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Can all turtles swim? Everything you need to know!

Can all turtles swim

There are tons of different turtle species out there in the world. Some live in fresh water and some live in saltwater.

This article will go over the question of can all turtles swim

Can All Turtles Swim?

So almost all turtles can actually swim. The one that is the odd one out is actually the tortoise

The main thing about all the turtles that can swim is that they have flippers and tortoises have feet instead

So if you ever find a turtle that you think can swim check if it has FEET before you throw it back into some water. You actually might drown him.

Now you need to also know that small baby turtles have a more difficult time swimming. I have a friend taking care of baby turtles. She raises them and helps them grow up. So makes sure that the water isn’t too deep

Can turtles swim fast? How fast can turtles swim?

To be quite honest with you they are not fast in the water. Most people actually think that turtles can swim a whole lot faster but they just swim slowly through the water

They can swim to about 5 mph in the water and on land they move at about 1 mph (mile per hour)

Certain turtles are faster than others though like the leatherback sea turtle which can move at about 35mph. Another cool thing about leatherback sea turtles is they can dive very deep like whales do.

The Slowest of them all goes to the tortoises. They move real slow.

A way that turtles like to find prey and eat is by traveling through currents. This helps them move from point to point much quicker and without much energy

Can turtles Swim in Deep Water?

There are certain types of turtles that can swim in deep water.

  • Semi aquatic
  • Aquatic

Now the ones that can’t are called nonaquatic turtles and they won’t be able to stay in water that is too deep

Certain turtles are going to be much more comfortable on land and will not stay in the water too long

Sea turtles can swim almost a kilometer down and the leatherback turtle can swim 4,000 feet down. So some turtles are going to like swimming down further than others

If you have a pet turtle make sure the water isn’t too deep to be on the safe side. Make sure they can easily get from water to land when needed. This also depends heavily on how you have their habitat set up as well.

My Turtle is Struggling to swim

Sometimes your turtle will struggle to swim and there may be a few reasons as to why that is

Now before we go into it you should know that swimming is something that turtles know how to do naturally. 99 percent of the time when a turtle can’t swim it’s because they aren’t healthy.

Your turtle might be sick

This is a common reason why they’re not swimming. They might be dealing with some sort of sickness that is preventing them from being able to move freely as they should

Many reptiles have issues dealing with respiratory infections which can cause them not to breathe properly. If there isn’t enough oxygen entering the bloodstream it becomes difficult for them to move properly

infections must be treated. If left unchecked for long enough it can actually cause them to get even sicker and possibly die

Take your turtle to the vet immediately if they are suffering from a respiratory infection

Your turtle is used to shallow water

If your turtle has been in shallow water too long it will basically forget how to swim in deeper waters

just like when you were a kid and learned how to swim you gradually went from the shallow end of the pool and worked your way up to when you couldn’t feel the bottom anymore

This is the same thing you must do for a turtle that has been in shallow water for too long

try this out. Slowly introduce more water and see how they handle it. If they continue to swim poorly then the issue might be something else

Poor water Quality

The water quality needs to be excellent for them to be able to thrive.

The water temperature needs to be warm. If it’s too hot or cold they won’t like it much

Certain turtle species will want cooler temps and some will want warmer temps but all in all they will need to it be warm and clean

The best thing you can do is test the water often. Once a week or twice a month will work fine. The water needs to be clean but if you use chlorine it can irritate their eyes

If you’re going to use ammonia then you have to make sure you don’t use too much or they can get sick

Is it possible for turtles to drown?

Turtles actually have lungs like humans

They are small compared to ours but they can use them for long dives if necessary depending on the type of turtle

So technically speaking they can drown if water enters their lungs. Some turtles have adapted to allow their lungs to absorb a certain amount of oxygen without needing to come up for air.

It’s very neat how it works. When the water crosses their scales and shell they are able to get oxygen because the scales and shells contain red blood cells. This will help them get enough oxygen to stay underwater for longer periods of time

They can stay underwater for about 5 to 6 minutes before needing to come up for air which is much longer than most humans can without training.

If a turtle stays still it can stay underwater a lot longer. Some freshwater turtles can stay underwater for an hour.

How can a turtle drown?

The main way that this happens is when turtles get stuck in garbage and debris in the ocean. Fishnets also aid in drowning turtles because they get stuck in the nets and can’t move which forces them to stay underwater

Turtles won’t just allow themselves to drown. Some people think turtles are dumb and will just let themselves die which is not true

Another way this happens is if they can’t find a spot to rest. Turtles will look for a basking spot and if they can find one or can’t reach one they will get tired out and drown


can all turtles swim? Yes, all but the Tortoise can swim. They are proficient swimmers and will usually not drown outside of human influence.

Turtles do have lungs and will need oxygen to survive and if they stay underwater too long they can drown

If you ever see a turtle on the ground DON’T assume it is a turtle that can swim. If it has feet it’s a tortoise and you should just leave it alone.