How Long Can Turtles Go Without Eating Or Drinking? Turtle Hibernation Habits

How long can a turtle go without eating?

Turtles are amazing pets and they’re well known for being reasonably low maintenance – at least compared to a dog!

How much they need to eat is important to know and is usually one of the first things we work out with our pet turtles.

However, we all find ourselves in certain situations that lead us to ask how long can turtles go without eating?

Let’s find out the answer – whether you’re asking because you’re going on a vacation or you’re simply curious about your turtle’s incredible abilities.

How Long Can a Turtle Go Without Food?

Automatic Turtle Feeder

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Live Food For Turtles

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Turtles are one of those fascinating animals that hibernate.

Hibernation, as I’m sure you know, is a simple low energy state that some animals can utilize in order to last for a long time without food.

Box turtles, for example, hibernate underwater for 3 – 4 months.

And no, they don’t drown as they are able to breathe underwater through their bottoms.

how long can turtles go without eating

This also reveals that most turtles are able to last for quite a while without eating.

A healthy adult turtle that has been properly fed and cared for is able to last for up to 6 months without eating anything.

However, young turtles, and baby turtles in particular, usually haven’t fully developed their hibernation abilities.

They are still in the growing stage where they need a lot of proteins and other baby turtle food.

Juvenile turtles are only able to last for about a week or two at maximum without food.

You wouldn’t want to purposefully stop feeding your pet turtle, but if you notice it not eating for a period of time, you don’t need to worry – unless there are other signs of turtle distress.

How Long Can A Turtle Go Without Water?


Drinking water for turtles is completely another story.

While turtles can manage the lack of food properly if they’re previously well-fed, they can’t last for the same amount of time without water.

While it completely depends on the turtle’s species, a turtle’s time without water still a fraction of the time it can last without food.

Being aquatic creatures that spend most of their time in the water, a turtle can only last for about 12 hours to a couple of days out of the water.

Again, it depends on the species and other factors like humidity and temperature outside the water.

Some turtles hibernate underwater and breathe through their bottom for oxygen – being underwater also allows them to regulate their temperature far better than if they were out.

In this state or underwater hibernation, they can drink or absorb water while they’re asleep.

Turtle’s will regularly sleep underwater, so that’s nothing to worry about either.

Feeding Turtle While On Vacation

how long can a turtle go without eating

In addition to providing enough food that’s easily accessible to your turtle, you can also use an automatic turtle feeder.

The Zacro Automatic Feeder pictured above is one popular option that many have found helpful.

It’s designed primarily for fish, but check out the comments and reviews and you’ll see a ton of people use it for feeding turtles as well.

There are also other factors that affect the time a turtle can stay without food. For example, you’ll need to give your turtle easy access to a clean source of water.

Additionally, your turtle will need a dry basking platform as well as lamps that give it both heat and ultraviolet light needed for healthy growth.

You should also add a turtle tank filter for optimum conditions.

With all these factors available for a turtle, he or she will be able to last for up to months without encountering any serious nutritional or health issues.

Turtle Not Eating

Is the problem that your turtle won’t eat?

The above video has a lot of good advice, including:

  • Be patient, you’re turtle will more than likely start eating soon
  • Soak your turtle pellets in tuna water to make the food more attractive to them
  • Use live food which is what turtles eat in the wild and what they find more appealing

You can catch or find your own live food for turtles in your backyard, or check out these pre-caught options.

The other great thing is that they are also a type of turtle toy!

The final possible reason your turtle is not eating is that he might be too cold.

Make sure you have a good turtle tank heater and get it set to the correct temperature for your breed.

How Long Can Turtles Live Without Food?

With that said, you now have an answer to ‘how long can turtles go without eating?’

Although they can eat a lot, most turtle species can last for weeks without any food, provided that they have all the other factors perfectly conditioned.

You should know that such hibernation isn’t an ideal state for a turtle because it loses some reserve fats in the process.

However, it’s nothing to worry about, as it is a natural process that all its cousins in the wild do at times.

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