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How Long Can You Leave a Turtle Home Alone? Vet-Approved Care Facts

Chantelle Fowler

By Chantelle Fowler

small turtle in terrarium

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Everyone needs to leave home for a day or two occasionally. Whether you’re going on a vacation or a business trip, it’s unrealistic for pet owners never to leave their homes just because they own pets. If you keep turtles, you have probably found yourself Googling, “How long can you leave a red-eared slider turtle alone?” Well, we have the answer for you.

Unlike other common pets, turtles don’t require day-to-day care. As long as you ensure turtle’s basic needs will be met while you’re away, it’s safe to leave them alone for a day or two, though there is no guarantee that such time alone is safe.

Read on to learn more about taking trips as a turtle keeper.

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How Long Can Turtles Be Left Alone?

You can safely leave your turtle home alone for a couple of days, but it is important to realize that there’s always a risk involved when leaving your pets unattended. We recommend having a friend or neighbor pop in daily to ensure things are going well.

Even if you have everything set up perfectly, things can still go wrong in your home, affecting your turtle’s well-being. For example, if your home’s air conditioning breaks down in the middle of a heatwave or the heater conks out during a blizzard, your pet’s life may be at risk.

Things can also go awry in your turtle’s environment even if you take all the right precautions and do the necessary preparations. The filter can become clogged, or the power may go out, affecting husbandry and potentially causing severe health implications.

Red-eared turtle at the tank
Image Credit: Mark Leung, Shutterstock

The 5 Ways You Can Prepare a Turtle for Time Away

1. Change the Water

Clean water is paramount to a turtle’s health, and no device exists that can change the tank water for you while you’re away.

Before you leave on your trip, change the tank water out entirely. Fill the tank as much as possible to account for evaporation that will occur. This is especially important during the summer when the hot weather will accelerate evaporation.

2. Use Timers

You probably already have your pet’s lighting on a timer system, but now is the perfect time to get this set up if you don’t. The goal is to ensure the temperatures remain stable and a day/night cycle is still occurring in your absence. Timers are cheap and can go a long way in keeping your turtle’s environment stable while you’re away.

Western painted turtle
Image Credit: GOR Photo,Shutterstock

3. Provide a Basking Area

Providing a basking area is vital to your turtle’s health; he must have access to it when you’re away, too. Without access to a basking spot, your turtle can fall weak, and his bones may develop poorly. As mentioned, a timer will be necessary for your vacation to ensure that his basking area remains at the proper temperature.

4. Buy an Automatic Feeder

An automatic feeder is a worthwhile investment if you’ll be gone longer than a day. Automatic food dispensers come in various shapes and sizes, allowing you to configure a feeding schedule that works for your turtle. You can set it to dispense a predetermined amount of food at specific intervals.

5. Ensure He’s Healthy

If your turtle has been exhibiting any out-of-character behaviors lately, having him checked over by the exotic vet before you leave on vacation doesn’t hurt. We wouldn’t recommend leaving him alone if he has any concerning health conditions or exhibits signs of unwellness.

red-eared turtle in a home terrarium sitting under a heat lamp
Image Credit: Liubov Sydorenko, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

While your turtle can stay home alone for a couple of days, we recommend having someone pop in daily to watch him. The unthinkable can happen even if you’ve taken all the proper precautions and done the necessary preparations, and we always like to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of our beloved pets.

Featured Image Credit: Aleksandrs Muiznieks, Shutterstock

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