How Long Can Aquatic Turtles Stay Out of Water?

When answering this question how long can turtles stay out of the water, the answer will depend on the species and type in question? Land or aquatic turtles will spend varying time out of the water with the land able to stay for longer time.

How long can an aquatic turtle stay out of water

How long?


Although land terrapins are adopted to stay out water, they may still soak themselves inside it especially during harsh temperatures. However, they may not stay for a long time since several of them are not adapted to breathe underwater for quite a long time.

Do not forget to note that, if you want to keep a land terrapin as a pet, you should understand that water is still an essential factor.

In this article, we are going to determine how long aquatic turtles can stay out of the water, bearing in mind that these reptiles are adapted to spend much time underwater than on land.

Sea or freshwater turtles rarely leave this habitat, except to lay eggs on land. Sometimes, they also climb rocks or logs in water to bask in the warm sun.

Quora.com notes that “A turtle especially an aquatic or sea turtle…lives its entire live life in and out and near water.” However, when the humidity is low, the aquatic and semi-aquatic ones can stay out of water for about a week.

Sincerely speaking, this fundamentally dependent on temperature, species, and age. When their surrounding temperature falls below 7°C, many reptiles enter a state of inactivity called brumation. This is a different case from hibernation. In brumation, the animals will become active once the temperature increases.

Factors determining duration they can stay out of water

As you may have known, aquatic turtles can make great pets. However, they require a great deal of care. They are also not ideal for children. Like land ones (tortoise and box turtles), they can also benefit from spending time on land. Therefore, the period they would stay out of water would consider the following key factors:


During warmer climates, aquatic turtles can survive for quite a long period out of the water. However, this would depend on the species in question. Red-eared sliders are quite hardy and adaptable and thus can relatively survive out of water for weeks or even months.  Once again, remember that climate is a dependent factor.

During colder climates especially when the aquatic temperatures go below 7 degrees Celsius, some aquatic turtles would tend to be in and out. In such a case, you make the temperature favorable using a heater or the turtle heat lamp like Zoo Med Aquatic Turtle UVB Heat Lighting Kit


The time it takes out the water would also depend on the species. The red-eared slider is more difficult and thus can survive for quite a longer time than other species.


Baby aquatic turtles usually take time before they could go out of the water. If you are keeping them, you will be required to train the young ones to stay out. However, after they have developed enough, they can go out like others. Still, what makes them go out to the water is still a determinant.

Safety and security

Safety and security are also other essential aspects of these reptiles. If you want to keep them as pets, you will be required to ensure safety and security in the environment. You must make sure the animals have hiding places when they get outside water.

Usually, terrapins are not that friendly and social. Therefore, when they get out to bask, they would require a calm environment and a basking area. Otherwise, they would return water immediately they sense danger.

Oxygen requirements

Oxygen requirement is a fundamental dynamic that would determine how long these reptiles would stay in the water. This is especially very crucial for pet turtles. If it does not contain enough oxygen, they would want to get out to get enough oxygen.

To make sure that your pets have access to sufficient oxygen, you can improve on this by the addition of waterfalls, external filters, and air stones. Oxygen in their aquatic habitat is very vital especially during cold climates.

Water plants

They provide shelter, hiding places and extra food for these animals. So, if your tank is transparent and lacks hiding places, these animals would get out in search of hiding places or cool themselves when the temperature in the tank rises.


If the aquatic environment lacks enough food, these reptiles may come out of the marine environment in pursuit of the same. If water tanks for these pets will persistently lack food, then it would be routine for them to come out to look for food sources.

Therefore, it is recommended that you ensure sufficient food is availed to the pets in their aquatic. Note that, if they persistently come out the water, they are highly exposed to predators or insecurity.


Depending on the various determinants we have explored above, it is wrong to outline the exact time these reptiles can stay out water. However, usually, aquatic turtles can stay in the sun for around 6-8 hours out of the water. When in a cool place or rather a shade, they can remain out for approximately 2 to 3 days.

Note that the stated time frames above can change depending on the species, age, climate, availability of food and oxygen and security, etc.

As a reptile pet owner, it is essential to know their favorable habitat, temperature, food and much more. This will ensure they are not only healthy but also happy. Let your reptile pet store help you know the favorable conditions.

Further reading

  1. https://defenders.org/sea-turtles/basic-facts
  2. https://pets-animals.blurtit.com/667951/how-long-can-a-turtle-stay-out-of-water