Do Turtles Hibernate? | Why Do They Hibernate In Winter?

Turtles do hibernate in the cold winter months inadequately. They undergo a process of brumation in which they become inactive and slow down their body processes. Turtles are cold-blooded animals and require sun warmth to remain healthy and active. They are not able to regulate their body temperature themselves.  

They start to find an ideal place or dig themself under the mud at the beginning of cold times to keep them hibernating for the coming months. Turtles slow down themself instead of complete hibernation.  

Hibernation mostly depends upon the existing location (environment) and turtle species you own.

Do Turtles Hibernate In The Winter?

Yes, healthy turtles always hibernate in winter when the temperature falls. Unlike other cold-blooded reptiles, turtles never hibernate themselves unconditionally. They abide conscious rather than sleeping and sustain their body functions and processes slowly. 

You may see turtles sunbathing on logs and swimming in the summer months. But in winter times, these freshwater turtles go to some places where the temperature is more stable. Not all turtles do the same. Some remain adapted to their indoor climate and don’t need to hibernate.

Why Do Turtles Hibernate?

Turtles and other cold-blooded reptiles mostly hibernate to keep themselves healthy and protected in cold weather. It is a natural mechanism to prevent drastic measures. This dormancy is also practiced by the turtles when food, water, and other life necessities become deficient for them. 

Hibernation assists wild turtles in maintaining their energy levels up in extremely cold weather. Instead of getting fully hibernated, they go for a sluggish spell of low inactivity to keep themselves warm and safe.

Do Baby Turtles Hibernate?

It is not suggested to let baby turtles hibernate. They start to hibernate if the temperature is extremely cold and imperfect for their bodies. However, when the wild baby turtle’s body temperature drops between 45°F to 50°F, they terminate eating, become slow, and start to seek refuge where the temperature is cold below freezing point. 

To avoid baby turtles from hibernating, provide them with suitable temperatures to resume activity slowly. 

Do Pet Turtles Hibernate?

Do Pet Turtles Hibernate
Yes pet turtles also hibernate

Yes, pet turtles hibernate but not completely. Turtles sleep extra in winter when the temperature falls. You should provide an artificial spot to the hibernating turtles like a styrofoam box covered with dry leaves

It is recommended to keep the indoor temperature of your turtle’s habitat warm in winters to prevent them from inactivity and deep sleep. Moreover, keep your outdoor turtles in mild indoor habitats if their natural habitat is freezing in winter. 

Inactivity and excessive sleeping of your turtle is a sign that the temperature is too low and down. If a turtle hibernates, bring it to a warm place to normalize his body temperature and slowly revive him. 

Do Pond Turtles Hibernate?

Pond turtles mostly remain in the water in winters where the temperature never reaches below 1°C. Outdoor turtles can also be kept in ponds in the winter season. They hibernate themselves and depend on deposited energy levels and absorb oxygen from the pond water without using lungs. 

During this, they dive below into the muddy depths of the pond. Pond turtles slow down their body processes, hold a low metabolic rate, heart speed, body temperature, and respiratory rate when hibernating. 

Snapping Turtle Hibernation

Snapping Turtle Hibernation
The snapping turtles hibernate in extremely cold weather

Snapping turtles surely hibernate (sleep) in extremely cold weather and will brumate (awake) when the temperature does not fall enough. These turtles and other aquatic turtles mainly divert their body metabolism so that they don’t need oxygen to survive in winters. 

They have the potential to become inactive and sleepy for 5 to 6 months. They hide under the muddy bottom of lakes and ponds or can be seen around under the ice. The breathing rate of turtles slows down, and they stop eating during hibernation. 


Turtles are an ancient species surviving on this earth from the era of dinosaurs. They are adapted to a survival technique like hibernation or brumation in winters when the temperature drops. 

While going through these processes, they become slow and sluggish, quit eating, and sometimes go into a deep sleep to adjust their body temperature according to their surroundings. They use stored energy levels and are strong enough to deal with the whole hibernating duration. 


1. How long do turtles hibernate?

Turtles usually hibernate up to a full 5 to 6 months of winter or 8 months of the whole year. 

It also depends on the origin and kind of the turtle species and how long they will hibernate. 

2. What do turtles do in the winter?

Turtles hibernate or brumate themself in winters when the temperature gets below 1-degree Celsius. They get outwardly lazy, inactive, slow down their metabolic rate, inner body temperature, breathing rate, and stop eating.

3. When do turtles come out of hibernation?

Turtles mostly hibernate in the middle of the September and October months for 2 to 4 months or more. When the temperature maintains at a suitable level, the turtles start to warm themselves and retain activity.