Basking is a very important daily activity for a turtle. Basking ensures healthy shell growth and proper shell density. Without basking, a turtle will face many health issues and may suffer an early death. This is more prominent for water turtle species, such as red-eared sliders. Many owners often ask me why won’t my red-eared slider bask. A turtle can refuse to bask for many reasons. I’ll explain all of them in this article.
Your red eared slider should be regularly basking in the setup. if it doesn’t, then there is a problem with your set up or your basking place is not inviting. If the basking place is not dry and warm enough, the turtle won’t be interested to bask. Here are some of the ways to encourage your red-eared slider for basking:
Check the temperature:
Temperature is the single most important thing for a basking area. If the temperature is not right, the turtle won’t be interested to bask. When the temperature is too low, the turtle will feel lazy and won’t show much activity. On the contrary, if the temperature of the water is too high than recommended, the turtle won’t get out of the water.
There should be a prominent temperature difference between the water and the basking area, otherwise, the turtle won’t feel any need for basking. Here is the ideal temperature range:
Water temperature: for adults, the water temperature should be about 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. For hatchlings, the range should be slightly more, 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Basking area temperature: the basking area temperature should be at least 10-15 degrees higher than the temperature of the water. Ideally, it should be in the range 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Features of a good basking area:
- Firstly, the basking area needs to be completely dry all the time. It should be easily accessible by the turtle. if your red-eared slider can’t climb onto the basking area easily, she will be discouraged to bask. Making the basking area ‘easy to climb’ is extra important for hatchlings.
- The basking area temperature should be at least 10-15 degrees higher than the temperature of the water.
- It is a good practice to put a ramp with your basking area. The ramp will make it easier for the red-eared slider to get onto the basking area. You can easily get a ramp from here or make one yourself.
- If you want to make a basking area yourself, only use natural or organic materials. Never treat the basking area with any chemicals. If you are using metals, check that they are not getting any rust over time.
- The basking area should be secured properly. A basking area that is prone to disassemble isn’t very welcoming to the turtles.
- Is the basking area completely safe? The red-eared sliders are escaping master. Make sure that the basking area is completely escape proof and the turtle can’t get stuck between the basking area and the aquarium wall.
- Place the UVB light directly on top of the basking area. It is the best area to set the UVB light so that your turtle can get complete access to UVB rays when basking. Ensure that the bulb is not too much close to the basking area that your turtle may get burnt. Also, take safety measures so that the turtle can’t splash water to the bulb. Bulbs can shatter if they are wet, which can cause a massive accident.
- Red-eared sliders are very private. They don’t like to be disturbed, especially when they are basking. So, stop disturbing your turtle. if she gets bothered continuously, then she can be totally discouraged to bask.
What happens if a turtle doesn’t bask?
In wild, turtles bask under the sunlight. In captivity, your turtle should bask at least 8 hours under a reptile UVB lamp. This is critical for every turtle as turtles get essential vitamin D from it. Without proper basking, your turtle may suffer from shell deformity, low bone density, digestive issues etc. So, it is critical that your turtle should bask.
Should you force your turtle on the basking area?
It is never a good idea to force your turtle to bask. While basking is great for turtles, forcing him to get onto the basking area will only make him more afraid of it. Every time you put the turtle onto the basking area, she will run off from it and jump into the water. So, it is great if your turtle basks, but forcing him to do so is not recommended.
How long do turtles bask for?
There’s no definite answer to this. It depends on various factors such as the species of the turtle, the age of it, the temperature of the water, the temperature of the basking area, humidity etc. Turtles generally bask whenever they need to. There is no specific timetable to this. However, you should keep the basking light on at least 8 hours a day to mimic the natural daylight.
Why do turtles bask with their leg out?
It is actually a pretty interesting scene. You may often discover your turtle basking in the basking area, stretching its legs. There is a scientific reason behind this. Turtles are cold-blooded animals. So, it means they can’t generate heat like we do. For getting heat, they have to depend on external sources. That’s why turtles bask under the sun in wild to get warmth inside its body. While basking, turtles often stretch out their rear legs because it exposes more skin to the sun/bulb. As a result, the turtle will get more heat.
Why is my turtle basking with mouth open?
This behavior is called gaping. It is a pretty common cooling response from animals. Turtles generally gape when they feel too hot. If you discover your turtle keeping its mouth open while basking, then chances are that the basking area has too much high temperature. You need to lower the temperature a bit. Your basking area temperature shouldn’t cross 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Why is my turtle basking with eyes closed?
When turtles feel very comfortable in the basking area, they tend to take a nap/ light sleep with their eyes shut down. It is a very light sleep, so a sudden movement or sound can wake them up. it is nothing you should worry about. However, if you see any signs of swollen eyes, yawning out of water, mucus, lethargy etc. then you need to seek medical attention for your turtle.
What is the proper turtle basking lamp wattage?
Turtle basking lamps are generally available in 25,50,75 and 100 watts. So, often turtle owners get confused on which one to get. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. The thing that matter is, the temperature of the basking area. If you have a small basking area with 1-2 turtles, then a 50-75-watt basking lamp should do fine. On the other hand, for a big basking area with more than 2 turtles, you may need to invest for a 100-watt basking lamp. Your main goal should be to keep the basking area temperature in the 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit range.
Is my turtle basking too much?
Well, it is a hard question to answer right away. Turtles generally bask whenever they need for as much time as they need. However, if your turtle is passing days on the basking area, then it might be a problem. Turtles can pass hours through the day on the basking area, but not days. It needs to come into the water for eating and sleeping. (Water turtles such as red-eared sliders can’t eat any food without being in the water)
If your turtle is sleeping in the basking area, then it can be a sign of health issue. You can try warming up the temperature of the water a little bit at a time. If that doesn’t work, I’ll strongly recommend you to visit a reptile vet.
What bulb is suitable for turtle basking?
Turtles must have UVB bulb on their basking area. It will provide them with essential vitamin D. it is also recommended to use a heat lamp with the UVB bulb to keep the right temperature in the basking area. There are hundreds of types of UVB bulbs are available in the market. However, I prefer Zoo Med’s turtle lamp combo pack the most.
The combo pack contains:
- A halogen heat lamp with 50-watt power to heat up the turtle basking area.
- A 5.0 UVB bulb (compact fluorescent) for providing the essential vitamin D to the turtles. The UVB bulb is from ReptiSun with 13-watt power.
- The lamp combo pack is suitable for almost all water turtle species.
I hope this detailed article answers your question why won’t my red-eared slider bask. If your turtle still doesn’t bask after implementing all the tips described here, then it is better if you seek help from a professional reptile vet. When it comes to turtles, you should always be safe than sorry.