Can Tortoises swim?

Can Tortoises swim?

Tortoises are land-based mammals and as such, they can’t swim. The closest thing to water they come in contact with is the ground beneath them and occasionally a puddle of stagnant water on the side of the road. This means that tortoises can’t swim but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to play in the water. Most tortoise owners provide their pet with a shallow bowl of water, where they can submerge themselves for hours at a time.

Turtles vs. Tortoises

When you take a closer look at them, you can understand why turtles can swim while tortoises are better adapted to living on land. Tortoises and turtles, on the other hand, have a clear distinction: tortoises live on land, whereas sea turtles spend the most of their life in the water. The term “turtle” refers to tortoises, terrapins, and sea turtles, although it truly applies to any shelled, egg-laying reptile that belongs to its taxonomic family.

Flippers vs. Feet

Aquatic turtles, like terrapins, have webbed feet that are significantly different because they also have claws that help them to move well both in the water and on land. When you look at sea turtle feet closely, you’ll find that they’re more like flippers. Although turtles come to the shore to build nests and lay eggs, their feet are intended to push them through the water, which is quite handy given that they spend the most of their life in the ocean.

Tortoises, unlike turtles, can survive in a variety of conditions, so they require something a little more durable to aid them along. Their claws on their feet could help them dig tunnels, but they wouldn’t be particularly effective for swimming. Tortoise feet, on the other hand, resemble those of elephants, with clawed toes and bent legs that enable them to move on land.


Another distinction to consider is the design of their shells; an aquatic turtle’s shell is streamlined, allowing it to travel quickly through the water. The shell of a turtle is flatter and lighter than the shell of a tortoise. Tortoises that live on land, on the other hand, have considerably bigger, domed shells that are not at all aerodynamic.

So Why Can’t Tortoises Swim

A sea turtle’s body structure has developed over thousands of years to allow it to glide through deep water, whereas a tortoise’s body shape has evolved to allow it to live comfortably in its native environment on land. Tortoises can’t swim because they lack streamlined shells or flippers. Their massive shells and thick legs aren’t designed to keep them afloat, much less swim underwater.

Can Tortoises Float

There is conflicting information on whether tortoises can float, and we don’t want anyone to go out and attempt to find out for themselves! It is claimed to be dependent on a number of circumstances, including the tortoise’s age, size, and species.

Whether or whether your tortoise can float, it will most certainly cause them stress and put them in danger of drowning. It is not worth the danger, in our opinion, and it is best to play it safe and not submerge your tortoise in water that is too deep.

Can tortoise drown in water

Turtles and tortoises have been reported drowning in small pans of water, believe it or not. The most essential thing to remember if you fear your turtle has drowned is not to turn it upside-down. They may still have some air in their lungs, and flipping the turtle upside-down might be their final hope of survival. Turtles may drown because they have lungs and can breathe air.

Do tortoises like to swim

They do like to bathe, so you could see one plunging into shallow water every now and again. They tend to avoid the water since they know they won’t be able to come back to land if they fall in. A tortoise may easily tilt over, turn over, or have their head immersed in water and drown. Pet tortoises, on the other hand, have been known to enjoy bath tub time on occasion. Swimming is probably not something that wild tortoises like. It’s critical to never leave a pet tortoise alone near water for more than a few minutes.

How long can a tortoise swim for

Their powerful elephantine legs help them transverse the grasslands and scrub woodlands, which are home to numerous turtles. Their armored shells offer the necessary defense. When a tortoise is submerged in water, it will drown. Predators with keen claws and fangs are also protected by their thick shells. They live on the ground. Land tortoises are slower swimmers than water turtles. Land tortoises can’t hold their breath for lengthy periods of time since they don’t need to. Tortoises, unlike turtles, are not designed to live in water; instead, they have evolved to live on land.

What is the only tortoise that can swim

The only turtle without a nuchal shield is this species (the protective scute above the neck). This means that the leopard tortoise is the only member of the family capable of raising its head and hence swimming. Leopard tortoises are capable of swimming. They can also stay submerged for up to 10 minutes.

Can baby tortoises swim

Baby tortoises are also unable to swim. A tortoise’s ability to swim underwater is unusual. You may occasionally see a video of a tortoise swimming or dipping underwater on the internet, but this is not their natural or regular habit. Unfortunately, because newborn tortoises aren’t very large, their lungs aren’t very large either. Tortoises, like other animals, need to drink and bathe, but if they are put into the water or fall in by accident, they will drown. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of seeing them near water. A tortoise, as previously said, can hold his breath for an extended period of time. Swimming would kill a newborn tortoise in no time.


Can tortoises swim in pools

A supervised pet tortoise can splash around in a non-chlorinated pool, but only in the shallow end and for a short time. It’s important to note that chlorine is toxic to animals. However, not all pet tortoises enjoy playing in the water, so don’t force your tortoise to stay in the water. A tortoise should never be left in a chlorine pool.

Bottom  Line

In conclusion, tortoises can swim, but in shallow waters. It does not take long for a tortoise to become exhausted and drown in deep water.

– Tortoises can swim when in shallow water, which makes them an easy target for predators.  

– The best way to keep tortoises safe is to keep them in their habitat and make sure they cannot escape.

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