how long can a turtle go without eating

How long Can A Turtle Go Without Eating?

How long can a turtle go without eating? 

I bet you asked yourself that question on several occasions. Or, you are planning a vacation and now you are wondering what are you going to do with your pet turtle? Is it safe to leave it like that? Will your red-eared slider survive without eating food or water

All of those questions are on point. You are a responsible turtle owner and you want the best for your pet. I get it. I am a turtle owner, as well. 

It is natural for us, as turtle owners, to want to provide the best conditions for our red-eared slider turtles. That’s why I’ve made the research, and with the help of my own personal experience, I’ve written this guide. Before we dive into the subject, let’s answer the question in just one short paragraph. However, I highly recommend you to proceed with the article, as I will explain everything in more depth. 

How long can a turtle go without eating? An adult red-eared slider turtle can go without eating from several weeks to a few months. Assuming it was well fed before and it is in great health condition. 

On the other hand, baby red-eared slider turtles can go without eating from a few days to a week. I would not recommend leaving your baby turtle without eating that long. Yes, there are cases where baby turtles can survive without food up to 2 or 3 months, however, it will certainly limit its growth and its overall health, as well. 

Now, let’s explain everything more in detail. 

Factors That Influence How Long Can a Red Eared Slider Turtles Survive Without Food

How long can aquatic turtles survive without eating food will depend on many factors. Not every turtle is the same. But, they all have a few things in common. Let’s see them. 

Access to Clean Water

Turtles will survive without food, but not without clean water. It’s the most important factor that determines how long can a turtle live without eating food. Turtles need water for drinking and for swimming. They also use the water for better digestion of the food.

Aquatic turtles can’t eat without water. So, if you see the big picture, it doesn’t matter how long can turtles go without eating, because without clean water, they won’t live for a long time. No turtle can survive if it is dehydrated. 

Age of the Turtle

How old is one turtle is another important factor that may influence the time turtles can go without eating. If you have an adult turtle that’s well-fed throughout the year, it can live without a problem for several months. However, it’s not advisable to leave it without food for that long. 

Overall Health of the Turtle

On the contrary, you should not leave baby turtles without eating that long. In order to grow, they need regular feedings in the first couple of years. Leaving your baby red-eared slider without eating food for a prolonged time will definitely end fatally. 

We all know how important it’s the overall health of our turtles. If your turtle is in a bad health condition, I’d recommend you not leave it alone. If you have to leave your home for some reason, consider getting someone to take care of it. It’s the only way to ensure that it will be ok. 

The Temperature in the Environment 

Aquatic turtles, as ectotherms, mainly depend on the temperature in the environment to regulate and control their body temperature. 

They use external sources of heat to achieve optimal body temperature. Some of the ectotherms live in environments that have fairly constant temperatures, however, most of the aquatic turtles live in environments with lots of temperature fluctuations.

In late autumn, wild turtles begin brumation, a period of time when their physical activities are stopped. In this period, all metabolic activities are minimized in order to preserve energy. 

They wake up only for water and then return back to sleep. Aquatic turtles can go without eating for several months, until the temperature rises. The reason for getting in brumation is the lack of heat. In controlled environments, such as our homes, turtles rarely get in brumation. 

Their metabolism is faster, therefore they won’t survive without eating as long as the turtles in the wild. 

How to Feed Your Turtles When You’re on Vacation 

Sometimes people buy turtles without much thinking. Sometimes people forget that at some point they might leave their homes for a short period of time. And when the time comes, they start to get worried about their pet turtles. They want to be sure that everything will be alright, they want their turtle to survive, and most importantly they want their turtle to not have any health issues afterward. 

However, you don’t need to worry. As we have seen, turtles can survive without food for a long period of time. But, to be on the safe side, and to ensure your turtle won’t have any health-related problems, I would recommend you to do a few things. 

The first thing you should do before you leave your home is to change the water in your tank. Turtles can survive without food for a prolonged time, but not without clean water. If your turtle is in a good health condition and it is well fed, it will survive through your absence without problems. Assuming you are gone only for a week or two. I would not recommend leaving your turtle without eating for a longer period. 

Especially if it is a baby red-eared slider. In that case, I’d recommend asking some members of your family or a friend to come over and take care of your turtle. 

If that’s not an option for you, I can suggest another way to handle this situation. If you have a bigger tank, with adequate filtration, consider adding several small live feeder fish. 

However, make sure that your turtles are eating live fish before you leave them with them while you are gone. 

Final Thoughts 

As you have seen, aquatic turtles can live without food for a long time. However, we’ve also learned that even though they can survive without food, it doesn’t necessarily mean that will not leave any consequences on their health. 

Take care of your turtle. If you are planning a trip, or you are gone for a week or two, make sure that everything is in the right order. 

If you follow the rules, you will have a healthy, strong and happy turtle. Not to mention, a pet companion that will live for a very long time. If you are interested in that check out our article on that subject: How long do aquatic turtles live

I hope you enjoy reading this article. Until next time! See you soon and have a good day. 

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