Do Tortoises Take Naps?

If your tortoise has been acting especially sleepy lately, you may be wondering what’s going on. Is your tortoise really napping, or just relaxing? Is it getting ready to brumate? Or could a health problem or parasite be the culprit? Regardless of the reason, you’re probably ready to get to the bottom of your tortoise’s sleepiness. 

So do tortoises take naps? Tortoises are diurnal, which means that they have a day and night cycle that’s similar to ours. They sleep at night, but may also take naps during the day. Napping can be a sign of many different environmental and health issues, but it can also be perfectly normal.

Read on to learn about the possible reasons why your tortoise may take naps. We’ll also give you plenty of information about normal tortoise sleeping habits and daytime activities. Finally, you’ll want to take a look at our checklist to evaluate the general health of your tortoise. 

Why Is My Tortoise Napping?

There are several possible reasons why your tortoise could be napping during the daytime. 

  • The Temperature in Your Tortoise’s Enclosure Is Too Cold. During the day, temperatures should range from about 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit on the cooler side and 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm side. If the temperature is cooler, this can signal to your tortoise that it’s nearing winter and they may start to brumate. This can cause them to sleep a lot more, because in the wild tortoises are very inactive during the winter months.

 

  • You’re Not Providing Enough UV Light. You should consistently turn the lights on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours each day to keep up a regular day and night cycle. This is very important for your tortoise’s metabolism and general health. Also make sure to replace your UV light every six months to a year–they lose their strength over time. 

 

  • Your Tortoise Has the Wrong Type of Enclosure. Tortoise tables are the most highly recommended for your pet’s environment. Vivariums can cause stress to your tortoise due to lack of airflow as well as glass walls that it can run into. 

 

  • You Recently Adopted Your Tortoise. A tortoise that is new to its environment may be under a lot of stress. This can cause it to take some extra naps as it adjusts to its new home. 

 

  • Your Tortoise Is Dehydrated. Dehydration can cause lethargy. Make sure to soak or bathe your tortoise regularly to keep it hydrated and healthy!

 

  • Your Tortoise Is a Juvenile. As a general rule, babies and juvenile tortoises sleep much more than fully-developed adults. They may spend the vast majority of the day sleeping due to the huge amount of growth and development they go through during this stage–it’s absolutely nothing to worry about. 

 

  • Your Tortoise Has Parasites. Parasites can cause lethargy as well as other health problems. If you suspect your tortoise may be sick, take it to the vet for a fecal test, which will show any parasites.

Most of the reasons your tortoise could be napping have to do with its environment, so be sure to provide a sufficient enclosure for your pet! Paying close attention to the type of enclosure, temperature, UV light, access to water, and a healthy diet are all extremely important.

Keeping up with cleaning your tortoise’s enclosure on a regular basis is also essential and can help prevent parasites!

How Do I Know if My Tortoise Has Parasites?

You’ll usually notice parasites in tortoises that live outdoors or spend lots of time outside, but they can also affect tortoises that live indoors. Below, find out how to identify and treat the parasites that occur most frequently in tortoises.

Ticks

Ticks are the most common parasite that you may encounter. They can be hard to detect, but ticks usually will cluster around your tortoise’s eyes and mouth. You’ll need to remove ticks as soon as possible, or take your tortoise to the vet if you’re not able to remove them.

They can cause some serious health problems if left alone. Your veterinarian may also follow up with an antibiotic to knock out any bacteria the ticks may have transmitted. 

Intestinal Parasites

While ticks typically only affect tortoises who have spent time outdoors, intestinal parasites can afflict any tortoise. The typical symptoms that come along with intestinal parasites include dehydration, weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and passing feces with undigested food in it. Your tortoise will also be less active and you may catch it taking frequent naps. 

Intestinal parasites are usually treated with antiparasitic medications which will be prescribed by your veterinarian. Be sure to pay attention to the specific guidelines and advice your vet gives you in relation to the dose of medication and care for your tortoise. 

Typical Tortoise Sleeping Behaviors

Tortoises will usually only sleep when the sun goes down (if they’re outside) or when you turn off their UV light. A tortoise will typically find a hidden or secluded spot where it feels safe and comfortable before going to sleep.

Although many tortoises will withdraw into their shells while sleeping, many tortoise owners report that their pets sleep in a variety of positions. Generally, you don’t need to worry about the position that your pet sleeps in as long as it follows a normal sleeping schedule.

In the wild, tortoises brumate, which is similar to hibernating. During the cold winter months, they hunker down and become inactive. In captivity, tortoises don’t always brumate.

Typically, you’ll have to adjust temperature and light settings in order to get your pet to brumate. But it’s important to note that your tortoise will be a lot more sluggish and sleepy before brumation and even for a couple of days afterwards.

Normal Daytime Activity for Tortoises

After waking up from a good night’s sleep, tortoises will typically go to the basking area of their enclosure to soak up some UV rays. Exploring and searching for food are some other common activities.

Most tortoises enjoy digging and climbing and will do so if they have the proper accommodations in their enclosure. Typically, tortoises are more active when allowed to explore outdoors.

You can also buy fun toys for your tortoise that will enrich its health and keep its mind sharp. These toys can include cage accessories like rocks, logs, hides, and dishes to soak in.

Treat toys (balls with holes in them that hold treats) can be a fun way to mix up your tortoise’s diet and encourage your pet to be a little more active. Pebbles, balls, and bath toys are also enjoyed by most tortoises!

Signs That Your Tortoise Is Healthy

If your tortoise is napping during the daytime but it doesn’t have any illnesses or parasites and its enclosure is in good condition, it’s possible that your tortoise just sleeps more than most. This is especially common in older tortoises. 

In order to determine whether or not your tortoise is healthy, take a look at these general guidelines. It’s a great idea to go through this list on a regular basis–it will help you catch any health issues before they get too advanced.

  • First, observe your tortoise’s activity. Does it have good muscle tone in each of its limbs, and does it spend time climbing and digging? Can it move pretty quickly, without its shell dragging on the ground?

 

  • Think about what your pet eats. Does your tortoise eat a varied and nutritious diet? Is it well-hydrated?

 

  • Check out your tortoise’s shell. Is the top of the shell smooth and firm to the touch? When you pick up your tortoise, does it feel solid in your hands rather than light?

 

  • Take a close look at your tortoise’s head. Are its eyes bright and clear? Is the nose dry and free of any mucus? Is the tongue clear and pink?

 

  1. Examine your tortoise’s skin. Is it free of any injuries or parasites? Is the area around your tortoise’s tail clean and dry?

 

  • Finally, you’ll need to take a look at your pet’s waste. Is its urine clear, with watery or soft urates? Is its feces well-formed and dry?

If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, your tortoise seems to be perfectly healthy, regardless of its tendency to nap!

Conclusion

There are many reasons that tortoises nap. These range from problems with their environment, such as the temperature being too low, to health problems like parasites.

While tortoises usually only sleep during the night or when their UV light is off, napping during the day isn’t necessarily an issue. To figure out whether or not napping is a problem, you’ll want to go through our checklist of questions to determine whether or not your tortoise is happy and healthy overall. 

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