Proper Temperature Guide For Keeping Tortoises [Must Read]

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

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I struggled with temperature during the first few months of my tortoise-keeping journey. I talked to different keepers, and they all managed to come up with different suitable temperature ranges. I have made a perfect temperature chart for all your tortoises to save you from confusion. 

Proper temperature guide for tortoises,

Basking Temperature Daytime Temperature
(Warm Zone)
Daytime Temperature
(Cooler Zone)
Nighttime Temperature
90 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit 75 – 90 degrees Fahreneheit 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit 60 – 70 degrees Fahreneheit 

The temperature range will change depending on the tortoise species. Read the article to the end to find your tortoise’s exact temperature gradient. 

Safe Temperature Zone For Tortoises 

Tortoises can not just adapt to any temperature you offer them. These creatures have a specific temperature demand that helps them function properly. 

For an outdoor enclosure, you leave the tortoise in the natural weather. The pets will do fine as long as they are native to the region. 

However, a controlled temperature environment is necessary for non-native tortoises. 

Look through the temperature requirements for different pet tortoise species from the below chart:

Tortoise SpeciesAverage Habitat TemperatureAdditional Temperature Information
Sulcata TortoiseThe basking temperature requirement of the Sulcata tortoises can hit 105 degrees Fahrenheit. However, a temperature gradient of 85 – 95 degrees will work during the daytime in other areas.

At night, the temperature should be in the 70s degrees Fahrenheit.
For hatching the perfect male-female ratio from the Sulcata tortoise clutch, maintain an incubation temperature of 86F.
Hermann’s TortoiseHermann’s tortoises do excellent at a basking spot of 90 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit. On average, the enclosure temperature can range between 77 – 87 degrees Fahrenheit. But the temperature should not fall below 65F.The ideal incubation temperature to hatch a Herman tortoise egg clutch is 80 – 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Leopard TortoiseThe night temperature for leopard tortoises should be above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, the daytime temperature can be up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Of course, the basking spot has to be the hottest area of the enclosure. The ideal basking temperature for leopard tortoises is 95 – 100 F.
1. Your leopard tortoise requires a new heating source if the temperature is constantly below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  

2. The perfect incubation temperature for leopard tortoises is 82 – 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Experts suggest raising the temperature to 92 F to yield female tortoises.  
Greek tortoiseThe Greek tortoises require a basking spot at 95 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, the species demands a daytime temperature of 75 – 90 F and a nighttime temperature above 65 degrees.By controlling the temperature, you can control the male and female ratio during incubation. Usually, a high temperature of around 90 – 92 degrees Fahrenheit yields female tortoises.  

On the other hand, you will get only males at temperatures around 82 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the male-female ratio will be mixed when you provide a temperature between these ranges.
Russian TortoiseMaintain a daytime temperature of 85 – 88 degrees Fahrenheit inside the enclosure. During the night, a chill temperature of 75 – 80 degrees is okay. On the contrary, the basking temperature should be in the range of 95 – 100F.1. Russian tortoises require a high temperature when they are ill. For example, do not drop the enclosure temperature below 82 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night.  

2. In usual conditions, the temperature should not drop below 70F.  

3. Russian tortoises need a constant temperature of 87 degrees Fahrenheit during incubation.
Indian Star TortoiseThis species prefers a warm ambient temperature of around 80 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You can drop the temperature a few degrees during the night.

However, the basking temperature should always be in the range of 90 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
The egg-hatching temperature for Indian star tortoises ranges from 80 – 89 degrees Fahrenheit.
Marginated TortoiseMarginated tortoises demand a hot basking spot at 95 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Other than this, maintain a daytime temperature of 80 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit and a night temperature of 65 – 70.1. Temperature inside the marginated tortoise habitat should not fall below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  

2. You can incubate marginated tortoise hatchlings at 89 degrees Fahrenheit.
Egyptian TortoiseA basking temperature between 90 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit suits the Egyptian tortoises. However, the ideal ambient temperature ranges from 80 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit.1. Expected temperature for hatchlings is 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  

2. Egyptian tortoise eggs will hatch at an average temperature of 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Radiated TortoiseThe ambient temperature inside the habitat should not drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night. Instead, a night temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit is preferable.  

The daytime temperature should be between 70 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal basking temperature for the radiated tortoises is around 95F.
The incubation temperature changes for the radiated tortoises from time to time. Initially, the temperature should be around 60 – 64 degrees Fahrenheit. But later, the incubator temperature needs to be adjusted to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.  
This temperature range will vary depending on your incubation arrangement.
Red Footed Tortoise/ Yellow Footed TortoiseThe enclosure temperature gradients for these two species are between 70 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Here, the temperature on the cooler ground is between 70 – 75 degrees, and the warm side is between 80 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Furthermore, the ideal basking temperature for these tortoises is 85 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, the nighttime temperature is below 70F.
1. Ambient temperature in the housing should not cross 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  
2. The incubation temperature should be around 88 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature below 82F does not help in hatching the eggs.
Elongated TortoiseA basking temperature between 85 – 90 degrees is preferable for the elongated tortoises. The ambient temperature during the day should be around the 70s. During the night, drop the temperature to 65 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit.The proper incubation temperature for the elongated tortoise eggs is around 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Burmese TortoiseBurmese tortoises enjoy a basking temperature of 90 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature can go up to 105F, depending on your pet’s requirements.  

The daytime temperature on the warm side ranges from 85 – 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, the cool side temperature gradient should be between 75 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit.   During the night, a few degrees drop below the 75F will do just fine.
The incubation temperature for Burmese tortoises is 86 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Impressed TortoiseImpressed tortoises can live well in a moderate temperature range. For example, the required daytime temperature for this species is 70 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit.   The basking temperature is between 80 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, temperatures between 50 – 65 degrees Fahrenheit are perfect for nighttime. But remember, the temperature will vary depending on your regional weather.
You will notice temperature-dependent sex determination in the impressed tortoises. For example, a high temperature (84 – 86 degrees Fahrenheit) yields female tortoises.  

On the contrary, a lower temperature in the 80s will produce male-impressed tortoises.
Pancake TortoisePancake tortoises require a high basking temperature of 95 – 108 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime will work. For example, the cool side temperature should be around the mid 70s.

Similarly, the warm side has to include a temperature gradient of 85 degrees Fahrenheit and above.   Again, you need to lower the temperature to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
The ideal incubation temperature for pancake tortoise eggs is 86 – 89 degrees Fahrenheit.  
Chaco TortoisesThe overall habitat temperature for Chaco tortoises is 77 – 80+ degrees Fahrenheit. The basking area temperature should be around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.During winter, the outdoor temperature falls. These tortoises burrow in 50 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the cold season.
Texas TortoiseAn indoor or outdoor basking set up with 90 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit works for the Texas tortoises. Temperatures in the other zones should be 5 – 10 degrees lower than the basking range.The habitat temperature should not fall below 70 degrees Fahrenheit or cross 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Tortoises become inactive when the suitable temperature range changes.
Hinge Back TortoisesPreferable basking temperature for hinge back tortoises is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures in warm areas should be maintained between 80 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  

The cool side and nighttime temperature range between 70 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The incubation temperature for hinge back tortoise eggs ranges from 77 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spider TortoiseThe average temperature inside the spider tortoise enclosure ranges from 65 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The lower temperature may drop 60 degrees below in some cases.

Again, the preferable basking temperature for the species is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
1. Hatchlings prefer the warm side to be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Besides, the cooler side should be nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  

2. The incubation of spider tortoise eggs starts at 84 degrees Fahrenheit or above. The owner needs to drop the temperature range to 60 – 65 degrees Fahrenheit after a few weeks. Then he has to restore the temperature to 80 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit again. 


N.B. The temperatures can be ± a few degrees depending on your location and weather updates.

4 Necessity Of Proper Temperature For Tortoises 

You may not take the temperature condition of the tortoise enclosure seriously. But it has severe consequences for the pets. 

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Well, the primary reason for this is that tortoises are ectothermic creatures. In other terms, this species solely depends on the environmental temperature to regulate its body warmth. 

So, what can happen if you mess up the enclosure temperature? Allow me to explain. 

1. Sickness Is On The Way 

With the deviation from the ideal temperature, the tortoises are more exposed to diseases. For example, a low temperature will increase the risk of bacterial infection by compromising the pet’s immunity. Take respiratory illness as an instance. 

Yes, this lung illness occurs mainly because of bacterial attacks. But one of the many causes is a cold temperature. The chill can lead to cold diseases like wheezing, sneezing, congestion, etc. As a result, the tortoise will fall victim to this life-threatening respiratory sickness.

How can you diagnose and treat your tortoise? I have documented the common tortoise diseases along with the healing process here.

2. Appetite Loss

A fallen temperature slows the metabolism of the tortoise. The chill signals the tortoise that winter is coming, and it has to survive on the stored energy.

So, the pet decides to drop its oxygen consumption, heart rate, and activity level. Not only that. The tortoise stops eating to prepare its gastrointestinal tract for the upcoming period.

Hence, you notice a reduced appetite in the tortoises.

Find out why your tortoise is inactive and avoid food from this article

3. Brumation Starts 

As mentioned, tortoises are ectothermic creatures. They slow their metabolism during the cold season.

The best way to survive the severe cold is to sleep through the winter inside a burrow. This period is called brumation. 

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However, brumation does not start right away when you drop the temperature. But if you consistently keep the temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the tortoises will think it is a sign of the upcoming cold. Thus, the creatures will start digging a burrow to cope with the fallen temperature.

Is your tortoise digging a burrow? This write-up will clear your confusion.

4. Look For An Escape 

I have talked about the fallen degrees. What if I increase the temperature inside the enclosure?

Well, just like the reduced temperature, a rise is not good either. The scorching heat is not suitable for tortoises either. 

In fact, the burning heat will make the tortoise uncomfortable. No wonder why experts advise offering some shades around the basking lamp.

To survive the temperature, the tortoises dig a tunnel to find cold ground to cool off the heat. If burrowing does not work, the pets will seek an escape from the habitat. 

How Can You Ensure An Ideal Temperature For Tortoises? 

Temperatures do have a huge impact on the tortoise’s life. Right? But how can you maintain the perfect temperature inside the pet’s enclosure? 

I have raised several tortoise species with only 3 basic heating supplies. Such as, 

1. Heating Lamp 

Heating lights or basking lamps, whatever you call them, are crucial for tortoise enclosure. The bulbs help you to create a temperature gradient inside the habitat. 

To create a temperature gradient, you need to install the lamp at an angle. The spot right under the bulb will act as a basking area. Likewise, the temperature will cool off at a distance from the light.

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2. Heating Pads 

Heating rocks or pads come in handy for outdoor winter enclosures. Of course, you can not install a lamp inside the habitat. So, the pads will do the work of keeping the house warm and cozy for the pets.

3. Thermostat and Thermometer 

Well, both of these supplies are not directly linked to radiating heat. But these will make the temperature regulation and tracking process easier.

You can link the thermostat with the heating sources of the enclosure. This piece of equipment will help you keep the temperature under control. Similarly, the digital thermometer allows you to check the pen’s temperature so that you can regulate it as per requirement.

Before You Go 

Is temperature the only factor behind the tortoise’s inactivity? Learn the other possibilities that make your tortoise lethargic from the below article. 

Why is my tortoise inactive?

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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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