Are Tortoises Cold Blooded

Tortoises require lots of light during the day and at night.

They also need to be kept warm and comfortable.

The lights used in your enclosure should provide enough illumination to see what you are doing while keeping the temperature inside the enclosure constant.

Question is why do tortoises need all this lighting equipment?

Are Tortoises cold blooded?

Wild tortoises are cold blooded reptiles that require an external heat source to warm their bodies.

Captive bread tortoises will need heat lamps to raise their body temperature and hibernate during the cooler months.

As tortoise owners, we need the correct setup to keep our tortoise healthy.

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding tortoises and the cold, so we hope to dispel some of those myths here.

What does cold-blooded reptile mean?

Reptiles are animals that lack the ability to regulate their own body temperatures.

They must rely on external sources of warmth to survive during colder months.

A cold-blooded animal does not necessarily mean that its blood changes with the temperature it lives in.

Instead, the term refers to how the body regulates its internal temperature.

Other cold blooded reptiles

Tortoises are not the only cold blooded reptiles.

There are plenty of other cold blooded reptiles out there

Here’s to name some if you’re interested to know


Bearded Dragon


Spiney tailed iguana

Green Anacondas


Black Mamba

Sea Turtle


Most of these animals in the wild live in places where the temperature is warm.

As our planet continues to heat up, wildlife species are becoming increasingly rare in the wild.

Some of these amazing creatures are even facing extinction.

We must act urgently to prevent species going extinct due to climate change.

Sadly, we are already seeing significant damage to the Great Barrier Reef due to rising ocean temperatures.

Is it okay for a tortoise to be out in the cold?

Your tortoise shouldn’t be outside during winter months.

Cold temperatures can cause serious harm to your tortoise.

If your tortoise isn’t inside at night, he/she won’t get enough warmth to stay healthy.

Your tortoise will also be exposed to predators.

During the colder seasons, your tortoise should be kept indoors.

As tortoise owners, we need to understand that our tortoise is cold-blooded and that cold can have a dramatic impact on its life.

As tortoise owners, we must provide our tortoises with the warmth they require as they would receive in nature.

We do this through providing them with UV lights and heat lamps that act as our sun.

Can a tortoise freeze to death?

Unfortunately, if your tortoise is outside in the open and it’s freezing cold weather, he/she will likely freeze to death

Tortoises that live in the wild often bury themselves in the ground during winter months to protect against extreme cold.

The lowest temperature that they can tolerate is approximately 1°C colder than the outside air temperature.

Anything below this level will likely cause death.

This leads me to my next point

What happens if a tortoise gets too cold?

If a tortoise gets too cold, he’ll start shivering uncontrollably and his body temperature could drop dangerously low.

He might even die if not treated quickly.

The following steps explain how to treat a chilled tortoise.

A tortoise’s body temperature begins to drop once he gets too cold.

This causes the tortoise’s immune system to begin shutting down.

In preparation to hibernate.

A tortoise’s shell temperature must stay between 65°F and 80°F during hibernation.

If the temperature falls below 60°F, the tortoise will not enter its dormant state.

This can cause serious health issues, especially if the tortoise cannot get back above 60°F before it dies.

Your tortoise carries many different bacteria which are perfectly natural and cause them no harm in normal circumstances.

However, if the temperature continues to drop, causing your tortoise’s immune system to weaken, then some of those bacteria can break through its defences and cause illness.

We must also keep our tortoise’s temperature controlled and within the correct range of the spices we keep.

If the temperature falls below freezing and turns to subzero conditions, your tortoise is likely to quickly get sick and possibly even die.

If your tortoise survives freezing conditions, its eyes will likely freeze causing it to lose its vision.

Tips For Keeping Your Tortoise Warm During Winter Months

If you plan to house your turtle inside during cold weather, you’ll need to provide them with adequate ventilation.

Tortoises can live comfortably at temperatures between 20°F and 90°F.

They do not require any supplemental heating during winter months.

If your home is warmer than this range, you may need to provide some supplemental heat.

A heat lamp and/or ultraviolet bulb will be necessary for 12 hours per day.

Do tortoises die from heat?

Tortoises can die from heatstroke, even though they are cold blooded animals.

They can tolerate temperatures ranging from 69°F to 100°F, but will quickly begin to overheat at higher temperatures.

The sun provides some protection against overheating, but they also require shade.

Although this article is mostly focused on the cold that a tortoise can withstand, we also wanted to touch on heat.

Many people believe that a tortoise cannot get too hot and this is false, and can cause heartache.

Do tortoises get colds?

Yes, your tortoise can catch a cold just like humans.

The only difference between a human and a tortoise cold is that tortoises have shorter nasal passages than people.

This means they cannot breathe properly when their nose gets blocked by mucus.

So if you notice any unusual behavior in your tortoise, please take them to see us right away.

They’ll give them something special to sniff so they get better quickly!

Here are some signs to look out for to see if your Tortoise has a cold

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lethargic
  • No appetite
  • Gaped mouth when breathing
  • Making a whistling noise when breathing
  • Bubbles coming from the mouth
  • Runny eyes
  • Nose is runny and bubbles coming from nostrils

Cold weather can affect reptiles’ respiratory systems, causing them to cough, sneeze, and even lose water through their mouth.

If your reptile shows any of these symptoms above, he or she is likely suffering from a cold.

Seek veterinary care immediately.

Do tortoise like warm or cold water?

Tortoise like warm water

It shouldn’t be too hot rather it should feel lukewarm to the touch and no hotter

Wrapping Up

Learning from the moment you purchase your tortoise, you must know its species and how to provide proper care.

Tortoiseshell lamps are often seen as an extra expense and heat source for tortoises and some even believe that they shorten their lifespan.

However, providing tortoises with the right environment can lead to a happy and healthy life lasting many years.

Tortoises do require some special attention during the winter months, especially if they live outside.

They must be kept warm enough to survive the harsh weather, but also protected from freezing temperatures.

After you’ve set up your lighting, it’s not something you have to worry about again except for replacing the bulbs once every 6 months.

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