Do Turtles Need A Heat Lamp? | Ideal Temperature for Turtles

Heat lamps are an essential need of turtles for their survival. They require additional heat to keep the temperature moderate. As reptiles, they cannot regulate their temperature, they need external heat lamps to persist unless they may die.

In extreme cold at night, turtles are unable to thrive without heat lamps. It is very important to choose the right wattage of heat lamps that are beneficial for the turtle. Baby turtles would be at a life-threatening risk like malnourishment without basic heat lamps. Heat lamps are used in cold temperatures at night. 

Mercury vapor bulbs and heating pads are good alternatives to a heat lamp.

Benefits of Lamp in Turtles Box 

Turtles need to bask in the sunlight for their survival. Almost every aquatic and land turtle bask. It depends on the species of your pet turtle and how much temperature they are adapted to. 

Indoor turtles mostly have no or little access to direct exposure to sunlight. Heat lamps are required to give them warmness in cold temperatures.  

This regulates their internal body process and provides heat to the body. Alternatively,  heat lamps are used in the replacement of sunlight to provide them with warmth and energy. 

The heat and light that come from a heat lamp help them to fight against pathogens and other germs, regulate healthy body processes, maintain their metabolism, balance behavior, and activate them for feeding, breeding, and playing. 

Your turtle’s lifespan, mood, and activity level do rely on these heat lamps. 

Are Heat Lamps Safe For Turtles?

Are Heat Lamps Safe For Turtles
Yes heat lamps are safe for turtles

Yes. Being cold-blooded reptiles, turtles cannot live without heat lamps. Heat lamps are not only safe for turtles but they are a life-saver for them. 

Without the heat lamps, pet turtles could get lethargic or become fatal at low temperatures. 

Low temperatures can also cause other respiratory infections to the turtles. Heat lamps can thus provide the suitable temperature claimed for your pet turtle. 

Heat lamps are safe because they are a great source of providing vitamin D to turtles. However, these reptiles are susceptible to a specific range of temperatures. The heat lamp is reliable for turtles until they are provided a suitable range of light for basking.

How Long Can Turtles Live Without A Heat Lamp? 

As discussed earlier, turtles cannot hold on without their essential needs. 

If you are a turtle owner or petting a baby turtle you should have to keep at least one heat lamp for their basking area. 

Yet, there is no wrong to say that an adult turtle could live up long without having a heat lamp but, the life of this turtle will be unhealthy. 

Without having heat and light from a heat lamp, they may get various respiratory infections or get cold. Once their body temperature goes down they cannot regulate it again by themselves. 

Without any external heat lamp, your pet turtle could get a risk of being unfit and unhealthy. However,  the young ones (juvenile turtles) could only live up to just for a few weeks without one. 

Do Baby Turtles Need A Heat Lamp? 

Baby turtles are in great need of a heat lamp. An adult turtle can survive without having heat for its lifetime. However, a juvenile (young) turtle lacks developed bodies. 

When the temperature changes, an adult turtle could adapt to the new climate change, but little young babies cannot regulate their body temperature according to the climate. 

If you are petting a baby turtle you should know that without heat a baby turtle’s health could be seriously affected. It may lead to malnutrition, as heat energy regulates several body processes in turtles including metabolism, and food digestion. 

A baby turtle could live for a few weeks without a heat lamp. The average period for a baby turtle to survive within a heat lamp is 2 to 5 years after his birth. 

Do Turtles Need A Heat Lamp At Night? 

Do Turtles Need A Heat Lamp At Night
Yes turtles need heat lamp in night

Yes, turtles require a heat lamp frequently at night. When the temperature of the outside drops, turtles oblige an artificial source of heat to regulate and maintain their body temperature levels. You can use an infrared heat lamp at night for your pet turtles. Or alternate it with other sources of heat like mercury bulbs, etc.

Ideal Temperature for Turtles 

For all turtle species, an ideal temperature for basking in a heat lamp is around 10°F. It is essential to keep the temperature of the basking area more temperate than the water. 

In general, a good basking temperature ranges between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The following table includes the ideal temperatures of different pet turtles for having a  healthy bask in the light: 

Pet turtles (species) Ideal temperature (degree Fahrenheit)
Florida Box turtle 85-95
Red Ear Sliders turtle 80-90
Map turtles 80-90
Mud turtles 85-95
Musk turtles 80-90
Eastern Box turtle 85-90
Painted turtles 80-90

Do Box Turtles Need A Heat Lamp? 

Yes, turtles are ectothermic which means they cannot generate heat to regulate their body temperature. They need natural sunlight for their good well-being. 

If you are petting a box turtle and there is no way for exposure to direct sunlight, you must need a heat lamp for her healthy life. 

Without a heating lamp or exposure to natural light, your turtle may get sick and stop eating which eventually results in hibernation. 

How Much Time Does a Turtle Need a Heat Lamp? 

It varies seasonally. You should keep a day-night cycle for your turtles for heat basking.  It also depends on the habitat and climate of your turtle. 

In summers you can turn on the heat lamp for the day hours whereas, in winters you can exceed the night hours to protect them from the cold.

An average time for an enclosed pet turtle in a box should be 8 to 10 hours per day. 

Do Water Turtles Need A Heat Lamp? 

Yes, both underwater turtles and land turtles need proper basking heat to regulate their temperature according to the environment.  

The only exception is for sea turtles. They can survive by themselves. The basking for water turtles is also necessary for their shell-making and growth processes. 


Heat lamps are suitable for the nourishment and growth of a pet turtle. Turtles are cold blooded animals and prefer heat and warmness on cold nights during winter.

These lamps are essential to regulate the temperature of your pet turtles in all environments. However, the temperature could vary from species to species.

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