Why is My Turtle Not Basking

For aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles, basking is necessary for their survival. As a turtle owner, it is important that you recognize how important it is that you have an adequate basking setup for your turtle. One of the most common mistakes I see from first time turtle owners is that they don’t know how to properly set up a basking area in their tank.

Now you might be wondering why is basking so important. Additionally, you might start to worry if your turtle refuses to bask.

The answer to the first question is that turtles need basking to absorb UV-A and UV-B light. UV-A light helps a turtle regulate their moods, kick off their digestion, and also helps regulate their body temperature.

The UV-B light also instigates the production of vitamin B3 in turtles. If you are searching for lights for your tank, you should check out my article on UVB lights for turtle.

Therefore, if your turtle is not basking, it is certainly a cause for concern. Let’s solve the problem by finding out the reasons of why a turtle chooses not to bask:

Reasons Why Your Turtle is Not Basking

The main reason a turlte isn’t basking is because of a new environment, specific preferences, wrong temperature, and physical barriers. Additionally, your turtle might actually be basking when you aren’t looking at the tank.

1. The Environment Is New to Them:

Most new turtle owners face the problem of their turtle not basking, especially when a turtle is new to a tank. It may take a while for a turtle to get adjust and feel comfortable in their new environment, so they may leave their usual practice of basking for some days before settling into the tank.

You should know that your turtle will most likely be fine if they only skip basking for a couple of days.

2. You aren’t aware of your turtle’s basking preferences:

Here’s an interesting fact about turtles, they can bask in two ways. Either they choose to bask in the water, or they bask outside water. There is a possibility that you don’t know which type of basking environment your turtle needs.

Some turtles, such as red eared sliders, prefer to bask while they float on top of the water. Others, such as painted turtles, are known for basking on object floating in the water, such as logs. There are also some turtle species that prefer to bask on dry land.

If your turtle isn’t basking on land, you should try putting a large floating log in your tank and see if your turtle will bask on it.

3. The Basking Temperature is too Hot Or Too Cold:

The optimum temperature for a turtle to bask is between 90-95 degree Fahrenheit. If you’re not able to maintain this temperature, your turtle may behave sluggish and not take interest in basking.

The water temperature should be around 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the basking spot temperature should be between 90 to 95 degrees. If there’s no difference between the two temperatures, your turtle might not bask.

To learn more, check out my article on what temperature should a turtle tank be?

One of the key reasons for turtles basking is to maintain their body temperature. Since they are cold-blooded animals, they need to control their body temperature through an outward source. If you fail to provide this temperature difference to them, they will not bask.

This is why I always recommend that you keep a thermometer in your turtle tank.

4. The Basking Area is Not in Reach:

Some turtle owners do not realize the importance of accessibility of the basking platform. They set it too high or too inclined in the tank so that the turtle is unable to climb up it.

The inaccessibility can be the main reason your turtle doesn’t bask (after all turtles do not believe in working too hard).

If you are still deciding on a basking platform, you should check out my article on turtle basking platform ideas.

5. You May Have Missed Your Turtle Basking:

In rare cases, a turtle owner may miss the chance of seeing the turtle bask. It is most likely to happen when you’re away to run errands and your turtle decides to warm itself under the UV light. Your turtle might also bask while you sleep at night.

If this is the case, there’s a fair chance that you will see your turtle basking some day.

What Can Go Wrong If My Turtle Quits Basking?

Basking is essential for your turtle’s health. If your turtle stops basking due to any reason stated above, it can face problems such as:

  • Bone deformity
  • Shell rot
  • Shell distortion
  • Low bone density
  • Digestive issues since the UV-A light helps in digestion.

To learn more, check out my article on common pet turtle diseases.

How Long Should My Turtle Bask?

The basking time for your turtle depends on the species to which it belongs, the age of the turtle, and the temperature and humidity of the basking platform.

Bottom line

Turtles need basking to regulate their bodily functions. If they do not bask, they may suffer and experience deteriorating health conditions. As a turtle owner, it is your responsibility to provide your turtle with a secure basking platform that is easily accessible for them.

As a last precaution, keep in mind that a basking platform should be made of a material that doesn’t disturb the aquatic environment of your pet.

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