Turtle Basking (Beginners Guide)

Copyright: samum

Turtles are amazing creatures and they are unique in their own way. But they don’t care about much but to survive. They need to be taken care of properly as pets. You have to feed them and provide them with an environment close to nature. The basking area is one of their requirements to stay healthy and alive.

Basking is important for turtles and they have to do this every day. They should have at least a few hours of heat and UV lights. It’s a part of their survival as cold-blooded animals. They can only absorb heat from their environment to stay warm. It’s also important to be exposed to UVA and UVB lights since it’s an essential requirement for good health.

UV lights will help turtles to process the calcium they need to have a strong shell and bones. It’s required for turtles so that they can keep those parts healthy as well as their body’s other vital functions. But it’s only possible with the presence of vitamin D3. They get vitamin D from the UV lights which are then converted as vitamin D3.

Basking areas must have UV lights for turtles to absorb this essential vitamin. UV lights are important since it helps with their mood, metabolism, and breeding processes. Aside from these, basking will kill the parasites and the growth of algae on their shells. It will dry their shells from moisture to prevent having parasites.

Why Do Turtles Bask?

You might be curious why turtles need to bask. After all, most pet turtles are aquatic and stay in the water most of the time. But basking is an important part of a turtle’s life. Not only to have a place to go aside from the water. To learn more about the reasons why turtles bask, keep on reading.

1. To Absorb Heat

In the wild, turtles bask to absorb heat from the sun and substrate. It can either be a sandy shore, a log, or a rock. Pet turtles have their basking area from the tank. While the basking light acts as the sun for them to absorb heat and make their bodies warm.

Basking makes it possible for turtles to regulate their body temperature. It also helps their metabolism to function properly. After the turtles absorb the heat they need, they will proceed with their regular activities. If the turtle feels too warm, it will go back to cool off in the water.

The basking area is important for pet turtles. It will help them to get warm to avoid getting sick. Painted turtles, map turtles, and sliders need to have a temperature of 90 to 95F in their basking area. For other turtle species, the temperature they need may vary.

2. To Expose Under UV Lights

Turtles need to be exposed to UV lights. It will help them to get the UVA and UVB rays they need. These types of lights will help their bodies produce vitamin D3. This is required for the absorption as well as the utilization of calcium. It will promote healthy bones and shells for turtles.

Severe health issues may arise if the turtle is lacking in vitamin D3. That includes metabolic bone disease and improper growth. That’s why it’s important to provide your pet turtle UV lights aside from the heat lamp. You can find basking lamps that can produce both heat and UVB.

If the turtle is lacking vitamin D3, it can lead to illnesses. These complications will result in improper growth and metabolic bone disease. Aside from the heat lamp, turtles also need to have UVB lights in their basking area. It will avoid the turtles to have health issues such as shell rot.

3. To Dry Out the Shell and Body

Don’t forget that turtles are cold-blooded animals. They are reptiles which means that they can’t generate their own body heat. It’s not good for turtles to always stay wet since they can get sick. Other than that, the moisture can attract fungus and parasites. It will cause them to have health problems over time.

Most pet turtles stay in the water since they are aquatic. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t need a basking area. In the wild, turtles dry out under the sun. It will help them to get rid of parasites and fungus on their shell. Turtle shells need to be dry sometimes to kill those parasites.

However, turtles also need to be exposed to UV lights. It’s recommended to get a separate UV lamp for them. There are 2 in 1 basking lamps available these days. It can work as a heat and UV lamp for the turtle tank. It’s the best way to make the basking area look minimalistic.

Can Turtles Survive Without a Basking Area?

Pet rules can live for a long time without baking. But it will be bad for their health, especially for their shells. Turtles need to bask to dry their bodies and warm up. Wild turtles bask in logs or rocks every day. It’s important to simulate their natural habitat to keep them healthy.

Turtles will have a hard time surviving without a basking area. It’s an essential requirement for them to stay alive. They need to absorb heat from their environment. It should also include UV lights for them to avoid health problems. They need to bask daily if possible since it’s part of their routine.

A basking area is a requirement for turtle tanks since turtles need to bask. As reptiles, they are cold-blooded and need to absorb heat. Make sure to have a heat lamp and UV lights on their basking area as well. It will keep your turtle happy and active as well. They can live longer if they have these requirements.

Different Ways Turtle Bask

Turtles enjoy sunbathing because they need it to regulate their body temperature. It’s an essential part of the turtle’s life since they need to bask to stay healthy. They are cold-blooded since turtles are reptiles. The temperature in their environment determined the turtle’s temperature. If they need to warm up, they bask.

When turtles need to cool their body temperature, they have to get in the water. They do this after they absorb the heat from basking. When they already feel too warm, they will return to the water and stay there for a few hours. Turtles’ routine is to swim and bask when necessary.

1. Basking Out of Water

Turtles bask even when they are in the wild. They get out of the water and bask on the shore. Sometimes turtles also do this on barks, logs, and branches. While freshwater turtles like the map types and sliders can be found basking on the same log together.

However, they are not the only turtle species that bask out of water. Aside from terrapins, sea turtles and the green sea turtles in Hawaii bask in the same fashion. Oddly, green sea turtles usually only come to the shore to lay eggs. They are also known to bask in water in other regions.

2. Basking in the Water

Some freshwater turtles such as mud turtles like basking in the water. They can absorb the UV rays from the sunlight by swimming to the surface of the water. The sunlight can reach the turtle in that position. Loggerhead turtles also float on the surface of the water when basking.

Sea turtles also bask in the water since they stay in the ocean most of the time. The land is not easily accessible for them so instead, they swim to the surface of the sea. That’s how they absorb the UV lights they need from the sun and stay in top shape without leaving the sea.

3. Basking Platforms for Pet Turtles

Pet turtles also need to bask to survive. But they don’t have access to the sun, especially for indoor turtles. Instead, they have a basking platform that has a heat lamp and UV light. That will act as the sun for pet turtles who cannot go out to bask.

In captivity, the turtle has to get out of the water and go to the basking area. It’s where they can dry their bodies and get the heat they need. This is important for turtles since they have to absorb the UV light to produce vitamin D3. It will help them survive even in captivity.

Do Turtles Need to Bask Every Day?

Generally, turtles need to bask every day for a few hours. They can do this under the sun or a UV light. The main reason that turtles bask is to expose themselves to UV lights and heat. It will help their metabolism and regulate their mood. It’s also essential for breeding turtles.

Basking lights are important to add to your turtle’s basking area. The UV lights will help them produce vitamin D3. It’s the only way they can synthesize calcium for their bones and shell. Without this type of lighting, turtles will become prone to rot. It can be fatal since it’s a serious health concern for turtles.

Turtles need to bask every day to be warm after staying in the water. Most of the time, aquatic turtles spend most of their day swimming. They will know when it’s time for them to bask. That’s why having the basking area ready is important. Turtles need to do this every day to survive.

Ideally, turtles bask for several hours daily. But there are some instances where turtles may not get out of the water. If you noticed that the turtle is not basking as much as it used to, check the water temperature. When the water is warmer than the basking area, the turtle will prefer to stay in the water instead of basking.

How Many Hours Do Turtles Bask?

It’s good to know how many hours turtles bask each day. As a turtle keeper, it will put you at ease if you have this information. Turtles bask between 2 to 8 hours daily. It’s normal if your turtle is in the basking area between those times.

Nothing is wrong with your turtle.

Some turtles like the sliders and map turtles follow this routine when basking. As long as the turtle goes back to the water after some time, it should be fine. Turtles normally do that even in the wild. They need to bask when they already feel cold and return to the water when it’s too warm.

Do Turtles Sleep While Basking?

Turtles need to sleep like any other animal. Although they have their interesting way of sleeping, unlike others. At night, some turtles sleep underwater. But if there is no way to go in the water, they find a safe spot to sleep. That includes the basking area for pet turtles.

While basking, turtles may sleep if the water temperature is too cold for them. Turtles like staying in warm areas which in this case, the basking area. They usually sleep between 4 to 7 hours. Since turtles bask up to 8 hours, it’s a good idea for them to catch some sleep as well.

Why Does My Turtle Bask Too Much?

Although it’s normal for turtles to bask, you might notice that they are basking too much. If this happens, there might be something wrong with your turtle. Both aquatic and terrestrial turtles need to bask. Pet turtles do this every day under the heat and UV lamp in their basking area.

In the wild, turtles bask under the sun for several hours a day. Basking means that the turtle will get out of the water and stay in the dry area. It can be a rock or a basking platform. They go there to dry off and soak themselves in UV lights. But what if the turtle ends up basking a lot?

When a turtle is basking too much, it can be a sign of an illness. The turtle is sick which is usually a respiratory infection. It can also be because of a different illness or the turtle may be pregnant. Also, if the water temperature is too cold, turtles will avoid it and stay in the basking area.

Whenever turtles go to the water, it means that their body temperature is more than 105 degrees. Make sure to check the basking area since the temperature may be too hot. It’s also better to simulate the circadian rhythm for the turtle. Turn on the UV light at sunrise and turn it off at sunset.

When turtles bask all the time, it’s a sign of respiratory issues. The turtle will prefer to bask if the water temperature is too cold or even if it’s too warm. It will avoid going to the water and prefer to bask instead. Ensure the quality of water and make sure it’s clean. If the turtle still basks too much, time to visit the vet.

When to Worry About Your Turtle?

After observing and you think that your turtle is basking a lot, put it in the water. If the turtle struggles while swimming, you should be worried. When the turtle doesn’t get submerged or get out of the water, it’s time to be worried about your pet turtle.

Another reason to worry about the turtle is if it doesn’t return to the water at night. Aquatic turtles spend most of their lives in the water. It’s not normal for them to stay in the baking area even at night. Determine the cause of why the turtle behaves this way.

Respiratory Infection in Turtles

When a turtle is baking all the time, it’s possible that it doesn’t feel well. It may be suffering from respiratory infection or other diseases. It may have parasites, septicemia, or gravid. Turtles may also be getting bullied by other turtles in the tank.

Respiratory infection is the usual reason when the turtle is basking excessively. You have to check for its symptoms to determine if that’s the cause. It includes mucus discharge from its nose, mouth, and eyes. The turtle’s eyes and eyelids may also get swollen. It will also have difficulty in breathing and swimming.

How Do You Build a Basking Area for a Turtle?

It’s better if you can build an excellent basking area for your turtle. Ideally, it has to stay dry, stable, and accessible all the time. The turtle may not bask if the basking area is not good. It will affect its health and will get sick over time if the turtle continues to avoid basking.

There are two components you need to make a basking area for your turtle. It needs to have a basking platform. The other one is the heat source. Some turtle tanks may have a preinstalled lamp. If not, you can get one that you can easily install since turtles need this.

The basking platform should be easy to access by the turtle. When the turtle exits the water, the basking platform should be nearby. It’s usually accessible by a ramp that goes into the water. That way, the turtle can easily climb up or down from the water if needed.

Make sure that the basking platform is above the water. It has to be dry so that the turtle can bask. You can think of different ways to create a basking platform for your turtle. But it’s better to just get it from the pet supply store. That way, you can just put it inside the turtle tank.

Why is My Turtle Sleeping in the Basking Area?

Turtles may sleep in the basking area in captivity. In the wild, they can sleep in different areas. It could be under the rocks or even in a concealed area near the pond. It’s not unusual for turtles to sleep in the basking area. If they usually bask for several hours, why not sleep as well?

However, there may be more to it than why your turtle sleeps in the basking area. Aquatic turtles usually sleep in the water, especially sea turtles. But if the turtle seems to stay too long in the basking area, it might be because the water is too cold. The turtle might be sick when it suddenly happens.

Nocturnal turtle species sleep during the daytime and are active at night. Most pet turtles are diurnal such as sliders, map turtles, and cooters. They need UVB and it’s available for them during the day. Diurnal turtles sleep as they bask since it’s their sleeping time. There’s nothing to worry about if they snooze in the basking area.

How Do I Get My Turtle to Bask?

Basking is essential in a turtle’s life so it needs to bask every day. But what if it suddenly stops basking? Turtles will not bask if the area is not warm enough for them. Make the temperature higher than the water or around 10F. That way, it will encourage the turtle to bask.

Make sure that the basking area is not too warm either. Turtles may end up getting burned if that’s the case. Although most turtles will just avoid the basking area. Avoid bothering the turtle as well while it’s basking. It may feel uncomfortable if you are watching and just go back to the water.

Turtles may also think that you are about to feed them. So it’s better to avoid watching the turtle while it’s basking. You can also cover the sides of the tank. It will disturb the turtle if it sees you hovering around them. Make sure that the basking lamp is also in a good position.

Place the light fixture above the turtle’s basking spot. Ensure that the turtle will not be able to reach the lamp. It can burn itself or it can get electrocuted. The basking light should be far enough to avoid turtles from touching them. But make sure that it’s close enough for the turtle to be warm.

Some basking lamps may shatter if they get splashed with water. Prevent it by placing the lamp where it can’t be reached by the water splash. Add a UV lamp to encourage the turtle to bask. Turtles need both heat and UV lights for optimal health. At sunrise, turn it on and off during sunset.

What Happens If a Turtle Doesn’t Bask?

There are many different reasons why turtles avoid basking. It’s possible for them to not bask for several days. But if a turtle won’t bask, it can shorten its lifespan and it can be fatal. If you notice that the turtle doesn’t bask for a few days, you have to do something about it.

Sometimes, turtles avoid basking if they have a new basking platform. They have to get used to the change for a few days. Monitor the water temperature since it can make them sluggish if it’s too low. The same goes if the water has a higher temperature than the basking area.

If your turtle seems like it’s no longer basking, you have to encourage it. It will be detrimental to its health if it continues. Try to make the condition of the basking area ideal. It will encourage the turtle to bask if you do that. That will also help the turtle to dry itself to avoid parasites.

The first is to change the basking area that will expose the turtle to the UV lights. Next is to make a temperature difference inside the tank. The water should be 23 to 28C and the basking area is 32 to 35C. It will lure the turtle to bask in these conditions.

Do Turtles Bask with Their Eyes Closed?

Turtles may close their eyes when they feel comfortable and enjoy the warmth. It may look like they’re in deep sleep but they’re not. Turtles will be alert when they hear some noise or movements. Although they can also sleep while basking. They might also need to rest from swimming in the water.

Generally, turtles sleep between 4 to 7 hours every night. Some turtles may also sleep in the daytime. When they are hibernating, they will sleep for a long time. Pet turtles don’t have to go on brumation since they have the essentials all year round. They usually rest on the basking platform while closing their eyes.

Why Do Turtles Bask Together?

In the wild, you can see turtles bask together. They may also pile on each other and for a simple reason. Turtles will pile on top of each other to get more sun rays. It’s an effective way of receiving as many UV rays as they can. It will also make them warm and dry more efficiently.

There are two things that turtles need when they bask. First is the UV rays from the sun and the warmth it gives them. It will stimulate their metabolism and keep them healthy. Basking helps them to avoid infection and get rid of parasites.

Another reason why turtles are basking together in the wild is they can’t find tall areas to bask. They have to just use the resources they already have. It can be a log, rock, or even an open field. As long as they can expose themselves to the UV rays, that should be good enough.

Climbing on top of each other will make them warm and closer to the sun’s rays. The reason for this is also because of the predators in the wild. They have to stick together to have better chances of survival. Turtles pile up at the top of each other so that they will look bigger than the predators around them.

What Does the Basking Area Need?

The basking area has to be ideal for the turtle to bask. It’s an essential part of their daily lives. This spot will let the turtle dry out its body completely after staying in the water for some time. It will also help them to feel warm since they can’t do it as cold-blooded animals.

Basking will also make it hard for fungal infections to develop. Fungus needs moisture to survive. That’s why turtles need to dry their bodies and shells completely. It’s also their natural behavior and they will be stressed if they can’t bask. Different diseases may also arise.

1. Ramp

Having a ramp is important for the turtle to easily get out of the water. It will be the way for them to get into their basking area. When making the basking area on the turtle tank, it’s important to also create a sloped area. It should make it easier for turtles to climb and bask

This elevated area should be above the water to keep it dry. You can use logs or rocks for this. A turtle raft can be bought from pet supplies stores as well. Create a spot that is partially submerged in the water for the turtle to climb up. A ramp will encourage the turtle to bask.

The basking area should be 10F warmer than the water in the tank. It’s the ideal temperature for basking. Make sure that this area is not too hot or it can burn its shell. It can also cause hyperthermia for the turtle. Offer food as a treat before they bask for them to easily digest it.

2. UV Lights

The basking area needs to have heat and UV light. The heat lamp should be placed over the basking area. It will let the turtle take advantage of the heat it emits. Make sure to place it where the turtle can’t reach the light. It can burn the turtle or get electrocuted by the heat lamp.

Put the light where it will not be splashed by water as well. It can shatter when it gets wet. During the day, turn on the heat lamp between 10 to 12 hours. At night, you can turn them off so it will simulate the day and night cycle. The turtle will be fine at night even if the tank cools down.

The UVB light is different from the heat lamp. It will help your turtle to produce the vitamin D3 it needs. This will allow the absorption of calcium from their diet. It’s an essential requirement for turtles to have aside from the heat lamp. It should be located over the basking area and turn it on during the whole day.

3. Preventing Problems

Aside from the essentials for the turtle tank, you should also prevent problems. Avoid treating the basking platforms with chemicals. It’s also important not to let metal rust inside the tank. Platforms can be altered by being submerged in the water over time. Choose a basking platform made for turtle tanks.

Make sure that the basking platform will not be too close to the tank walls. It can be used by the turtle to escape the tank. Make sure that it can’t be wedged to the sides to prevent this from happening. The turtle will get hurt when it falls from the tank to the ground.

Monitor the temperatures of water and basking areas. Setting up privacy screens or rearranging the tank may be a good idea. It may help the turtle to feel more comfortable in the new setup. If you think that the turtle is sick, visit the vet right away. Basking more frequently than normal is a symptom of illness in turtles.

Can a Turtle Live Without Basking?

Basking is essential to a turtle’s survival. If the turtle doesn’t bask, it can cause illnesses. Encourage the turtle to bask to keep it healthy. Drying off regularly is important for their wellness. It will help them to prevent infections and parasites. If the turtle is not basking, change the setup of the basking area.

Turtles need to bask to prevent themselves from getting sick. They have to dry their bodies completely to avoid fungus that can cause shell rot. The basking area is where they also absorb UV rays. It will provide the essential vitamin they need to absorb calcium which will keep their bones strong.

In the wild, turtles bask in different ways since it’s essential for them. Sea turtles bask in the water since they can’t easily access dry land. They have to absorb the UV rays from the sun since they need that to survive. While most turtles bask out of the water so they can also dry up.

Ideal Conditions of the Basking Area

Providing the appropriate basking area is important for pet turtles. They don’t have access to the sun like when they are in the wild. Their shell and body need to be dry regularly every day. It will help them to prevent illnesses and stay strong and active for a long time.

The ideal water temperature inside the tank must be 75 to 78F. It’s higher for hatchlings which is 78 to 80F. The basking area must be warmer than the water temperature. Make sure it’s between 90 to 95F to entice turtles to get out of the water and bask regularly.

Turtles will feel sluggish if the water or basking area is too cold for them. It’s important to have the temperature difference between them. This will make the turtle willing to bask. But if the water is warmer, it will not get out of it since it feels more comfortable than the basking area.


1. Do Snapping Turtles Bask in the Sun?

Unlike other turtle species, snapping turtles don’t bask regularly. But when they bask, it will be from the shallow water. It can be done as they float on the surface. They don’t need to go to a dry area to bask. When the weather is cold, snapping turtles will appreciate having an incandescent light in the tank.

Snapping turtles can absorb the vitamins from the food they eat. Unlike other turtles, they don’t require UVB rays to stay healthy. The common snapping turtles can be found in freshwater and sometimes in brackish water. They prefer to stay in slow-moving water with muddy bottoms. Snappers can bask as they float in water.

2. How Long Can a Red-Eared Slider Go Without a Basking Light?

The red-eared slider turtles are the most common pet turtles. There’s a huge difference in the temperature from the wild compared to a turtle tank. That’s why turtles need to have a basking light. It will simulate the heat and light from their natural habitat. Adult turtles can easily adapt to different climates.

The adult red-eared sliders can survive for a long time without a basking light. Although they still need it to prevent different illnesses. Juveniles however cannot survive without the basking light. Their bodies are not yet fully developed and they need to have a heart and light source consistently.

3. Why is Turtle Basking Excessively?

Turtles need to be basking between 2 to 8 hours a day. If your turtle is basking longer than that, there are different reasons. If the water temperature is too cold for them, turtles will prefer to stay in their basking spot. They like being in a warm area and they might avoid going to the water.

Excessive basking can also be a sign of an illness. The turtle may be sick and trying to recover from it. But if the turtle keeps on basking too much, it can dehydrate them. If you suspect that your turtle is sick, it’s better to consult a veterinarian immediately.


Turtles need to have a basking area in their tank. They have to bask daily to maintain their optimal health. It’s a requirement for setting up the turtle tank because of this reason. Set up the tank to simulate their natural habitat to keep the turtle happy. That way, it will not disrupt their natural routine and live a long life.

Basking is one of the most important parts of a turtle’s life. As reptiles, they live in both land and water. They also have lungs which means they need oxygen to breathe. When they bask they have to absorb UV rays that are essential to keep them alive. So if you’re a new turtle owner, make sure to set up the basking area immediately.

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