Why Does My Turtle Swim Frantically?

Turtles are not fast swimmers

They usually swim gently whenever you see them in your turtle tank

So when you see them swimming very quickly it can make you worry

Question is – Why does my turtle swim frantically?

Turtles often swim around wildly in their tanks when they are sick, stressed, pregnant, cold, hungry, or when the water isn’t flowing properly.

In this article we’re going to discuss each problem and then see what you do to help

Sound good?

Let’s get started!


Turtles often act very differently than expected after being moved to a new environment.

This behavior is called “wildness” and it usually happens within the first few weeks.

Turtles can get frightened very quickly, and moving from one location to another can be extremely scary for them.

They will move from a tiny cramped aquarium, shared with many turtles, to a larger spacious tank where they can live alone.

If they were shipped via snail mail, they would be even more terrified.

Turtles often act strangely after being moved to a new location.

So seeing your turtle trying to escape or swimming frantically is normal

If this happens to yours, try leaving him alone for at least a few days

He will eventually adjust to the new surroundings and resume normal behavior.

That’s the best you can do, leave your turtle alone and let him come round

Last thing you want to do is scare your turtle by trying to force things


Turtles are surprisingly sensitive to stress.

They often show signs of anxiety when under pressure, and swimming around wildly is just one example.

Here are a few things that could cause stress to turtles:

  • Speakers that are located near the water tank
  • A cat or a dog that wants to drink water constantly
  • Incorrect Handling
  • Interacting with your turtle too much

Turtles often get stressed because they live in tanks that aren’t big enough to accommodate them properly.

To solve this problem, move the tank to another part of the house that isn’t frequently visited by others.

This way, turtles won’t feel as much pressure and will eventually stop acting weird and be normal again


Pregnant turtles don’t behave this way because they dislike being kept in captivity; rather, they do this because they want to find a safe spot to lay their eggs.

A turtle lays its eggs in leafy places, but rarely in ponds or tanks.

The tank is certainly not a good location for laying turtles’ eggs.

The first step to determining whether your pet turtle is actually pregnant is to determine its gender.

There is not much you can do to get rid of stress during pregnancy except relax and try to stay positive.

If your turtle is pregnant then she probably won’t feel very good at this point.

She will just have to deal with it until she lays the eggs.

Turtles can reproduce without males because the sperm cells produced during mating aren’t needed to produce offspring.

This means females can give birth to babies even if there isn’t any male present.

Temperature of water

The temperature of the water is one of the most common reasons for your turtle to swim more frantically

Turtles require temperatures ranging from 74°F (23°C) to 82°F (28°C), depending upon species.

If the temperature fluctuates much above this range, turtles will attempt to escape.

The answer to this problem is really quite simple; you just have to change the temperature setting on your thermostat.

If you do not have a thermostat then you can purchase one at any hardware store.

If you need to purchase a water heater, make sure that you get one with an adjustable temperature setting, otherwise you won’t be able to effectively regulate the temperature of the water.


A second option is that your turtle is just confused by the glass of the tank.

Turtles live in freshwater environments, and there aren’t many clear items floating around in those waters.

There isn’t any way for turtles to know what is behind the glass, so they probably think it is part of the water itself.

They won’t try swimming against the glass because they would only end up getting stuck inside.

Turtles cannot move forward once they’ve been stuck inside aquariums.

They must either escape or die.

This is why it is very important to check on turtles frequently after placing them in their turtle tank.

There’s not much you can do to help except wait for while.

Soon your turtle will realize that it can’t swim through the glass

Temperature Requirements for basking

Turtles prefer temperatures between 65°F and 75°F, so if the basking spot isn’t at this range, turtles will seek another location.

Turtles prefer temperatures between 75°F and 90°F. They also require plenty of space to move around freely without being cramped.

Turtles do not hibernate during winter months; instead they seek shelter under rocks, logs, or any type of cover.

Check the temperature of the basking area with a thermometer.

If the temperature is below 80 degrees Fahrenheit, consider moving the heater closer to the tank.

Don’t worry; turtles aren’t harmed by heat.

If the temperature is too hot, you can either buy a smaller heater or move the heater farther away from your turtle.

Generally speaking, temperatures should range between 80 and 95°F (27–35 °C) during the summer months and 65 and 75°F (18–24 °C) during winter months.

However, this varies based on the type species of turtles being kept.

Inadequate diet

Turtles aren’t too fussy when it comes to what they eat, but if you don’t provide them with enough food, or if you don’t give them the correct kind of food, they will begin to swim frantically looking for food.

Turtles eat algae to get nutrients and calcium, so you must provide enough of both to ensure proper growth.

You also need to feed your turtles at least once per week during the summer months.

A good rule of thumb is to feed your pet once per week based on its age and size.

If you follow this guideline, your turtle won’t get too fat and unhealthy.

To put this method into action is to find a small container, like a medicine cup, a shot glass, or a bottle cap.

This container must be approximately the same size as the head of your turtle, without the neck.

Then you fill that container to the top with food.

This is the amount of food you should feed your turtle each day.

Turtles are herbivorous animals, meaning that they only consume plant matter.

They do not eat meats, fish, eggs, dairy, or any other animal product.

Their diets consist mainly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, algae, fungi, and insects.

These items provide essential nutrients and minerals needed for healthy growth and development.

The types of plants eaten also vary depending upon the species.

For example, sea turtles primarily feed on seaweed while freshwater turtles prefer vegetation growing near water sources.

Overall most turtles species are omnivores

This means they eat fruits, veg and meat

A balanced diet for your turtle would contain the following

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Dried Insects
  • Pellets

Check out my article – Can turtles eat watermelons?

Why is my turtle pacing?

There are three primary reasons why tortoises pace:

They are trying to attract members of the opposite sex, pacing can be a reaction to the glass in some enclosures or terraria, and lastly, it may be that your tortoise is from a species that walks a lot and finds its enclosure too small.

Why does my turtle swim towards me?

Turtles are very intelligent creatures, and they recognize humans as providers of food.

If you see a turtle swimming towards you, you should feel happy because you know that your turtle recognizes you as the provider.

He will swim towards you when you approach him, thinking that you carry food for him.

This is his way of asking you for food.

Don’t forget to feed him regularly.

He won’t get aggressive when you give him some food.

You just need to avoid overdoing it.

I go into more detail in my article – Why does my turtle swim towards me?7

Also check out my article – Why is my turtle struggling to swim?

Leave a Comment