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How To Keep A Turtle Warm Without A Heat Lamp: A Pet Guide


How To Keep A Turtle Warm Without A Heat Lamp

A turtle is one of the most popular pets people have, but it can be challenging to keep warm in the winter, especially if you don’t have the proper equipment. Cold turtles are not the happiest turtles. Keeping your turtle warm in winter is essential for its life.

Fortunately, you can use a few simple techniques to keep your pet warm and healthy at the right temperature without buying unique heat lamps. This article will share practical methods to keep your turtle warm.

How To Keep A Turtle Warm Without A Heat Lamp?

A heat lamp is a necessity for turtle owners all over the world. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a full-sized heat lamp. Luckily, there are some creative ways to keep your turtle warm without having to spend hundreds of dollars on a heat lamp.

You can:

  • Use an incandescent light bulb
  • Let your turtle bask in the sun for a few hours
  • Place the tank near direct sunlight
  • Use heaters: ceramic heat plates, radiant heat panels, and thermos- tubes
  • Use Styrofoam to cover the tank
  • Pour hot water into the tank

What Temperatures Should You Keep Your Turtle At?

If you wonder how to keep a turtle warm, you will have to learn how to maintain the correct temperature in their tank. 

Maintaining the correct temperature is very important because if they get too cold, they could lose their mobility; your turtle could become weak and slow. If the temperature drops too much, they may not be able to move around at all, which could be fatal.

The temperature range for most turtles is between 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Younger (baby) turtles need a higher temperature than this. This is true for all kinds of turtles, including those from warmer climates.

Turtles are more active in warmer weather and less active in colder weather in the wild. Keeping them indoors without a heat lamp has a few challenges.

  • It would help if you kept the right temperature.
  • It would be best if you kept the temperature consistent
  • It would be best to prevent your turtle from getting sick with a cold or the flu. Yes, that is right! They can get cold and flu as humans do. And ear infections too!
  • You may want to purchase a thermometer that can measure the temperature in the tank, so you’ll know when it’s too cold or too hot.

The Turtle’s Environment Is Important! 

To get the best conditions for your pet, you need to have the proper tank setup. A large enough tank for your turtle to swim around in will provide better living conditions than a small bowl.

  • The tank should have a secure lid, proper lighting, and a basking area that is not hot to the touch. 
  • The tank should be able to maintain an appropriate temperature for your turtle. 
  • With a filtration system and an appropriate basking area, you should have at least 20 gallons of water for each turtle.
  • Then, get an aquarium heater and a light fixture with UVB bulbs.
  • Turtles need a combination of both land and water. You must provide them with an enclosure with both elements in it. They cannot survive without these two things. 

As long as proper care is given to the turtle, it can live for 50 years.

Keeping Your Turtle Warm Without A Heat Lamp!

Turtles are cold-blooded creatures, which means they need external sources of warmth to stay healthy. A turtle’s body can’t generate heat, so it relies on its environment to provide warmth. 

This is why you should always make sure your turtle’s habitat has a heating source like a heat lamp or an under-tank heater.

The tank should have some way to maintain a steady temperature and the best way to do this is by using an aquarium heater. 

However, if you’re looking for ways to keep your pet warm without using either of these options and it happens to be wintertime, you can use these methods below:

Keep The Tank Near Direct Sunlight 

These animals spend most of their time in the water in the wild, basking in the sunlight that warms up their bodies. 

They may bask in the sun or on a rock to war out of warm-up. This way, they can maintain a constant body temperature.

It would be best if you placed a turtle’s tank in a warm and sunny place for the turtle. If you live in a cold area, keep them inside near a window. 

If you have to keep them outside, make sure their tank is sunny so they can bask in the sun to keep warm.

Bask In The Sun 

You can let your turtle out in the sun for 1-2 hours and let them bask. This is great because they will utilize the much-needed UV rays to metabolize calcium.

However, you should not leave them unattended; they could wander off or get eaten by predators such as raccoons!

Use An Incandescent Light Bulb

The best way to keep your turtle warm is to use an incandescent light bulb, but be careful about the wattage.

To keep your turtle warm, you can use a regular light bulb around 60-100 watts. It would help if you placed the bulb 12 inches above the tank to don’t burn themselves. 

Incandescent light bulbs provide UVA and UVB light to gain Vitamin D3, which is vital for turtles to metabolize calcium. 

The heat lamp can be too hot for turtles and many reptiles, but the neutral light from an incandescent bulb is just right. They are affordable too!

Cover The Tank With Styrofoam

While turtle is best kept in a tank with a water temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the Styrofoam you use to cover the tank prevents your turtle from becoming too cold.

If you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing, you’ll have to insulate the tank. 

You can use Styrofoam to cover the tank; make sure there are no gaps where air can escape, and the temperature will stay warm enough.

Use Ceramic Heat Plates

The right heat plate is critical to keeping a turtle happy. The ceramic heat plates are the best option for turtles and other tropical pets. 

Ceramic heat plates provide a constant flow of warm air that keeps the air temperature in the habitat at a comfortable temperature.

They come in various sizes, and they are strong enough to withstand the weight of your pet. You can buy them at a pet shop or online. Ceramic heat plates are perfect for overnight heaters since they do not have visible light.

Radiant Heat Panels

Radiant heat panels are a popular choice because they use infrared rays to heat anything that comes into contact with them. They are perfect for heating indoor turtle tanks, typically glass and plastic. 

The panels can easily be set up on the side of your turtle’s tank. They work just like ceramic heat panels, but radiant heat panels cover a significantly larger surface area. They are safe to use and easy to clean too.

The main problem with these panels is that they only heat the surface of whatever they touch. That means your turtle’s tank will be heated, but it won’t necessarily be comfortable for your pet. 

If you choose this option, you may want to add a substrate layer that will help keep your turtle warm. 

They are also challenging to install, so you may need some help from a professional if you decide to go this route.

Use Thermos-Tubes

You can use thermos-tubes to keep your tank warm and comfortable all year round. It would be best to place the thermos-tubes inside the water bowls to heat the water before entering the tank. The thermos-tubes are usually cylindrical and emit a wattage of about 60 watts.

Pour Hot Water In The Tank To Maintain Warm Temperature

Pouring hot water into the tank should be a last resort. Pour a few cups of hot water into the tank to keep the tank warmer. Ensure you have a thermometer with you to measure the right temperature. 

A temperature of about 75 to 82 degrees F should be acceptable. This method will last a short while, so you should cover the tank with Styrofoam to trap in the warmth for a longer time.


Keeping a turtle in the house is one of the most rewarding experiences you can give your children or yourself. 

But if you live in a region that gets cold during winter, you may know how difficult it is to keep their tanks warm, and you’re most likely wondering how to keep a turtle warm.

Turtles need a temperature between 72°F and 82 °F, which is quite hard to do unless you live in a tropical climate. We have provided you with several alternatives to heat lamps, which should be sufficient. We hope this information has been helpful!

Jacob Lindsey

Jacob is a home remodeling guru having worked over 15 years in construction in Reno, NV, mainly focused on home renovations. He likes taking ideas from his clients and making them a reality.

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