How Long Can Yellow Belly Turtles Stay Out Of Water?

belly turtle

Yellow belly turtles are interesting pets with unique aquatic characteristics that can live up to 50 years if properly cared for. As their name implies, they usually have yellow and black striking colors with striped heads, necks, and legs and are of low maintenance.

This species of turtles are turtles that love to stay in the water and perform most of their activities in the water but can also spend some time out of the water while still functioning well and keeping the low maintenance feature that makes pet lovers want to keep it as a pet. But how long can it stay out of the water without dying?

Since they are semi-aquatic, yellow-bellied turtles can survive 6 to 8 hours without touching the water. Climate influences how long they remain afloat as they will stay for a long time in an area with high moisture levels. If the weather is reasonable, that is, neither too hot nor too cold, yellow-bellied turtles will typically stay outside longer.

They must be hydrated frequently to avoid their skin drying out and their scales falling off.

How Long Can a Yellow Belly Turtle Sleep Underwater?

A yellow-belly turtle can sleep underwater for 3-4 hours in the early mornings and late afternoon and 30-45 minutes in the night as they are light sleepers during the night, especially when they have slept in the morning. Still, it all depends on the temperature of the water.

Their metabolic rate decreases while asleep, enabling them to spend much more time underwater than they normally would. However, they can stay up for 6-8 months when hibernating with the help of their breathing technique called Cloaca Respiration.

Do Yellow Belly Turtles Need Water To Survive?

Yes, yellow-belly turtles need water to maintain their long life span, as the inability to get water to stay for a very long time can endanger their health and bring about their death. 

They are not picky regarding the type of water needed in their tanks, as water from the tank can be used. However, salt water can be very harmful to the point of killing them as it causes skin irritation, eye damage, and respiratory and digestion problems.

How Much Water Does A Yellow Belly Turtle Need To Survive?

How much water a yellow-belly turtle need depends on the pet population. A turtle will need up to 10-15 gallons of water in the tank to swim around without any restrictions, whereas a baby turtle will need a volume of water to fit in comfortably as they have a small size. A bigger tank with a large volume of water will be needed if there are many turtles.

One important thing to note is that the volume of water should not be too shallow to enable them to swim and enjoy the environment and must not be too deep to enable them to come out at will. Moreover, rocks and planks should be provided in the tank to enable them to climb out comfortably without flipping over, which could be dangerous for them.

How Long Can Yellow Belly Turtles Live Without Water?

A yellow-belly turtle can survive without water for up to 8 days or even longer, but it all depends on the weather and climate conditions surrounding the turtle. However, a baby turtle cannot live up to this number of days.

What Happens If They Don’t Get Enough Water?

The first thing that will happen is that they will be dehydrated and unable to eat or digest food, leading to the deterioration of eyesight as they need a regular supply of clean water for survival. Once you notice your turtle keeps hitting the decorations or rocks without any cause, you need to increase the water in the tank and take it to the vet for immediate eye treatment.

Next, you will notice their skin drying out due to dehydration and unfavorable weather conditions as they operate effectively in the water.

These two signs might eventually lead to death if proper attention is not given to the tank’s water volume. To prevent this, make available a constant water supply in an adequate proportion. You can contact a professional aquarist or a vet if you cannot determine how much water your turtle or turtles need.

Do Baby Yellow Belly Turtles Live Without Water?

No, yellow-belly turtle specie cannot survive/ live without water as they are in the development stage and cannot digest food without water. However, they can still live for 2-3 days without water, depending on the climate conditions and environment.

Why Are My Yellow Belly Turtles Staying Out of Water?

Turtles adore the water and will only leave it to go on an adventure. However, they are experts at getting back into it quickly. Some yellow-bellied turtles, though, will never stay in the water, even after being placed there.

Despite the obstacles, they will nonetheless manage to leave the house and search for a cozy location, which could result from a few conditions explained below.

1. Aggressive Tankmates

Turtles with yellow bellies enjoy their comfort and do not necessarily like to share their area with other turtles. If one tankmate is hostile or larger than the other, it may bully or annoy the other to the point that it seeks refuge outside its area, typically the land.

2. Water Temperature

If the water in the tank is too cold or hot, the turtle will avoid the water by moving out, and this can lead to dehydration, so it is best that you monitor the water effectively as the standard water temperature for yellow belly turtles is  72–80 °F (22–27 °C)

3. Wrong Water Parameters

The yellow-belly turtle will eventually find a means to leave the tank as the pH and hardness of the water rise. This could result from contaminated aquariums because of the turtles’ untidy eating habits and feces, which could cause ammonia levels to rise in the tank.

4. Pregnancy

One of the signs of pregnancy in a yellow-bellied turtle is that it leaves its current habitat, either for a change in environment or appetite (always wanting to feed on something new).

5. Pneumonia

A constantly floating turtle indicates a health issue, such as pneumonia. Shell rot, a painful condition brought on by a fungus, may be present in shells that are fragile, uneven, or coated in algae.

Closed or swollen eyes in turtles could indicate a respiratory infection or another issue.


Yellow belly turtles are aquatic animals that can survive for quite several days without water depending on their health status, age, specie, and habitat environment. However, turtles must not be allowed to stay out of water for long as it can affect their health status or lead to their untimely death.

Written by Justin Michaels