Can Turtles Die From Being Upside Down

If you’ve ever left a pet turtle in the bathtub, only to find it lying on its back with legs splayed and tail waving like an angry flag, then maybe you have some questions about whether or not your pet has been killed.

As cute as these little critters are when they’re swimming around their aquariums, there’s no telling what could happen when they fall out of the water for whatever reason.

This is especially true if you don’t know how long your pet turtle was in that position before someone noticed it.

That’s why it’s best to be prepared by learning all about this common question.

So many people wonder if turtles can actually drown while laying on their backs, but there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules.

It depends on so many factors, such as temperature, size, weight, age, health status, exposure time and even genetics.

Even though we may never truly understand exactly what causes death in turtles, one thing is clear — drowning isn’t usually it.

But let’s discuss some scenarios where turtles do get stuck upside down and see if your pet can still make it through alive.

Do turtles die if they flip over?

The short answer is yes, turtles can theoretically die from turning themselves over in the wild.

However, most times it won’t be because water filled their lungs.

Turtles naturally spend much of their lives floating face up at the surface of bodies of water, using their forepaws to push off the ground.

When turtles turn over onto their backs, they lose access to air near their heads, making it difficult to breath.

The way mammals breathe involves having oxygenated blood flow into our organs via arteries, which carry the gas throughout the body until it reaches capillaries, where carbon dioxide is exchanged for oxygen.

When turtles roll over onto their backs, however, they cut off contact between the heart and brain, preventing them from receiving more oxygenated blood.

Without proper circulation, turtles may suffocate.

In addition, a number of other problems can arise, including kidney failure from fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity.

While some researchers believe that turtles should technically be able to right themselves without assistance after flipping over, others say that’s impossible due to the fact that their hearts are located behind their eyes and are unable to pump properly once flipped over.

So, unless you want to risk possibly endangering your own life, it’s probably better to help your pet turtle out rather than wait for things to worsen and potentially become fatal.

What happens if you leave a turtle upside down?

Once you realize that your pet turtle needs rescuing, the first step is to pick it up quickly.

If possible, try keeping it upright so that it doesn’t go limp and sink to the bottom of the tank.

Once you have it firmly under control, take care of two issues simultaneously: getting rid of excess water in its mouth and ensuring that it stays calm.

A stressed or frightened turtle can cause itself harm or damage anything nearby, including your hands.

To keep it calm, place it on a towel or paper towels with its head facing downward.

You can also use something soft, like a pillowcase, to offer additional comfort.

After calming your pet turtle, check its vitals to ensure that everything looks okay.

One last note on this topic: Never put a rescued turtle back in the same container it came from!

Keep turtles away from each other during transport to prevent mating behavior.

Also, avoid putting turtles directly into freshwater since they could experience shock from changes in salinity levels.

Instead, slowly introduce them to new environments.

Can turtles live upside down indefinitely?

Although it’s rare, some species of turtles can remain on their backs permanently.

These animals typically possess unique adaptations allowing them to stay afloat without needing to swim against currents or waves.

One example is the mud turtle, who buries herself partially beneath wet soil.

She uses her hind claws to dig small holes underneath her shell in order to create breathing room.

Other aquatic turtles bury themselves in muddy banks, while yet others build homes underwater.

Regardless of which method works best, these turtles must return to the surface every now and again just to eat and drink.

In contrast, land turtles tend to float on top of dry surfaces, such as leaves or grasses.

Because they lack effective ways to dig themselves below the surface level, land turtles need to periodically shed their shells in order to replenish lost energy stores.

After shedding their shells, they lay dormant for weeks until the process completes.

During this period, turtles are completely vulnerable to predators in case they were to accidentally break free from their protective covers.

Can turtles die from being upside down?

No matter how well you think you handled the situation, sometimes turtles can die while upside down.

Some of those deaths occur prior to being turned over by rescuers, meaning the animal died either from internal injuries sustained while submerged or external trauma caused by falling from heights.

Most often, however, turtles succumb to hypoxia, which occurs when the amount of available oxygen drops too low to support normal bodily functions.

Hypoxia can result from several circumstances, including drowning, metabolic disorders, infection or improper ventilation.
Some studies suggest that turtles could possibly overcome prolonged periods of hypoxia by relying solely upon glycolysis, a form of cellular respiration that converts glucose molecules into pyruvic acid instead of ATP.

While this might work for humans, such metabolism would likely prove fatal for turtles, considering that they rely heavily on aerobic respiration.

As far as drowning goes, research indicates that turtles’ kidneys shut down within seconds of losing consciousness, leaving them prone to developing irreversible organ damage.

Water quality plays a significant role in determining survival rates.

High temperatures and high dissolved oxygen levels increase the likelihood of mortality among turtles kept in captivity.

Although many turtles can easily adapt to conditions in aquaria, experts advise providing adequate filtration systems to reduce organic waste products and maintain optimal pH levels.

Finally, remember that turtles are capable of surviving upside down for quite a bit longer than you would expect.

Many species can hold their breath for hours, giving them plenty of time to adjust to different environmental pressures.

They can also survive extended submergence’s as long as sufficient amounts of oxygen reach their brains.

However, despite their ability to endure lengthy bouts of distress, turtles cannot continue living upside down forever without risking serious injury or death.

Eventually, they’ll need to come back above ground to complete their natural molting cycles.

Can turtles die from being upside down in water?

Yes, turtles can die from being upside down in water.

Although unlikely, it does occasionally happen.

Certain kinds of dehydration can lead to death, along with various forms of malnutrition.

Additionally, if your turtle becomes trapped in a tight space, it can run out of food and eventually starve.

Finally, if a large enough predator comes close, your pet can attempt to fight it off by pushing its snout upwards toward the ceiling.

Unfortunately, this tactic can cause severe respiratory complications, leading to death from suffocation.

On a happier note, your turtle should recover fully from an ordeal involving being upside down in water.

Just keep it moist and provide ample fresh sources of food.

Avoid placing your turtle in direct sunlight, which can burn its skin.

Be sure to clean its bowl thoroughly afterwards to remove harmful bacteria.

Leave a Comment