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Are Turtles Nocturnal Or Diurnal? [With Pictures]

It is expected that during the day, most animals are active, and as the day gets older, their activities reduce. Not once have I found my turtles still active during the night. This has left me with so many questions. Are turtles nocturnal or diurnal animals? To understand this, I had to do some research, and what I found out may amaze you. To get this out of my mind, it is funny that we buy night lights for our turtles while we expect them to be inactive during the night. To be fair, I think that the lights are not necessary to monitor the turtles but to act as a heater and warm up the environment. With that aside, let us now look at what I found out.

Are turtles nocturnal or diurnal? 

Well, turtles are diurnal animals as they are active during the day and mostly inactive during the night. I sat mostly inactive because there are times when you will find your turtle active even at night. Although this is the case, these few days do not qualify them to become nocturnal animals.

We now know that turtles are diurnal animals and not nocturnal like some other animals such as owls and bats, but do we understand what nocturnal or diurnal means? Let us start by looking at the difference between these two terms. Check out also our blog can turtles see in the dark?

Difference Between Nocturnal And Diurnal Animals

So, the difference is very simple because the words mean the opposite of each other. That is not why we are here. We are here to know why some of these animals qualify to be called either of the names. And why turtles can be active during the days and at times during the night as well. Let’s start with nocturnal animals.


Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal animals are the ones that have their activities during the night, and they sleep during the day. The most interesting thing about nature is that everything has a reason, and these animals that sleep during the day have reasons to. Let’s see the reasons why these animals prefer to sleep when the sun is up. The most common reason why nocturnal animals sleep during the day is their location. Most nocturnal are found in the desert where temperatures are very high. See the list of nocturnal animals.

For this reason, the animals have adapted to sleep during the day to escape the high temperatures. The animal has only to find a safe spot to spend the ‘night.’ Another reason is that it is during the day that most predators are active. With this in mind, when the animal walks around in search of food or anything, they risk being seen by these predators. If they could just find a safe spot and sleep, they lower the probability of dying. But now, since these animals hide during the day, there is nowhere to get food for these predators. They, therefore, switch to sleeping during the day and hunt during the night. 


Diurnal Animals

Diurnal animals are the opposite of nocturnal animals. They sleep during the night and get active during the day. Diurnal animals are the most common since during the night, it is dark, and most animals cannot see in the dark. It is said that initially, all the animals were diurnal, but this had some drawbacks since mammals suffered. The predators had more advantages, and there was so much competition for resources. Due to these reasons, some animals adapted to becoming nocturnal, and this brought some balance. There is no more competition for resources from other animals like before, and the predators are mostly asleep during the day and awake during the night when the mammals are asleep.

Why Turtles Are Not Diurnal Animals?

As I have mentioned earlier, turtles are diurnal animals but may be seen active even during the nights on some occasions. So, should they still be known as diurnal animals? Well, yes. They are still diurnal animals, but the right name should be cathemeral animals. These animals will be seen active at night on irregular intervals and during the day as well. What I am sure of is that turtles are not nocturnal animals, and most of the time, they will be asleep at night. The reason why you may find them active at night is that, unlike human beings who require 8 hours of sleep, turtles need just about 5 hours, and the rest of the time they will be awake.

Can Turtles See In The Dark?

Turtle’s senses are not the best out there but not the worst either. Turtles do see in the dark just like we do, although they don’t see better as they do during the day. This is the reason why they are very noisy during the night. Since they do not have night vision, they will hit obstacles in their tanks and walls of the tank. Since their vision is not that good at night, when they are done sleeping, some of them may just hide while some will start their activities. Read more here.

The Night Activities Of Turtles – Are Turtles More Active At Night?

After learning that turtles are diurnal but are sometimes awake during the night, we might as well know what they do during the night when they are not sleeping. Like I have mentioned earlier, turtles do not sleep that much, and when they wake up, they will start their normal activities or still hide from predators. Sea turtles, especially the female species, will be active during the night when they are laying eggs. At night, most predators are asleep, and the turtles can lay their eggs without the fear of the eggs being eaten after they leave the hole. It is also said that some turtle species will hatch during the night and navigate towards the brightest part of the sea. Turtles are not more active during the night like they are during the day. This is because their vision is not that great during the night.

Are Sea Turtles Nocturnal

Are Sea Turtles Nocturnal?

People might think that sea turtles are nocturnal because some of the activities take place during the night. Activities like laying the eggs, some of the turtles will prefer to do it during the night. Although this is the case, they are still diurnal animals because they don’t do it always. They will sleep during the night on most occasions, and this is what categorizes them as diurnal animals. For animals to be categorized as nocturnal, they need to have some adaptations such as the proper sight during the night, sharp hearing, and sharp smell. Turtle’s sight, smell and hearing is not the best out there. They can, therefore, not be categorized as nocturnal animals.


Are Box Turtles Nocturnal Or Diurnal?

Just like most turtles, box turtles are diurnal animals. While this is the case, you will not fail to see some box turtles such as the Asian box turtles that will, at times, be active even during the night. The red-eared sliders, as well as the painted turtles, are still diurnal animals.

Where Do Pond Turtles Go At Night?

Pond turtles such as the painted turtles may be found at the bottom of the pond buried in the sand or mud. These turtles do this to get some peaceful rest without any disturbance. While buried, they will absorb oxygen from the water.  

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