Do Turtles Get Cold?

Do Turtles Get Cold?

As turtles are cold-blooded animals, they require the heat from the sun to start their metabolism. Especially after winter, they need to warm up to function properly. Most of the turtles attempt to warm up in the spring. Sunning in the spring takes longer for them than in the summer because the overall temperature is low.

Due to low oxygen levels over the colder conditions, they can suffer from lactic acid buildup. This can be neutralized through the turtle’s shell with UV rays. Therefore, many turtles spend extra time in the sun to help clear their bodies of this toxin.

You must be wondering if the turtles get cold? And can they survive the cold? This article will discuss how turtles manage colder temperatures, so keep reading.

Related Article: Why Is My Turtle Not Basking?

Do Turtles get cold?

Yes, turtles do get cold. Being cold-blooded animals, they can handle cold weather. They slow down their metabolism and switch to hibernation in cold weather. However, in extreme colder conditions, it becomes difficult for them to endure when the temperature falls below a certain level.

In colder weather, the turtle depends on external factors to survive. They require a heat source to regulate their body temperature. As they cannot generate heat by themselves, they either absorb the heat from the sun or the heat lamp you provide. Without a proper heat source, it gets challenging for them to endure the colder conditions and most of the time, they undergo brumation during winter.

Why do turtles get cold?

Being cold-blooded animals, the turtle can not regulate their body temperature. Their body temperature is directly dependent on the outside temperature. If the temperature is cold, the turtle also gets cold.

As the turtles cannot control their body temperature by themselves, they undergo a basking process to regulate their body temperature. If they stay too long under the sun, they become warm, and then they swim in the water to cool them off, and if they feel too cold into the water, they climb ashore and spend time under the sun.

How much cold can a turtle survive?

The ideal temperature to keep the turtle is between 77 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this temperature depends on the turtle species. Even if the temperature falls slightly below this range, the turtle can survive, but it affects the turtle’s activity level and metabolism.

You certainly don’t want your turtle to get sick, and hence you should not expose them to the cold for a longer period. You can check if your turtle is feeling cold and take precautions to make them feel warm. If your turtle looks tired, does not move, does not eat, prefers to sleep a lot or does not spend a lot of time in the water, it is most probable that it feels cold or sick. These are the most evident signs that you will notice when your turtle is feeling cold.

Do turtles feel cold at night?

Yes, turtles do feel cold at night because there is no heat source to provide them with enough heat. But that does not mean you should keep your heat lamp on at night as it can affect the turtle’s health.

Just like humans’ turtles rest at night, keeping the heat lamps on at night can affect their sleep cycle. Wild turtles tend to bury themselves to retain heat. So, if you want to make your turtle comfortable, you can keep some leaves or rocks around them to gain some heat. Another way is to install a water heater. Warm water helps them maintain their body temperature. 

Related Article: Do Turtles Need A Water Heater?

Can Aquatic turtles get cold?

Yes, Aquatic turtles also get cold as they are cold-blooded animals and depend on external factors to regulate their body temperature. The aquatic turtle spends most of their time in water and cannot just leave the water and start staying on land if they find the water to be too cold for them. This makes them prone to cold during cold weather and winter.

When the water is too cold, aquatic turtles switch from cold to warm water. They have a much wider range of temperature in water than land turtles. Whenever they do not find a perfect temperature to keep them warm enough, they sit on a rock or log and bask under the sun to gain warmth and heat.

Aquatic turtles hibernate during winters underwater. They do this because water has a much more stable temperature than outside. Turtles do not have any problem breathing as they can absorb dissolved oxygen through their skin.

However, you need to ensure that your aquatic pet turtle is not hibernating by keeping them at proper water temperature. You can use a water heater to adjust the temperature and keep them warm.

What do turtles do when it gets cold outside?

When it gets too cold outside, turtles undergo hibernation. Hibernation or brumation is a process in which turtles reduce their metabolism rate and use less energy. They do not eat or drink water during that time and sleep the entire time.

The turtles undergo hibernation during winter because it gets harder to maintain their temperature. When the turtle observes temperature changes, it automatically slows down its metabolism rate. This will lead to slowing down of its heart rate and other body processes.

As a result of these slow processes, they require lesser oxygen than usual, and sometimes they even live without oxygen when they don’t have access to it for up to five months straight. They can also survive without food and water for five to eight months. The amount of time depends on the species of the turtle. In general, the turtle’s heart beats 40 to 45 times per minute, but it slows down to around 10 beats per minute while hibernating.

During hibernation, the turtles don’t need to generate heat to warm up their bodies which is advantageous for them. Still, the consequences of hibernation for the turtle are that it gets difficult for them to get rid of the lactic acid that accumulates over their body. 

Lactic acid can lead to muscle cramps in the turtle’s body. Turtles utilize magnesium and calcium, which they have stored to neutralize this lactic acid.

If the turtles don’t use magnesium and calcium, it can result in lactic acid buildup, and they cannot wake up from hibernation. Calcium and magnesium help the turtle grow, but they utilize them to neutralize the lactic acid. This is the major reason why the turtles don’t grow during the hibernation period. 

Even if they don’t grow, they can survive the winter by undergoing the hibernation process, which is very beneficial to them.


Turtles get cold when they cannot handle the temperature around them. The turtle cannot regulate their body temperature by themselves and depends on their surrounding for regulating their body temperature. When the temperature falls to a certain level, the turtle undergoes hibernation and slows down its metabolism and other processes. Turtle can get cold at night as there is no heat source for them at night. Aquatic turtles can also get cold as their body temperature depends on external factors, just like land turtles. They also hibernate underwater during extreme colder conditions.