Hey there turtle lovers!
Are you aware that these shelled creatures are not just slow but are highly adaptable?
They can thrive in a variety of habitats, including captivity as pets.
As more and more people are choosing turtles as household companions, it’s important for you to understand their hydration needs to ensure their happiness and health.
In this blog, we’ll dive into some common misconceptions about turtle drinking habits and give you some helpful tips for preventing dehydration.
So, whether you’re a new turtle owner or an experienced one, let’s explore the world of turtle hydration together and learn how to keep your pet turtle healthy for years to come.
Do Turtles Drink Water?
If you’re wondering whether turtles can drink water, the answer is yes, but their feeding and hydration habits will differ depending on the turtle type.
Turtles that live in fresh or brackish water have one way to get their water; those who live in saltwater have another. Let’s look at both types of turtles and see how they obtain water in these conditions.
Turtles tend to live near bodies of water, so it makes sense that they drink from them when thirsty. Many different kinds of turtles exist worldwide, but there are general guidelines for how they will obtain food and water.
All turtles have a hard shell called a carapace protecting their body from predators.
In addition to being protected by this shield-like structure, most species also have soft undersides made up entirely of muscles that allow them to move underwater and on land (this part is called a plastron).
Misconceptions About Turtle Hydration and Drinking Habits
Turtles are often mistaken for being water-dependent. However, this is not entirely true. Turtles do not need to drink water as frequently as humans, but they still need access to a water source to stay hydrated. Turtles have a unique physiology that allows them to conserve water, but they still need to drink water to survive.
Turtles have a unique kidney structure that filters out toxins and waste products from the bloodstream by creating urine, which is then excreted through the cloaca (the opening to both the urinary and digestive tracts). Therefore, turtles do not possess any mechanism of drinking or eating water as humans do.
How do Turtles Obtain Water?
Turtles get water from their food, but they also get it from their environment. They can absorb moisture through their skin and the air around them, but they still need access to a water source to stay hydrated.
Turtles’ shells are made up of mostly calcium carbonate (think oyster shell or chalk), so they’re good at holding onto water too.
Physiology of Turtles
Turtles are ectothermic reptiles, meaning they rely on the environment to regulate their body temperature. This means turtles cannot generate or internalize heat from their surroundings, unlike mammals and birds. Instead, they must adapt to the temperature of their habitat to survive.
Turtles have been found in a wide range of habitats across the globe—from deserts and forests to oceans and lakes—and so have had to develop unique physiological adaptations to cope with these varying environments.
Impact of Captivity on Turtle Hydration
First, it is important to note that turtles in captivity are not as active as their wild counterparts. This means they do not need to drink as much water because they expend less energy.
However, providing them with access to a clean water source and a suitable environment in captivity is still important. In addition, it is possible that a turtle may not be able to access water if they are kept indoors or otherwise separated from its natural environment.
Busting 7 Common Myths and Misconceptions about Turtle Hydration
Turtles drink only while submerged.
Although it’s true that turtles do drink water, and they need to do so to survive, you may have heard that they only drink when submerged in the water.
This is false!
Turtles can also consume liquid from their food or even absorb it through their skin (which is why they’re often covered in algae).
Additionally, many species can ingest moisture from the air. A few aquatic turtles use this method as their primary means of hydration—they don’t spend much time submerged underwater!
If you want your turtle to stay healthy and keep itself hydrated while living indoors with you, there are plenty of ways for them to get its daily dose without having to go swimming every day (or even every week).
You’ll need a large bowl or container filled with fresh water each day—and then some regular maintenance cleaning to keep things looking tip-top for your little friend.
Turtles don’t need to drink water.
You may have heard that turtles don’t need to drink water, but it isn’t true.
While some species of turtle, like the American box turtle, can live long periods without drinking any water (to save energy and retain moisture), most turtles need to get a certain amount of their daily fluid intake from direct consumption.
Remember that even if your pet is technically “outdoors” for most or all its life span, it still needs access to fresh water to take care of its basic physiological needs.
Turtles get all the water they need from their food.
While it is true that turtles obtain some of their water from the foods they eat, this doesn’t mean you can feed them a diet of lettuce and expect them to be okay.
If you’ve ever watched an animal documentary on TV or at the zoo, you know that most animals drink water as we do—dip their heads into bodies of water and lap up as much as they want (or need).
Turtles are not equipped with a set of hands to hold their head in place while they drink; instead, they must use their front legs to support themselves while they lap up water with their mouths.
Unfortunately for us, humans who enjoy convenience, we’ll have to provide your turtle with a large body of water if you want them to stay hydrated.
Additionally, since turtles are cold-blooded creatures and therefore require outside sources of warmth for their bodies to work correctly, they need to stay warm during their daily routine so that drinking becomes less complicated.
Turtles can survive without access to water.
Let me make one thing clear – turtles are not fish. Yes, they’ve been called “land fish” (which is also wrong) and can be found in bodies of freshwater, but they still need water to survive.
Turtles can go a long time without drinking water: weeks or months!
But this doesn’t mean they don’t need to drink at all.
In fact, the opposite is true: your pet turtle will benefit from drinking regularly and staying hydrated.
When a turtle doesn’t get enough water or can’t access clean sources of fresh water, it may become dehydrated—and even die if left untreated!
When you think of the word “turtle,” you tend to imagine a freshwater creature that lives in a pond or lake.
While some turtles live in these areas and can benefit from clear water, many species are found near saltwater or even brackish water habitats.
These habitats are often filled with potentially harmful bacteria and protozoans that can make your turtle sick if they are ingested by your pet while drinking.
So why risk it?
Ensure your turtle has clean water by using either a filter on your faucet or an under-sink system (which will filter the water as it comes through).
While you’re at it, change out this freshwater frequently, so there’s always new clean supplies for when your pet needs them!
All types of turtles have the same hydration needs.
Most turtles require a minimum of a 50-gallon tank, with 75 gallons recommended. But many factors can affect the actual size of your reptile’s enclosure.
The first factor to consider is activity level.
Some turtles are more active than others, and some tend to be more active in the summer than in the winter or even during other seasons.
These differences mean that you’ll need different-sized enclosures based on where your pet falls on this spectrum.
The second factor is how much time your turtle spends outdoors vs. indoors— these details will help determine how large an indoor enclosure should be for your pet.
Turtle will constantly swallow water from its soaking area and die from it.
Last but not least, another myth is that a turtle will constantly swallow water from its soaking area and die.
This is not true, as turtles are not designed for drinking water; they are designed to get their water from the food they eat.
Many aquatic species, like newts and frogs, lose some body moisture through respiration (breathing) even when out of water for extended periods!
If you think about it logically, how would a turtle be able to stay alive if it had no way to replace lost fluids?
Food contains plenty of fluids that can replenish what’s lost during regular activity or exposure to different temperatures.
So what should you do?
Just provide your pet with an area where they can soak at night before going into hibernation mode during winter months—and make sure there’s enough fresh water in there for them, so they don’t dehydrate themselves prematurely!
7 Expert Tips for Keeping Your Turtle Hydrated
Provide a Large Bowl or Container of Fresh Water
The first step to properly caring for your turtle is providing a large bowl of fresh water. This will ensure that the turtle has access to clean, fresh water.
Water should be changed daily and kept at room temperature — although turtles are cold-blooded animals, they do not like extremely hot or cold environments.
You should also thoroughly rinse out the container’s bowl and change the water every few days or when it becomes cloudy: this will help prevent bacteria growth in your turtle’s drinking supply!
Regularly Clean and Maintain the Water Bowl.
You must clean and maintain your turtle’s water bowl regularly to ensure it is free of debris, bacteria, and other contaminants.
Clean the bowl at least once weekly using warm water and mild dish soap.
Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they may damage the bowl or your pet.
You should also avoid feeding your turtle in its water bowl; this can lead to contamination if anything falls into the container during feeding time.
You should always use a large enough container for turtles to easily climb out when they need access to land during their aquatic periods (about 2-3 hours per day).
Most pet stores sell plastic bowls specifically designed for reptiles, providing ample room for swimming without risking drowning if tipped over by accident or even on purpose!
Ensure the Temperature and Humidity Levels in their Enclosure
A turtle’s water requirements depend on the species, size, and activity level.
You can monitor your turtle’s hydration needs by checking the water’s temperature and humidity levels daily.
Generally, a happy turtle will have a temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit or higher while they’re active; they should cool off in the evening when they are sleeping.
However, the pool should never be warmer than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, as this can lead to dangerous levels of dehydration.
Turtles that live in warm climates may not need an additional heat source if their enclosure has been appropriately designed with enough natural light (and no glass).
However, if your pet lives in a cooler climate, it might require supplemental heating through an aquarium heater or heating pad (make sure these stay under 75 degrees F).
Offer High Moisture Content Food.
Providing your pet turtle with various fruits and vegetables can help it stay hydrated.
Fruits like strawberries and melons are exceptionally high in moisture content.
Vegetables such as leafy greens (such as kale) and tomatoes have much more water than other foods.
Some fruits are lower than others: bananas have less than half the amount of water per 100 grams compared to strawberries or mangoes!
Provide a Shallow Water Area.
Turtles need to be able to enter and exit the water quickly, so it’s best to select a container with a wide mouth opening.
Plastic bowls are not ideal because they can trap bacteria in the corners of their bowls, which can lead to infection.
For this reason alone, glass dishes are better suited for turtles. H
However, plastic tubs with no corners work fine if you rinse them thoroughly every few days (no soap!) and keep them clean by wiping them down with hot water once per week if needed. Be sure not to use anything scented like lemon juice or vinegar—these could harm your turtle!
A shallow wading pool works well with little children because it keeps everyone safe from harm without having too much space for young ones who might spill their drinks all over themselves!
The size will depend on how many turtles live together, but something about 24″ x 24″ should suffice most needs unless you’re talking about large breeders here 😉
Provide a Water Filtration System
A water filtration system can be a great way to keep the water fresh and clean while also removing debris and harmful bacteria.
This is especially important if you have a turtle that tends to eat small particles of food or other debris in the water.
Removing these from the bowl will help prevent digestive problems like bloat or constipation, which can harm your pet.
Monitor Your Turtle for Signs of Dehydration
With proper care, your turtle should thrive in a well-maintained environment. However, your pet may become dehydrated or otherwise ill.
So, monitor your turtle for signs of dehydration and seek veterinary care if necessary.
Dehydration is caused by excessive loss of body fluids and minerals, which can be fatal if left untreated.
As per Vetfolio, symptoms include:
- wrinkled skin;
- sunken eyes;
- dry mouth;
- lack of energy;
- decreased appetite;
- Refusal to drink water when offered (this may be due to irritation from kidney stones); and
- swelling around the eyes or neck region (especially when combined with sunken eyes).
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it okay to put turtles in tap water?
Putting turtles in tap water is generally what I recommend. Because it often contains chlorine and other chemicals that can harm turtles. Chlorine can irritate a turtle’s skin and eyes, and long-term exposure can cause health problems.
Other chemicals in tap water, such as heavy metals, can also harm turtles. It’s better to use a water dechlorinator to remove chlorine and other chemicals from the water before you put your turtle in it. Another option is to use filtered water or collect rainwater; it will be an excellent alternative to tap water.
Do turtles like dirty or clean water?
Turtles prefer clean water over dirty water. Dirty water can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can make your turtle sick.
So, changing the water and cleaning the dish regularly is crucial to ensure your turtle has access to clean and fresh water.
Do turtles prefer Cold or Warm Water?
Turtles can tolerate a range of water temperatures, but they generally prefer water that is between 75°F and 85°F (24°C and 29°C). This temperature range is similar to the temperature range of their natural habitat. Cold water can make a turtle lethargic and less active, while too warm water can cause stress and make them more susceptible to disease.
It’s essential to provide a water heater if the room temperature is below the desired range and to monitor the temperature regularly to ensure it stays within the appropriate range for your turtle species. Some species of turtles, such as the red-eared slider, are more tolerant of a wider range of temperatures, while others, like the box turtle, prefer cooler water. It’s essential to research the specific needs of the turtle species you have.
How often should you change turtle water?
The frequency at which you should change the water in your turtle’s dish depends on a few factors, such as the size of the dish, the number of turtles, and the water temperature.
You should change the water daily or every other day for a single turtle in a small dish, but if you have multiple turtles in a larger dish, you may need to change the water more often. If the water is kept at a warmer temperature, it may require more frequent changes as warm water can harbor bacteria and parasites more easily.
What should you not feed turtles?
Some examples of foods to avoid include:
- Meat and protein-rich foods: Turtles are primarily herbivorous, and high-protein diets can lead to health problems such as kidney and liver damage.
- Processed foods: Turtles should be fed only fresh fruits and vegetables, processed foods like chips, cookies, and cereal can be high in salt, sugar, and preservatives, which can harm their health.
- Lettuce and spinach: These vegetables are high in oxalates, which can cause kidney stones and other health problems.
- Feeder insects: Feeder insects, like crickets, worms, and mealworms, can carry harmful bacteria that could be dangerous for your turtle.
- Dairy products: Turtles cannot digest lactose, so dairy products should be avoided.
Can turtles survive in tap water?
Turtles can survive in tap water, but it’s not ideal.
Do turtles drink water through their nose?
Turtles do not drink water through their nose. Turtles are reptiles, and like most reptiles, they drink water by immersing their head in the water and swallowing.
They have a specialized tongue and a pharynx that allows them to suck in water and swallow it. This is known as buccal pumping. The tongue is used to create suction and to pull water into the mouth; then, the turtle will swallow the water.
Turtles also take in water through their skin; this process is called cutaneous respiration.
How often should I soak my turtle?
Soaking a turtle can be beneficial for its overall health and well-being, but the frequency at which you should soak it depends on a few factors, such as the species of turtle and the conditions of its habitat.
Where do turtles go when the water dries up?
Turtles are adapted to survive in aquatic and terrestrial environments and have different strategies to cope with the lack of water.
Aquatic turtles, such as red-eared sliders, can survive out of the water for short periods by hiding in the mud or burrowing in the ground. They can also survive for extended periods by aestivating, a form of hibernation that allows them to slow down their metabolism and conserve energy. During aestivation, aquatic turtles will bury themselves in the mud and wait for the water to return.
Terrestrial turtles, such as box turtles, can survive in dry conditions by burrowing underground or hiding in leaf litter. They can also estivate, similar to hibernation, where they bury themselves underground or in a cool, damp place to conserve energy and wait for the water to return.
Do all turtles need water to swallow?
Not all turtles need water to swallow, as some turtles have adapted to survive in dry environments and have developed different methods to swallow food.