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how long can turtles go without water

How Long Can Turtles Go Without Water | An Observation

If you own a turtle and are planning to go on a trip, you will have to answer several questions. But the first question that will come to your mind what about my turtle? Will it be able to survive without food and drinking water? What should I do?

As a turtle lover, I know how confusing these questions are and how the answers misguide us often time. Hence, today I am going to shed light on the popular but extremely complicated topic- how long can turtles go without water?

But I am afraid that the answer will shock you since turtles are really vulnerable without water. Still, on rare occasions, turtles have a good chance of surviving without water for the time being. But how long?

Let’s see the answer.

How Long Can Turtles Go Without Water?

Before we move deep into the discussion, let me clarify one crucial thing. Some people love to associate the word ‘turtle’ with the semi-aquatic and land-dwelling species of the same genre. They tend to exclude sea dwellers from the list. But, as far as my observation goes, both sea and land turtles or semi-aquatic ones are broadly identified as turtles.

Now, let’s focus on the main topic.

All turtles, either land-dwelling or sea dwellers or semi-aquatic ones, need water regularly. Likewise, humans and turtles need water for digestion and to keep functioning their renal systems. This implies that a fully grown-up turtle will be able to live without water for a few hours to a few days.

This means, if you have a turtle and it’s being brought up in the enclosure, you must give the beautiful creature access to water. Otherwise, your turtle will soon die. The exact survival ability will depend on three factors:

Turtle Age

A fully-grown turtle will be able to survive a few days without water until its renal system fails. Also, the shortage of water will dehydrate it, which is harmful to the shells too.


The survival ability without water is variable from one species to another. Although there’s no study or research work on how much a specific turtle species might live without having no water, we assume land dwellers will live more than sea turtles. Also, desert turtles will be able to live longer without water since their evolution has made them capable of living with little water for days.


If there’s sufficient in the air, it will slow the dehydration process of the turtle shell. So, they will be able to survive a little longer without water, but not for so long.

do turtles sleep underwater

How Long Can a Small Turtle Live Without Water?

A small turtle …!

Oh, let me first clarify one vital thing. Here, as I talk about small turtles, I mean the turtle babies but not the turtle size.

I had to clarify to you since some people think that small turtles may refer to some tiny species of turtles. But that’s another part of the story.

So, I was talking about small; I mean baby turtles. Sadly, baby turtles, which are around 0-6 months old, can hardly survive without water. In fact, turtle owners have shared their experience that they have observed baby turtles dying in just a few hours without any water.

In this case, Jacob’s story is heartbreaking. He is my old school friend and also loves the turtle. Once, he went outside of his home in the morning and came back at night. When as went to see his turtle and her baby, he found that the poor creature was lying sickly beside her dead baby.

It was shocking. But when Jacob went to identify what happened to the baby, the veterinarian told him a bleak story. He said that the baby died due to the failure of its renal system. Then, Jacob remembered that he had forgotten to keep water on the pot on that day.


But you can avoid such horrible incidents by placing a water source near your turtle.

how long can a turtle live without food

What Happens When a Turtle Goes Without Water For Long?

Water is everything for a turtle, just like humans and other species. But unlike us, water is way too valuable for turtles since their life is an integrated part of water. Some live entirely in the water, while some from time to time went under the water.

So, what happens when these animals don’t get water?

First off, without water, the turtle soon gets dehydrated. It adversely affects the turtle shell and scale. If they remain too much time without water, the crust gets hardened, which may result in the breaking of these shells.

Next thing, without water, turtles find it tough to cool down. We all know that turtles are homothermic animals, which means that their body temperature is dependent on their surroundings. That’s why these animals mostly go to brumation or hibernation when winter closes in. So, when there is sufficient humidity in the air, turtles will be less likely to get dehydrated quickly. Also, higher humidity allows the turtle to cool down for a better chance of survival.

In this regard, Turtle Pets comments that an adult turtle may survive without any water for as long as 12 hours. However, after that, its renal system may start to get damaged, which will result in the immature death of your favorite pet.

 Hence, be cautious to avoid such tragedy.

Place an abundance of water sources near your turtle if you are planning to go outside for a day out. You may leave the turtle without food for a few hours, but it won’t survive long without water.

how long can turtles go without water


Turtles are so beautiful and fantastic that any people, especially turtle lovers like to see the creature roaming around them. This brings us to proper caring of the tiny animal.

In this regard, knowing how long can turtles go without water is crucial. It will help you to determine whether you should leave your pet in the home or not. But, take my suggestion, if you want to go on an extended vacation, tell your neighbor to provide water and food to the turtle.

Alternatively, you may look for any pet care organization that takes care of pets in the absence of their owner, at the expense of money. 

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