Do Box Turtles Need Heat Lamps? [Proper Temperature]

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Box turtles and other reptiles, unlike humans, have no method for regulating their core temperature. The box turtle slows down, stops feeding, and goes into hibernating when the outside temperature drops below its internal temperature, being subjected to a cooler temperature over an extended period of time.

Since heat is essential for a box turtle’s survival, it’s important to provide a high-quality heat lamp. The temperature of the heat lamp should be adjustable by means of a regulator. The optimal temperature for a box turtle habitat is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the temperature where a turtle is living rises, so does its internal temperature. As a result, you must provide the optimal conditions for your box turtle by providing appropriate heating, ventilation, and lighting (including UVA and UVB).

The ideal enclosure temperature for many species of box turtles is discussed here. As a bonus, you’ll find out what to do to ensure your box turtle always has a comfortable environment, including the appropriate amounts of temperature, humidity, and ultraviolet light (UVA and UVB).

Why Do Box Turtles Need A Heat Lamp?

Heat lamps are a convenient way to give your turtle the UVA light they need to thrive. Your turtle’s normal eating, breeding, and resting cycles may be maintained with the use of UVA light.

Your box turtle’s body temperature will be excessively lower if you maintain it in an environment where it seldom goes below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

 That’s because the turtle will naturally slow down and consume less food. It’s possible that your box turtle might weaken and become more susceptible to infections if you don’t keep it at the appropriate temperature for a long length of time.

Therefore, a heat lamp or some other source of supplemental heat should be provided for your box turtle during the day.

Ten to fourteen hours a day of light from the heat lamp must be provided. In the summer, when temperatures are higher, ten hours per day would be plenty.

Keep the heating bulb on for as long as 14 hours a day during the colder wintertime and for hatchlings or ill box turtles. After a while, you’ll figure out what kind of environment your box turtle needs to thrive in.

Under improper conditions, a box turtle may cease consuming. Turn up the heat supply a little while before you want to serve your box turtle in the morning.

The turtle’s internal temperature may be pre-regulated in this manner. If you don’t, it can decide to stop eating.

What Is The Temperature Needs For Box Turtle?

The table below details the appropriate moisture levels and temperature ranges for each species of box turtle.

Compared to Eastern box turtles or Three-Toed box turtles, Western Ornate and Florida box turtles need greater temperatures and lesser moisture levels.

1. Eastern Box Turtle Optimal Temperature

  • Temperature during the day: 70-75°F (21-24°C)
  • Basking spot: 85-88°F (29-31°C)
  • Temperature during night: 65-70°F (18-21°C)
  • Moisture level: Around 60%, higher for hatchlings

2. Western Ornate Box Turtles and Florida Box Turtles Optimal Temperature

  • Temperature during the day: 70-90°F (21-32°C)
  • Basking spot: 85-88°F (29-32°C)
  • Temperature during night: 65-75°F (18-24°C)
  • Moisture level: Around 40%, higher for hatchlings

3. Three-Toed Box Turtles Optimal Temperature

  • Temperature during the day 70-75°F (21-24°C)
  • Basking spot: 85-88°F (29-31°C)
  • Temperature during night: 65-70°F (18-21°C)
  • Moisture level: Around 60%, higher for hatchlings

Zoo Med Aquatic Turtle UVB Heat Lighting Kit: Best Heat Lamp For Turtles

One of the best turtle lights, suitable for use in your box turtle’s tank, comes from the folks at Zoo Med.

Reptile keepers can look no farther than ZooMed bulbs when shopping for UVA/UVB lighting. Both ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB) light may be seen coming from only one bulb.

This set ensures that two separate bulbs may be adjusted in the same porcelain plug and includes both a heat light and a sun lamp. Depending on the circumstance, you may make use of each option simultaneously.

The heat lamp doubles as a UVB source, so there’s no need to go elsewhere for light for the box turtle’s aquarium. Click here check the latest price on Amazon!

Zoo Med also has red and blue lights as well as basking spot lamps with several wattages that you can choose depending on the size of your box turtles enclosure.

What Is The Ideal Position Of The Heat Lamp?

It’s important to have the turtle tank’s heat source and UVA/UVB bulb located in the same area. Since this area of the habitat stays warmer, it’s where your box turtle would devote the majority of its time sunning.

Especially first thing in the morning, it’s still trying to warm up. It can soak up some much-needed UVA and UVB rays in the sun’s warmth.

The enclosure’s warmer zone is also where you should put the food and water bowls. ReptiZoo and Zoo Med both provide dual fixtures for reptile tanks that may be used to replace both the UVA/UVB light and the heating lamp.

What To Consider While Buying Heat Lamps For Box Turtle?

A few things should be kept in mind while selecting a heat light for the box turtle’s enclosure.

1. UVB Radiation Is Not Present In All Incandescent Bulbs:

Keep in mind that the incandescent heat bulb you want to purchase may or may not emit UVB rays, which your turtle will need.

If you want to be sure it’s safe from UVB rays, read the packaging. Otherwise, you’ll need to install a supplementary UVB light source in the aquarium.

2. It’s Important To Double Check The Bulb’s Wattage:

Before purchasing a bulb for the turtle tank, be sure to verify the wattage. It would be stressful for the box turtle to have a greater wattage light installed if the tank is already too tiny.

Conversely, if you have a large tank, you shouldn’t waste your money on a little heat light for your turtles. In all cases, the output is proportional to the wattage of the bulb used.

You’ll need a 50-70 watt bulb to adequately light your moderately big tank and maintain a comfortable temperature in the basking area.

3. Heat Emitters Made On Ceramic Last Longer:

Ceramic heat lamps are less likely to break, therefore your box turtle might well be safe from harm. The glass in regular light bulbs might break if left on for too long.

4.  A Very Powerful Light Source Is Required For A Big Basking Area

You should position the heat lamp directly over the basking region since it is the hottest part of the turtle tank.

Most of the time, the size of the basking area corresponds to the size of the tank you have purchased.

If you want to keep the larger tank toasty warm, you shouldn’t settle for an 80-watt bulb instead, go out and get a 100-watt bulb.

5. The Ceramic Light Helps Maintain A Regular Sleep Schedule:

In the event that you need a nighttime source of heat, ceramic heat lamps are a good option. The box turtle will be undisturbed during its nighttime slumber since it will not emit any light waves in the visible range.

The ceramic heat generator may be left on during the chilly winter evenings and if the temperature drops too low. It can also be left on in addition to the standard heating light.

Can Box Turtles Survive Without Heat Lamps?

No, you must never try anything new with the turtle, and the box turtle needs a warm place to hide at all times, therefore provide it with a heat lamp.

They need the environmental heat to keep alive, and they can’t obtain it in the manner that they do out in the woods.

This is because they are cold-blooded, and hence need supplemental warmth from the outside environment. Therefore, they can’t survive without supplemental heat.

Is A Heat Lamp Required At Night For The Box Turtles?

It’s possible the box turtle may require the heat at night if it’s nearing hatching season. Pregnant turtles frequently sleep on the sunbathing zone or stones of their nests to warm themselves before they hatch.

The additional heat is essential for the body heating process performed just before hatching.

What Happens If You Don’t Use Heat Lamp?

Your box turtle may have breathing problems due to the chilly weather within the tank. Infections may often result in catastrophic outcomes.

The basking area should always be warmer than the remainder of the aquarium. Therefore, you must heat the box turtle’s enclosure by installing a heating bulb.

The heating lamp or standard light is what will keep the tank at a comfortable temperature.

Is Heat Rock Required For Box Turtles?

Your box turtle must have both warm and cold areas in its enclosure to maintain a constant internal temperature.

Lamps, ceramic heat emitters, and heat mats are just some of the alternatives available for keeping the habitat toasty warm.

However, reptiles are at risk when they perch on heat rocks, often known as sizzle rocks. that’s why you need to keep your turtles away from them.

To further increase the temperature within the cage, a heating pad may be put beneath one of the end bars.

Why Heat Rocks Are A Bad Idea For Box Turtles?

Heat rocks, also known as heated rocks, can be dangerous for box turtles and other reptiles for several reasons:

Uneven Heating:

Heat rocks often do not provide even heating across their surface. This can create hot spots that may burn the turtle if it rests on the rock for too long. Reptiles, including box turtles, may not be able to sense heat on their bellies as well as they can on their backs, increasing the risk of thermal burns.

Inability to Regulate Body Temperature:

Unlike mammals, reptiles cannot regulate their body temperature internally. They rely on external sources of heat and their environment to warm up or cool down. A heat rock might provide too much heat without the opportunity for the turtle to cool off, leading to overheating.

Potential Malfunctions:

Heat rocks are electrical devices that can malfunction. There have been instances where heat rocks have overheated drastically or shorted out, leading to fires or severe injuries to the pets.

Inadequate Heat Distribution:

For thermoregulation, reptiles need a gradient of temperature in their environment, from cooler areas to warmer ones, allowing them to move between different temperatures as needed. A heat rock does not offer this gradient, which can be detrimental to the health and well-being of a turtle.


    Box turtles need an adequate amount of heat in order to continue their species. When these turtles are kept in captivity, it is the owner’s obligation to provide an environment with lighting that includes both UVA and UVB rays.

    That brings us to the conclusion. Getting everything organized and the temperatures within the appropriate limits might be a task that requires some time and effort.

    After you have accomplished that, though, all that is required of you is to routinely monitor the temperatures to ensure that they remain at the appropriate levels.

    About Author

    Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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