Aquatic turtles require an area where they can bask under a UV lamp. In the wild, turtles perch on logs, rock, or exposed land to sun bask. It is essential that your turtle have an area where he can be completely dry and heated by the UV light. Since turtles are cold-blooded, they rely on their environment to control their temperature. Turtles bask to increase their body temperature.
Requirements for your turtles dry area:
Allows your turtle to climb completely out of the water
Large, flat, and stable surface
15-25% of tank surface area dedicated to dry land. The amount of dry space your turtle needs will depend on the size of your turtle and its habits. Some species of aquatic turtles spend more time out of the water than others. Also, if you have multiple turtles, the basking area has to be big enough for all of the turtles to bask at the same time.
The dry area should slope gently out of the water so your turtle can easily climb to the dry basking area.
UV lamp above basking area
A UV lamp provides turtles with ultraviolet light, which they need to be healthy and happy. The lightbulb you buy should emit UVA and UVB light. UVB light allows your turtle to produce vitamin D3 which is needed for calcium absorption. UVA light will help regulate your turtle’s behavior.
The lamp or bulb must be unfiltered – meaning it cannot shine through glass, plastic, or any other material. The lamp should be placed 6-12 inches above the basking area and be turned on for 10-12 hours per day.
Natural sunlight produces both UVA and UVB rays and it’s good for turtles to bask in natural sunlight if possible. Supervise your turtle outside so it’s safe from predators and other hazards. Provide your turtle with water and shade which it can retreat to if it becomes too hot (remember they regulate their body temperature through the environment.)
Jennifer Kean is a writer and pet-lover who owns two rescue kittens (lifetime cat owner too!) and has a 40 gallon fish tank!