Are Turtles Nocturnal?

Are you an active person who likes being out and about during the day or a more sedentary one that enjoys staying in bed all day?

No matter what your preference is there’s always something new to learn about our world.

In this case we’re talking about how animals work (specifically turtles).

We know that dogs can smell things from miles away while cats have laser vision but it turns out some of them actually prefer the dark like turtles!

This may come as surprise because most people think these creatures spend their days basking on logs or rocks under water looking for food.

Well, it appears turtles aren’t just full of surprises when it comes to their daily routine…they also enjoy sleeping at night too.

So let’s find out are turtles nocturnal (or only sleep at night) and why they might want to get off the log.

Do turtles sleep at night?

Yes, turtles love getting down to snooze after a long day of hunting for dinner.

They usually lay dormant until dusk then begin searching around for tasty morsels.

The good news is that once turtle finds something edible they’ll eat up everything within reach including tree bark, leaves, grasses, worms and other small critters.

When turtles wake up from their nap they need to head back into the ocean where they can swim around checking out their surroundings without worrying about predators above them such as birds, raccoons, bears, otters and even humans.

Turtles don’t typically hang around shore lines so swimming underwater gives them a better view of what’s happening above them which helps protect them from harm.

Once they’ve checked out their environment below the surface they return to land to mate and lay eggs.

If you live near ponds or lakes you could potentially spot several different kinds of turtles swimming through the water or hanging around the edges.

One thing to keep in mind though is that turtles generally stay away from areas with high populations of fish since many species of fish feed primarily at night.

If you ever happen upon a turtle laying on its side along the edge of a pond watching the sun rise make sure not to disturb them since they shouldn’t be seen doing anything unusual otherwise.

What time do turtles go to sleep?

It’s easy to assume that since turtles are reptiles they follow the typical reptilian pattern of going to sleep soon after sunset but that isn’t necessarily true.

Studies done on African painted turtles show that they remain awake later into the evening compared to crocodiles and lizards.

Painted turtles will typically fall asleep sometime between 8 p.m. – 12 p.m., although they are capable of remaining conscious longer if necessary.

Alligators and crocodiles however tend to go to sleep sooner and don’t seem to care when they finally take a break.

Their usual schedule seems to revolve around the amount of light available.

Basically, the brighter the sky the earlier they retire for the night.

Also, colder temperatures require them to sleep less frequently.

Other studies suggest that reptiles’ circadian rhythms (internal body clocks) dictate when they sleep but scientists believe that mammals evolved differently.

Since mammals rely mostly on external cues such as sunlight for regulating their internal clock, researchers theorize that early mammals slept whenever possible regardless of the temperature or season.

Yet another study showed that turtles kept indoors displayed erratic sleep patterns and seemed to sleep whenever they felt sleepy.

Can turtles see at night?

With all those fancy abilities combined, you’d think turtles would be able to see clearly at night but sadly that’s not the case.

Even though turtles have sensitive noses and highly developed senses of smell, vision plays a huge role in guiding them around.

But turtles are really bad at seeing color.

Not only do they have poor color vision, but their eye muscles are weaker than ours resulting in double crossed lenses and blurry images.

Because of this shortcoming, turtles have been mistaken for flatworms and jellyfish numerous times.

On the plus side, turtles have extremely acute sensitivity to ultraviolet rays.

They can detect changes in UV radiation intensity thousands of times faster than humans.

Additionally, they have superior detection skills when it comes to distinguishing colors.

They can distinguish shades of gray up to 400% lighter than human beings.

Researchers attribute this skill to a special cell layer inside their retinas called cones.

Cones help turtles recognize shapes and figures.

Without cones, turtles wouldn’t be able to differentiate between vertical stripes versus horizontal ones.

Lastly, turtles have super strong stereoscopic vision enabling them to easily identify differences in distances.

So, in conclusion, yes turtles are definitely considered nocturnal animals.

There are plenty of stories told regarding turtles living their lives underground or camouflaging themselves among plants.

However, even though they may prefer doing certain activities at night, turtles are very adaptable creatures and they can adjust their behavior accordingly.

They have the ability to change their bodies into semi-submerged shelters, camouflage themselves against the background or dig burrows especially when threatened.

With all these tricks up their sleeves, turtles can accomplish almost anything imaginable despite lacking eyelids.

Related article – Why does my turtle like the dark?

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