As turtle lover and pet enthusiast, I often face a question, “How long can a pet turtle live without food?” Many responsible turtle owners are curious to know the answer to the question, especially when they are planning for an extended vacation.

And the curiosity is valid; the last thing you want is to see your turtle starving to death. So, today we are going to discuss a turtle’s survival possibility without food. I will also cover factors profoundly affecting turtles’ survival without food and how to feed your turtle in regular times.

So, are you up for it?

How Long Can A Pet Turtle Live Without Food

How Long Can a Pet Turtle Live Without Food: A short and Quick Answer

Let’s make it simple. In normal daily conditions, your pet turtle can live for months without food. But there’s a precondition to it.

Want to know the precondition?

Here it goes –

Your turtle will survive months without any food if it has been appropriately fed earlier. It typically suggests that if you have been feeding your turtle with a proper diet chart (I would discuss the chart in the later parts), and if it is healthy, most chances are that it will survive many months without food. However, it will need access to water, even if in little amount, for such tough livings.

Moreover, different species of turtles’ survival rates will vary extensively. Want to know about it, read in the following section.


A personal experience:

Before we move on to turtles living probability without food, here’s an intriguing story from one of our pet lovers.  He had a Red-eared Slider Turtle. Once he somehow lost it and only after three and a half months, he discovered it around the crannies of his home.

The little creature was still breathing heavily. He took it to the room and started feeding it. The turtle is still in perfect condition and seems to have gain weights.

How long will a Box Turtle go without food?

Box turtles are built sturdy and thought to be one of the most fantastic creatures around us. Similarly, it also has an exceptional survival capacity even when the surroundings aren’t perfect. That being said, several pieces of research show that a box turtle may live up to three months without food.

Some, however, can survive more than the expected period if fed well earlier.

How long will a small turtle live without any food?

When it comes to survival chance, small turtles are no ordinary ones. They have been living in the wilderness with one of the highest survival success stories. You can pet the lovely creature, and in homes, it will live for a few months without food.

How long will red eared slider turtles survive without food?

No food, no problem, it’s the life motto of red-eared slider turtles. This genius is often regarded as one of the best-surviving creatures both in the wilderness and at homes. Consequently, the turtle will go without food for 3-4 months. Surely it will lose weight and suffer from nutrition deficiency

And we have encountered many stories where turtle owners claimed their turtle has lived without food for 6 months. However, a juvenile will live without food for only a few days to few weeks.

You may think it’s impossible, but the reality is far from your thoughts. Turtles have developed a unique survival technique responsible for their living without food.

How and Why Does Turtle Survive Without Food For Such A long period of time?

After reading the turtle’s probability of living much longer without food, you might be wondering how do they make this possible? And it’s a valid question. Henceforth, we put our efforts on finding the reasons for turtle’s secret behind such incredible survivals.

Being reptile turtles are cold blooded animals. Cold blooded creatures have two advantages

  1. They have a super slow metabolism. It means they use the energy from foods very very slowly. As a result they need very less food to survive.
  2. Secondly, cold blooded animals don’t regulate their body temperature which saves a lot of energy.

Also, in the wilderness, due to the slowness of turtles, they had the least chance of gasping their meals. So, as part of their evolution, better survival in the harshest condition, including without eating, has become their weapon.

Another interesting fact is when the supply is low and situation goes south, turtles can hibernate. They need even less energy to survive while hibernating.

But this doesn’t mean you should leave your pet turtles unattended without water and food for days or months. Remember, they are not for the experiment and don’t neglect their food habit if you love them.

Factors That Affects Turtles Survival Without Eating

Now that you know how long a pet turtle will live without eating, you must also know that not every turtle will have the same success. The survival will depend mostly on these following factors:


Age plays the single-most crucial part in determining a turtle’s chance to live without food. Ideally, the more the age, the better the chance of living. It’s because the metabolism rate slows down with age.

Turtles aging below 6 months or the infants will barely live a few weeks without food.  It happens because the little ones have a limited immune and a faster metabolism. The adult ones, nonetheless, may live without eating for a couple of months.

Access to freshwater

Turtles can survive without food but not without water. They need fresh water for drinking and swimming so their shells won’t get dehydrated. That means with access to water, the chances of your turtle living without food will increase even more.

Of course, he will lose some valuable fats, but once fed well, he should soon recover the lost fat.

Access to UVB, heat lamp, and basking:

These three factors are absolute for the healthy growth and survival of your pet turtle. You should know that turtles are cold-blooded animals, and so, they heat their body with the external temperature. That’s the reason, in winter you will see them hibernating.

So, with access to the basking area and a heat lamp to help them warm their body and blood; eventually, it might increase their possibility of living without eating. Frequently, it will extend to a couple of months.

Check this article to know more about the best turtle tank setup. UVB light plays a very important role in turtles’ life. Check out our extensive guide on UVB lights for turtles.

You May Find It Interesting – Can You Drown A Turtle

How Should You Fed Your Pet Turtle?

Did you notice that throughout the article, we emphasized on well-nourishment and proper diet chart for your pet? So, how do you maintain good dietary, and how should you feed the turtles?

You might be eager to know the answer, right? So, here’s our thought on it.

  • Less than 6 months: Turtles under 6 months old will require regular protein in their menu. You can give them cooked tender meat, dried fish, protein pallets, and so on. It helps them grow properly. Also, note that you will have to feed the younger ones daily.
  • 6-12 months: As your pet steps into adulthood slowly, reduce the protein portion, and give a boost to vegetables. You may prefer carrots, collard greens, dandelion leaves, romaine lettuce, and what not! You will need to alternate the protein and vegetable menus every other day.
  • Over 1 year: And lastly, when turtles grow over 12 months, increase the amount of the vegetables even more. Give proteins twice a week or thrice at best. Some of the excellent protein sources for your pet turtles will be snails, earthworms, crickets, and many more.

In this article we have talked about some of the best commercial turtle foods that we like.

The Bottom Line

You might notice that turtles will live for an extended period without eating, but they need access to drinking water. However, as a turtle lover, never deprive off your cute one from food without any cause.

Even if you are on vacation or for work in another town, do one thing. Tell your family or friends to feed and supply water to the pet. Alternatively, you may keep it in a pet house. Whatever you do, make sure your pet doesn’t lose weight or die.

Happy life, happy turtle-ing!

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