What Do Turtles Need to Live?

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Green sea turtles are a very specific brand of marine turtle.

Turtles are amphibians that depend on their natural environment for life. Because those environments can differ wildly, turtles have adapted in size, weight, lifestyle, dietary needs and even color to survive in the wild.

The Facts About Turtles

Turtles cover a wide array of characteristics and needs depending on their species. Turtles can be 3 inches to 8 feet long, and weigh up to 1,800 lbs. They may live in the ocean or desert, with needs that accommodate the environment. All turtles breathe air and eat, though, and require some standard living conditions.

Land Turtles

Tortoises, land turtles and box turtles live on dry land and can even exist in desert conditions. These turtles require a regular source of fresh water that is separate from their living conditions, extremely dry weather and consistent temperatures so that they can keep warm. Land turtles do not have to spend as much time basking as marine turtles, since their environment (nonmarine) is naturally warmer.


Marine Turtles

Marine turtles and sea turtles live in rivers and lakes, the ocean or areas where they have access to both land and water. They are still air breathers and must be able to reach the surface to breathe. They need access to sun to warm themselves and may spend hours basking on beaches or river banks to maintain their temperature.

Food Sources

All turtles, regardless of their habitat, require adequate food sources. Some turtles are omnivorous and eat plants and animals; others are herbivorous and eat only plants. Either way, a supply of marine and land plants, insects, smaller turtles, fish and worms is a necessity, if a turtle is to survive.



All turtles can fall prey to larger predators, and so need places that can provide protection. These places include plants, rocks, logs, caves and even overhanging river banks. Places of protection also provide the turtles with a place to build nests and lay eggs.