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How much sleep does a baby tortoise need?

Is It Normal for A Baby Tortoise To Sleep A Lot?

(Last Updated On: January 18, 2023)

Baby tortoises can spend almost the entire day sleeping. If a baby tortoise is rarely awake, owners may be concerned that it’s sick or injured.

Depending on the species, baby tortoises sleep for 19-22 hours a day.

This long sleep cycle is a natural defense mechanism as baby tortoises can avoid danger, limit how much energy they burn, and focus on growth.

How Much Sleep Does a Baby Tortoise Need?

As mentioned, baby tortoises must sleep anywhere from 19-22 hours. Baby tortoises develop this method right after hatching to stay safe from predators.

Venturing out unnecessarily can lead to being eaten, injured, or exposed to harsh temperatures. For this reason, the safest place is a burrow. The outside world becomes even more dangerous until the tortoise gains size and strength.

The safest place for a baby tortoise is asleep, enabling it to conserve energy by limiting how many calories it burns. Consequently, it can go longer without food and develop its growing body at a steadier pace.

Do Baby Tortoises Sleep Half Awake?

A large part of a tortoise’s adolescence is spent sleeping. However, it won’t enter deep sleep and lose all awareness of its surroundings. Tortoises have unilateral eye closure, which means they sleep with one eye open.

Essentially, your tortoise may appear to be sleeping all the time, but at least one part is awake to watch out for any threats or predators.

It’s also hypothesized that tortoises engage in unihemispheric sleep. According to Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, half of the tortoise’s brain will be awake while the other is technically asleep.

According to Experientia, tortoises have quiet sleep or REM sleep. Their bodies wind down to rest by lowering their heart rate and brain activity.

This ensures that the tortoise gets the benefits of resting without being caught off guard.

Do Baby Tortoises Hibernate?

Even baby tortoises brumate when temperatures get low.

According to the Journal of Wildlife Management, a tortoise will brumate between November and February. If you find your baby tortoise sleeping all day when temperatures get low, it’s just brumating.

You shouldn’t attempt to wake your baby tortoise in the middle of its brumation period, as it may be able to go back to sleep or stay awake and burn its energy reserves.

To circumvent brumation, consistently keep the tortoise in warm temperatures.

much should a baby tortoise sleep?

How Much Should A Baby Tortoise Sleep?

Baby tortoises shouldn’t sleep for more than 22 hours each day.

A small amount of activity spent basking, eating, and moving around is good for its health. If it sleeps all the time, it may become malnourished and dehydrated.

Most baby tortoises oversleep and may not feel compelled to wake up immediately or slip into an early brumation if the temperature gets too cold.

For the first 5-6 months, you’ll need to keep the enclosure warm at around 79 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature should be maintained, with a little variance, for 24 hours a day. That ensures the baby tortoise remains comfortable enough to sleep and move around when it’s ready.

The tortoise may wake to eat and bask without notice. If you’re sleeping out of the home or in a different room, you may miss this and assume your tortoise slept all day.

Set up a camera near the enclosure to check that the baby tortoise is active at least once per day.

How to Wake Up a Baby Tortoise

If you’re concerned that your baby tortoise is sleeping too much, you can try waking it up. You can do this by increasing the temperature and amount of UV light in its enclosure.

Tortoises often respond well to warmer temperatures and around 12 hours of UV light daily. After it’s woken up, ensure that it has easy access to food, water, and a basking spot.


If the temperature has dropped below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, bring it up again. They should wake up at around 80-85 degrees and feel the need to seek out food and some basking time.

The ideal basking temperature for all baby tortoises is about 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This should be a separate area of the enclosure that your tortoise can visit when it’s ready.

Get high-quality thermometers to ensure a thermal gradient throughout the enclosure.

UV Light

UV light allows tortoises to organically create vitamin D3 within their own body. This vitamin is crucial for calcium absorption and aids in your tortoise’s digestion.

If you keep it indoors, UV lighting gives you complete control over the tortoise’s sleep cycle. Setting up a timer on the UV lamps will enable you to schedule their waking, sleeping, and basking times.

Food And Water

Once your baby tortoise wakes up for the day, offer it green vegetables, fruits, and fresh water. These should be within easy reach so the tortoise doesn’t choose between comfort and meals.

Tortoises need to replenish their energy stores, and that’s even more true for babies still developing. Foods high in calcium and vitamin D3 are recommended, slowly tapering off as it ages.

Where Do Baby Tortoises Like To Sleep?

A dark, enclosed area is ideal for a baby tortoise to sleep.

The baby will likely dig a burrow and remain there to nap. It’ll choose a dark, secluded part of the enclosure if it can’t. If neither of these options is available, offer it a covered place to sleep.

Ensure the full enclosure isn’t lit, or the baby tortoise may have trouble sleeping for as long as it needs to.

It’s normal for baby tortoises to sleep a lot, so you must let them. You’re ensuring that a baby tortoise can grow and develop by providing a safe, dark, and cozy place to rest for 19-22 hours a day.