Why Do Turtles Bask?

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why do turtles bask

Basking helps turtles regulate their body temperature, improve their metabolism, kill parasites, and keep them healthy.

Turtles bask in the sun for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is to regulate their body temperature.

Turtles that live in warm climates need to soak up as much heat as they can to keep from over-heating, and those that live in colder climates need to do the opposite in order to stay warm.

A turtle that doesn’t bask will become sluggish and may eventually die.

In this article, we will discuss the causes of this behavior and some general issues that come with this.

Why Do Turtles Bask in the Sun?

Basking is the act of sitting in a place where you receive heat from your surroundings to warm up.

Turtles require to bask for a variety of reasons, one reason is to obtain sufficient UV exposure, while the others are to warm up and dry out.

1. UV Absorption

Turtles need UVA and UVB lights in order to be healthy and these are a type of light that the sun emits and is part of the UV Spectrum.

The UV spectrum is divided into three parts: UVA, UVB, and UVC. You can find all of these in natural sunlight.

UVB lights help your turtle get vitamin D3, which helps him absorb calcium. You can also expose your turtle to UVA light, which will help him regulate his behaviors such as feeding, daily movement, and mating.

UVC light is the most harmful to turtles and is blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere, so your turtle won’t be exposed to it.

2. Heat Absorption

In order for the turtle to get all the benefits from the UV spectrum, heat is needed for the turtle to properly absorb it. Heat also helps the turtle’s muscles and bones to grow and stay healthy.

Without heat, the turtle will not be able to properly absorb the UV spectrum and will become sick.

When turtles bask, they take in heat from both the sun and the ground. This can be on a sandy shore or on a log. Taking in heat from the water is difficult because water does not conduct heat well.

The heat a turtle gets from basking in the sun allows it to regulate its body’s metabolism. This way, the turtle can go about its daily routine. If the turtle gets too warm, it will go back into the water to cool off.

3. Drying Out

Turtles need to dry out after they’ve been in the water. Bacteria and fungus grow better on wet skin, so it’s important for the turtle to dry off.

If a turtle doesn’t bask, it will become a prime target for bacteria and fungus. This can lead to skin diseases and even death.

Basking is a good way to see if your turtle is healthy. A healthy turtle will bask with its head up high and its legs kicked out. Basking has several health benefits for turtles, and they seem to love it!

Do Baby Turtles Bask?

Yes, baby turtles bask just like adult turtles. This is an important part of their development because it allows them to absorb UVB light and heat.

Basking also helps baby turtles to dehydrate, which is important because they don’t have the ability to do it on their own.

Basking also helps them to digest food better. If a baby turtle doesn’t bask, it will become sick and may die.

What Happens if a Turtle Doesn’t Bask?

If a turtle doesn’t bask, it will become sluggish and may eventually die.

How Long Can Turtles Go Without Basking?

Turtles can go without basking for a few days, but it’s not recommended. If a turtle doesn’t bask for an extended period of time, you should visit a veterinarian.

RELATED READ: How to Make Tap Water Safe for Turtles?

How Long do Turtles Need to Bask?

Turtles need to bask for about 30 minutes in order to get the most benefits from it but they can bask anywhere between 6-8 hours per day.

Excessive basking that goes beyond your turtle’s normal pattern could indicate an underlying illness or a low water temperature, among other things.

RELATED READ: How to Set Up a Turtle Tank

Turtle Basking Area Temperatures

The temperature of a turtle’s basking area should be around 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too low or too high, your turtle may not be able to absorb the UV spectrum correctly.

You can purchase a thermometer to measure the temperature of your basking area or simply use your hand. If it’s too hot for you to hold your hand there for more than a few seconds, it’s too hot for your turtle.

If your turtle scampers away from under the basking platform after a few minutes, it is an indication that the basking area is too hot

Before allowing any reptiles to be exposed to new lamps, triple-check the basking area temperatures.

RELATED READ: How To Care For A Tortoise

How Do Turtles Bask?

turtle basking on a log
turtle basking on a log

There are several ways a turtle can bask. It can be on a warm, sandy shoreline or rest on a heated rock in the water.

Some turtles will climb onto a log and bask. This is called basking in the open. Other turtles will bask in the shade.

Basking in the open is the best way for a turtle to get all the benefits from the sun. It allows the turtle to regulate its body temperature and get the UVB light it needs.

When turtles bask in the shade, they are not getting all the benefits from the sun and should be supplemented with a UVB light.

Pet Turtle Basking Area

If you have a pet turtle, it’s important to provide a basking area for it. You can buy a platform or bask in the open on a land area.

Make sure the basking area is large enough for your turtle to spread out and the turtle can easily enter or exit it without injuring its plastron.

Basking is an important part of a turtle’s life and should not be ignored. Make sure you provide your pet turtle with a basking area so it can stay healthy.

Ideal Positioning of the Basking Lamp

A regular basking lamp that you may buy at a pet store will suffice for their basking area. Just make sure they’re not too close to it when basking.

The closer the bulb is to your basking area, the hotter it will be. Take care not to place it too near that your turtle might access it and get burned.

The distance between the basking light and the bask area should be between 8-15 inches. However, you will need to check the instruction manual for your light and also measure the temperature of your basking area.

  • Place a 50-watt light around 5-7 inches away from the basking area.
  • Place a 75 watt light around 7-9 inches away.
  • Place a 100 watt light 10 to 12 inches away.
  • Place a 150 watt light over 12 inches away.

Again, these are suggested guidelines on the basis of which factors such as the basking area’s surface and the material will all have an impact on how close or distant you need to position your light.

RELATED READ: African Sideneck Turtle Care

Causes of Turtle Not Basking

There are many reasons a turtle may not bask. It could be that the water is too cold, the turtle is sick, or there is something wrong with the basking area.

Turtle is Frightened or Stressed:If your turtle is stressed, it may not want to bask. This could be due to a new environment, a change in its routine, or a new person in the home.
Pregnancy:If your female turtle is pregnant, she may not want to bask. This is because she needs to keep her body temperature down so the eggs will not overheat.
The Turtle Is Too Old:As a turtle gets older, it may not want to bask as much. This is because it doesn’t need to raise its body temperature as much as it did when it was younger.
The Turtle Is Sick:If a turtle is sick, it may not want to bask. This is because it doesn’t have the energy to do so or because it is in pain.
High Basking Temperature:If the basking area is too hot, the turtle will not want to bask. This is because it can overheat and die.
High Water Temperature:If the water temperature is too high, the turtle will not want to bask. This is because it can overheat and die.

Causes of Turtle Always Basking

If your turtle is always basking, it could be due to one of the following reasons:

Respiratory Infection:A respiratory infection is the most common reason why a turtle may bask too much. Symptoms of a respiratory infection include mucus discharge from the nose
Poor Water Conditions:If the water is too dirty, the turtle will want to bask more than usual. This could also be an indication that the water chemistry isn’t optimal for your turtle. The following are some of the conditions that should be met when determining if the water isn’t suited for your turtle: pH levels need to be in the range of 6-8; the ammonia level must be at 0; the chlorine level must be at 0; the nitrate concentration must be between 0 and 40 ppm (parts per million); the nitrite level must be less than 0.5 ppm (parts per million).
Low water Temperature:When the water temperature is too low, the turtle may avoid the water. The ideal temperature for adults is in the 70s, but you can achieve this without a water heater.
Juveniles need a water temperature of 75 to 79 F, which can be difficult to maintain during fall and winter when temperatures are lower. If the water temperature falls below 70 F, you should invest in a water heater.
Turtle Bullying:When you have more than one turtle, it is possible for them to fight. If one turtle is aggressive, it can make the other turtle stressed. If fights happen in the water, the weaker turtle may avoid going into the water. It will spend more time on land if this happens. If you keep males and females together, compatibility issues can develop. A male may annoy the female and force her to stay out of the water. This difficulty may be avoided if you have a larger enclosure.
Pregnant Turtle:When a turtle is pregnant, it will spend less time in the water. Most turtles come to shore and go inland to build nests and lay eggs. So, they try to stay close to the shore when they are ready to lay eggs.
Other Illnesses:Turtles with digestive conditions find it difficult to stay in the water or swim continuously. When they suffer from intestinal blockage or overeating, they spend more time in their basking spot. If your turtle’s appetite changes, you may have a digestive issue. Since these problems are frequently treated with medication, you should take your turtle to see a veterinarian. Your veterinarian will also check for other potential reasons. This type of behavior can be caused by a blood infection such as septicemia.

RELATED READ: Mud Turtle Care


Basking in a way that turtles regulate their body temperature. By exposing their skin to the sun, they can warm-up or cool down as needed.

Turtles will also bask in order to get Vitamin D from the sun, which helps them absorb calcium for their shells and bones.

If you’ve ever seen a turtle basking on a log or rock in your backyard pond, don’t worry – it’s not sick! It’s just doing what comes naturally.