Do Box turtles Need A Heat Lamp?

Do Box Turtles Need A Heat Lamp

Box turtles can get by fine in temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but they benefit from a heated enclosure to keep them warm during the colder months. If you live in an area with cold winters, it’s important to provide your turtle with a warm place to live. Today, we will be discussing when box turtles need heat lamps and why you should give them one in their enclosure.

Related Article: What Does A Box Turtle Need In Its Tank?

Do box turtles need a heat lamp?

Box turtles are cold-blooded animals which means they would require heat from an external source to maintain their body temperature. Box turtles can get by without any external heat, but they will lose energy and become sluggish if their body temperature falls too low. Indoor box turtles do not get the same warmth as they would in the wild from natural sunlight. For this reason, adding a heat lamp near the box turtle’s enclosure will help increase their body temperature and keep them active.

While it is not mandatory to provide a heat lamp to your box turtle, it does help them with their body temperature. The box can get very uncomfortable if the temperature inside its enclosure drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. So, in that case, keeping the heat lamps on would be a good idea.

Do box turtles need a heat lamp at night?

Generally, box turtles would not require a heat source during the night. In fact it can also disturb their sleep cycle. However, when the temperature falls too low, they may need a heat lamp to get a comfortable sleep on colder days. Experts advise turning the heat lamp on during the night if the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the tank is insulated to hold the temperature, box turtles will make the necessary adjustments by burrowing into their substrate to conserve body heat. You don’t need to turn the heat lamps on at night, and the turtle will manage just fine without your help.

To give your box turtle warmth, one should use ceramic heat emitters. These do not emit light and so do not disturb your box turtle’s sleep cycle even if you turned it on during the night. Ceramic heat emitters are safer for your box turtle, and they last longer than light-emitting bulbs.

How long should the heat lamp be kept on in my box turtle enclosure?

A box turtle needs a warm environment to survive. To keep your box turtle healthy and active, you should keep the heat lamp or UV light on for at least 8-12 hours during day time. The turtle will be more active and less likely to get sick if they have given with proper setup.

Pet owners keep box turtles indoors most of the time, not fulfilling their heat requirements. Box turtles need sunlight to live and depending on the box turtle’s location it may not receive enough sunlight to stay warm.

The best way to keep a box turtle warm is by providing it with a few hours of sunlight per day and additional warmth from a heat lamp. The basking spot for a box turtle should be the warmest part of their enclosure. Heat lamps should be focused on this spot to provide the most heat.

Do box turtles need a heat lamp in summer?

Box turtles need a heat lamp all season, whether it is winter or summer. A heat lamp provides warmth which helps them maintain their body temperature. A heat lamp should be switched on during the day for at least 8-12 hours to provide the necessary light and warmth to them. 

Box turtles are ectothermic animals, which means their body temperature depends on the ambient environment. The ambient environment should be warm enough so the turtle can regulate its body temperature, but not too warm, or they will overheat and become sick. 

Box turtles can thermoregulate well in most climates, but they do best in areas with a mild climate year-round. The ideal temperature range for an adult box turtle is about 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. For juvenile turtles, it is 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, box turtles also need access to sunlight or UVB light to produce vitamin D3, which is necessary for calcium absorption. Apart from that, they also need UVA light to keep them active all day long. The rays also help the box turtle’s metabolism, keeping them healthy and strong.

Use your UV bulb in conjunction with heat lamps to give your turtle a healthy environment. Box turtles do not need any light at night. However, if the outside temperature is too low, you can use ceramic heat emitters to warm the turtle enclosure. Otherwise, you can also turn the heat lamp on before going to bed. This will make their enclosure warm so they can sleep well. 

Related Article: Do Turtles Need UVA or UVB?

Do box turtles need a heating pad?

Heating pads or mats are not appropriate for box turtles. These are beneficial for some reptiles, such as snakes or lizards, who need a warm environment to survive in cold climates. These pads create a heated surface that you can place on the turtle’s basking spot or where it sleeps usually. Heating pads are designed for other reptiles and do not deliver heat the way box turtles need. Besides that, heating pads can also cause heat injury or burn to your box turtle. 

Box turtles need heat from above to maintain body temperature and digest their food. Heat lamps provide this heat more effectively than heat pads, as the lamps emit a vast spectrum of heatwaves. Depending on the size of your box turtle enclosure, you can pick more wattage heat lamps or place more lamps accordingly.

How to keep your box turtle warm?

There are various ways you can help your box turtle keep warm. The easiest solution is to use a heat lamp. However, you can not keep a heat lamp on during the night on colder days as it will disturb the box turtle’s sleep cycle. Rather you can opt for ceramic heating devices or emitters that do not emit light but heat only.

You can keep heat emitters on during chiller nights when the outer temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Box turtles can survive a temperature as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but this could be torture. Ensure that your turtle tank has nice substrate bedding so your box turtle can burrow themselves under it to keep them warm. 

Related Article: How To Keep A Turtle Warm Without A Heat Lamp?


In conclusion, it is best to keep your box turtle warm and comfortable by providing a heat lamp. Heat lamps are a substitute for sunlight warmth, and it helps box turtle regulate their body temperature. Experts advise keeping the heat lamps on for at least 8-12 hours during the day and should be placed just above the basking area to keep their temperature higher than the rest of the tank. Also, heat lamps should not be kept on during the night; otherwise, they disturb your turtle’s sleep cycle. Box turtles usually don’t need any heat source at night, but if the temperature goes below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you can use ceramic heat emitters to give your turtle warmth.