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How Do Turtles Breathe? #Through Their Butts #Underwater #In Winter

If you have a turtle in your house, you need to be aware of many preliminary facts like how to take care of turtle eggs, what do they eat and one of the very essential things to know is how do they breathe.

Well, when you are thinking how do turtles breathe – there are two answers, they breathe normally through their nostrils or through their butts. Can turtles breathe out through their bums? – The question seems funny, right? Let us see a few facts now!!

How Do Turtles Breathe?

Do Turtles Breathe Through Their Butts?

The fact is that not all species breathe through their butts. Some selected turtle species like the painted turtle, Japanese and pond turtles and snapping turtles breathe through their butt. This breathing pattern is called the cloacal respiration. However, they generally breathe through their butts only when they hibernate.

There is definitely a lot to know about how do turtles breathe, how long can they hold the breath, and much more. Let us know each of the facts in detail below.

How Do Turtles Breathe?

Well, turtles do normally breathe through lungs. Unlike other animals, turtles and tortoises are famous for their shells. Its ribs are a part of this shell which does not expand or contract.

They have to breathe with this inflexible casing, called shell. There is a muscle sling attached to the shell which expands and contracts and allows to pump the air in and out through the lungs.

Turtles breathe through nostrils just over the mouth. The air passes through the glottis and further into tranches. Further, it enters the two bronchi and then into the lungs.

The lungs have a network of faveoli (honeycomb-shaped structure lined with walls) through which the air enters the bloodstream.

This is the normal procedure of how turtles breathe. However, during hibernation, the turtles can breathe out their bums too!

Where Do Turtles Breathe from?

Turtles breathe air through nostrils (external nares) just above the mouth. For this, they need to come on surface out of water to breathe oxygen.

How do Turtles Breathe - Respiratory System.jpeg

However, during hibernation turtles do breathe through their butts. Some species which stay underwater can also breath in oxygen from water through the skin.

Now, let us see how to turtles breathe and how long can they breathe underwater in winter and other days throughout the year.

Can Turtles Breathe Underwater?

The sea turtles cannot breathe underwater. However, the turtles can hold their breath for a longer period of time which enables them to adapt to the underwater surrounding by absorbing small amounts of oxygen without actually breathing. They store oxygen from their body and the moment oxygen depletes, they try to come up to the surface to get it.

How Do Turtles Breathe Underwater?

Well, turtles ideally do not breathe underwater. However, they can survive underwater for prolonged periods. So, how do they actually breathe underwater?

The turtles hold their breath underwater. When they hold the breath, their heart rate lowers down, up to 9 minutes may pass between heartbeats. This enables them to conserve oxygen. Thus, the turtles don’t actually breathe underwater, but they survive with the conserved oxygen when they are underwater.

How Long Can Turtles Breathe Underwater?

Although the sea turtles do not breathe underwater, they can easily remain underwater for 4 to 7 hours at rest. The foraging turtles might have to come more often to the surface to breathe in oxygen. Also, hibernating turtles can stay underwater for several months.

How Do Turtles Breathe Underwater In The Winter?

The turtles are cold-blooded. They are less active in winters (cold temperature) as compared to the warm climate. Their activity in winters depends upon the external surroundings. Their activity slows down in winter, thus lowering their metabolism. During winters, the turtles go into hibernation.

How Do Turtles Breathe Underwater In The Winter?

During the process of hibernation, they use the fats stored during the summer. Also, due to less movement, their heart rates slow down. This process results in a buildup of lactic acid. However, the turtle’s shell releases the carbonates which prevent the acid from being deadly.

Can Turtles Breathe Upside Down?

It becomes very hard for a turtle to breathe when it turns upside down. It may not completely stop breathing, but it is definitely a matter of concern. Some species like a flat shelled turtle or a star tortoise can turn themselves right due to their structure, while most of them cannot.

If the turtle turns upside down in the shallow water it may be dangerous. It might not be able to flip itself nor can it come back to the land to breathe in oxygen. This can be fatal. However, the turtles might flip on the land with some support and if in deep water wherein it is completely into the water it might turn itself right. The major concern is if the turtle is in shallow water.

However, if you see a turtle flipping anywhere in land or water, it is definitely a good idea to turn them right to avoid any fatalities as they do face difficulty in breathing when upside down.

This was all about the turtles breathing in different seasons and underwater or on the surface of the land. Now, let us see a few FAQs on the turtle’s breathing pattern.

FAQs on How do Turtles Breathe?

Can sea turtles breathe on land?

The sea turtles need surface to breathe. They can hold their breath for long underwater, but they cannot breathe underwater. Thus, sea turtles have to be on land to breathe.

How long can a snapping turtle hold its breath?

A snapping turtle can hold its breath for an average time of 20-30 minutes. At night these turtles opt sleeping underwater except for coming out every few minutes to grab the oxygen.

How long can painted turtles hold their breath?

The painted turtles can hold their breath for quite a long period of time. However, it is difficult to find out the exact time the painted turtles can hold their breath by disturbing their natural habitat.

Conclusion on Turtle Breathing Facts

This post has given you quite elaborated answers for how a turtle can breathe, in what circumstances it cannot and many such facts. So before you get a turtle in your home you should be aware of their breathing facts. We hope we have served the purpose.

For any comments on turtle breathing facts, write to us in the comments section below.

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