Why Is My Turtle Not Basking

Why Is My Turtle Not Basking? Reasons And Solutions

Like most reptiles, turtles are also cold-blooded creatures. So, your pet turtle must bask to raise its body temperature. You may get worried if your turtle stops basking.

Why is my turtle not basking? One reason why your turtle may not be sunbathing is that the basking temperatures are too high. So, you must ensure the temperatures are between 85 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It could also be that your turtle is stressed, pregnant, sick, scared, or the basking spot is out of reach.

But do turtles really have to bask, and if so, how often? Here is a detailed guide with answers to your questions about your turtle not wanting to sunbathe and the solutions.

Why Is My Turtle Not Basking? Reasons And Solutions


Basking is healthy for turtles as it helps them regulate their body temperatures. But what happens when your pet turtle refuses to bask? Below you can find the reasons and solutions to this typical behavior. 

Why Is My Turtle Not Basking

1. Unstable basking temperatures

Your turtle may refuse to bask because of extreme temperatures. This is because your reptile could get burned if the basking spot is too hot, leading to shell rot. Similarly, temperature drops can make longneck turtles refuse to bask.


The solution to this problem is to ensure the basking temperatures range between 85- and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. So, you must conduct consistent temperature checks and invest in:

  • Thermometer
  • Powerful UVB bulbs and heat bulb
  • Thermostat

2. Type of basking platform

Some turtle species, like the red-eared sliders, may prefer to bask outside their water tank and others on top of the water. This means that if you provide one type of basking spot, your adult slider may refuse to bask because it is not its preference.

Type of basking platform


When your adult slider is still new, make sure to provide it with something to bask on the water. Also, install another solid structure for basking on land.

3. Change of environment

When your turtle is still new, it may be anxious to bask because of being in a different environment. The changing scenery and turtle tanks can be very stressful for these creatures.


The best solution is to let your turtle get used to its new home. And in about a week or so, it will start basking.

4. Inaccessible basking platform

If the turtle finds the basking spot challenging to access, it will not want to bask. This might be because the platform is too high, too inclined, or lacks enough grip, making it unstable.


You should install a ramp so the turtle can easily climb out of the water. The ramp should not be steep. Secondly, you can place some patches of rubber or plastic on the ramp for enhanced grip. This is because the ramps tend to be slippery.

See also  Do Turtles Make Sounds? What Type Of Sounds Do Turtles Make?

5. Basking light

Inadequate basking light is yet another reason your turtle does not want to sunbathe. This is because the light is supposed to provide your reptile with sufficient heat. So, if it does not, your turtle will not bask.

Turtle Basking light


You must invest in the best UVB bulb and a heat lamp that is strong enough to provide your turtle with adequate UV lighting.

6. Disturbances

When there are many disturbances, like loud noises and your presence, your turtle may be afraid to bask. Any disruption can stress water turtle species, causing them to retreat.


Start by getting rid of all the disturbances, so your pet turtle feels safe to sunbathe. Some of these include:

  • Other pets around the tank
  • Loudspeakers in the house
  • Noisy kids near the tank
  • Your presence

7. Sick turtle

A turtle that is feeling unwell may also be hesitant to bask. You can tell if your longneck turtle is sick by watching out for common signs such as:

Sick turtle
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Wheezing and sneezing
  • Lack of appetite


If you notice any of the above symptoms, you simply take your pet to a professional reptile vet.

8. Pregnancy

When your female turtle is pregnant, you might notice a change in its basking routine. Some gravid turtles want to bask more, while others may stay for several days without basking.


You just wait for your pregnant turtle to lay the eggs, and it will resume its normal basking routine.

Also read: Turtle Bleeding From Mouth, Tail, Or Nose?

Do Turtles Have To Bask?

Yes. Turtles must bask daily under a UV light bulb or in the sunshine. This is because it is suitable for their health. Sunbathing helps these reptiles easily regulate their body temperatures since they are cold-blooded.

Do Turtles Have To Bask

Another reason turtles have to bask is because they need UV-A light and UV-B light throughout. These types of light help with:

  • Breeding
  • Mood regulation
  • Production of vitamin D3 for bone growth
  • Metabolism

Additionally, basking helps your pet turtle dry out completely. As a result, this prevents frequent fungal infections. It also helps minimize ectoparasites and leech loads on your turtle.

How Often Should Turtles Bask

Similar to wild species, captive turtles have to bask every day. However, there is no specific time of how long your turtle should sunbathe. That said, most water turtle species sunbathe for between 2 and 3 hours on average. But sometimes, the turtles can bask for 8 to 9 hours.

How Often Should Turtles Bask

That said, sometimes your turtle may bask for much longer than necessary. This happens due to the difference in temperature in the basking area and water tank. Also, if your reptile is ill, it may sunbathe for longer times than usual.

See also  Why Does My Turtle Swim Frantically And Is So Restless?

How Long Can Turtles Stay Without Basking?

Adult water turtle species can stay for several days or up to 4 weeks without sunbathing. This could be because your turtle is sick, pregnant, stressed, or scared. However, baby turtles can only survive for 1-2 weeks without basking. This is because their bodies need more heat than their adult counterparts.

How Long Can Turtles Stay Without Basking

If a turtle stays for more than a month without basking, its health could deteriorate. For instance, it could develop shell rot, fungal infections, respiratory infections, and calcium deficiency. 

Should I Force My Turtle To Bask?

No. If your aquatic turtle refuses to sunbathe, don’t force it. Doing so will only stress the turtle. Even worse, your turtle may become aggressive and bite you. Instead, you should work on providing the ideal conditions for basking, such as:

Should I Force My Turtle To Bask
  • Adequate basking setup
  • Excellent lighting and heating needs
  • Controlled temperatures
  • Quiet basking environment


Have more questions about why your turtle is not basking and the solutions? Check out these frequently asked questions.

1. Can Turtles Bask in Water?

Yes. Some turtles prefer to sunbathe outside the water. However, others, like the mud turtles, bask on top of the water. Therefore, you must provide them with a floating basking platform within their water tank setup.

2. What Do You do When Your Turtle Doesn’t Bask?

You should start by ensuring the temperatures at the basking area are neither too hot nor too low. In addition, you must get rid of any disturbances around and ensure the basking platform is within reach. Also, you must ensure you are using the correct basking light.

3. Is There Anything like Turtles Basking too Much?

Yes. This happens when your turtle is not feeling well or when the water temperatures in the tank are too low. In addition, your turtle could sunbathe for too long to avoid an aggressive tank mate.

Related: How To Get A Turtle To Come Out Of Hiding?


Your turtle, not basking, is typical behavior, which can happen for various reasons. There is nothing to worry about, though, because there exist many solutions to this problem. After all, it is unhealthy for your turtle to stay long without sunbathing since it could negatively affect its health. However, never force your pet turtle to bask.

Why Is My Turtle Not Basking

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