Can Box Turtles Swim

Many new box turtle owners are unsure if their turtle can swim or not. I’ve made the decision to undertake some study to determine the precise solution to this problem. Here’s what I discovered:

As swimmers, box turtles. They are not particularly good at it, though, and forcing them to swim is frequently discouraged.

Now that we are aware that box turtles can swim, there are a few more things to take into account. I would advise you to read on if you are curious in the specifics.

Can all box turtles swim?

Box turtles come in a variety of kinds and subspecies. Eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina), ornate box turtles (Terrapene ornata ornata), and desert box turtles are examples of common species that are typically kept as pets (Terrapene ornata luteola). There are several other species and subspecies, many of which are infrequently kept as pets.

When necessary, every one of the several box turtle species and subspecies can swim. Even the Coahuilan box turtle spends the most of its time in the water. Remember that they do swim awkwardly.

Which Type Of Box Turtles Can Swim?

Box turtles are members of the family and superfamily that descends from sea turtles, and the majority of box turtles have ancestors in the American Pond turtle family.

Thus, it is safe to presume that all varieties of box turtles are capable of swimming. Box turtles come in at least 14 distinct varieties, including the Spotted box turtle, Yucatan box turtle, and many more. They can all swim, albeit one is more skilled than the other, which may be asserted with skill.

How Fast Can A Box Turtle Swim?

Box turtles have awkward, sluggish swimming motions. They most likely have short legs and bulky shells on their backs, which contribute to this. They may also struggle to swim quickly due to the fact that they spend a greater portion of their time on land. They can only swim for little distances before they must rest.

A box turtle can walk for short distances at 0.25 mph and for long distances at 0.17 mph, according to an experiment. This is roughly the distance covered in a day’s worth of walking—less than 100 yards. When compared to other turtle species, such cooters, who can move at a speed of 1.07 mph, this is a slower pace.

When they swim, the same outcomes will be seen. When compared to other turtle species, their walking speed is substantially slower than their swimming speed.

Can A Box Turtle Swim On The Surface Or Underwater?

Although they can swim underwater, box turtles are not very good at it. They are renowned for being terrible swimmers. Although they can’t swim properly in deep water, box turtles do swim in the wild.

Consequently, can box turtles swim in shallow water? Box turtles do really swim in shallow water. They can be spotted swimming in ponds and rivers if the water is not too deep. Box turtles’ toes are distinct, as opposed to having lengthy webbed feet. They have poor swimming abilities because to this specific characteristic.

However, box turtles must swim. So it’s best to provide a shallow water source rather than deep water for them to swim in. The likelihood of the turtles drowning increases if the water is deep. Turtles’ digestion depends on water. As a result, your pet turtle wants to be near water.

The only other distinguishing feature of a box turtle is its webbed feet. Other aquatic species have oval and elongated shells.

They can easily float through the water because to their webbed feet and lengthy shell. However, box turtles are at a disadvantage because of their shell and feet. There shouldn’t be much water in the pond or other bodies of water for box turtles.

For them, a few inches of water are more than plenty. A turtle can drown if there is too much water present. As a result, before letting your pet into the water, box turtle owners should use considerable caution. When it comes to these box turtles, it is best to exercise caution.

How Long Can a Box Turtle Stay Underwater?

It is known that some types of land turtles can hold their breath underwater for 15 to 30 minutes. Therefore, box turtles can be considered to be the same. Box turtles cannot dwell underwater for months at a time as other turtle species can.

Despite this, you obviously don’t want to take any chances. If you take your box turtle swimming, stay watchful the entire time and keep an eye out for any indication of danger.

Can Box Turtles Drown?

Like other turtles, box turtles risk drowning if submerged for an extended amount of time. Box turtles typically drown faster than other aquatic turtles do, though.

Make sure the water you offer the box turtle isn’t deep enough for it to die, with the exception of the aquatic box turtle (also called the Coahuilan box turtle). In the tray or pool that is given, the turtle should be able to stand with its head above water.

What Is The Ideal Water Level For Box Turtles?

Every aquatic turtle, regardless of family, lives the most of its life in water. Box turtles are similar to other pond turtles in that they belong to the same family. What is the appropriate water level that should be offered to them, though, given that they are not strong swimmers and become tired easily?

The majority of aquatic turtles eat on the planktons and tiny aerobic insects that are present at the surface of the water. Given that box turtles also consume water near the surface, this aspect of evolution has persisted for a very long time.

Normal water levels shouldn’t rise over the shell’s middle. This perfect amount facilitates this kind of turtle’s ability to consume food and move about.

Can box turtles breathe underwater?

It’s typical to think of turtles as aquatic creatures that can swim and breathe underwater. However, it is a truth that turtles require air to breathe in order to get enough oxygen. They can undoubtedly survive underwater. But that’s basically it.

Underwater, they can’t breathe. To breathe, the turtles must leave the sea. No exemption applies to box turtles. They are partially aquatic, unlike other turtles. As a result, breathing underwater is totally unacceptable.

Water is necessary for swimming and other activities for box turtles. However, they are unable to breathe underwater. Box turtles are mostly terrestrial animals. To breathe, they require oxygen in the atmosphere. Box turtles need to surface from deep water in order to breathe.

However, it’s vital to remember that certain freshwater turtles have internal cloacal barriers that allow them to breathe underwater.

Regarding the species of box turtle. They like to breathe from the soil. Turtles enjoy napping underwater. They can be seen spending a lot of time submerged. They spend a lot of time sleeping underwater, but when it’s time to breathe, they surface.

Box turtles spend more time on land than in the water, yet they do prefer to be close to freshwater bodies of shallow depth. They have the option to dive deep when they feel like it.

Your pet turtle needs regular access to water in this situation. In the water, people can drink, wade, and soak. Since they are not particularly adept swimmers, they prefer shallow water. They can’t stay submerged in deep water for very long. Therefore, this turtle species swims in shallow water; box turtles briefly submerge themselves.

How Long Do Box Turtles Swim?

Box turtles are not made to live in water, thus they cannot swim as far as their pond turtle counterparts can. Box turtles, on the other hand, enjoy swimming and do it often in the wild. There are several different habitats for these turtles.

The common box turtle lives in marshy meadows, floodplains, and other environments with water sources, whereas desert box turtles may inhabit dry regions. The Florida box turtles, which are typically found in moist areas like swamps, marshlands, and wetlands, can be said to be similar. These frequently enter water.

Box turtles typically swim to go where they need to go or to cool down. They don’t live their entire lives in the water. Contrary to other turtles, a box turtle won’t be found swimming in the middle of a lake or river. They can be found, though, bathing in a little, shallow pond.

Box turtles will spend a lot of time soaking in tiny, shallow bodies of water, but they only stay in bodies of water deep enough for swimming for a relatively little time.

Can Box Turtle Live In Water?

A box turtle may live in water, much as other turtle species. Not as long as other turtles would, though. Given its poor swimming abilities, it would not do well in water. A box turtle, for instance, wouldn’t be able to avoid a predator if one were there.

A turtle cannot live its entire life swimming, either. He will eventually need to take a break. When worn out, a box turtle would prefer to drop to the bottom than swim to the top to rest. Due to its limited ability to live in deep waters for more than a few minutes, this is often a call to death.

Can I Use Tap Water for My Box Water?

It might be tempting to use tap water as the box turtle doesn’t require much water. But that is in no way a good practice. Fluoride, aluminum, arsenic, iron, lead, and even pesticides are all present in tap water. Therefore, if your box turtle consumes water while you’re swimming, it might become very unwell.

Even though this scenario might seem improbable, always use distilled water.

Even though turtles are land animals, water quality has a significant influence on their health.

Therefore, you must always keep a sound filtration system in place for your pet.

Water Type For Box Turtle- Which One Is Best

Since the box turtle is a freshwater turtle, it should come as no surprise that they like swimming in clear water. Therefore, you must ensure that the aquarium water is clean and should be changed on a regular basis if you intend to maintain this species as a pet.

By doing this, the turtle will live all its days in the aquarium in good health.

As tap water appears to be clean and fresh to the turtle, you could be tempted to use it. The alarming reality is that tap water, which includes chemicals like chlorine, produces white patches on the shell. But the turtle is not harmed by it.

How Much Water Does A Box Turtle Need?

Box turtles require more water even though they resemble tortoises in appearance. They also need an atmosphere that is significantly more humid. To begin with, the type of box turtle you have will determine how much water it needs. Compared to Florida box turtles, desert box turtles require less water.

Provide a flat tray of water for the box turtle if you intend to keep it in an outdoor habitat. The turtle need to be able to soak in the water tray and drink from it. Additionally, you must spray the enclosure often, preferably twice daily. The common box turtle needs a humidity level of around 65 percent.

The Coahuilan box turtle spends a lot of time in water, so you should design an aquarium for it just like you would for any other turtle.

The Coahuilan box turtle needs an enclosure that can accommodate around 75 gallons of water, even though they may not swim as well as other turtles.

Naturally, the Coahuilan box turtle’s habitat must include a sizable area of dry ground where the turtle may move, dry off, and bask. It is crucial that the water in the aquarium is not deep enough for the Coahuilan box turtle to die in. If they choose to, they ought to be able to surface swiftly.

Can I Add Water in My Box Turtle’s Tank?

It is preferable to refrain from filling a box turtle’s aquarium with water. You can go ahead and fill your pet’s personal pool with water that is only a few inches deep if you have a spare tank.

But avoid filling the primary tank with water.

Your pet will like a beach-like environment that you may build in a large enough tank. If not, don’t.

When rearing two distinct types of turtles, some new owners make the error of totally filling the tank with water. Let’s use a red-eared slider and a three-toed box turtle as an illustration.

Then, as it seeks to stay on the surface seeking air, your box turtle will fight a great deal and cling on to tools like a heater or filter.


It is now clear that box turtles can swim, however they are not great swimmers. When touching them, and much more so when feeding them or allowing them to go into deep water, caution should be exercised.

It is advised to let them alone and refrain from excessive physical handling since this amiable turtle is sensitive to it.