Importance of a Proper Basking Area

Turtles need a properly set up basking area in order to be healthy, we teach you how to do it.

It’s important to create a basking area that will be inviting for your slider. Turtles are cold-blooded, so they depend on external heat sources for warmth. Long stretches of time in low temperatures could lead to respiratory infections. Also, turtles must have a place to dry out completely to avoid shell rot, which can happen when algae or bacteria forms and causes infection. In addition, UV lighting is critical for your turtle’s health, helping to regulate digestion, immunity, and activity levels.

When setting up your tank, your goal should be to mimic conditions in the wild, where turtles are free to move between the cool water and warm sunshine. The basking area will include some sort of stable, easily accessible dock which is heated with a lamp. This area should be kept 10 degrees (F) warmer than the temperature of the water. If you have more than one slider in your tank, make sure the lamp and dock are configured safely so the turtles cannot crawl on top of each other and get too close to the heat source, resulting in burns or hyperthermia. You may also consider placing the lamp on a timer to create a regular day-night cycle in the tank.

Items You'll Need

Recommended Product

Zoo Med Repti Tuff Splash-Proof bulb

We like this halogen lamp because it's not overly powerful, and therefore well-suited for top-of-cage usage. We also like that it is waterproof. This is more important than you might think! Our little guy is somehow capable of splashing water out of his tank when we get him excited, and water on a hot bulb could cause it to shatter. We started off with a 75 watt, but it was too powerful, so we have switched to the 50 watt. The wattage you need will depend on the size of your space and how far away the lamp will be from the basking area. If you need to hang it up higher or have less water in the cage, try the 75 watt bulb. If your dock is closer to the lamp or you have a small aquarium, go with a 50 watt. Be sure to measure the air temperature directly above the basking dock to verify. It should be between roughly 85F (29.4C) and 90F (32.2C).

Note: We are recommending this UVA lamp for basking because it provides superior heating capability. But, in addition, UVB light is key for Vitamin D3 production if your turtle is not getting adequate amounts of nutrients through diet or supplements. This is crucial for proper shell and bone growth!

Recommended Product

Zilla Terrarium Reflector Dome

This is the enclosure for the heat lamp. We like it because it has nice clamps that will attach to the screen mesh of a tank lid. Please note this is only the enclosure, and you will need to purchase a bulb separately.

Recommended Product

Zoo Med Turtle Dock

This is a very reasonably priced medium-sized dock. Some people had trouble with setup (suction cups were difficult to attach to the bars), but overall it is a reliable, simple product.