Why Is My Turtle Not Moving? Here Are 8 Reasons

As a turtle owner, often we might notice that our pet turtle is not moving all day.

Although we know they are not active reptile however it’s essential to understand their behavior to ensure they’re healthy and happy before it’s too late.

This article will delve into why your turtle might not be moving and what you can do about it.

Understanding Turtle Behavior

Turtles, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded animals. This means their body temperature and activity levels are influenced by the environment.

Different turtle species may exhibit different behaviors, but generally, they are active creatures that enjoy swimming, basking, and exploring their surroundings.

Why Is My Turtle Not Moving?

Understanding your turtle’s behavior is crucial to ensuring its health and well-being. If your turtle isn’t moving, it could be due to several reasons, ranging from natural behaviors to potential health issues.

Here are 8 reasons why your turtle is not moving:

Hibernation or Brumation

During colder months, some turtle species go into a state of hibernation or brumation. This is a period of dormancy similar to hibernation.

Turtles in this state become less active or even motionless.

They may stop eating and spend most of their time sleeping. This is a natural process for some species, but not all turtles brumate.

It’s important to know the specific needs and behaviors of your turtle species.


Another reason is your turtle is simply basking.

Turtles often bask under a heat lamp or in the sun to regulate their body temperature. During this time, they may not move much.

Basking is an essential part of a turtle’s daily routine. It helps them digest food and absorb necessary UV rays.

If your turtle is basking, it may appear inactive, but this is a normal and healthy behavior.

Illness or Disease

If your turtle is sick, it may become less active.

Respiratory infections are common in turtles and can cause lethargy, lack of appetite, and difficulty breathing.

Other diseases, like shell rot or parasitic infections, can also cause your turtle to become inactive.

If you notice any signs of illness, such as unusual spots on the shell, changes in eating habits, or unusual behavior, it’s important to consult a vet.

Lack of Appetite or Dislike of Food

If your turtle isn’t eating, it may become inactive. This could be due to illness, or they may not like the food you’re providing.

Turtles need a varied diet to stay healthy, and feeding them the same food all the time can lead to nutritional deficiencies and loss of appetite.

Try offering different types of turtle-safe fruits, vegetables, and proteins to see if your turtle’s appetite improves.


Pregnant turtles may become less active, especially close to laying eggs.

They may spend more time hiding or digging, and they may eat less than usual.

If you suspect your turtle may be pregnant, it’s important to provide a suitable nesting area and consult a vet to ensure the health of the mother and the eggs.

Stress or Trying to Escape

If your turtle is stressed or unhappy with its environment, it may stop moving or try to escape the tank.

Stress can be caused by many factors, such as an inappropriate habitat, poor diet, illness, or lack of social interaction.

Make sure your turtle’s tank is large enough, has the right temperature and lighting, and contains plenty of hiding spots and basking areas.

Water Temperature

Turtles need warm water to stay active. If the water is too cold, they may become lethargic.

The ideal water temperature depends on the species, but generally, it should be kept between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

A water heater and a thermometer are essential tools to maintain the right water temperature in your turtle’s tank.

Single Turtle Tanks

Turtles in tanks without another turtle may become lonely and less active.

While not all turtle species are social, many enjoy the company of another turtle.

If you have a single turtle and notice that it’s often inactive, you might want to consider getting a second turtle.

However, it’s important to ensure that both turtles are the same species and similar in size to prevent aggression

Sick Turtle

Knowing how to tell if your turtle is sick is crucial.

Common signs of illness include lack of appetite, unusual spots or holes in the shell, and retraction into their shell.

If your turtle has a respiratory infection, it may show signs like wheezing, mucus from the nose or mouth, and difficulty breathing.

If your turtle shows any of these signs or is less active than usual, it may be time to consult a vet.

Why Are Baby Turtle Not Active?

Firstly, baby turtles are still in a crucial stage of growth and development.

This process requires a lot of energy, and as a result, baby turtles might spend more time resting or sleeping to conserve energy for growth.

Secondly, if you’ve recently brought a baby turtle into a new environment, such as a home or a different tank, it may be less active as it adjusts to its new surroundings.

This adjustment period can be stressful for a baby turtle, and it might choose to stay still or hide more often until it feels safe.

Environmental factors also play a significant role in a turtle’s activity level.

Turtles are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature and activity levels are influenced by their environment.

If the water in the tank is too cold, a baby turtle may become lethargic and less active. On the other hand, if the water is too warm, it can cause stress and potentially lead to illness.

Lastly, the habitat setup can affect a baby turtle’s activity.

If the tank is too small, lacks hiding spots, or doesn’t have a proper basking area, the turtle may feel stressed or uncomfortable, leading to decreased activity.

What to Do If Your Turtle Isn’t Moving Or Eating

If your turtle isn’t moving, don’t panic. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Consult a Vet: If your turtle shows signs of illness or hasn’t moved for an extended period, take it to a vet immediately.
  2. Encourage Movement: Provide toys or change the environment to stimulate your turtle.
  3. Adjust Water Temperature: Ensure the water is warm enough for your turtle to stay active.
  4. Change Diet: If your turtle isn’t eating, try a different type of turtle food.
  5. Provide Space: Make sure your turtle has enough room to move around and explore.

Why Is My Turtle Just Floating & Not Moving?

If your turtle is floating and not moving, it could be a sign of a health issue.

One common cause is a respiratory infection, which can lead to a buildup of fluid in the turtle’s lungs, making it difficult for them to dive or swim properly.

Other symptoms of a respiratory infection can include a lack of appetite, lethargy, and wheezing or other unusual breathing sounds.

Another potential cause is often due to poor nutrition or a gastrointestinal problem. This can cause the turtle to float uncontrollably or not be able to dive.

Cold water temperatures can also lead to lethargy and floating in turtles. If you notice these behaviors, it’s important to consult a vet as soon as possible.

How to Make Your Turtle More Active?

There are several ways you can encourage your turtle to be more active:

Proper Diet: Feeding your turtle a balanced and varied diet can help keep them active. Different types of vegetables, fruits, and proteins can stimulate their interest and keep them healthy.

Adequate Space: Turtles need enough space to move around. Make sure your turtle’s tank or enclosure is large enough for them to swim and explore.

Environmental Enrichment: Adding new items to your turtle’s environment can stimulate their curiosity and encourage them to move more. This could include new basking spots, hiding places, or safe toys.

Appropriate Water Temperature: Turtles are cold-blooded and their activity level is influenced by their environment’s temperature. Make sure the water in your turtle’s tank is at an appropriate temperature for their species.

Regular Handling: While you should never over-handle a turtle, regular, gentle handling can help them become more active and accustomed to human interaction.

Healthy Social Interaction: If your turtle’s species is social, having another turtle for company can stimulate activity. However, it’s important to ensure both turtles are the same species and similar in size to prevent aggression.

Remember, if your turtle is consistently inactive despite these measures, it’s important to consult a vet to rule out any potential health issues.

How To Know If Your Turtle Maybe Dying

  1. Lack of Appetite
    If your turtle is refusing food or eating significantly less than usual, it could be a sign of serious illness.
  2. Lethargy
    A turtle that is unusually inactive, sluggish, or unresponsive may be in poor health.
  3. Physical Changes
    Changes in appearance, such as sunken eyes, discolored skin or shell, or noticeable weight loss, can indicate that a turtle is not well.
  4. Behavioral Changes
    Your turtle is acting out of character, such as showing signs of stress, aggression, or unusual swimming patterns (like floating on one side).

Keeping Your Turtle Healthy

Keeping your turtle healthy involves a balanced diet, a proper basking area, warm water, and regular activity.

Feed your turtle a variety of foods to ensure they get all the necessary nutrients.

Keep the water warm and clean,and provide a basking area with a heat lamp for them to regulate their body temperature.

Regularly encourage your turtle to move and explore to keep them active and stimulated.


Understanding why your turtle may not be moving is crucial to ensuring their health and happiness.

Whether they’re simply basking, brumating, or showing signs of illness, being aware of their behavior can help you take the necessary steps to keep them healthy.

Remember, when in doubt, always consult a vet to ensure your turtle gets the best care possible.

About David Nitta

I am a lifelong lover of turtles and have dedicated years of research to understand and care about this wonderful creature. I regularly post blogs, mostly from what I read and my own experience, covering everything from turtle care, health, feeding habits, habitat setup, and so much more.