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Do Turtles Drink Water? (All You Need to Know)

When we hear about the aquatic animal Turtle, our mind automatically thinks about longevity, earth, and patience. These gentle shelled reptiles that live most of their lives in water are filled with mystery.

Some species of them can outlive humans even. They are the ancient mariners of earth, that’s because they even existed when dinosaurs were still walking around. However, slowly but surely these turtles are becoming endangered.

Let’s get to know about some of the basic needs of these blue world giants to better understand and hopefully help their species as a whole.

Do turtles drink water?

Just like any other animal, turtles do drink water. The process might not be the same as other animals though, still, the fact remains that they do need water to sustain their body remains. They have a special way of filtering the salt out of the seawater in order for them to drink water.

Turtles come in different shapes and sizes, there are about 79 different types of turtles in the wild. Let’s look at a few of the most unique and exotic of these shelled reptiles from different regions.

Sea/Aquatic turtles:

Reptiles of the deep blue sea. Sometimes they are known as Marine Turtles. 

They drink seawater all their lives. They start off being omnivorous and later become full-on herbivores when they become an adult.

Land turtles/Eastern box turtles:

When it comes to closing the shell, no one can beat the box turtles. These guys can completely close their shells like that of a box, hence the name. 

Commonly known as Tortoises. Box turtles are mostly omnivorous. These turtles drink and need a sustained source of water all the time.

Desert turtles/Gopher Turtles:

It might be surprising but even in the harshest of weather, you can find turtles. This animal belongs to the regions of Mojave and the Sonoran Desert.

They commonly eat grass and flowers and cactus fruit. It usually gets its water from the food it eats, still, occasionally they do drink water directly.

Baby turtles:

Known as hatchlings, baby turtles hatch confused and dazed. Soon enough they rush towards the ocean.

Baby turtles eat a lot of meat since they need protein to grow fast. They need a very shallow layer of water to drink water from.

Snapping turtles:

For most of their lives these turtles reside in semi-permanent water bodies. Evolution unlike their cousins gave them strong jaws to protect themselves. They drink water when they’re swimming.

Pet turtles:

There are multiple turtles that a person can keep as a pet. Two prime examples would be the Box Turtle and Spotted Turtle.

They’re omnivorous and need a mixed diet of both meat and veggies. They also need to drink water, make sure to have a source near them always.

Musk turtles:

They mostly eat a variety of water fish and insects, since primarily these turtles are carnivores.

Typically, not the best of swimmers yet will spend most of their time in the water. They need and drink water just like other turtles.

Red clapper turtles/Slider turtles:

Slider Turtles love to swim and need about twice as deep as their size of water. Thus, an adequate of water is needed for them.

They drink water while in the water. Their diet is vegetation, crustaceans, and insects.

Russian turtles:

These turtles are commonly known as Afghan tortoises. They’re one of the best pet turtles to have. 

These big personality turtles are primarily herbivores. They mostly get the water from the vegetation. They also drink water directly when needed.

How do you give turtles water? How do turtles drink water?

Turtles are marine animals, but that doesn’t stop them from drinking water. Turtles have a special gland under their eyes that is bigger than their brain that helps them all their lives to drink saltwater even that’s toxic to most other land dwellers.

Turtles will often get water from the vegetation diet they have and sometimes when they’ll bask in the sun, they get thirsty and drink water. They drink water through their throat and mouth while swimming.

Big Tank:

A minimum size of 80L tank is needed at first, as they grow up the size of it should be increased. Turtles are very active animals and their muscles can have bad painfully atrophy. Thus, they need big space and plenty of water.


Turtles have the habit of defecating where they eat. Thus, when proper care is not given the water becomes contaminated with waste materials. 

Turtles can literally swim in toxic water due to the ammonia released from their defecations. Thus, a good filtration system is needed for their water tank.

Purified Water:

Tap water contains chemicals that can harm turtles and ruin their system from within. Thus, purified water is a must when having turtles as pets. It’s crucial that the water is fresh and clean before they are fed to them.

Do turtles drink water through their nose? Do turtles drink the water they swim in?

Just like any other living creature out there, turtles do drink water. It can be hard to see since they reside in water bodies. Sometimes you can see their throat move and that indicates that they drink water from the water.

Although, turtles drink through their mouth and throat, not through their nose. That is something the Aldabra tortoises do. They can drink water through their nostrils.

However, the turtles usually drink water from the water they reside in. They occasionally drink water while swimming or basking in the sun. Turtles also defecate in the water body they live in.

If the water isn’t filtered and clean from the defecations on a regular basis, then the water body will be contaminated and become toxic. Many people use small water bowls for their pet turtles.

How often do turtles drink water? How long can turtles go without water?

A turtle is a mysterious aquatic reptile that we don’t know much about them. This mystery does not help with the fact that the turtles live most of their lives under the water. They are always on the move because they use the earth’s magnetic fields to navigate.

Turtles get most of their water from the vegetation they eat, however, if they’re out and about they tend to drink water actively. It’s not normal for the turtles to not go without drinking water.

Many factors go to influence the time a turtle can go without drinking water. Like age, species, environment, and also the closure of their body. However, the minimum amount of time a turtle can go without water is 8 hours.

Can turtles drink tap water? Do turtles drink purified water?

Many things are to be taken as precautions before having a turtle as a pet. They can be very high-maintenance pets. One of the first things you need to make sure of before having a turtle is to make sure they have the pure form of water.

Turtles can’t drink tap water because tap water contains Chlorine and a possible unknown amount of Fluoride. These chemicals can upset the pH value of their system. De-chlorinated water should be the one you feed your pet turtle.

Therefore, purified water is advised for turtle habitats. Although you do need to let that water sit for at least 24 hours in a different container or you can just use a water conditioner. This is a crucial precaution, due to how sensitive turtles are.

Do turtles ever get thirsty? Do turtles need water bowls?

Turtles spend all their lives under the water. Hatchlings might be confused and dazed right after their birth in just one or two days they’ll scurry right to the ocean. So, almost their whole lives they’re in the water.

However, that doesn’t make them not interested in water at all. If they’re out on the land they’ll get thirsty in hours and will need to drink water to be alive. Dehydration is one of the main causes of expiry for pet turtles.

So, the pet turtles do need water bowls. They’ll use the bowls to defecate, bask and drink water from. This way the main tank water can be clean.

Final Thoughts 

There’s this saying, “All living things need water to survive”. Many would agree with that and many would not. But for turtles, the fact remains that they do drink water. Be it for survival or not. Through the use of the unique salt glands behind their eyes, they can drink seawater all their lives.