How Long Can Turtles Hold Their Breath?

How Long Can Turtles Hold Their Breath - Fumi Pets

Last Updated on January 23, 2024 by Fumipets

Exploring the Depths: How Long Can Turtles Hold Their Breath?


Turtles, with their ancient and fascinating lineage, are well-adapted to aquatic life. One of the intriguing aspects of their biology is their ability to hold their breath underwater. The question of how long turtles can stay submerged has captivated curious minds eager to understand the secrets of these remarkable reptiles.

In this exploration, we delve into the world of turtles and unveil the mysteries behind their impressive breath-holding capabilities.

How Long Can Turtles Hold Their Breath?


Turtles spend a lot of time underwater, yet they are unable to breathe there. However, turtles have developed the ability to hold their breath for extended periods of time, which allows them to stay underwater for a lot longer than we can. So how long can turtles hold their breath?

Depending on the species and age of the turtle, they can hold their breath underwater for a certain amount of time. For instance, some turtles can only survive underwater for a few minutes, while others have been seen to survive there for many hours.

Continue reading to learn more about how long turtles can hold their breath. The length of time that different turtle species can survive underwater is examined in detail in this article. Let’s get going.

Turtle Behavior

We must first discuss turtle breathing and swimming habits before examining the precise timings. Turtles are predominantly terrestrial creatures even though they spend a lot of time underwater. They will perish if they are submerged at all times.

READ:  10 Best Chinchilla Cages 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks

Compared to humans, turtles can remain underwater for longer lengths of time. Since the water offers these prey creatures plenty of food and places to hide, turtles most likely developed in this manner. In addition, turtles can move far more quickly underwater, which helps them avoid predators.

Why Turtles Can Hold Their Breath for So Long Underwater

Turtles can hold their breath underwater for considerably longer than humans can, as we’ve previously discussed. This is due to three key factors. First off, compared to humans, turtles have a highly distinct respiratory, skeletal, and muscular system that makes breathing simpler for them.

The second explanation for why turtles can hold their breath underwater for such a long time is that certain species, namely freshwater turtles, may take in oxygen via their cloaca, a kind of multifunctional cavity that is present in many vertebrates and invertebrates. They theoretically don’t need to breathe in order to get the oxygen they require since they can absorb it using their cloaca.

The fact that turtles have external nares above their mouths is the third factor contributing to their exceptional ability to hold their breath. The turtles don’t really need to come above the surface to breathe since their nares are located above their mouths. They just approach it and openly display their nares. The turtle may seem to be holding its breath, yet it is really breathing for this purpose.

How Long Can Turtles Hold Their Breath

Let’s now discuss the length of time that turtles can hold their breath. The age, variety, and state of health of the turtle all affect its precise length. In general, young and old turtles are unable to hold their breath for as long as healthy, older turtles. Sea turtles are also known to hold their breath for a lot longer than their freshwater counterparts.

The length of time a turtle can hold its breath also depends on how active or relaxed it is. A turtle may find itself holding its breath in one of three primary situations: sleeping underwater, moving underwater, or hibernating underwater.

Holding Breath While Sleeping Underwater

The metabolic rate slows down while a turtle, or any other animal, is asleep. As a consequence, while the turtle is asleep, it has to breathe less often. It can hold its breath for little over an hour while your freshwater turtle is dozing off underwater.

READ:  The Mini Lop Rabbit; The Complete Care Guide

When they are asleep, sea turtles may remain under water much longer. The majority of sea turtles are able to spend four to seven hours sleeping below without having to surface to breath.

Holding Breath While Swimming or Moving Underwater

The turtle has to breathe more often while it is moving since all of its bodily processes are being used. While many freshwater species can hold their breath for up to 45 minutes, other species can only do so for roughly 30 minutes.

Sea turtles have substantially longer breath-holding periods. A sea turtle can hold its breath underwater for a maximum of little over 7 hours. A leatherback sea turtle holds the record here.

The majority of turtles won’t push their boundaries if given the chance. Instead, the majority of turtles prefer to dive, swim subaquatically for five minutes, and then surface for a brief while to breathe. Even while it can hold its breath for considerably longer, this just enables the turtle to breathe and swim more slowly and at its own pace.

Holding Breath While Hibernating

Turtles hibernate, much like bears and other creatures, a fact that many people are unaware of. Some turtles, particularly those living in the north, really hibernate underwater. The turtle needs less food and oxygen to live during hibernation because its metabolic rate slows down.

Because of their cloaca, turtles are able to hibernate underwater for extended periods of time. The ability of the cloaca to take in oxygen enables turtles to spend more time underwater, as we mentioned above. Typically, cloacas function as pumps, expelling water while receiving oxygen.

Depending on the kind, a turtle may hibernate for a variety of lengths of time, although the majority can do so underwater for a few months at a period.

Why Can Sea Turtles Stay Underwater Longer Than Other Turtles?

The capacity of sea turtles to maintain their breath underwater has attracted the attention of scientists. Sea turtles can’t breathe underwater and require air to live, just like all other turtles on the earth, yet this species thrives in the choppy seas.

Sea turtles can remain underwater for longer than other turtle species mostly due to differences in their biology. The ability of sea turtles to preserve energy and spend extended periods of time below is due to the fact that everytime they hold their breath, their metabolic rate lowers.

Sea turtles behave similarly to freshwater turtles in that they don’t push themselves too much. The majority of turtles will submerge for five to 10 minutes before briefly surface breathing. They will need to get up for air more often if they are under stress or are more active.

READ:  Red Eyed Crocodile Skinks For Sale: 2022 Breeders List in the USA

How Long Can My Turtle Stay Underwater?

If you’re reading this, it’s probable that you own a turtle and are curious about how long it can stay underwater without breathing. The majority of freshwater species maintained as pets are able to hold their breath while moving for 30 to 45 minutes. However, unless absolutely necessary, most turtles won’t remain under water for this long.


A turtle’s age and species determine how long it can hold its breath. While moving, the typical duration is between 30 and 45 minutes, or an hour while sleeping. In fact, the cloaca in the shells of hibernating turtles allows them to survive much longer underwater.

If your turtle is submerged for an extended period of time, it is either hibernating or has drowned. Despite being excellent swimmers, turtles may drown because they need oxygen to breathe. Fortunately, if you give your turtle the right environment, it will probably be aware of its boundaries and rise for air more often than is necessary, so you won’t have to worry about it drowning.

Q&A: Unlocking the Secrets of Turtle Breath-Holding



How do turtles breathe, and why can they stay submerged for extended periods?

Turtles possess lungs for breathing air, but their physiology allows them to absorb oxygen through other means. When submerged, turtles can extract oxygen from the water through specialized membranes in their cloaca, an opening near their tail. This adaptation enables them to stay underwater without constant access to the surface.


Can all turtle species hold their breath for the same duration?

Different turtle species exhibit varying breath-holding capacities. Aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles generally have greater abilities to hold their breath compared to fully terrestrial species. Factors such as habitat, size, and metabolism contribute to the diversity in breath-holding capabilities among different turtle species.


What is the average duration that turtles can stay submerged?

The average breath-holding duration for most turtles ranges from 15 to 30 minutes. However, some species, especially those adapted to deep diving, can stay submerged for several hours. The ability to regulate metabolism and slow down physiological processes helps turtles conserve oxygen during extended periods underwater.


How do turtles prepare for prolonged dives, and what triggers their resurfacing?

Before a prolonged dive, turtles often take deep breaths to maximize oxygen intake. They can adjust their metabolic rate and redirect blood flow to prioritize essential functions, allowing them to endure extended periods without breathing. Various stimuli, such as a need for oxygen or changes in environmental conditions, prompt turtles to resurface and replenish their air supply.


Are there risks or challenges associated with turtles holding their breath for extended periods?

While turtles are well-adapted for underwater life, there are potential risks. Prolonged submersion in water with low oxygen levels can pose challenges, and turtles may face hypoxia or lack of oxygen. Additionally, increased exposure to pollutants or changes in habitat conditions can impact their overall respiratory health.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here