You’ve probably read that your turtle must bask frequently. But what happens when a turtle does not bask? And how long can a turtle go without basking? In this article, we’ll answer your question. Continue reading to find out more!
What does basking mean for turtles?
Basking is an essential behavior that consists of a turtle laying on a rock, dock, or other surfaces to dry off and absorb some healthy UV rays. It’s something turtles do every day in their natural habitat (conditions permitting) and something they need to do in captivity. While most species of turtles need to bask, it is especially important for aquatic turtles.
Turtles can generally go for extended periods without basking, but this can certainly be detrimental for their health.
Many turtle owners have reported their turtles not basking for as long as a month, but you should be aware that this can make your turtle susceptible to many pet turtle diseases.
If your turtle isn’t basking, you should watch my video below.
How long can a turtle go without basking?
A turtle can go a couple weeks without basking. However, after a month or so, their health will almost certainly deteriorate.
A turtle can even suffer health repercussions if they go a couple days without basking.
Reasons why turtle don’t bask?
Your turtle might stop basking if they have a respiratory infection, the temperature is wrong in the tank, or they might not be able to access the basking spot.
For more reasons, you should check out my article why is my turtle not basking?
Allowing turtles to bask is beneficial to their health. They should get out of the water and dry themselves off regularly. If your turtle is not doing this, you should inspect your tank setup to ensure that basking is appealing to your turtle.
How often should a turtle bask?
Turtles typically bask for 2 to 8 hours per day. Most turtles, including map turtles and sliders, obey this basking routine, which isn’t a problem if the turtle goes back to the water every day and stays there for long periods.
Why do turtles need to bask?
Turtles need to bask for various reasons, and it serves several functions (besides feeling good).
A turtle’s health is dependent on its ability to bask. It allows the turtle to dry out completely and warm up. This makes fungal infections more difficult to develop because fungus requires moisture to grow. It is also a natural behavior that they are born with.
If they live in an environment where they cannot bask, they will most likely become stressed, leading to a variety of other health problems. Basking also helps turtles regulate their metabolism and absorb vitamin D.
How to get your turtle to bask?
To entice your turtle to bask, make sure you’ve provided appropriate basking areas as well as a good temperature gradient. The tank water temperature should be 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit for adults and 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit for hatchlings. The basking area should be much warmer, between 90- and 95-degrees Fahrenheit.
Turtles will be sluggish and may not bask if the temperatures (water or basking) are too low. The temperature difference between the water and the basking spot should be significant, as this difference entices them to bask.
You might also want to try out different types of basking platforms. Some people have some success with diy turtle basking platforms.
If the water temperature is much higher than recommended or the ambient air temperature is too low, the turtles are unlikely to come out of the water to bask.
To learn more, check out my article on what to do if turtle can’t get on basking dock.
How to make the right basking spot for turtle
The basking area should be dry, stable, and easy to access. If these conditions are not met, the turtle is unlikely to use your basking area, so make sure it has a ramp and a heat source, such as a UV light. The turtle must easily exit the water and reach the basking spot; this is especially important for hatchlings.
Make an easily accessible sloped area within the tank where the turtle can climb out of the water to bask. This can be a raised area above the water made of rocks or logs or a commercially available turtle raft.
The goal is to create a partially submerged or ramped area where the turtle can easily get out of the water. To encourage basking, this location should be about 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the water temperature.
But be careful: a hot environment will not encourage basking and may even put the turtle at risk of shell burns. Offering food before turtles bask will allow them to digest more easily and may serve as a treat to encourage basking.
Place the heat lamp over the basking area so the turtle can fully benefit from its heat. Place the light out of reach but not so close that it burns your turtles, especially if you have several turtles that stack on top of each other to get closer to the light.
Ensure the bulb does not get wet if the turtle splashes; wet bulbs can shatter and pose a hazard. During the day, leave the heat light on for 10-12 hours.
UVB light is not used to generate heat but rather to allow the turtle to produce vitamin D3, allowing calcium absorption from the diet. It is required in addition to the heat lamp and can be placed over the basking area and left on all day.
Again, turtles can go as long as a month without basking, which may occur in the wild if the temperatures don’t permit them to do so. However, because you are keeping your turtle in a tank and you can control their surroundings, you should encourage your turtles to bask so that they live happy and healthy lives. Hopefully, this article answered your questions on how long a turtle can go without basking.