Sick Turtle?‎ > ‎FAQ‎ > ‎

How do turtles breathe? (They need air)

Turtles, like all reptiles, have LUNGS! They have to
breathe air. They must come to the surface to breathe.
They can go anything from a few seconds to several
hours (when they sleep) to several weeks (when they
hibernate in winter) without extra air. 

They also store air in their cloaca. They particularly
draw on this air during hibernation. So, how does this

All tissues are more or less permeable to various
molecules. In the lungs, capillaries are as close to the 
surface of the body as possible, they practically "touch"
the air. Exchange of O2 and CO2 easily takes place through
the skin. Gills work in the same way, just in water.
Intestinal tissue also has a lot of capillaries close to the
surface for the purpose of absorbing nutrients. However,
since the gas exchange is simple osmosis, nothing prevents
this (or any other tissue high in capillaries) from
also taking on O2. For example, we all breathe through the
skin, even in water! If a human's skin was completely covered to make it
air-tight, the human would suffocate.

If your turtle does not have access to air, he will drown.