Is My Turtle Basking Too Much?

turtle basking too much

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

Let me draw you a scenario first. Every time you come near to your turtle tank, you see the turtle is basking. If you force the turtle into the water, it will frantically swim and try to find the basking spot. Does it seem similar to your turtle? Then it might be that your turtle is basking too much which can be problematic. In this article, I am going to show you how to deal with it.

Before I jump into the reasons why a turtle might be doing this, let me first tell you that an average healthy turtle will bask about more or less 6 hours a day. If it is doing much more than that, then there is something wrong.

Turtle Basking: Why, When, How? [Infographic]

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  • The most probable reasons are, your temperature setting is not right. For keeping turtles healthy, you need to keep the temperature in an ideal range. The water should be at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit for young turtles. And the basking place should be at 90. There should be at least 10 degrees difference between the water temperature and the basking temperature. To regulate the water temperature accurately, you need to invest in a good digital thermometer. I use this one which is easy to use and provides a fairly accurate reading.
  • Are you feeding the turtle well enough? Does the habitat have everything that a turtle needs to survive? Go through this guide of mine and see if your tank has everything. Chances are something is wrong and your turtle is showing this behavior.
  • The last most probable reason is, your turtle is suffering from RI (Respiratory Infection). It can be very deadly for turtles and requires immediate actions. In the rest of the article, I’ll talk about the symptoms and treatment procedures of respiratory infection in turtles.

Symptoms of Respiratory Infection:

  • Basking longer than usual
  • Showing lethargic behavior
  • Discharge (liquid/snot/mucus etc.) from nose and mouth
  • The eyes are swollen
  • No interest in food
  • Making squeaking sounds
  • Trying to gasp at air
  • Too much yawning
  • Lopsided swimming etc.

If your turtle is showing all or any of these symptoms, chances are that it is suffering from a respiratory infection. Now there is two things you can do.

  1. Go to a HERP vet and ask the vet for help. The vet may do an overall checkup, inject some antibiotics (most probably Baytrill) and give you directions on what to do next.
  2. I’ll highly suggest you go to the vet. However, if for some reason you are unable to go to the vet, then there is a home treatment that you can try. It is not a fail-safe way to get rid of the respiratory infection in turtles, however, this procedure has helped a lot of turtles. Here’s how it works:

Home Treatment for Respiratory Infection

  1. For this treatment, the turtle needs to be in the water throughout the whole time. So, the first thing you need to do is take the basking place out of the tank. It will almost double up the swimming space inside the tank. If your turtle gets tired of swimming, it can rest by standing on the bottom of the tank.
  2. There needs to be a resting place in the tank, preferably under the basking light. The resting place should be set in such a way that your turtle can’t get completely out of the water. The water level should be touching the top of the turtle shell. The resting place should be in such a height that the turtle can easily stick its head out of the water and breathe comfortably. If your turtle seems to be weak, then using props can be a good idea.
  3. If your turtle is extremely weak, then lower the water level. It will ensure that the turtle doesn’t drown itself. As the turtle gets stronger, you can gradually increase the water height.
  4. Now it’s time to talk about the temperature which is extremely crucial for this treatment. You need to set the water temperature between 83.6 and 84.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature should be exactly at this range, not higher or lower. At this temperature range, the water acts more like a blanket which keeps your turtle warmer.
  5. You’ll need to keep the water clean. Do a 50% water change every single day. When replacing with new water, make sure that the temperature of the water matches with the tank water temperature. Otherwise, there’ll be a rapid change in the tank temperature which will shock the turtle. If your tank water is at 84 degrees Fahrenheit, then try to get the new water at 84 before adding to the tank. You can use a separate heater for this. Also, use a digital thermometer to get an accurate reading of the temperature. Also, make sure the new water doesn’t have a temperature more than 84 degrees.
  6. Before adding new water to the tank, keep it in a basket for 24 to 48 hours. It will get rid of all the chlorine elements from the water. For a better result, you can keep the basket under direct sunlight.
  7. You need to cover the top of the tank (about 75%) to create a humid environment, which will, in turn, keep the air humid inside the tank. A bath towel will be perfect for this. This step is necessary because humid air helps to fight infection effectively.
  8. If there is a lot of mucus built around your turtle’s nose, mouth, and neck, then slowly pick the turtle out of the water and use your fingers to gently clean the mucus off your turtle’s mouth, nose and arms. It will make sure that the turtle is not returning the mucus inside its body while cleaning. Do not forget to wash your hands thoroughly with soap after you are done.
  9. For up to a week, continue this treatment. Continue until you can see huge signs of improvement. The improvement signs will include: eating regularly, swimming perfectly, not showing any lethargic behavior, and mostly, showing curiosity to other things.
  10. When there are signs of improvement, now it is time to replace the basking place inside the tank. Now uncover the top and start to gradually decrease the temperature by dialing down the heater. Check the temperature every 30 minutes. Never be impatient and lower the temperature too quickly.
  11. Remember, during the whole time you need to keep the water extremely clean. Clean water will have fewer bacteria in it, which will speed up the recovery process. Also, continue the treatment until the turtle is free from the symptoms.
  12. Don’t be careless when the turtle is treated. Respiratory Infection is an ugly disease and it can poke its head up within a few months. If the disease reappears, start the treatment again.

Also, if you want to know more about respiratory infection in turtles, I’ll highly urge you to read my guide on it. Here is the link.

I hope by now, you have a clear idea on if your turtle is basking too much or not. Observe your turtle and take proper actions. Remember, prolonged basking can be a symptom of different diseases. So, visiting a HERP vet as soon as possible would be the best thing to do in such a case.

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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