Do Tortoises Swim? – [Videos with Pictures]

Yes, some of them can swim, but not very well at all, and not for very long. . If they fall into deeper water, they usually trudge along the bottom until they reach land. They can hold their breath for a long time because they are reptiles.

The African spurt high tortoise is unable to swim and quickly sinks and drowns in water that is higher than its shell in arid areas.

It can float and swim to some extent in wetter areas, like the Florida box turtle or the giant Aldabra tortoise.

Tortoise species vary in their ability to float; I’m not aware of any that cannot, but I’m playing it safe here. None of them appear to be particularly skilled swimmers, but they do their best to avoid sinking.

For the most part, it’s a shaky situation.

A species’ ability to float is determined by the environment in which it was born. They’re more likely to float if their natural habitat includes water. Galapagos and Aldabra Islands, home to the world’s largest tortoises, are a long way from the mainland.

After being washed out to sea and drifting for hundreds of miles, they arrived in these exotic locations.

Here’s a clip of an Aldabra putting on a show: The Aldabra tortoise is the largest tortoise in the world.

It appears that my mother’s red-footed tortoise enjoys taking a leisurely bath. The same is true for many tortoise owners. One of the most important factors is the presence of calm water; no one should put their trust in a pet tortoise in a natural body of water.

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Tortoises can also fall into backyard ponds head-first or upside down.

There is a good chance that this tortoise is one, but I’m not entirely sure. Those have a bad reputation when it comes to water. Dropped from a great height, I have little faith in its ability to float. The chances of it surviving if it sank were slim.

In the end, though, let’s be glad we did it. Here’s a video of a tortoise that has lost its footing and is drifting aimlessly before being rescued by the cameraman, as I assume from the edit.

That water is so calm, it’s possible that this one would have found its own way out of this situation regardless. At some point, it would have run into the shore again and hopefully climbed out.

Table of Contents

It’s a Turtle vs. Tortoise Battle.

Tortoises, terrapins, and sea turtles all fall under the umbrella term “turtle,” which is used to describe any egg-laying, shelled reptile in this taxonomic family.

Sea turtles spend the majority of their lives in the water, whereas land-dwelling tortoises spend most of their time on land. It’s easy to see why turtles are good swimmers and tortoises are better suited to land life when you look at them closely.

  • Flippers vs. Feet

There are no winners in this fight between flippers and feet.

The feet of sea turtles are actually more like flippers if you take a closer look. However, turtles’ feet are designed so that they can propel themselves through the water, which is very useful since they spend the majority of their lives in the sea.

Flippers vs. Feet

Aquatic turtles, like terrapins, have webbed feet, but unlike terrapins, they have claws on their toes, allowing them to move freely on land and in water.

The clawed toes and bent legs of tortoise feet, on the other hand, resemble those of an elephant. While turtles can only live in a few places, tortoises can adapt to a wide variety of habitats, necessitating the use of a more robust vehicle.

Even though they may be able to help them dig in their burrows, their claws would be ineffective for swimming.

  • Shells

The shape of their shells is also an important factor to consider; an aquatic turtle’s shell is streamlined, allowing it to move quickly through the water.

A tortoise’s shell is thicker and heavier, whereas a turtle’s shell is thinner and lighter.

Different types of shell

The shells of land tortoises, on the other hand, are much larger and domed, making them completely unsuitable for flight.

So Why Can’t Tortoises Swim?

Tortoises are unable to swim because they lack either streamlined shells or flippers. For thousands of years, sea turtles and tortoises have evolved different body structures that allow them to survive in their natural habitats on land and in the sea.

Even if they were able to swim under water, their thick legs and heavy shells would not be able to support them.

Can Tortoises Float?

We don’t want to encourage anyone to go out and find out for themselves whether or not tortoises can float because the evidence is mixed. A tortoise’s age, size, and species are all said to play a role in how large its shell is.

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Do tortoises have the ability to swim? The answer to this question could mean the difference between your tortoise’s life and the life of another.

It’s better to be safe than sorry and avoid putting your tortoise in water that’s too deep. When your tortoise is swimming, they are likely to be stressed and at risk of drowning, regardless of whether they are able to float.

Knowing the Difference

Numerous instances of tortoises being mistaken for turtles and then being dumped into water with the expectation that they will swim away have been documented.

In order to avoid making the same mistake twice, it’s critical to know the difference between turtles and tortoises because only one of them is capable of swimming.

Webbed feet and the shape of a turtle’s shell can help you determine if it is an aquatic turtle or an aquatic tortoise.

When compared to their taxonomic relatives like the tortoise, their shells are noticeably taller and dome-shaped, which should make it easy to distinguish between freshwater, sea, and pond turtles.

No matter what kind of shelled reptile it is, the best option is to leave it where you found it; a turtle will return to the water when it is ready, while a land-dwelling tortoise will travel the other way, away from the water..

Water and Tortoises

Once it has been established that the majority of tortoises are unable to swim, we can delve a little deeper.

  • In The Wild

Tortoises in the wild frequently visit shallow water sources to bathe or drink. On a hot day, tortoises are not uncommon to be spotted relaxing by the water’s edge. However, if you see any shelled reptiles swimming, you’re more than likely looking at a turtle..

  • Can Tortoises Survive Underwater

No, is the short answer to your question. If you leave a land tortoise in deep water for a long time, it will drown. Sea turtles, on the other hand, can hold their breath for up to seven hours at a time.

This is why you should never provide water that is too deep for the safety of your tortoise, as a tortoise owner.

  • Tortoise Bathing

Despite the fact that most tortoises are unable to swim, they enjoy taking a dip in the water. The bathtub, sink, or even a large tub of water can be used to quickly clean your pet tortoises. When bathing your tortoise, bear the following tips in mind:

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Because they can’t swim and aren’t aquatic turtles, you only need to provide about an inch of water for your tortoise, depending on its size and species.

  • You must ensure that your tortoise’s head will not be submerged if they choose to rest.
  • Tortoises can flip over and drown if left unattended while bathing, especially in a rounded sink.
  • Water that is too hot or cold can make your pet uncomfortable.
  • Pooping in its bath is completely normal for your pet tortoise.
  • Once they have dried off, always return them to their enclosure.
  • If your tortoise appears to be trying to climb out of the water, you should remove them, dry them, and return them to their habitat.

As long as they enjoy their bath, you can use the opportunity to clean their shell and legs with a soft toothbrush. Soap can irritate your tortoise’s skin or cause serious harm if it is ingested, so avoid using any at all.

  • Drinking Water

Tortoises are regular drinkers of water, as are many other animals. Fresh water should be available to your pet tortoise on a daily basis in a shallow bowl.

Your tortoise’s water bowl will need to be cleaned out more frequently if they poop or drag substrate into it!

Can Tortoises Survive in Water for a Long Time?

Turtles, on the other hand, can go for long periods of time without taking a breath. Within minutes of being submerged, a tortoise will die. To save their lives, a tortoise in danger of drowning will use all of their energy trying to get to the surface of the water.

The End of the Road

It is our sincere hope that this has answered all of your questions regarding the ability of tortoises to swim. There are two distinct types of animals in the world: turtles and tortoises, both of which have evolved to live in distinct habitats.

Tortoises, in contrast to sea turtles, can only be found on land, and as a result, you will never see one in the water.

This doesn’t mean that your tortoise won’t enjoy soaking in their water bowl from time to time, or that you can’t give them a bath.

Don’t forget our safety tips for a happy and healthy tortoise, and never put your tortoise in danger! Is your tortoise a fan of taking a dip in the tub? Tell us in the comments!

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