Turtles are so fascinating yet so complex and unexplored creatures that we have many myths circulating about these tiny cute reptiles. And if you are a turtle owner, then these myths are even more concerning for your pet’s safety.

One such myth is that you can’t drown a turtle since it’s an amphibious animal too. Broadly, it means turtles are invincible underwater. Sadly, this is far, far from reality. And so, we decided to tear apart the myth on ‘Can You Drown a turtle?”

Knowing the possibility of turtles’ drowning is essential, especially if you are going to setup a turtle tank. Because you will know the tank depth from it.

Can you drown a turtle

We will also cover the survival steps you need to take in case your turtle gets drown (we don’t expect it to happen).

So, here comes the big question –

Can You Drown a Turtle?

To cut it short, yes, you can drown your turtle easily, and they aren’t immune in water. If they remain underwater for a long, long time, they will be submerged and suffocated in the water.

Having said this, there’s something to put upon the story more –

  1. Why and how does a turtle drown?
  2. How long can they survive underwater?
  3. How to revive your drown turtle?

Want to know more about the topics? Then, read on.

Why Does A Turtle Drown?


Scenes aren’t uncommon where many of us, if not the most, have seen turtles creating bubbles underwater. We take it as a visible sign of their breathing underwater and immunity. But these bubbles, in reality, are the air escaping methods from the turtle body. So, don’t get confused the next time you see a submerged turtle creating the bubble.

Also, not to mention that turtles are different from fishes. Fishes have exemplary gills that they use for breathing underwater without damaging their internal organs. On the other hand, a turtle breathes much like us, the Human Being.

Just like us, they have Lungs and not Gills.

Their lungs are powerful than humans and are adapted to stay underwater for a really long and extended time. Nonetheless, since they have lungs (no matter how powerful it is), they need to breathe in every now and then.

So, they will have to come out of water and BREATH IN. Otherwise, after a certain period, they will fill suffocated due to a lack of fresh air and oxygen in their body and start drowning.

This period to survive without breathing leads us to the 2nd questions of our quest-

How Long Turtles Will Survive Underwater?

The survival probability of a turtle underwater depends on one big thing.

How long they can survive without Breathing!

You might be expecting a simple answer, right? Sadly, I will have to disappoint you, mates. The survival possibility of your turtle without getting drowned will depend on THREE factors.

  1. Turtle age
  2. Surroundings water temperature
  3. Turtles species

As it is obvious, adults will be able to hold in their breath more and will stay submerged for an extended period.  And the drowning rate varies with the temperature up and down. But generally, in optimal temperature, a turtle will be less likely to drown.

Now comes the third and most crucial factor- Turtles Species and also the related Age!

Will aquatic turtles drown?

Both red-eared sliders and painted turtles fall into the aquatic category. You will see these creatures staying underwater for nearly 20 minutes, while some can stay submerged even longer.

The aquatic turtles, likewise, sea turtles, spend most of their life underwater and has an extended breathing duration. So, they are adapted more for staying underwater. However, under the right condition or the most chaotic (?) situations, even the aquatic turtles can be drowned underwater.

And the chaotic situation occurs when a turtle will get trapped underneath the water or tangled in a tight space or rock.

Fortunately, in my long turtle petting experience, I haven’t heard of such unfortunate news. Rejoice!

Will box turtles drown?

Box turtles are commonly a land species, and they aren’t fond of staying underwater for an extended period. So, they will get tired soon when submerged below water and will most likely run out of breathing more rapidly compared to the aquatic and sea turtles.

So, avoid making a deeper tank for box turtles, or else they will drown soon.

Will baby turtles drown?

Just imagine a human baby. Is it as stealthy as we are the adults? The simple answer is, no, they aren’t. So, they face a bigger challenge surviving in harsh conditions.

This is the same for the baby turtles.

With smaller lung and compatibility, a baby turtle will soon drown even in shallow water. So, never put them in deep water tanks.

But what happens if accidentally the baby or adult turtles get drown? Can you revive it? To find the answer, follow the next section.

How to Revive Your Drown Turtle?

Hey, one precaution for the turtle lovers.

The steps I am ardently going to describe here for reviving a turtle from drowning state are from my experience and result of extensive research in Google. So, my first earnest suggestion for you is to consult the VET as soon as possible.

However, before you can reach the vet, the following tips will increase the survival chance for your turtles.

First off, don’t get panicked. In most cases, your turtle should be alive, although faint. So, be careful and follow our proceedings.

  1. Bring it out of the water without any delay and position it with head downwards.
  2. Gentle grab the head of the turtle just by its ears and pull it. Do it until the neck is extended from its shell.
  3. While you gently pull out the neck from the shell, in most cases, the water should fall off from the turtle mouth. At least most of the water should come out.
  4. Now place the turtle on an even and dry surface. The belly should face down, not the back.
  5. Gently pull the front legs to extend them and then push them again. While you do this, water will start dripping out from the turtle mouth.
  6. Repeat the process for the rear legs also.
  7. Keep alternatively pull out and push in the turtle’s front and back leg until you feel it has dripped of all the drowned water.

At this time, the turtle should start showing some life signs. It may be a tine movement, but that’s good given the emergency. Noe hurry and visit the vet ASAP!

Unluckily, in some rare cases. The turtle won’t show life signs in this state. Don’t panic! We have a solution covered for it also. Hold the turtle on your arms and move its head from one side to another (gently).

This should drip off the remaining water. All are good. Visit your vet.

Don’t want to visit a vet? Here’s what might happen to your pet.


And Pneumonia is fatal for turtles. If not treated early, you will lose HIM.  The vet can diagnose it and provide antibiotics to help your turtle stay well.

The Bottom Line

So, here’s a quick summary of the write-up. Yes, your turtle can be drowned, and it depends on their age and species. And once they immersed, you may revive it on your own.

But you must visit a vet ASAP.

A turtle is a fantastic creature, both in the wilderness and in homes. Love them and help them survive. Be careful about the tank depth to avoid them being drowned and enjoy his companionship for the entire lifetime. Cheers!

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