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How Long Can A Turtle Go Without Basking?

There are several questions that will be in your mind as a first-time reptile owner or even an experienced hobbyist.

One of those questions is whether turtles need a heat lamp and how long they can go without basking.

Turtles are cold-blooded reptiles, and they need to bask under the sunlight to help keep them warm and dry.

This means you will need to provide a basking spot for your turtle in captivity to help keep them happy and healthy.

In this article, we will highlight everything you need to know about basking in a turtle from how long can a turtle go without basking to how to encourage your turtle to bask.

How Long Can A Turtle Go Without Basking?

a red eared turtle enjoy basking
a red eared turtle enjoy basking

Although turtles can survive without basking areas, this is going to affect their health and lifespan. Turtles can go for several weeks without basking based on their age, habitat, diet, and care.

However, without basking, turtles can develop bacterial or fungal infections and their shells might start rotting. When this happens, their shell starts to deteriorate, and it can even cause your turtle to die. If a turtle doesn’t bask, it can’t absorb heat from the sun and warm its body. This can eventually lead to cold-stunning, where the turtle’s metabolism slows down and it becomes immobile. If the turtle is in the water, it may sink and drown.

A baby turtle cannot survive without basking for more than a few weeks. This is because their body is not well developed and they will need a lot of heat to fight against germs. 

Basking is very important for the survival of your turtle. This is because they are cold-blooded animals and will need to bask to absorb warmth, UVA, and UVB light for healthy living.

Furthermore, they need UVB light to process calcium and minerals for strong bones, keep their shell healthy, and other important uses in their body.

How Long Should Turtles Bask?

How Long Should Turtles Bask?

As stated before, turtles need a basking light for most of their activities like activity, breeding, and overall well-being.

However, it is hard to determine when your turtle needs to bask and when it has basked enough. This is why it is recommended to try and replicate their habitat in the wild.

This means you will need to provide a day and night cycle in their tank to help keep them healthy.

Since the sun is usually up for around 12 hours a day, you can set their basking light on for around 10-12 hours every day. You can also set an area where your turtle can bask whenever they want.

However, most turtles can go basking for around 10 hours at most.

TIHOOD Turtle Platform Rectangular Aquarium

TIHOOD Turtle Platform Rectangular Aquarium Fish Tank Adjustable Turtle Basking Platform Reptile Resting Terrace Tortoise Climbing Platform
  • Designed for turtles, frogs and other aquatic pets, turtle can climb on the platform to enjoy sun bathing, resting, playing.
  • This aquatic turtle platform provides better pet viewing angles, provides a more natural environment that gives you a new way to interact with your pet.
  • Easy to install the turtle basking platform, just clean the basking platform and place the platform where your pets are, and you can complete the installation.
  • Your reptiles get a natural opportunity to hide or play, satisfying a healthy desire for coolness, privacy and protection; Provides and elevated platform for your pet to bask and warm up
  • The turtle basking platform is made of quality resin material, safe for the turtle and water quality.

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Importance Of Basking In Growing Of Turtles

Basking is very crucial for the survival of turtles, whether in captivity or in the wild.

This is because they are cold-blooded animals and need a few hours of sunshine to absorb heat from their environment. They will also absorb UVA and UVB light needed for their health.

Turtles need UVB light for processing calcium and minerals for strong bones, healthy shells, and lots more. They also need UVA light for metabolism, breeding, and mood regulation.

Another important reason they bask is that it helps them kill parasites such as algae and leeches growing on their shell.

What Happens If A Turtle Doesn’t Bask?

Generally, turtles bask for at least 8 hours under a reptile UVB light in captivity.

However, there are situations where your turtle may stop basking due to several reasons. When this happens, some of the things that can happen to your turtle are:

  • Bone deformity
  • Shell distortion
  • Digestive issues
  • Low bone density, etc.

Why Are Your Turtles Not Basking?

Generally, a turtle may not bask when introduced to a new environment; the temperature is not ideal, and so on.

Furthermore, there are situations when your turtle is basking when you are not looking at their tank. Here are some reasons why your turtles are not basking. 

The Environment Is New to Them

It is common for new turtle owners to face basking problems when introducing a turtle to a new tank.

A new environment is usually stressful for a turtle, and it will need some time to adjust to the new environment.

If this is the case, you can leave your turtle for a couple of days to acclimate to their new environment.

You will also need to ensure you don’t scare them any further during this period.

Your Turtle Is Stressed

Turtles can easily get stressed, and once stressed out, they stop eating, basking, and even doing other things until they are calm.

They may even try to get out of their tank whenever they are stressed. Some of the things that can stress your turtle are:

  • Improper handling
  • Excessive noises
  • Other pets trying to get in their tank
  • Too many interactions, etc.

Once you notice that your turtle is stressed, the best thing to do is to determine what causes the stress to help remove the stress factor.

You Don’t Know Your Turtle’s Basking Preferences

An interesting fact about turtles is that some bask in the water while some bask outside of the water.

For instance, some turtles, like red-eared sliders, prefer basking floating on the water, while some turtles, like painted turtles, prefer basking on the objects that float in the water.

There are also some turtles that prefer to bask on dry land. As a first-time turtle owner, you may not know the type of environment that your turtle needs for basking.

You can research a suitable basking spot for your turtle to help avoid this problem.

The Temperature Of Their Basking Spot is Too Hot Or Too Cold

The suitable temperature for a turtle to bask is usually between 90-95F, and their water temperature should be about 78-80F.

However, if the temperature in the basking spot goes below this temperature, your turtle may be sluggish and avoid basking.

This is because turtles bask because they are cold-blooded and want to maintain their body temperature.

However, if the temperature in their basking spot is not at optimal range, they will not bask. Using a thermometer, you can ensure the temperature in their basking spot is at optimal range.

The Basking Area Is Not In Reach 

There are situations where turtle owners don’t know the need for turtles to have access to a basking platform. They usually set the basking platform where it is too high or inclined that the turtle cannot access it.

If a turtle does not have access to a basking platform, then it will not bask. You can prevent this from happening by providing a basking area that your turtles can easily access.

How Do You Encourage Your Turtles To Bask?

If you notice that your turtle is not basking, it is best to encourage it to start basking. You can do this by ensuring the basking conditions in their enclosure is at the optimal enclosure.

This can be done by creating a temperature difference in their enclosure. The water temperature in their enclosure should be around 78-80F, while their basking area should be about 90-95F.

This temperature change is going to excite and encourage your turtle to bask.

Furthermore, you should ensure their basking area is easily accessible and place the UV light correctly.

What Bulb Is Suitable For Turtle Basking? 

It is important that you provide a UVB bulb in your turtle’s basking area to help provide them with the necessary vitamin D.

This is why it is best to use a heat lamp with a UVB bulb to help ensure you provide the right temperature in their basking area.

This is why it is best if you use Zoo Med’s turtle lamp combo pack for your turtle’s enclosure. The pack contains a halogen heat lamp with 50-watt power and a 5.0 UVB bulb with 13-watt power.

Heat Lamp UVA UVB Reptile Light Adjustable 50W Turtle Basking

Cdipesp Reptile Heat Lamp UVA UVB Reptile Light Adjustable 50W Turtle Basking Spot Lamps for Aquatic Lizard Snake Chameleons Amphibians with 3 Bulbs
  • 【Reptiles Need】All reptiles need to bask in the sunshine for at least a few hours a day. Ultraviolet rays can effectively increase the pet's appetite, promote the synthesis of vitamin D3 in reptiles and help calcium absorption. Provide sunshine environment for your pet is very important for the healthy growth of the pets
  • 【Simulated Sunlight】Cdipesp turtle heat lamp simulates sunlight and provides appropriate ultraviolet rays and temperature to meet the needs of reptiles for their natural growth environment. Best choice for most dwelling reptiles. NOTE: Provide your pet with 2-4 hours of sunlight every day, not as a long-term light source
  • 【Adjustable Temperature】This reptile heating lamp switch can adjust brightness and temperature, meet the needs of different reptiles at different times. Suitable for reptiles, amphibians, turtle, birds, hedgehog, geckos, tortoises, lizards, frogs, spiders, chameleons, snakes, chicks, fish etc.
  • 【Clip design】The clip is made of sturdy material, you can clip it onto a tank or desk. The flexible tube is stronger and more durable than ordinary one. The length is 11.8 inches, it can be rotated 360°, no deformation and a wider coverage
  • 【High Quality Bulb】Come with 1PCS 25W + 2PCS 50W Bulbs. Reptile lamp use plating process to ensure anti-oxidation & explosion-proof. And use vacuum glass tube to extend bulb life. The ceramic socket can be used with light bulb, heater, UV lamp, infrared emitter etc. Support bulbs rated up to 75 watts

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Happens If Your Turtle Always Basking?

The main reason why a turtle basks all the time is if it has a respiratory problem. Turtles may decide to bask all the time if their water temperature is too warm or too cold.

The water quality of their enclosure can also cause your turtle to bask all the time.

Another reason why a turtle basks all the time is when it is being bullied or parasites infest them. Your turtles may also be basking all the time when suffering from illness or pregnancy.

Once you notice that your turtle is basking all the time because of sickness, you should immediately take it to the vet.

Last Sentences

Like other reptiles, turtles are cold-blooded animals and will need a heat source to stay active and healthy.

This is why they require a basking spot in their enclosure to keep them warm and dry. Turtles can live without basking for some days, but this will affect their lifespan.

We hope this article helps to answer all your questions regarding how long a turtle can go without basking.

If you have any questions or comments, you can leave them in the comment section below, and we will address them.

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