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Why Does My Turtle Swim Frantically? [with Video]

Turtles are the most comfortable pets to take care of, but they are also the most confusing. It is difficult to know what is going on with your turtle. You may have noticed your turtle exhibiting some weird behavior, especially if you just got it. He may be swimming frantically, sometimes towards you or away from you.

This behavior is alarming, especially if you are a newbie. I was also in such a situation when I was starting. To save you from all, I went through that time to figure out what was going on with him. I have put together some of the things I learned such as what it means when a turtle swims frantically and what to do in such a situation.

So, why does my turtle swim frantically?

Well, turtles are very sensitive to whatever changes that occur. For instance, a change in the environment can cause the turtle to swim frantically. Other reasons that may cause this is stress, water temperature, diet, the turtle might be scared or confused. There is also a probability that the turtle is pregnant. The tank’s temperature might also be the problem.

These are some of the reasons that would cause a turtle to swim frantically. To help you understand these reasons and what to do during such occasions, I have narrowed down into each reason and explained what to do. Stay tuned.


Most of the time, when we see turtles behave in some weird manner, it turns out they are scared. As we know, turtles are not the bravest animals out there, and small changes or new faces do scare them. You will notice this most of the time when the turtle is new. Since the turtle is not used to the new environment and the new people. They will easily get scared. This is the reason you need to have a hiding spot for the turtle. This will help him to stay hidden when he feels like being alone or feels threatened. There is nothing much you can do in such a situation only to give him time. When he is much comfortable, he will come out of his hiding spot, and he will stop behaving weirdly.


Another thing that may cause the turtle to swim frantically is confusion. The turtle may be confused by the environment he is in. Most of the time he has been in a different environment. One that probably has no sidewalls. Now that he is in a new environment that is covered by glass, he may get confused. He will spend time trying to understand the reason why he cannot get out of the tank while the way is clear. This is the same thing that happens to birds. They cannot see glass. This is normal, and for your turtle, you will just have to give him time to understand that there is a barrier, and he cannot go past it.

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Stress is a common thing to turtles. They get stressed over very small things. This is very normal for them because they only know about their survival. Anything that tries to take that away from them gets them stressed. This is their nature, and they can be stressed by very simple things such as petting them a lot. Too much noise stresses them too. Strangers, as well as other pets that try to get in their tank. To pet a healthy turtle, you should keep stress away from him. You can do this by excluding your turtle from crowded places. Place his tank in a place that requires no frequent movement.  Turtles do not like too much attention, and this is where petting comes in. Try as much as possible to avoid unnecessary handling and keep the place peaceful.


A pregnant turtle will behave weirdly, and this is another cause for the turtle to swim frantically. It is a sign that the turtle is carrying eggs and is looking for an excellent place to lay the eggs. Most probably, that tank does not provide this, and this is the reason why the turtle is concerned. If you notice this, you need to find the turtle a good nesting spot. A good nesting spot is safe and is a place that is easy to dig. This is what you should provide. Just keep taking care of the turtle as usual as there is nothing much you can do.

Bad Water Temperature

If the water temperature is not conducive to the turtle, he will swim frantically in search of water that has the right temperature. As we know, turtles will rely on the environment for their temperature, and if the water is too cold, the turtle will have some problems. If you notice the turtle trying to get away from the water, you need to regulate the water temperature.  The right temperature stands at about 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, although this is dependent on the different turtle species.

Bad Basking Area Temperature

This is similar to the bad water temperature. The basking area plays a crucial role in a turtle’s life as this is where they get their body heat from as well as the UV rays from the sun. If the basking area does not provide these two essential requirements, then the turtle will swim frantically in search of a better basking area.

This is very easy to solve. You just need to change a few things in the basking area, and you will be good to go. The temperature around the basking area should be around 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and you should get bulbs that provide the right amount of UV rays. Read more on how to set up the best basking area for your turtle!

Bad Diet

As we have seen, turtles will swim frantically in fear or in search of something they lack. If they lack the proper diet, they will try to go out there and search for their food. Diet is very crucial to all animals. With diet, you should just understand that the more the variety, the better. Different types of food provide different nutrients. Diet is what you need to check on here. Improve the diet, and the turtle will stop swimming frantically. Do you need advice on how to feed your turtle read this post?

Why Does My Turtle Swim Towards Me?

I always find turtles to be amusing. They have very different ways of doing things compared to other pets. When a turtle swims towards you, you should feel proud that your turtle recognizes you, and he recognizes you as the provider. The will swim towards you when you approach them, thinking that you carry food for them. This is their way of asking you for food. Try not to disappoint them, and this also gives you a chance to pet them. They will not get aggressive when you give them something to eat. This is the trick to use if you want to pet your turtle. Just don’t overdo it.


Why Does My Turtle Keep Trying To Climb Out?

The most obvious reason for this is that his tank has no hiding place, and he is trying to find an escape. Another reason is that they do enjoy climbing apart from digging. If the environment is not well maintained, he will also try to get away from it.

Can My Turtle Swim In The Pool?

Turtles swimming in the pool is not a good idea. This is because pool water contains chlorine, and this irritates their eyes. They cannot swim with their eyes closed, so it is just wise to keep them away from the pool.

Why Do Turtles Get Aggressive?

Turtles will get aggressive when they feel threatened. This is to protect themselves from the threat. They are peaceful creatures, and this happens on rare occasions. They do not get aggressive towards people they recognize. Remember not to get so close to their mouth.

Why Does My Turtle Swim Backward?

If your turtle is juvenile, then he is having fun. To him, that is a form of playing. If he is mature, then the turtle does not want to turn his eyes away from the threat. Most of the time, this is nothing to worry about.

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