do turtles need heat lamps

Do Turtles Need Heat Lamps?

Your pet turtle will only live comfortably when you provide them with an environmentally-ideal place. This means a spacious tank, access to water and land, spots for them to hide, and the right amount of light and heat.

Your pet turtle will only live comfortably when you provide them with an environmentally-ideal place. This means a spacious tank, access to water and land, spots for them to hide, and the right amount of light and heat.

Remember that pet turtles can only survive when you meet their essential needs. One such need is a heat lamp. Heat lamps play a key role in the survival of a pet turtle. Turtles are cold-blooded animals incapable of regulating their body temperature. Thus, they depend heavily on external light sources to get heat and regulate temperature.

The right amount of heat is quintessential for the growth and development of turtles. So, let’s look at the importance of heat lamps in the lives of pet turtles. Also, go through this article till the end to find every possible answer to heat lamp-and-turtle-related queries here. 

Do Turtles Need Heat Lamps?

Do Turtles Need Heat Lamps?

Yes, pet turtles require heat lamps for their survival and overall well-being. Turtles are well-known cold-blooded animals that cannot change their body temperature independently. The changing environment influences their body temperatures. 

For example, if the climate has a 2°C increase, so will the turtle’s body temperature. Unlike humans, they cannot generate heat within their bodies via digestion, shivers, etc. Since turtles are cold-blooded, they produce minimal to no amount of heat through physiological sources. 

That’s why turtles rely heavily on the environment for heat. This habit makes them feel sluggish in the early mornings and at night. Heat becomes essential for them to start functioning and get started with the day. This is why heat lamps become essential for both the turtle and its owner. Heat lamps keep your turtle healthy and alive. 

However, simply learning whether or not heat lamps are crucial for turtles isn’t enough. Let’s dig out how a heat lamp can benefit your pet turtle, what is the ideal temperature for the turtle, and more. 

How Can a Heat Lamp Help a Turtle?

When it comes to the right amount of heat indoors for your turtle, there is no better solution than a heat lamp. These handy tools help turtles derive heat, get warmth and maintain their body temperature. Also, the lamp-induced heat aids the turtles in fighting off germs and bacteria. 

Heat lamps also allow your turtle to stay active. However, it’s crucial to direct the heat lamp towards the turtle’s basking area at an ideal distance. When sick, your turtle can recover faster if you just set the lamp temperature to 95°F.

However, remember that not every turtle is the same. Different species require different temperature settings. You’ll have to ensure setting the temperature range that best fits your turtle’s body requirements. This is why the next section will come to your big aid. 

What Are The Ideal Temperatures of a Heat Lamp For Different Species of Turtles?

What Are The Ideal Temperatures of a Heat Lamp For Different Species of Turtles?

The ideal temperatures of a heat lamp for every unique species of turtle range between 75°C and 95°C. 

Basking underneath the sun isn’t something that every turtle species does. Thus, it implies that heat lamps aren’t necessary for all turtles. 

Nevertheless, an adequate heating system is the source of life for many species of turtles. Also, you cannot provide the same amount of heat to every other turtle species. Here is a table that represents the different species of turtles and the ideal heat lamp temperature for each of them.

Species of Turtles Ideal Heat Lamp Temperature (in °C) Ideal Heat Lamp Temperature (in °F)
Cooter  26°C – 29°C 80°F – 85°F
Box Turtle 26°C – 32°C 80°F – 90°F
Map Turtle 24°C – 26°C 75°F – 80°F
Mud Turtle 32°C – 35°C 90°F – 95°F
Pond Turtle 29°C – 35°C 85°F – 95°F
Red Eared Slider 32°C – 35°C 90°F – 95°F
Snapping Turtle 32°C – 35°C 90°F – 95°F
Young Box Turtle 32°C – 35°C 90°F – 95°F
Young Cooter 32°C – 37°C 90°F – 100°F
Young Map Turtle 32°C – 37°C 80°F – 90°F
Young Mud Turtle 32°C – 37°C 90°F – 100°F
Young Pond Turtle 32°C – 37°C 90°F – 100°F
Young Red-Eared Slider 29°C – 37°C 95°F – 100°F
Young Snapping Turtle 29°C – 37°C 95°F – 100°F

The table above demonstrates the ideal temperature need of both different species of young and adult turtles. What we learn from this table is that the temperature need varies for different species as well as different ages of the turtles. When compared to adult turtles, the younger ones require more heat.

Is a heat lamp necessary for turtles? 

Is a heat lamp necessary for turtles?

The answer depends on where the turtle lives. If the turtle lives in an outdoor enclosure, it won’t require a heat lamp as it will get direct sunlight. However, turtles living in an indoor enclosure will definitely need a heat lamp. That’s because they won’t have any other source to get light from. 

Direct sunlight exposure is the only way your turtle can live healthily without a heat lamp. Speaking of living without a heat lamp, let’s learn more about this in the next section. 

How Can Turtles Survive Without a Heat Lamp?

Your pet turtle can survive and live healthily without a heat lamp under these two circumstances: 

  • You ensure the indoor environment where you keep the turtle to be warm. However, the downside to this approach is the costly electricity bill. Also, their basking spot will require  some source of light.
  • If you live in a warm place, you can keep your pet turtle in a bucket placed within a screened-in porch or an outdoor enclosure.

Ensuring keeping the turtle in a warm environment is the key to their survival without a heat lamp. However, it isn’t enough, as they’ll require access to direct sunlight or UVA-emitting lights at some point. 

Do Pet Turtles Require Heat Lamps 24/7?

Do Pet Turtles Require Heat Lamps 24/7?

No, your pet turtle won’t require a heat lamp ON for the entire day (24 hours). The heat lamp serves as an alternative to the sun to provide heat they otherwise would have derived from sunlight. 

The average time for which the sun is up is 12 hours. And that’s exactly the number of hours the heat lamp must stay on. Twelve hours of a heat lamp is sufficient for the turtle to regulate their body temperature. However, leave the heat lamp for some extra hours during winters or extremely chilly climates. 

What Are The Best Heat Lamp Types For My Turtle?

Your turtle tank surely comes with a lighting system, right? This lighting solution must include a heat lamp, a UVB, and a UVA light. Only the combination of these three can produce light and heat equivalent to natural light. 

The best solution is to get a heat lamp that offers both UVB and UVA light and produces the ideal amount of heat for the turtle. 

Have you seen an incandescent bulb before? If yes, a heat lamp is just like that. It aims to not only produce light but also heat. Remember that these specialty lamps come in different sizes, voltages, and wattages. So, pick either a tube bulb or a compact bulb. 

What Are The Best Alternatives To Heating Lamps? 

Although there are two alternatives to heating lamps, they don’t match the efficiency and power of a heat lamp. These alternatives are as follows: 

  • Mercury Vapor Bulbs: A UVB light becomes crucial for the turtle if your heat lamp isn’t equipped with it. Thus, you’ll need two bulbs – one that offers UVB rays while the other offers heat. You can get both heat and UVB light rays from a Mercury Vapor bulb. 
  • Heat Pads: These are great heating tools for reptiles, but not turtles. Although one can use it to provide heat to their turtle, the end result isn’t beneficial for the pet at all. Also, using heat pads for turtles is complex, as you will find it difficult to achieve the ideal temperature. 


To conclude, turtles do need heat lamps. They cannot survive or live healthily in the absence of the right amount of light and heat. Thus, placing a heat lamp in the turtle tank in addition to the other lighting systems is crucial. This will ensure your little pet lives a long, happy, and comfortable life.

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