A Guide To The Best Turtle Docks For Large Turtles

best turtle docks for large turtles

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

Those of us who have large turtles, it is often very hard to get a suitable turtle dock for them. Most of the turtle docks available in the market now are suitable for medium to small range turtles. however, in this article, I’ll share with you my three favorite turtle docks for large turtles. These three turtle docks are best in the market right now for large turtles.

The dimension is 17 x 14 x 10 inchesThe dimension is 19 x 8 inchesThe dimension is 23.5 x 14.4 x 4.5 inches
weighs about 5.5 poundsIt weighs about 3.25 poundsIt weighs about 5.8 pounds
made from plasticmade from plasticmade from plastic
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How to choose a good basking platform?

These are the characteristics of a good basking platform:

  • The platform itself needs to be spacious enough for the turtle so that it can have room to move around.
  • The ramp needs to be easily climbable. Ensure that the ramp is not either too slippery or wobbly.
  • The basking dock shouldn’t take a whole lot of place from the habitat.
  • The platform should be able to hold the weight of at least 2-3 large turtles.
  • It must be completely secured and escape proof. Turtles are a very good escape artist and they’ll try to escape if they find anyway.
  • The dock needs to be easily accessible. You can do it by having a submerged ramp with sufficient grips on it.
  • Normally, commercially built turtle docks are made from turtle-safe materials. However, if you are going for a DIY turtle basking platform, then make sure that the material is non-toxic and safe for turtles.
  • The texture is also a very important aspect of a basking platform. The texture of the platform should allow the plastron of the turtle to dry too. Otherwise, it may often lead to serious health issues like shell rot. A fully smooth textured surface often builds moisture near the plastron and lead to serious health conditions.

Best turtle docks for large turtles:

Here are three of my favorite turtle docks for large turtles. All of these are completely reliable and cost-effective.

1. Penn Plax Reptology Turtle Topper

Penn Plax Reptology Turtle Topper

Penn Plax turtle topper is a Jurassic themed turtle topper specifically designed for turtles of all sizes. It is hands down the best basking platform for turtles right now in the market. the platform doesn’t only provide a healthier and more spacious basking area, it also gives you a new way to interact with your turtles.

The dimension if the platform is about 17 x 14 x 10 inches and it fits perfectly on most standard sized aquariums. The topper is made from heavy duty durable plastic which makes it very easy to clean and maintain. The topper is also equipped with a hanging platform which acts as a resting place for your turtle underwater.

There is a docking ramp with the topper which makes it very easy for your turtle to get onto the basking area. The ramp has a grip like textures and it is partially submerged. So, the accessibility of this turtle topper is really amazing.

The clear plastic top cover has two ridges on both sides of it for installing heat lamp and the UVB lamp. Also, it has an easy-to-open grill feature in the middle of the top cover for easy heat and air ventilation. This platform really has everything that a good basking area should have.

  • Healthier and more spacious than most other basking platforms in the market. also, provides a better way to interact with your turtles.
  • The dock is made from heavy duty durable plastic
  • It is very easy to maintain and clean
  • The turtle topper fits perfectly on most commercially standard size aquariums
  • It is equipped with a hanging platform which acts as a resting place for the turtles underwater
  • An easily accessible partially submerged dock for your turtles to easily climb on to the basking area
  • Have two ridges on two sides of the turtle top cover to install heat lamp as well as a UVB lamp
  • The central easy-to-open grill feature ventilates air and heat out of the topper and makes it more comfortable for your turtles.
  • The turtle topper has suction cups with it which secures the topper firmly with the aquarium. It also expands space for your turtles.
  • The dimension is 17 x 14 x 10 inches.
  • The topper fits most standard size aquariums up to 55 gallons.
  • It weighs about 5.5 pounds
What I love:
  • The suction cups that come with this turtle topper are extendable which is really awesome. The also make the topper very secure for a destructive turtle.
  • I absolutely love the clear top cover. its two ridges to install lamps and the central grill feature is absolutely fantastic.
  • The resting platform is what that makes this topper unique from others. My turtles go crazy for it!
Things I don’t like:
  • I believe the interior of the platform can be made more comfortable with a better quality material other than plain plastic.
  • Don’t place the lamps too close to the clear top. The plastic can meltdown with the heat.

Though Penn Plax turtle topper has some issues with it, I really think it is the best turtle basking platform one can choose for their large turtles. I have written a more in-depth review of this turtle topper, if you are interested check it here.

For price and shipping information, click here.

2. Zoo Med Turtle Dock

 Zoo Med Turtle Dock

Zoo Med is a well-known company in the USA for their large selection of reliable amphibian and reptile products. Zoo Med turtle dock is a floating type basking platform for turtles. it comes with a self-leveling feature which makes it adjust to any water level automatically.

The dock comes with an easily climbable ramp which makes it highly accessible. Also, it comes in 3 sizes, so you can get the one that best suits your turtle size.

  • The self-leveling feature of this turtle dock is really unique. It adjusts to any water level automatically.
  • The dock is stable
  • The partially submerged ramp makes it very easy for the turtles to get on to the basking area
  • With the suction cups, the turtle dock is tightly secured with the aquarium glass. Also, the dock is free to move upwards or downwards depending on the water level. So, once you set it up, you don’t have to worry about anything else.
  • The zoo med turtle dock is available in three different sizes: 19 x 8 inches, 15 x 7 inches and 11 x 5 inches.
  • It weighs about 3.25 pounds
  • Made from plastic
What I love:
  • I really love the fact that the dock can be secured with the glass and at the same time can move upwards or downwards depending on the water level. This makes everything fully automated. I don’t have to worry about doing anything.
What I don’t like:
  • The turtle dock is made from plain plastic. I think Zoo Med can do better and use something more durable to make their basking platforms.

Click here if you want to check out the Zoo Med turtle dock.

3. Zoo Med Pond Turtle Dock

Zoo Med Pond Turtle Dock

The pond turtle dock is another great basking platform from the Zoo Med. It is especially great for large destructive turtles. As the name implies, this turtle dock can be used on ponds and large aquariums. The dock has a self-leveling feature which allows it to adjust to any water level. Also, the submerged ramp makes it very easy to get on to the dock.

With the pond turtle dock, you’ll also get an anchor bag with a string. You need to cut the string according to the desired length and tie it to the hook under the dock. Now, fill up the anchor bag completely with clean gravels. This anchor bag will ensure the dock doesn’t float freely around the aquarium or pond.

Also, it comes in 3 available sizes. So, you can choose the one that suits your turtle size.

  • Perfect for large turtles. it doesn’t have any suction cup or magnetic system, so it works no matter how much destructive your turtle is.
  • The anchor bag keeps the dock at a fixed position which helps the turtles to get on to it.
  • The dock is equipped with a submerged easily climbable ramp.
  • You can use it either in a pond or in a large aquarium.
  • I would highly suggest you keep the leveling string as short as possible to ensure the dock doesn’t wander away far much from the original position.
  • The dimension of the dock is roughly about 23.5 x 14.4 x 4.5 inches.
  • It weighs about 5.8 pounds.
What I love:
  • I love the fact that this dock is also suitable for destructive turtles. I heard stories from friends how their turtles have knocked off the suction cups from the glass or destroyed the magnetic system. This dock bypasses all these problems.
What I Don’t like:
  • I think the materials used to make the pond turtle dock are flimsy. Zoo Med really should improve the quality of their raw materials.

I also have written a detailed review article on Zoo Med Pond Turtle Dock. You can check out the article here.

If you want to check out the price and shipping info, click here.

Different types of turtle basking platforms:

Topper Basking Platform:

To me, these are by far the best basking platforms out there in the market. The best feature of this type of basking platform is, they sit on the top of your aquarium. So, they don’t kill any space. Moreover, your turtle gets to enjoy some extra space for basking.

Setting up this type of basking platform is very straightforward. You just need to place it on the aquarium. Cleaning and maintaining the topper type basking platform is also very easy and takes only a couple of minutes.

Most topper type basking platforms in the market come with an attached ramp so the turtle can get on to the basking area easily. They are also designed to look naturally appealing. Another strong suit of these types of basking areas is they are very secure and escape proof. No matter how cunning your turtle is, she can’t escape from it.

I really think topper basking platforms are reliable, comfortable for turtles and cost-effective for the owners.

  • Doesn’t take any space inside the habitat. Moreover, these types of basking areas expand the habitat.
  • Generally, comes with a ramp so these are highly accessible by turtles.
  • Has a large area for turtles to move around easily.
  • Fully secured and escape proof.
  • Some toppers in the market are only suitable for medium to small range turtles.

I think the best topper type basking platform in the market currently is Penn Plax Turtle Topper.

Floating basking platforms:

These are also very popular basking choices for turtles. Many owners prefer these type of basking platforms as they are relatively cheaper, easier to maintain and setup as well as has a simpler design. However, these basking platforms are not as practical as the toppers.

A huge drawback of floating basking platforms are they are not suitable for large turtles at all. Even some floating docks can’t bear the weight of a medium size turtle. these are only good to go if you have a baby turtle. Also keep in mind that, once the baby turtle grows a couple of inches more, you need to shift to a newer basking area.

  • Has simpler design
  • Relatively cheaper than other types of basking platforms
  • Easy to set up and maintain

DIY basking platforms:

DIY basking platforms are getting more and more popular these days. They are very easy to make, costs next to nothing and turtles love them. There is not basically only one type of DIY basking platform. You can make it however you want. Many people make basking areas with Styrofoam, some use natural logs, large river rocks etc.

For large turtles, it is actually better to go with what nature has given us. A large wooden log will be a perfect basking area for large turtles. They are natural and turtles love them. However, before giving one to your turtles, make sure to run it under boiling water. It will clean the log and make it 100% germ-free and safe for the turtles.

  • DIY platforms cost next to nothing to make.
  • They are very easy to make and maintain
  • Turtles generally love these types of basking areas.
  • Many owners often make the mistake of building a basking platform with materials that are toxic to turtles. so, you need to watch out!

What materials are used to make turtle docks?

Till now, various types of materials have been used to make turtle docks. This is a very important aspect of a turtle dock because an inappropriate material can not only be toxic to turtles but it also can lower the water quality of the habitat.

Commercial reptile companies generally use toxic-free plastic to make turtle docks. These docks are completely safe for turtles. however, you do need to pay attention to the material if you are going for a DIY basking platform.

Here are some of the common building materials of turtle docks:


Plastic is a common material for building turtle docks. If you want to use plastic for making the turtle basking platform, make sure that it is non-toxic to turtles. plastics that release BPA (Bisphenol A) are toxic. BPA can cause serious health damage to water turtles.


Foams or we should say Styrofoam is also another popular choice for making basking platforms. They are very light and also can hold a considerable amount of weight. Generally, boards made from these Styrofoam are used as the basking platform. However, these boards vary largely on quality, strength, and density.

If you want to make your turtle basking platform with Styrofoam, choose the one that is smoother and durable. Foams that are made from Ethylene Vinyl Acetate works the best.

Never use the foams that you can get from arts and crafts store. These foams are very flimsy and your turtle can break it apart in a second. Also, these foams break apart very easily into flakes and crumbs. These crumbs can be potentially harmful to your turtles.

Metal Sheets:

I have also seen some people make their turtle basking area from metal sheets. Metal sheets are very durable, hard and last a long time. However, they get rusted and corroded very easily. It is worse if you something like carbon steel. Aluminum can be a good option, but it can still get corrosion.

If you do want to go forward with metal sheets, apply a layer of preventive coating on top of the sheets to prevent rust and corrosion. Make sure the coating is safe for turtles.

Ceramic tiles:

Like metal sheets, ceramic tiles are durable, hard and they also last for a really long time. However, these tiles are not subjected to rust or corrosion like the metal sheets. These tiles are also more visually pleasing than metal sheets.

However, they also have several downsides. Ceramic tiles are a lot heavier than metal sheets and very harder to maintain. Also, they don’t have the buoyancy like foam. If you want to use ceramic tiles as a basking area, you need to absolutely make sure that the tile is tightly secured and your turtle can push it off. If the tile is pushed off by anyway, it’ll create a massive havoc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How long should my turtle bask?

There is no definite answer to this. It all depends on your turtle’s mood. Someday it can bask for 3 hours only. On the other hand, it is also not uncommon for a turtle to bask for up to 8-9 hours.

Just make sure everything is right in the habitat and you don’t need to worry about how long the turtle is basking.

Q. How often should my turtle bask?

Again, I am sorry I can’t give a definite answer. Every turtle should bask on a dry platform under a UVB light source for at least a few hours everyday. The time duration can vary depending on your turtle’s mood & behavior.

Final Thoughts

So here is my detailed guide to buying the best turtle docks for large turtles. I hope the article will help you to choose the best basking platform for your precious turtles. let me know if you are having any problem in the comment box below.

Happy turtle keeping!

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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