard to judge whether your red eared slider is sleeping properly. Slightest noise and dimmest light can wake them up. So you have to be careful. But eventually observing your turtle you can find out the problems it may be having with sleep.

Whenever you see your red eared slider you will see it active. They are very responsive to light and sound. So your presence will definitely affect them.

But eventually, if you notice your red eared slider isn’t sleeping, it can be problematic. Sleep is essential for any animal to sustain and maintain a good health. It helps them to digest and regain strength.

Your red eared slider isn’t sleeping probably because:

  1. The water temperature is not right. The ideal water temperature for red eared slider is 26-28 degrees Celsius. If the water is hotter or less cold than this range, it can cause the turtle to leave the water. They then mostly reside on the basking spot. It’s harmful for them to sleep there.
  2. The ph level of water is not right. The pH level of the water in the tank must be between 6.0 to 8.0. If this is not maintained the water can cause irritation. Thus they can’t sleep.
  3. Filthy surrounding. If you don’t clean the tank regularly or change the water frequently the turtle won’t be able to sleep.
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Turtles, being a semi-aquatic animal, sleep underwater. So it’s important that they are living in a clean place. The condition of water maintains different habits and matters of the turtle. Sleeping behavior is such a habit. So keep your water clean and maintain its temperature and ph level. That will give your red eared slider the perfect condition to sleep.

Red Eared Slider Sleeping Too Much?

What about when your red eared slider sleeps all the time? You can see your turtle sulking at the bottom of the tank or it can lay with its eyes closed on the basking spot the whole day.

It’s never a good thing for your red eared slider. Whether it’s a hatchling or a grownup, your turtle should never sleep all day long. It is not only harmful to the turtle it can also indicate severe health problems.

The reasons why red eared slider oversleep: inactiveness

  1. The water temperature can cause the turtle to sleep a lot. In nature, red eared slider brumate during winter. Brumation is quiet similar to hibernation. While hibernation is the state of total inactiveness, during brumation turtle becomes less active. Low water temperature can make turtles think it’s winter season. That can lead to turtles brumation, thus they will sulk for a long time.
  2. Sick turtles tend to sleep a lot. Oversleeping can be an effect of respiratory disease. But there are other indications to it. If your turtle is always sleeping and keeping its mouth open then there is a big chance of it being ill. If this really is the case, your turtle won’t eat much and sleep the whole day. Bubble may accumulate near its mouth.
  3. Serious kind of physical disability can cause the turtle to sleep a lot. Or it may seem like that your turtle is sleeping. If your red eared slider had somehow hurt its legs or any other parts of its body, it will barely shift. They won’t get access to enough food as they won’t be able to move. It will eventually make the turtle weak. It will sulk in its position all day long.

As you can see, oversleeping behavior can be the effect of severe problems in turtle’s health. So if you notice any sign of oversleeping you must take steps immediately. Make sure the water temperature is normal for the turtle. Look for any signs of respiratory disease. If you see them to be grasping for breath consult a vet immediately. Also, look for any physical damage if you notice your turtle barely moving.

Keep these things in mind. Otherwise, your turtle can suffer from more severe problems. It can even die. So it’s essential to ensure your turtle is sleeping properly.

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How Can You Help Your Turtle Sleep?

The importance of sleep doesn’t need much emphasis. Without sleep, your red eared slider will fall sick. It will cause severe damage to the turtle’s health. So you have to make sure it gets the proper place to sleep.

To do that you have to:

  1. Make sure that your red eared slider is properly fed. Red eared sliders are omnivorous. So make sure you give it both meaty foods and vegetarian items. You can feed it earthworms, crickets, aquatic snails, dark green leaf lettuce, etc. You can either feed your red eared slider daily or once in 2 or 3 days. But you will have to maintain regularity. Bear in mind, you have to consider the amount of food you are feeding. If you intend to feed it daily give it bits of food. But if you feed it once in 2 or 3 days make sure you are giving it enough food. If your red eared slider doesn’t get enough food it won’t be able to sleep well. Food is essential for healthy sleep.
  1. Keep the tank water clean. Dirty water causes irritation to the turtle’s skin. Turtles can’t sleep because of it. So you have to change tank water every two weeks. And remember to clean the whole tank at least once a month.
  2. Maintain the water condition. Keep the water ph level between 6.0 and 8.0 while the ideal water temperature is 26 to 28 degrees Celsius.
  3. Make sure your red eared slider is basking properly. If the basking platform is not clean or if the basking light doesn’t emit enough heat it will disturb the turtle’s natural behavior. For red eared slider, basking is as essential as eating. So make it certain that your red eared slider is basking properly.
  4. Notice if there is too much light or noise in the turtles surrounding. Red eared sliders are very much responsive to light and sound. If there is too much noise or if your red eared slider is exposed to too much light, it won’t be able to sleep. Place your turtle’s tank in a serene place. Use shade outside the tank. You can use cloth or paper to stop light from reaching the turtle.

Take these measures and your red eared slider will be able to sleep peacefully. Remember, the first and foremost condition of a healthy and joyful turtle is proper sleep.


Red eared sliders sleep underwater. They can keep their bodies relaxed mostly by floating and keeping their eyes closed. It’s your job to maintain its habitat’s condition. Not let anything disturb its sleep. You don’t want your red eared slider to be cranky.

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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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