Do Turtles Need A Heat Lamp At Night

Do Turtles Need A Heat Lamp At Night? Will They Survive?

Turtles make the best pets because they are not very demanding. However, that does not mean they do not need an excellent living environment. One of the things that constitute a good environment is the presence of a heat lamp.

So, do turtles need a heat lamp at night? No, they do not. It is preferable to mimic the natural conditions of the environment. That is the night and day cycle. So at night, you should not turn on a heat lamp. However, if your area is chilly, you must try other external heat sources.

Turtles are cold-blooded creatures requiring a heat lamp to regulate their body temperature. You’ll notice that your turtle moves slowly at night; because they require heat for metabolism. This article will examine everything you need to know about why turtles require heat lamps at night.

What Is A Heat Lamp?


A heat lamp is an electrical device used as an external heat source for cold-blooded animals such as turtles. 

A heating lamp produces infrared radiation, which helps the turtles increase their body temperature, especially during cold seasons. Turtles must have a heating lamp present so that they can live healthily.

A Heat Lamp

Every turtle owner needs to know that some turtles require a different type of heating lamp. You might require a high or low-wattage heating lamp. It depends on the turtles’ age and species.

Do Turtles Need A Heat Lamp At Night?

No, they do not. As I said before, you should try and mimic the day and night cycle, especially for captive turtles. If you reside in a region where nighttime temperatures are not very cold, you should consider turning off the heat lamp. 

Do Turtles Need A Heat Lamp At Night

Do not worry. Your turtle will survive. If the temperatures are freezing, you could use other alternatives to heat lamps, such as a mercury vapor lamp. We will look at these alternatives later in the article.

Why Do Turtles Need A Heat Lamp?

Like all reptiles, turtles are ectothermic, implying they are cold-blooded. They cannot control their body temperature. So, they require an external source of heat to stay warm. If you have a pet turtle, you must provide them with a heat and light source.

A heat lamp is necessary for turtles because it allows light and heat. The heat aids the turtle in maintaining its body temperature. During the day, turtles only need a light source

It is necessary to keep a twelve-hour light period and a twelve-hour darkness period is essential. So, at night ensure you turn off the lights. Why? Because as diurnal organisms, turtles require the circadian rhythm. 

An interrupted sleep schedule will result in serious health issues. Light is of two types UVA and UVB light.

UVA light is essential because it provides the turtle with heat similar to the sun. 

It regulates the turtle’s body metabolism, preventing metabolic bone disease. It is also necessary during the breeding season and for strengthening the turtle’s immune system.

Why Do Turtles Need A Heat Lamp

UVB light is also critical because it helps turtles produce vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 helps the turtle’s body synthesize calcium, strengthening its bones and muscles. Without calcium, the turtle’s shells and bones will not grow properly. 

Turtles also need UVB light to enable proper digestion of food. For your turtle to be healthy, maintain an air temperature of 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit. 

See also  How Many Eggs Do Box Turtles Lay And How Often?

To regulate the light periods, you can purchase a timer that automatically switches the lights on and off when you set them to. This way, you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to turn on the lights for your turtle because the entire process will be automatic. 

According to research, you should reduce the water temperature by 10 degrees at night. A good example of heat lamps is incandescent bulbs and halogen lamps.

It is also essential to know where to position the heat lamp. You should put the heating lamp close to the basking area. Also, the basking area’s temperature should be 10 degrees higher than the water temperature. 

This arrangement allows the turtle to regulate its temperature by moving to the basking area; if it feels cold and hot, it moves back into the water. Ensure you have a reptile thermometer to measure the water temperature. 

It is essential to select a heat lamp with an adjustable thermostat. This allows you to regulate the temperature of your turtle’s aquarium easily.

You can increase the temperature to 95 degrees Fahrenheit if your turtle is ill. Remember that different turtles require different heat lamps, so know your turtle well first. 

Can Turtles Survive Without A Heat Lamp?

No, turtles cannot live without a heat lamp. As I previously stated, turtles cannot regulate their body temperature. They depend on the environment, i.e., if their surrounding temperature drops by one degree, so does their body temperature.

Extended periods without heat can be hazardous to your turtle. Turtles are very susceptible to cold-related diseases such as respiratory diseases. So, if you leave your turtle without a source of heat, you might be slowly killing it.

Can Turtles Survive Without A Heat Lamp

Also, cold temperatures slow the turtle’s metabolism. You have probably noticed that your turtle is not very active at night or early in the morning. 

This is because the turtle needs heat to activate its body organs. Without heat, the turtle is even unable to eat therefore becoming weak. Apart from helping with the turtle’s metabolism, heat lamps also assist with the development of strong shells and bones. 

Also, a turtle can absorb UV lights, which helps it produce vitamin D3 and enhances the turtle’s mood.

Also read: Do Turtles Need Sunlight?

What Temperature Is Ideal For Your Turtle?

The ideal temperature solely depends on your turtle’s age, health, and species. Generally, the perfect temperature range is 75-95 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Teen or juvenile and baby turtles need higher temperatures to promote their growth. Here is a table showing different temperature requirements for various species of turtles.

Degrees (C)Degrees (F)             Degrees (C)Degrees (F)
Turtle SpeciesJuvenile turtles  Adult turtles
Box Turtle32-35°C90-95°F26-32°C80-90°F
Red-Eared Sliders29-37°C95-100°F32-35°C90-95°F
Painted Turtle26-32°C80-90°F23-26°C75-80°F
Snapping Turtle29-37°C95-100°F32-35°C90-95°F
Map Turtle26-32°C80-90°F24-26°C75-80°F
Mud Turtle32-37°C90-100°F32-35°C90-95°F
Pond Turtle32-37°C90-100°F29-35°C85-95°F

What Is The Optimum Wattage For A Turtle Heat Lamp?

The turtle’s age also determines wattage, health, and species. Generally, the ideal wattage is from 50-100 watts. The size of the tank also factors in because a larger tank requires a heat lamp with more wattages. For example, a 125-gallon tank requires a 100-watt bulb.

See also  Florida Softshell Turtle: Size, Lifespan, Care Guide

Another thing to consider is your turtle’s height. A turtle four to six inches should be in a medium-sized aquarium that requires a 50-watt heat lamp. If you have more than two turtles, ensure you have a larger tank. Most turtle owners also ask about how to position a heat lamp.

What Is The Optimum Wattage For A Turtle Heat Lamp

When placing a heat lamp, ensure the light does not heat the whole tank. That is, the turtle can bask and cool itself all at the same time. Position the heat lamp vertically and for a 50-watt light, place it six to eight inches away from the turtle.

For a 75-watt lamp, put it seven to nine inches away from your pet; for a 100-watt light, place it nine to eleven inches away. You should position anything above 100 watts 11-14 inches away. Ensure the heat lamp does not touch the water.

Do not leave it on for long when introducing the lamp to the turtle. Turn it on for 30 minutes, and then turn it off. Let the turtle gradually acclimate to the heat lamp. After a while, follow the 12-hour rule according to the turtle habitat.

What Are The Alternatives Of Heat Lamps?

Here are some of the alternatives you can use apart from heat lamps.

What Are The Alternatives Of Heat Lamps

Mercury Vapor Lamps

They are an excellent alternative because they provide heat and UVB light which is essential for a turtle’s health. Most light bulbs, like incandescent bulbs, do not provide the turtle with UVB light, so you have to buy a different UVB light. 

The mercury vapor bulb saves you space, especially if you have a small aquarium. However, the cost of a mercury vapor bulb is the same as that of a UVB bulb and a heating bulb.

Also, some turtle owners say that the mercury bulbs are not safe because they can explode. So, try to use a heating lamp for your turtle’s sake.

Heat Pads

They are an alternative but are not very efficient. A heating pad is a device that produces heat from below. A turtle, on the other hand, requires heat from above. Also, heat pads can become too hot and hurt your turtle. 

Related Questions

Here are other related questions.

1. How long should you keep the heat lamp on?

You should keep the heat lamp on for 12 hours. This is to mimic the natural day and night cycle. Therefore, you should turn off the heat lamp at night. However, in cases of cold temperatures, you can keep the heat lamp on for up to 15 hours.

2. What happens if you don’t switch on your heat lamp?

The turtles will be fine for up to a week, but beyond that, they will begin suffering from serious health issues. Baby turtles will not survive living without the heat lamp because, unlike adult turtles, baby turtles cannot adjust to their environment.

Related: What Do Turtles Like to Play With?


Points to remember are; that turtles do not need a heat lamp at night. They need 12 hours of light and darkness. However, a heat lamp is necessary to ensure that the turtle is healthy. Turtles cannot regulate their temperature and rely on an external heat source. 

Also, ensure you have the proper lighting, i.e., a UVA and UVB bulb. Temperature requirements vary from turtle to turtle and depend on the turtle’s age. I hope this article has shed light on all questions regarding, “do turtles need a heat lamp at night?”

Do Turtles Need A Heat Lamp At Night

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *