Do Turtles Hibernate? – The Ultimate Guide

Yes, turtles do hibernate! In the wild, turtles will burrow into the mud at the bottom of ponds and lakes to escape the cold weather. Some turtles will even bury themselves in sand or soil. During hibernation, a turtle’s heart rate and metabolism slow down significantly, allowing them to survive on very little food or water.

When turtles hibernate, they can go without food or water for several months. However, if the temperature gets too warm, they will wake up and become active again. If you have a pet turtle, it’s important to provide a cool, dark place for it to hibernate during the winter months. You should also make sure there is food and water available, in case your turtle decides to wake up and become active again.


Turtles are some of the most fascinating animals that roam our lakes, rivers, ponds, oceans, wetlands, and more.

With around 360 species in total, they come in all shapes and sizes and are incredibly versatile.

In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at a question that often comes up when discussing these marine reptiles. Do turtles hibernate?

In a nutshell, yes, sea turtles do hibernate, usually for around 2-4 months but some species can hibernate for up to 6 months.

Let’s take a closer look…

Do Turtles Really Hibernate?

Yes, turtles do hibernate, which is often a relief to hear for those that have pet turtles.

Hibernation is a natural method of protecting cold-blooded animals. As these animals mostly rely on the sun for their warmth, they must hide out through the winter in order to survive.

Both water and land turtles are known to hibernate during winter, however, it’s worth noting that turtles do not ‘truly’ hibernate, and instead they enter a period of deep sleep which is known as brumation.

Turtles remain slightly active during this brumation period, their body processes slow down but they still remain conscious.

How Long Do Turtles Hibernate?

The length of time a turtle hibernates is largely going to depend on the species of turtle as well as the geographical location of the animal.

In general, most turtles migrate no longer than 12 weeks, but some species such as the box turtle can hibernate for between 3 – 5 months every year.

Why Do Turtles Hibernate?

Hibernation protects turtles from the harsh cold weather or when food or water is scarce.

It’s a way for turtles to survive even with slim resources and is an essential part of survival for these animals.

Turtles hibernate underwater whilst buried in the mud at the bottom of ponds or streams.

Pet turtles may even have an instinctive urge to hibernate, even though food is in plentiful supply, which is why many pet owners seem to panic when this happens.

However, this is really nothing to worry about and is a totally natural part of a turtles life.


So, do turtles hibernate? Yes, they certainly do, although it’s not the same hibernation as you would find for say a polar bear.

Turtle hibernation is not actually hibernation at all, and is instead a deep sleep state that is known as brumation.

This allows the turtle to remain conscious whilst in this state in case of any oncoming predators, whilst still benefiting from the so-called hibernation.

Some sea turtles choose to hibernate too, whilst others simply migrate to warmer waters and prefer to stay on the move.

Our friends over at Marinepatch are experts in all things marine wildlife, including sea turtles, so go check them out if you wish to learn more about sea turtles and other marine life.

In conclusion, turtles do hibernate, so don’t panic too much if your pet turtle suddenly stops moving for a prolonged period, he may be entering brumation.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you’ve enjoyed your time here.