Can I Use A Regular Light Bulb For My Turtle?

can i use a regular light bulb for my turtle

If you are a Turtle owner, you must be aware that turtles spend most of their lives in water and have an incredibly long life span.

But are you aware that many species of Turtle are endangered?  One hundred twenty-nine of approximately 300 species of Turtle or tortoise are endangered, according to IUCN.

Light pollution is also one of the reasons that disrupt nesting behaviour and cause their death as it leads them away from the sea. Light pollution is the excessive use of artificial lights. It is hence very essential to use the correct and proper lights for the turtles.

Certainly, Turtles cannot be left in the sunlight for a very long period.

The question is if sunlight is beneficial for the turtles or it can harm them?

Turtles need sunlight to regulate their body temperature. They absorb the UVB rays from the sunlight to produce vitamin D3, which is required to process calcium for the development of their shells.

Related Article: Can Turtles And Fish Live Together?

Can I use a regular light bulb for my Turtle?

The answer is No! you cannot use a regular bulb for your Turtle. However, there is more to it which you require to learn about turtles if you still wish to use a regular bulb. The regular bulb must be placed at a distance from the Turtle while basking.  Basking is required for the Turtle to warm up as it is a cold-blooded animal. It usually depends on the environment to heat up the body, so you need to be careful while choosing the right light while the Turtle is basking.

The Turtle requires UVA and UVB rays to warm up and get vitamins and calcium for the body. So as the Turtle owner, while choosing a light, make sure to choose a light that provides UVA, UVB and heat light at the same time. Without proper lighting, the turtles are likely to get sick and die with time.

UVB lights are claimed to be very important for the turtles, so if you are a Turtle owner or wish to be a turtle owner, make sure that you can afford UVB lights for your Turtle.

Which Lamps/lights are best for the Turtles?

There are lamps called “Mercury Vapor Lamps” that provides heat, UVA and UVB light all in one lamp. They are a wonderful choice if you wish to keep your Turtle in its natural phenomenon that is “Healthy”.

Mercury Vapor Lamps consume high electricity compared to Fluorescent UVB lamps or halogen basking lights. Do consider this point while you think of buying Mercury Vapor Lamps. While the lamp is exceptionally useful for the turtles, it can still empty your pocket really very soon as it is an expensive lamp.

Any lamp that you prefer for your Turtle should have a screen under it for safety so that if due to any reason, if they explode, they don’t harm your beloved Turtle.

The basking lights should be placed at a certain distance from the basking area spot. For most adult aquatic turtles, the temperature at the hottest spot of the basking area should be about 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit. For babies and turtles who are sick, it should be between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is a Heat Lamp enough for a Turtle?

No! Heat lamps are not the only lamps that are required for the Turtle to survive in the long term. Heat lamps are usually used for Turtle basking. Apart from that, a turtle also requires lights that emit in the UVA and UVB spectrum. While basking, a turtle absorbs a different spectrum of light that encourages healthy body processes, the production of vitamin D, and the animal’s metabolism.

The Turtle requires sunlight to dry out their shells and skin. As the turtles stay in water for a long period of time, it increases the chances of contracting harmful bacteria or fungi on their shells. If it’s not treated on time, it leads to shell rot. Basking in the sunlight is a way to combat such diseases.

The Turtle uses the heat and light from the sun to regulate their body temperature and to keep themselves warm, but in the home condition, the sun’s rays are replaced by the heat lamp. The Turtle uses the heat lamp to bask and keep themselves warm to reduce the risk of illness.

What is the best Basking Light Wattage?

Turtles need basking lights for appropriate dark and light periods to regulate their circadian rhythms. If their rhythms are interrupted, it can lead them to stress, which ultimately drives health issues in them.

It is advised to keep their lights on for 8-10 hours a day and then switch them off for  10-12 hours.

Let’s check what the best wattage you require for your little friend’s Basking area?

50-75 Watts

If you own less than three turtles and have a relatively smaller aquarium and a small basking area, there is no need for a very powerful lamp. 50-75 Watts keeps the basking area between 90-95 degrees F.

For a 50 Watt bulb, the distance should be between 5-7 inches from the surface of the basking area. If it is any closer than 5 inches, it will provide too much heat, and if it’s more than 7 inches, it will rarely provide any heat.

For a 75 Watt bulb, the basking light distance should be between 7-9 inches from the surface of the basking area.

100 Watts

If you own more than three turtles, have a larger tank and a large basking spot, then you will need a bulb of larger strength. A 100 Watt UV Bulb maintains the basking area between 90-95 degrees F.

For a 100 Watt bulb, the distance should be 12 inches from the surface of the basking area.

More than 100 Watts

If you have many or large turtles, an extra-large tank and a sizeable basking spot, you can use a 150-watt bulb to ensure optimal basking temperatures are maintained.

For a 150 Watt bulb, the minimum distance of 12 inches should be maintained from the surface of the basking area.

For safety purposes, avoid having direct eye contact with the lights that you use for your Turtle. The turtle lights are very bright and can even damage your eyes. As we know, the UV lights are very strong and can even harm us if we stare at them for a longer period of time. While using the lights, make sure you follow these safety norms as it’s very important. Make sure you keep the lights at the correct distance, as mentioned above, for the safety of the Turtle.


If you are thinking of owning a Turtle or if you are already a turtle owner, make sure you provide the Turtle with the best lights possible, which will keep them healthy and safe. The primary focus is to provide them with an environment that makes them feel happy and naturally proactive. The Basking lights can keep them warm, which protects them from illness, while the UVA and UVB lights give them the desired vitamins and nutrients. Following the above steps can keep the Turtle away from disease and lead them towards a stable life.