Why Is My Turtle Staying In The Water

Aquatic turtles, like red-eared sliders, absolutely adore the water and will spend most of their time swimming around.

But even though they do this, they need to bask too.

And while basking is just as essential to a turtle’s health as a healthy diet, not leaving the water means he won’t get enough heat.

If your turtle spends all day in the pool without ever getting warm, something must be wrong.

So the question is – Why is my turtle staying in the water? 

in short – Your turtle is likely staying in the water because his basking spot isn’t attractive to him. If this area isn’t warm, dry, and accessible enough, he won’t want to use it. He may also feel stressed or ill.

Here’s the good news though

There are many ways you can improve your turtles’ environment to ensure he stays happy and healthy.

If your turtle is stressed, frightened, or ill, there are actions you can take to identify the root cause and resolve the situation.

Let’s get into more detail

Make The Bask More Attractive 

Aquatic turtles must have a safe, dry resting spot outside of the water that allows him to get some warmth during cold weather.

A good option would be a large rock placed at least 2 feet off the ground.

Your turtle should have easy access to its basking spot, and should be able to climb onto it easily from the water.

Its basking spot shouldn’t take up too much of its aquatic space; instead, ⅓ to ½ of its aquarium should be available for swimming.

Turtles require specific temperatures and humidity levels during hibernation.

Be sure that your turtle’s basking spot isn’t made up of materials with sharp edges that could damage its shell.

Scratches in turtles’ shells can quickly lead to fungal and bacterial infections and this can lead to illnesses and disease

Aquatic turtles, such as red-eared sliders, require specific environmental requirements to thrive.

Their habitat must include a constant supply of warm freshwater and shelter from predators.

They also need access to sunlight during the winter months.

Turtles require UVB rays to stay healthy and strong.

They also need adequate amounts of vitamin D3 to absorb calcium, which keeps their shells intact.

Turtles require ultraviolet rays to produce vitamin D3, so never put a plastic or glass lid on top of your turtle’s aquarium – this is not a good idea at all!

Here’s what you should do instead

Position your turtle’s light above its basking area, but not too near the area that it would heat or burn him.

Let this UV light shine on your turtle for at least 12 hours each day.

Turtles do not get excited about leaving the water to bask unless the temperature of the basking area is just right, or if the basking area is readily accessible to them.

They also prefer basking areas that aren’t wet at any point during the year.

Be sure the basking area isn’t constructed of materials that hold moisture.

Don’t force your turtle onto its basking spot if he isn’t using it on his own; this could be very stressful for him.

Another possible reason your turtle is staying under the water is due to stress or feeling scared

This leads me to my next point

Is Your Turtle Scared Or Stressed? 

Your turtle probably just wants some sunbathing space, and he hasn’t been getting enough of it lately.

If you suspect this is the case, try giving him a little extra attention and reassurance.

You can also give him a few treats to reward him for being good.

Turtles can get anxious at times because they do not know what to expect in their new environment.

They also tend to be very sensitive creatures (a bit like me haha!)

Therefore, giving them some space to adjust to their new living quarters is recommended.

Do not touch or handle them until they seem more relaxed.

Turtle Stress

Turtles often stop eating and basking once they feel stressed.

This causes them to lose body fat reserves and gain excess water.

They may even develop ulcers due to lack of proper nutrition.

To reduce this stress, try giving turtles plenty of exercise, good quality feed, and lots of attention.

Turtles thrive when provided with a calm, quiet, safe habitat.

You can help your turtle out by keeping noise levels low and providing him with a peaceful home.

If he seems stressed, try placing him somewhere else until he feels comfortable again.

Avoid handling your pet at all costs; this includes picking him/her up, holding him/her too tightly, or even stroking him/her.

If you do pick him/her up, hold him/her gently enough to prevent any injuries.

Your pet shouldn’t bite either, because doing so could result in infections.

Is Your Turtle Pregnant?

Turtles can get pregnant at any age; however, younger females tend to lay eggs faster than older ones do.

If you notice changes in your pet’s eating habits, she may be trying to prepare herself for egg laying.

She may even try digging holes in search of a suitable nest location. (Related article – Why is my turtle always digging?)

If you aren’t sure what gender your pet turtle is, check its shell size, claws, tail, and location of its cloacal opening.

If any of those characteristics differ between males and females, then you know your pet is likely either male or female.

Turtles typically lay eggs between April and August each year.

If you notice that your pet turtle appears to be gravid, check its abdomen carefully.

You may also feel some slight bumps along the length of the shell.

These bumps indicate the presence of eggs inside the body cavity.

This needs to be performed as gently as humanely possible.

The eggs are very delicate; if they crack, it can be quite dangerous for your mother turtle.

Make an appointment with your vet if you aren’t confident that you won’t accidentally damage the eggs during this procedure.

A single egg laid by a female turtle does not require any outside intervention to produce offspring; however, if the egg isn’t fertilized, then it won’t develop into a baby turtle.

If your pet turtle is pregnant, there aren’t many options available to ensure its safety during this period.

However, you can talk to your vet and learn what steps you can take to provide your turtle with the proper care needed to safely give birth.

Turtle illness

If your basking area is as perfect as possible and everything else has been eliminated, then it is also possible that your turtle isn’t feeling well.

Symptoms of sickness can include lack of appetite and lethargy, which may also cause your turtle to feel a lack of motivation to leave the water to bask.

Turtles have many diseases,

This includes the following

Ear Infection

An ear infection occurs when bacteria enter the ear canal and cause inflammation.

The most common causes include foreign objects lodged inside the ears, infections spread from another part of the body, and injuries to the outer portion of the eardrum.

Ear infections usually begin with pain around the outside edge of the ear followed by drainage of fluid from the middle ear.

Contact your vet if you see signs of swelling behind your pet’s eye(s) or if he/she seems lethargic or depressed.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A plays many roles within our bodies; however, its primary role is to maintain healthy vision.

In humans, this occurs primarily through dietary intake, while in reptiles, it happens via oral administration.

Symptoms include swelling of the eyelids, excessive mucus production, decreased appetite, and slow growth rate.

Internal Parasites

These internal parasites aren’t usually harmful to reptiles unless they get too large.

They tend to live inside the body cavity rather than causing visible signs.

Contact your veterinarian if you notice anything unusual.

Metabolic bone disease

Turtles who do not get enough calcium in their diet (when they are fed a diet that is too high in protein, for example), and do not receive enough exposure to ultraviolet B light can develop this disease.

Symptoms include stunted growth, deformed shells, lethargy, and fatigue.

Call your vet immediately if your pet shows signs of illness, injury, or unusual behavior.

If you notice anything suspicious, report it to your vet immediately.

Should My Turtle Be In Water All The Time?

Aquatic turtles usually prefer to live near bodies of water, especially during warmer months.

However, they also require access to both water and dry land to maintain optimal temperatures and lighting levels.

Related article – Why is my turtle struggling to swim?

Related article – Why does my turtle like the dark?

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