Do Turtles Need a Heat Lamp? (All Species Covered)

Whether you’re just getting started with the hobby of turtle ownership or you’ve been enjoying turtles in your home for years, it’s essential to understand what they need to stay healthy and happy.

Turtles need heat, especially in the wild, where they can experience drastic changes in temperature throughout the day and year.

So if you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor turtle enclosure, you should equip it with the appropriate heating lamp. Here are some tips on which one to use and set it up, so your turtle doesn’t get too hot or cold.

Turtle Lighting Requirements

Lighting is an essential component of your turtle’s habitat. It keeps them happy and healthy. If you are unaware of how to set up a proper environment, consult with an expert or visit your local pet store.

All turtle species need at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day and heat from basking lamps during winter if temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Indirect sunlight will work during warmer seasons as long as they have access to direct light. And one of the best ways to measure your turtle’s lighting needs is by checking their shell color.

  • The ideal shell color is bright yellow, indicating that they are getting enough UVB rays.
  • Brown shells indicate inadequate UVB rays
  • Greenish shells mean too many UVB rays are being provided
  • White shells mean there isn’t enough UVB radiation in their environment.

Make sure to check your pet regularly so you can adjust their habitat accordingly throughout different seasons and years.

turtles basking

Suitable Basking Lamps

Red-eared sliders are freshwater turtles that need to bask to be healthy. A basking lamp mimics natural sunlight and helps turtles regulate their body temperature.

Red-eared sliders are nocturnal creatures, so they spend most of their time hiding in dark, quiet places. Unfortunately, you’ll have to rely on artificial lighting to supply them with heat and UV rays.

If you choose your basking lamp wisely, it can be one of your best tools in raising healthy red-eared sliders.

UVB Bulbs and Lamps for Red-Eared Sliders

There is no debate about the UV-B bulb for a red-eared slider for UVB bulbs. However, the zoo Med Aquatic Turtle UVB kit is the best option. Your turtle will do well under Zoo Med’s T5 HO fluorescent bulb; the best part is it’s very easy to install and maintain, so you won’t have to worry about other more expensive bulbs malfunctioning and burning out.

Reptile Heat Lamp

This lamp is a quality brand made by icepack. All reptiles need heat and UV light; there is no exception to that rule. These bulbs provide a single lamp that mounts on top of your terrarium.

This means you don’t have to worry about how much wattage you’re using or what type of bulb you’re using with your particular heating fixture. Instead, they can be used with any standard incandescent reflector or ceramic fixtures such as those made by Zilla, Zoo Med, and others.


These lamps come in different varieties; The Tekizo UVA UVB lamp is ideal because it has strong lighting, which helps turtles stay warm. This lamp also encourages your pet to bask in warmer areas and bask longer because of its intensity. It’s made from silicone-coated aluminum wires and emits UV light up to 350 nanometers.

Jomddems Reptile Heat Lamp

This is a very popular reptile heat lamp from Jomdems. Its brand name Jomdems is already famous in many countries and regions, including Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.

This UVB Reptile Light is made of high-quality material and a strong light bulb; it will be safe to use. It is also easy to install in your reptile terrarium. So you needn’t worry about its safety problem.

The temperature switch is designed with three settings: low, medium, and high, which allows you to control how much heat your pet receives.

Fischuel Reptile Heat Lamp

Its 4-way clamp can be easily attached to a terrarium, glass surface, or other structure. This adjustable light is ideal for those who do not have an electrical outlet in their turtle’s habitat.

The lamp features a 7W light that produces high-quality visible light with minimal heat emission. It will provide your turtles with proper UVA and UVB lighting essential to good health.

The lamp comes with three separate head positions so you can adjust them according to different needs. For example, you can choose either 30 degrees, 45 degrees, or 60-degree positions based on your needs.

The Use of Basking Lights

Reptiles are cold-blooded animals, and they derive their body heat from their surroundings. However, they are not able to regulate their body temperature internally. Therefore they use external heat sources to warm up their bodies.

Most species of reptiles do not require an external heat source; however, some do to stay healthy. Suppose you have one of these species; you want to provide them with a basking light. A good rule of thumb is if your reptile is native to desert regions or hot tropical areas, it will probably benefit from an external heat source.

However, if your reptile is native to cooler temperate regions, it may not need additional heating. But as always, exceptions can be made, so it’s best to check with your veterinarian before making any assumptions about whether or not your pet needs additional heating.

How Much UV Light Do Turtles Need?

Scientific research shows that freshwater turtles from one of three species—the red-eared slider, yellow-belly slider, and northern red-bellied cooter—require special UV light. If these turtles do not get enough UV light to soak up through their shells, they can develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These species require 14 hours of lighting every day to stay healthy.

Do Red-Ear Slider Turtles Need Heat Lamps?

Yes, they do. The red-eared slider turtle is native to Eastern North America and is one of three species of turtles that can live in a primarily aquatic environment. The red-eared slider belongs to the Emydidae family, including sliders, maps, and musk turtles.

Red-eared sliders are popular among pet owners because they’re small and inexpensive but require lots of care and space.

Without a doubt, they need proper lighting to thrive. However, every turtle will have different lighting needs based on its species and needs.

What Kind of Lighting Do Turtles Need?

Lighting experts recommend using incandescent bulbs in standard fixtures, as they produce a good amount of heat and are available in higher wattages.

Fluorescent bulbs are also good because they produce less heat but enough light.

Halogen lights are another option; however, they don’t emit much visible light but do provide infrared rays that help keep your turtle warm.

LED lights are not recommended for turtles, as they may cause eye damage.

Also, remember that whatever type of bulb you choose must have a UVB rating on its packaging.

Without UVB exposure, your turtle won’t be able to absorb calcium from his diet and will develop health problems over time.

Can Turtles Live Without a Heat Lamp?

Although some species of turtles can live without an outdoor heat lamp, if your turtle is a member of any of these four species, you’ll need to make sure your pet has access to one:

  • Snapping turtles.
  • Alligator snappers.
  • Soft-shelled turtles.
  • Box turtles.