“Can turtles swim?” is one of the most asked questions when people know I have a solid background in aquatic life. Many people just want to understand what differentiates a turtle from a tortoise, and why turtles can swim continuously while tortoises can’t.
Of all the challenges facing both existing and new turtle owners is implementing the right diet, offering proper heat, and creating a suitable habitat for their turtles. Every turtle breeder needs to understand that like all species, turtles come in different breeds. To know whether a turtle can swim in a backyard pool or not, you need to have proper knowledge of your turtle’s breed.
Turtles, unlike tortoises, can swim in all sorts of places that have appropriate water levels to support their body weight and allow them to move freely.
I once had a turtle that couldn’t swim. I put it in different bowls and containers. I even considered enrolling it for swimming lessons (if only that was possible). I kept it in my pool, and all it did was rotate around and enjoy the view. One faithful afternoon, guess what my turtle did? Keep reading to find out.
Understanding Turtles’ Swimming Patterns
Turtles — unlike mine — enjoy spending time in water, like all other marine species. The red-eared sliders enjoy both swimming and diving, either in a large aquarium or pool. Turtles use their webbed feet to paddle, which they also use when diving in the water and when they want to come to the surface to breathe.
After spending time in the water, turtles usually seek refuge on their basking spot, which they use for a break, just as a human after exercising. If you are a red-eared turtle owner, you should make a base on your backyard pool to serve as a platform to climb out of the water for it to bask and recharge.
What to Do If a Turtle Comes to Your Backyard Pool?
If you accidentally find a turtle in your backyard pool, the first thing to do is fetch it out of the water. Although turtles are aquatic animals by nature, due to their body configuration, to be healthy, they need to spend some time out of the water to keep their shell clean and raise their body temperature.
The next thing to do is figure out the turtle’s species to ascertain whether it is a red-eared slider or an eastern box turtle. It is vital because red-eared sliders prefer to spend time in water, like in a large aquarium or standard pool size, while eastern box turtles prefer shallow water.
If you wish to keep the turtle, you will have to stop applying chloroquine as a treatment in your backyard pool because it is not suitable for turtles’ eyes. On the other hand, failure to get the turtle out of the water in due course will lead to the turtle’s death because if it can’t get to the water surface to get fresh air, it will drown.
However, suppose you know you are not interested in keeping the turtle as a pet, you should call the attention of any nearby animal conservative agency or animal protection agency.
Most Common Water-Loving Turtle Species
- Red-eared sliders are some of the notable species of turtles we have around. They have the in-built capacity to swim in a large aquarium or pool.
- Eastern box turtles, on the other hand, only need a shallow swimming area to have a good day.
Pros of Letting a Turtle in Your Backyard Pool
- By allowing a turtle into your backyard pool, you will enable it to experience its natural habitat, which may be necessary for the turtle’s survival.
- Turtles need to spend time in the water. If it fails to get into the water appropriately, it may lead to its untimely death or health failure. In other words, giving turtle access to your backyard pool will enable it to stay alive and healthy.
- You’d be making the turtle’s day. If you’re not a big fan of these animals, give it time to enjoy the water. If you notice the turtle struggling to stay afloat, reach out to someone to help you get it out of the water.
Cons of Letting a Turtle in Your Backyard Pool
- Having a turtle in your backyard pool will lead to extreme cleaning of the backyard pool due to turtles’ excretions. Besides, healthy turtles can carry salmonella, which can spread to humans. If adequate care is not taken, you may swallow turtles’ waste, which can be very harmful to your overall health.
- When a turtle gets into your pool, you may have to consider other alternatives to chloroquine for your pool treatment if you plan to keep it as a pet.
- If the turtle has been exposed to harmful and contagious bacterial diseases, it might contaminate the water. If you have toddlers in your house, you might have to schedule the maintenance of your backyard and thoroughly clean the entire house, just to be safe.
The Bottom Line
Waking up and noticing a turtle floating around in your pool can be shocking and funny. It could trigger questions like: Where did it come from? Whose turtle is this? How did it get into my pool? Should I disturb it or let it be?
Whatever question is running through your mind, it’s valid. If you’re thinking of keeping the turtle, think of how many great stories you could tell about how you met it. If you eventually decide to keep the turtle, carry out enough research to know its species, what it like, and how to make your home suitable for it.
The reason why my turtle couldn’t swim was that the water in my house had some substances in it that we used to keep the water purified. After I noticed this and channeled a different water supply for him, he became one of the most active turtles in the world.