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How Long Can a Turtle Go Without Basking? (Answered)

Turtles are one of the most famous reptiles of the animal kingdom. Their most noticeable feature is their shell. Turtles can live their lives both as wild animals and as pets. Today, we are going to discuss how long a turtle can go without basking.

How long can a turtle go without basking?

Most of the turtles can go as long as twenty-four to seventy-two hours without basking. But going such a long time without basking is not recommended for turtles. They need sunlight in order to form strong shells and bones. Turtles must bask at least once every day. 

Basking is really important for turtles to survive. They get the necessary UVA and UBA light from the sunlight. These lights are essential for turtle’s natural behavior and daily life activities. Turtles must bask every day for once. 

Most of the time they are seen to be basking in the sun for three hours. Sometimes, they can bask in the sun for up to nine hours.

It is difficult to pin a number on how many days a turtle can live without basking. But some turtles are able to live without basking for a long time. They can easily live in the water for twenty-four to seventy-two hours without coming out to bask in the sun.

Not basking for a long time can pose health threats to turtles. It can weaken the shell and the bones of turtles. They also need sunlight to live for a long time. Irregular basking can decrease their lifespan significantly.

Can a turtle live without basking? Do turtles need to bask every day?

A turtle can certainly live without basking. But the exact number of days it can live without basking is not identified yet. But it is believed that a turtle can live without basking for many days. But living without basking does come at a cost for the turtles. 

They need the sunshine for their shell to harden and remain healthy.

The turtles put their health at risk by not basking. They need to bask at least once every twenty-four hours. It means they need to bask once almost every day. The lowest basking period can be two hours and the highest basking period can be nine hours.

Excessive basking is another common problem found in turtles that can affect their health. If the basking period of their turtle regularly reaches the nine-hour mark, then you will have to consult a vet.

Why do turtles bask?

The first and the most important reason why turtles bask is that they are cold-blooded animals. Cold-blooded animals need to bask in the sun in order to heat up. The sunshine helps them to control their body temperature.

The turtles also need the UVA and UVB light that they can get from the sunlight by basking. These ultraviolet lights help them to function in their daily activities such as eating, mating, diurnal movement, and others. These ultraviolet lights are also a great source of vitamin D.

Vitamin D then helps the turtles to process calcium. Calcium is extremely important for turtles to possess a healthy shell and potent bones. The sunlight can also help the turtles get rid of parasites that love on their shell. So the turtles mainly bask in order to survive.

Why is my turtle not basking?

There are many reasons that can stop your turtle from basking. One of the major reasons is that the turtle you have might be newly bought. Turtles take time to get used to a new environment. That is why your turtle might not be basking immediately.

If your turtle is old and it has stopped basking suddenly, then the reason could be that it is scared and stressed out. Turtles do not do well under stress. Your turtle can also stop basking if it is pregnant. During pregnancy, turtles fail to maintain a regular routine.

Another reason could be that the temperature of the basking area is too hot for your turtle. The suitable basking temperature for the turtles is eighty to ninety degrees Fahrenheit (F). Anything above that would be too hot and anything under that would be too cold for your turtle.

A faulty homemade basking area can be another reason that your turtle has stopped basking. Turtles need to have a basking area that is easily accessible for them.

What happens if a turtle doesn’t bask?

There are a lot of things that could happen a turtle does not bask regularly or stops basking altogether. Let’s talk about them.

Decreases the lifespan:

Basking is important for the turtles if they are to survive. If a turtle does not bask, then slowly this will start eating away at the lifespan of the turtle. Turtles need to bask daily in order to have a healthy and long life.

Weakens the shell:

Turtles need the UVA and UVB light that they get from the sun by basking. Especially, vitamin D of the UVB light is particularly important for turtles. Because vitamin D assists the turtle to absorb calcium. 

Calcium is fundamental for turtles to possess a strong and healthy shell. If a turtle stops basking, its shell will start to get weak.

Weakens the bones:

Turtles also need to bask in order to have strong bones. The calcium they get from the sunlight helps them to form strong bones. If they stop basking in the sun, then their bones will become weaker as a result.

Causes erratic behavior:

Turtles need sunlight to maintain their daily life. If it stops basking in the sun, then changes appear in their regular routine. It might stop doing daily important activities like eating and diurnal movement. It can make them scared and stressed out.

Falls prey to parasites:

The sunlight helps the turtles to get rid of parasites living on its shell. If they stop basking, the parasites can easily live on their body and can cause health problems.

How do I encourage my turtle to bask?

Your turtle might stop basking suddenly. In that case, you can take some steps in order to make it bask once again. They are:

Repair the basking area:

Your homemade basking area might not be encouraging enough for your turtle to bask. You can repair the basking area to make it more encouraging for your turtle. You can start by adding gripping materials to the ramp of the basking area. 

It will make basking easier for your turtle.

Adjust the temperature:

Your turtle might fail to adjust to the temperature of the basking area and the living area water. The temperature of the water has to be somewhere between seventy to eighty degrees Fahrenheit (F).

On the other hand, the temperature of the basking area needs to be in the range of eighty to ninety degrees Fahrenheit (F). You can adjust the temperature to the ideal conditions for your turtle to bask.

Find out the cause:

Sometimes, turtles stop basking because they are scared and stressed out. You will have to find out the cause of the stress and minimize it. Most of the time loud noises can cause your turtle to feel scared. So distance the water tank of your turtle from anything that is too loud.

Your turtle might stop basking when it becomes pregnant. If you can not find out the cause, you can take the help of a vet. It is always better to seek professional help when your turtle stops basking for a long time.

Should I leave my turtle’s heat lamp on at night?

Turtles need to bask during the day. They do not need to bask at night. That is why it is not necessary to keep the turtle’s heat lamp on at night. Your turtle needs twelve hours of sunlight and twelve hours of darkness. So leaving the heat lamp on at night breaks this cycle.

There are various kinds of heat lamps available. It is better to use heat lamps that have both UVA and UVB light. These lights would be perfect for your turtle to bask under. You need to turn the heat lamp off at night to protect your turtle from excessive basking.

If you do not want to break the daily routine of your turtle, then it is important that you do not leave your turtle’s heat lamp at night. They need the darkness just as much as they need the sunlight.

Final thoughts:

Two to three days is the highest time that a turtle can go without basking. But it is not a healthy thing to do for turtles. Turtles need to bask in the sun every day. They usually bask for three hours. But in rare cases, they can bask up to nine hours.