Why Does My Turtle Sleep So Much?

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Stewart.

Home » Blog » Why Does My Turtle Sleep So Much?

Rest is essential for a pet’s growth, yet you may be thinking, why does my turtle sleep so much? For this guide, I’m going to explain the possible reasons why your turtle tends to sleep longer, along with what you can do to set a healthy sleeping pattern.

Why Does My Turtle Sleep So Much?

If your turtle is sleeping too much, it might be because of low water temperature, cold weather, improper diet, age, brumation, and even sickness. Turtles can be pretty sensitive to light and water temperature changes, affecting their activity levels and mobility.

While pet turtles can sleep for up to 11 hours a day, they may sleep longer for a number of reasons. 

Sleepy turtle

Sleep Pattern

While turtles are naturally diurnal, some are nocturnal, so they sleep most during the day. For wild turtles, they need to be awake at night due to predators. 

If this happens to your pet, this may be due to disturbances at night, such as noise. In effect, its sleeping patterns worsen, causing your turtle to sleep longer.


When turtles undergo brumation, their bodies enter a state of dormancy. Instead of eating or swimming, they tend to bury themselves and go into a prolonged period of inactivity.

Low Water Temperature

A cold water temperature can force your turtle to become more lethargic, making it feel sleepier than usual. Your pet will have a tougher time processing calcium and other nutrients. Being cold-blooded animals, a low water temperature can slow your turtle’s metabolism.

Reptiles and exotic pets like turtles are sensitive to drops in air pressure, humidity, and temperature changes. These are their natural determiners that winter is approaching, and they need to adapt accordingly.

Turtles naturally rest a lot. However, if you notice that your pet is becoming sluggish or inactive, the aquarium’s temperature may be too low.


The internal body temperature of your turtle depends on the external environment’s temperature. This affects how long your pet will stay awake and when it might be most inactive during the day.


During the hotter months, your turtle might be more active in the morning due to the cooler temperature. After that, it may cause your turtle to sleep the rest of the day. While you can regulate the tank during winter, some turtles would still be more active around midday.


The age of your turtle can also influence its activity level. Young or baby turtles tend to be more active than older ones.

Thus, it’s relatively easy to spot if there’s something wrong with a young turtle as it’s not supposed to be sleeping at all times. In contrast, adult or senior turtles may want to rest more.


Sick turtles would sleep a lot. Your turtle may not eat much yet oversleep to cope. If your turtle sulks in the same position for most of the day, it could be a symptom of an illness.

  • Vitamin A deficiency: Baby turtles lacking a comprehensive diet may suffer from vitamin A deficiency. In effect, your pet turtle may show signs of appetite loss, lethargy, or puss discharge from the eyes. Since your turtle won’t know how to heal itself, it may hide inside its shell and sleep longer for comfort.
  • Respiratory infections: Bacteria from a dirty tank can cause respiratory infections, causing turtles to release excess mucus from the nostrils or the mouth. This will result in lethargy, prompting your pet to sleep longer.
  • Shell infections: Wounds and scratches allow algae and fungi parasites to develop under a turtle’s shell. If your turtle has shell infections, your pet will show signs of lethargy and may prefer to sleep than get out of the water or do its regular activities.

Suppose your turtle is oversleeping, and this is hampering its day-to-day activities. In that case, it’s best practice to bring your pet to our clinic so I can perform the necessary examinations and recommend treatment.

How Can I Help My Turtle Have a Better Sleeping Pattern?

If your turtle is sleeping too much due to the water temperature, season, sickness, or age, there are still ways you can help your pet maintain a healthy sleeping pattern.

Sleeping turtle
  • Set the proper temperature: Use a digital thermometer to accurately set the tank’s water temperature. The ideal temperature ranges from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Check the UV light: A UV light helps mimic the sun’s rays to produce nutrients for your turtle. Keep the lights on for 10-12 hours during the day to maintain a natural cycle of the day.
  • Clean the tank: Dirty water and filthy surroundings can irritate your pet’s skin, which can cause lethargy and further sickness. Change the water every 14 days and clean the whole tank at least once a month.
  • Develop a well-balanced diet: Give your turtle protein pellets and other protein sources for an energy boost.
  • Encourage activities: Turtles can survive out of water for a while, so this is the best time to let your pet bask in the sunlight. If the outside temperature is too cold, you can return your pet to the tank to exercise by swimming.

If any of these tips still make your turtle sleep too much, the best course of action is to schedule an examination to determine any possible problems with your pet’s health.

Related Questions

What Should I Do If My Turtle Has a Cracked Shell?

If your pet has a cracked shell, provide first aid by washing the wound out with an antiseptic and make an appointment with us. We can close the wound. For long-term care, we can do digital X-rays to check for fractures and provide the necessary treatments.

What’s the Proper Way of Handling a Turtle?

Use both hands to lift a turtle at its midsection, not by its legs. Place your thumb on the top shell while the rest of your fingers are under the bottom shell. Improper handling can strain a turtle’s body or even scratch the shell. If it is a new turtle to you, be sure to keep an eye on its mouth – as turtles can bite if scared.


If your turtle is sleeping so much, it’s usually due to low water temperature or a cold season. Being nocturnal, brumation, age, and sicknesses can also cause turtles to sleep longer. Your pet should have a healthy sleeping cycle as long as you give them the ideal living conditions and schedule check-ups.