Do Pet Painted Turtles Hibernate?

by | Jul 31, 2022

Pet Painted Turtles Hibernate

It is known that Painted turtles hibernate at the bottom of ponds in the wild. You may wonder if your pet painted turtles can hibernate in captivity. 

This blog post will tell you all you need to know about painted turtles’ hibernation and how to help your painted turtles hibernate safely. 

Let’s answer your question: Do Pet Painted Turtles Hibernate?

Yes, painted Turtles hibernate in captivity. It is, however, different from the nature of their hibernation in the wild. 

In captivity, you must provide painted turtles with the right conditions for hibernation. We will talk about these conditions later. 

Why do Painted Turtles hibernate?

Painted turtles are cold-blooded animals, so they can’t produce their heat internally like warm-blooded animals. 

They need warm environmental conditions for their body functions to work correctly. 

Painted turtles become inactive (hibernate) during winters or freezing weather to conserve energy. 

In short, during hibernation, painted turtles manage their temperature, so it doesn’t fall below the freezing level. 

During hibernation, they depend on stored energy and oxygen from the water that moves across their body. 

The stored energy and oxygen from the water are how they get in oxygen to breathe without using their lungs.

The reproductive system of the painted turtle also depends on hibernation. 

Older turtles in the wild go through hibernation to reproduce. 

How to help your Pet Painted Turtle hibernate

How painted turtles hibernate in the wild differs from how they hibernate in captivity. 

If you want your painted turtles to hibernate, there are certain conditions to put in place to make that happen. 

Here is a step-by-step safe way to get your painted turtle to hibernate.

Weigh your painted turtle

Before hibernating your pet-painted turtle, you need first to weigh it. 

And it would help if you didn’t stop there. You also have to weigh it consistently throughout the hibernation period to know if it is healthy and losing weight as expected and not drastically. 

I advise you to measure every 2-3 weeks. 

Using the same scale every time is best, as weights can fluctuate using different scales. 

Digital scales offer you the most accuracy. 

Feed your painted turtle a diet rich in vitamins A and fiber

You don’t have to wait until immediately before hibernation to feed your painted turtles well. 

You should start between 12-16 weeks before hibernation because this is the best to start feeding them a diet rich in Vitamins A and fiber. 

Food rich in vitamins and fiber is important because these nutrients are the first to deplete during hibernation.  

Fast your Pet Painted Turtles before they Hibernate

Please do not mistake hibernating your painted turtles with undigested food in its stomach. 

Painted Turtles hibernating with food in their stomach can be dangerous because undigested food in the digestive tract can kill your painted turtle during hibernation. 

Do not feed your painted turtle a month before hibernation. The food in the tract can cause bacterial infections inside the stomach. 

And in other cases, it can lead to large gas clouds that can suffocate the painted turtle’s lungs. 

If you have fed your painted turtle in the last month, you should delay hibernation. 

Hydrate your Painted Turtles

You must ensure your painted turtle is always hydrated during the fasting stage. 

You can soak it in water for 20-30 minutes every two days and make sure it has drinking water available until the end of the hibernation. 

Drinking a lot of water will help your painted turtle excrete all the waste from the digestive tract. 

Reduce temperature before hibernation

Once your painted turtle has fasted and the digestive tract is clear, you should gradually reduce the temperature over the next few weeks. 

Reducing the temperature will further help your painted turtle during metabolism. 

It would help if you decreased the temperature between 7-10 days before hibernation. 

Start at 65°F (18°C) for 2-3 days. Reduce it to 60°F (15°C) over the next 2-3 days, after which you can further bring it down to 50°F (10°C). 

You can also go below 50°F if you want. 

Pick between indoor or outdoor hibernation.

You have two options between indoor and outdoor hibernation. 

For outdoor hibernation, the water should not be freezing and should have a depth of at least 18-inches. 

For indoors, you can use a fridge. The important thing is to ensure your pet is safe, especially if you choose outdoors. 

Predators are known to kill sleeping painted turtles in the wild. So if your choice is outdoors, always ensure your painted turtles are safe. 

Prepare the fridge for hibernation.

If you choose indoor hibernation, you must check that your fridge has everything right. 

Ensure the refrigerator is not airtight and that your painted turtle has the proper ventilation. 

I advise you to open the fridge for 2-3 minutes 3-times a week. 

Also, check to ensure the fridge temperature is not fluctuating. 

I recommend putting things like ice packs and water bottles in the fridge to regulate the temperature. 


Yes, pet-painted turtles can hibernate. 

However, there are specific differences in how they hibernate in the wild and captivity. 

If you want your painted turtle to hibernate, there are steps to follow. 

You need to feed them a diet rich in Vitamins A and Fiber and empty their digestive tract. 

You also need to prepare the fridge if you are choosing indoor hibernation. 

About Me

Hi, I am Sarah! At Amado Pets we are passionate about pets and love sharing our knowledge and research with you. We strive to be the ultimate resource for you to learn all that you can about caring for your pet!