How Long Do Turtles Hibernate?

how long do turtles hibernate

Are you getting a pet turtle home? Or do you want to know and gain knowledge regarding the turtle’s hibernation period? How long do turtles hibernate?

To start with, you must know that turtles do not hibernate. They do enter a period of sleep which is known as brumation. Now, the duration of the brumation period depends on the type of turtle species and the geographical location the turtle is present. This means that the brumation period can last for weeks to months. There is no set period for all turtles. 

There is a lot to know about turtles and brumation. In this article, we have provided you with all the necessary and essential information you need to know. Read till the end to get an idea of how long turtles hibernate or brumate. 

Brumation Vs Hibernation 

Brumation and hibernation are forms of dormancy that different types of animals go through to get through or survive weather conditions that are not favorable to them. These weather conditions do not allow animals to hunt or find food.

Though both terms refer to a form of dormancy, there are a few differences between them.  

Brumation is undergone by cold-blooded animals (ectothermic)Hibernation is undergone by warm-blooded animals (endothermic)
The hibernation period is extended. It can last for many months. During this period, mammals and sometimes a few birds go through reduced metabolic rates during food scarcity or winters. 
The brumation period is short. It can last from weeks to months.During brumation, animals move a little, take in oxygen, and sometimes even drink water. 
Species in brumation do not experience extreme changes in body temperature. Species in hibernation can experience change in body temperature. For example, their body temperature can decrease. 
During brumation, animals do move a little, take in oxygen, and sometimes even drink water. During hibernation, animals do not move as they are in deep sleep. They are dormant, and their heart and breathing rate decreases.
Brumating animals consume less food before their brumation period starts. Hibernating animals consume a lot of food to sustain themselves.
Example: Snakes, turtles, lizardsExample: Bears, bats

Do All Turtles Go Through Brumation? 

No, not all turtles go through a brumation period. This statement means that usually, turtles that live in locations that do not have unstable temperatures or tropical regions, these turtles do not go through brumation. 

Here are a few examples of turtle species that go through brumation. Through these examples, you will be able to get an idea of how they brumate as well. 

Box Turtles

Box turtles brumate, but the timing of the brumation depends on the location they live in and the climate. Usually, box turtles brumate during cold months. This means they begin the brumation process in early winter or late fall. 

When the temperature begins to drop, they look for moist areas with proper insulation. 

Box turtles brumate under leaf litter, burrows, and natural debris. Box turtles come out of brumation once the climate or temperature warms up. 

Painted Turtles

Painted turtles are aquatic turtles that go through brumation. Painted turtles brumate when the temperature drops during colder months. These species prefer to brumate in areas with stable water. 

These places include the base or foot of lakes, ponds, or slow-moving rivers. 

Painted turtles can hibernate or brumate for months with low oxygen levels or sometimes even in no-oxygen environments. You may wonder how they will breathe if they brumate under rocks or at the bottom. These species have developed physiological adaptations that allow them to extract oxygen from the water through specialized tissues in their cloaca. 

This development allows painted turtles to get sufficient oxygen even when they are not at the surface. 

Like box turtles, once the temperature starts warming up, painted turtles come out of brumation. 

Red-eared Slider 

Red-eared Sliders are originally from the southern United States and Mexico. They are semi-aquatic turtles. Red-eared sliders are sensitive to temperature cues, and when the ambiance and water temperature decrease, they begin their brumation process. 

In the wild, these species find areas underwater, such as at the bottom of lakes, to brumate. 

For How Long Turtles Hibernate? 

The duration of hibernation or brumation varies. It depends on the turtle’s location, weather conditions, and even the type of turtle. 

Overall, the duration of brumation or hibernation ranges from a few weeks to months. As mentioned before, the duration depends on various factors, and the farther the turtles are from the equator, the longer turtles brumate or hibernate. 

Most of the turtles brumate or hibernate from October to February. This is because the temperature drops during this time. 

That said, we can say that turtles can brumate for a few weeks or last up to 2 to 5 months. 

Do Pet Turtles Hibernate?

If you have a pet turtle, hibernation or brumation is not required, or in other words, it does not necessarily have to take place. You must know that turtles in the wild hibernate or brumate for survival. Survival against scarcity of food and unfavorable weather conditions. 

When you adopt a turtle and raise it at your place, they do not have to protect themselves from unstable weather conditions or inadequate food. As a pet turtle, they are provided with proper food, nutrition, controlled weather or environment, and proper care. That is why turtles, as pets, do not have to brumate or hibernate. 

Now, it is also your decision to let your pet turtle brumate or hibernate. You must remember that brumation should only be attempted if you can fully and adequately provide your pet turtle with the conditions required for brumation or hibernation. 

These conditions include appropriate cool and dark areas, proper humidity levels, constant monitoring of temperature, and proper care. 

You should always speak to your vet if you want your pet turtle to brumate or hibernate. The environment you are providing your pet turtle is not natural for them to hibernate, they have specific needs, and they have to be met for the safety of your pet turtle. 

A vet can advise you on whether you should go ahead and will even provide you with proper knowledge and necessary details, which will be highly beneficial. 

The ultimate goal is the well-being of your pet turtle. You must remember that brumation or hibernation must not be forced onto your pet turtle.


Turtles brumate and do not hibernate. People use the term hibernate to make it easy for others to understand. Turtles do not go into deep sleep for long duration. They brumate, move a little, and sometimes wake up to drink water. The brumation period is usually not long. It can last up to weeks or months. 

Also, remember that pet turtles do not have to brumate as they are not living in the wild. If you want to provide your pet turtle a brumation period, always seek professional help. You do not want to fiddle with your pet turtle’s health and well-being.

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