how long a turtle can survive on its back

How Long Can a Turtle Survive on Its Back? – Answered Quick

Turtles are mischievous pet reptiles. Sometimes, they get into trouble by turning them upside down which may even be fatal.

This situation will be okay if the owner is nearby. But what if turtles turn upside down when they are alone?

Will turtles be able to turn to normal by themselves without any help?

Let us see about turtles upside down and how long a turtle can survive on its back without any help in detail.

How Long Can a Turtle Survive on Its Back?


Turtles can survive for a few days on their back if they accidentally flip over. This may vary on various factors like turtle health, surrounding temperature, etc.

Turning upside down might even be fatal as turtles might starve to death unable to revert them.

If the turtle is unable to flip itself, it will lose all the energy trying to flip and eventually die due to starvation.

This is uncommon with home turtles as pet tortoise owners are with them most times. But what if the owners are away from turtles?

In this blog, we have made a detailed study on turtles on their back and how to stop turtles’ fatality due to rolling over.

How Long Can Turtles Stay Upside Down?

Turtles cannot stay longer upside down as it is dangerous and harmful to the turtle’s health.

Turtles are not made to be upside down. This is because of their anatomy. The tortoise shell is the major part of the turtle body that protects it from predators and other dangers.

But the same shell is a disadvantage for turtles when they roll over. Turtles do not roll over on will but due to various reasons as follows.

Why Is My Turtle Laying on Its Back?

turtle fight

Turtles may roll over accidentally or due to other factors like turtle fights, copulation, escaping predators, and many others.

If they get rolled over during these times, turtles will find it difficult to roll back. This is due to the structure of shells.

Round-shelled turtles may turn easily as they have ball-like support on the back to roll over normally.

But Flat-Shelled Turtles will find it really difficult to roll back as they get stuck to the ground flat and firm.

Some turtles may have muscles over the shell region which can help them roll over. But most turtles lack muscles over shells.

But will it be bad for turtles if they are on their back?

What Happens if A Turtle Falls on Its Back?

If a turtle falls on its back, it will try to roll back with the help of rocks and other things nearby. Sometimes, they may even get help from other turtles to get back in position.

These turtles will push and hold the rolled-over turtle to get back without getting hurt. But sometimes, turtles may get stuck alone without any help from other turtles.

During fights for female mates, the lost turtle will be left alone if it gets rolled over during the fight.

Is It Bad for A Tortoise to Be on Its Back?

Yes! It is definitely bad for turtles to be on its back. Turtles are not made to stay on shells over ground. This makes their whole body vulnerable to predators and other dangers.

Moreover, most turtles may not be able to roll back if they accidentally stay on their shells over ground. This is very dangerous as it may even lead to fatality.

Even though it may not lead to fatality, turtles lying on its back will harm them by damaging their shells and other internal organs.

So it is the turtle owner’s duty to flip it up if they are on its back looking for its help. But this is possible only if the turtle owner is present.

Can Turtles Flip Themselves Over?

It Depends! Round-shelled Turtles can flip themselves over if they turn upside down accidentally. But most flat-shelled turtles may not be able to turn themselves over.

They also lack the shell muscles to help turn back.

This is the reason most flat-shelled turtles may get exposed to danger in the wild as they fail to get back without any help.

But this can be avoided in the case of pet turtles unless the turtle is lost. Lost Turtles are in more danger of threats like rolling over, predators, and much more. So, it is the pet turtle owner’s duty to keep turtles safe and not lose them.

Will a Turtle Die if It’s on Its Back?

Turtles on their back have a high chance of dying due to starvation and other factors. This is because the turtle will lose all the energy trying to turn back and the added heat may cause starvation and death if the turtle is on its back helpless.

Apart from starvation, the turtle will be open to danger on its back with its body exposed. This is also a reason why many turtles fall prey to predators in the wild.

Also, turtles in the wild are more prone to fatality if they are on their back than the pet tortoise that rolls over accidentally.

Final Words on Turtles on Its Back

Summing up, a turtle on its back can survive for a week to a few more days without food and water. But it is very dangerous for the turtle to be so. The condition even worsens if a flat-shelled turtle roll.

If you ever find your pet turtle or any turtle in the wild rollover, help it out by rolling over as it is life-saving for the tortoise.

So, that was all about how long turtles can survive on its back without help.

We hope this blog helps you by clearing queries on why turtles roll over and what to do if you encounter one.

We always welcome your suggestions. Comment below on some best experiences with your beloved pet turtles.

Feel free to mention things that are to be changed and improved in our blogs and websites as we are learners for life!

If you liked this post do share it with your friends and family.Cause sharing is caring. 

See ya!

Until then keep growing your smart turtles.

Turtle Upside Down – Related Questions

If a Turtle Flips Over in The Wild Will It Die?

Turtles flipped over in the wild have higher chances of fatality as there is less help externally to roll over. If the rolled-over turtle is alone and flat-shelled, then it will be really difficult to get back up.

This added with starvation, increasing heat and predators may lead to sure fatality in wild.

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