My Turtle Can’t Swim (3 Reasons Why + What To Do)

Staying afloat and swimming is normal and natural for turtles, so watching your pet turtle have swimming issues will be a concerning sight. 

This article looks into why your turtle can’t swim 

My turtle can’t swim:

Anything done occasionally should not be cause for alarm but if your pet turtle consistently shows signs that it is having trouble swimming then you may become concerned 

Here are reasons why your pet turtle may have trouble swimming:

It isn’t used to deep water:

Swimming is a skill, this is true for both humans and turtles, if your pet has temporarily forgotten how to swim, because it was used to being in shallow water, and is now in deep water then the animal may have trouble swimming.

What to do:

You’d need to gradually get the animal used to deep water, it will start to swim normally once it gets the hang of deeper water. 

Start by leaving your pet in some shallow water, as the days go by increase the water by an inch, you can increase the water by an inch every couple of days.

It is scared:

If you’ve just brought the turtle home, and the animal has not swum since you got it and is rather sitting in one sport, then the animal may be afraid to swim because it is in a new environment. 

What to do:

A turtle not swimming when introduced into a new environment is perfectly normal for turtles, this isn’t something that you’d need to worry about.

Your pet turtle will get used to your home over time and will start to become more active over time. 


Another reason why your pet turtle can’t swim may be because it is ill, a turtle that is very badly ill won’t be able to swim, it will be sick and weak. It may even be so sick and weak that it can’t walk or move that much 

If your pet is swimming, but is swimming floating lopsided, then the animal may have a respiratory infection. This illness causes the animal to collect fluid in its lungs and this causes the lopsided swimming 

What to do:

Turtles like the water, but keeping the animal in water, when it can’t swim, will be dangerous, it would be best to take your pet out of the water for a while.

Keep the reptile somewhere warm and quiet and monitor it, this is called dry docking. Dry docking your pet is necessary to prevent the reptile from drowning. 

If you think that the animal has a respiratory infection then you’d need to take your pet to the vet as soon as possible, this is a serious condition that can quickly turn fatal for your pet 

Take your pet to a reptile specialist vet, if this type of vet isn’t available in your area then you can request that your local vet get on a conference call with a turtle vet who can guide the care

If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other turtle/tortoise  related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: My Turtle Got Bit By A DogMy Turtle Has A Cut On Its LegCan Turtles Live In A Fish TankMy Turtle Ate My FishMy Turtle Is Getting Too BigMy Turtles Nails Are Too Long,  Do Turtle Tails Grow Back?My Turtle Bites My Other TurtleMy Turtle Doesn’t Swim

My Turtle Can’t Swim (3 Reasons Why + What To Do)
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