How To Keep A Turtle Warm Without A Heat Lamp?

how to keep a turtle warm without a heat lamp

Being a cold-blooded animal turtle needs to regulate its body temperature. Turtles usually rely on the external environment to regulate their body temperature.

Every turtle has different requirements. The turtle owners make use of heat lamps to keep their turtles warm. However, as a turtle owner, it can get challenging to manage the turtle if you do not have a heat lamp. It’s necessary to provide the essentials to the turtle for it to survive longer. The heat lamp is one of the essential requirements for the turtle to keep its body warm. Turtle can maintain its body temperature if it is warm, but it becomes difficult in cold climates.

It’s very important that you provide a heat lamp for your turtle, but without heat lamps, are there any other alternatives to keep your turtle warm? Let’s find out.

Related Article: Can I Use A Regular Light Bulb For My Turtle?

How to keep the turtle warm without heat lamps?

Turtles can be kept warm by keeping the turtle tank in sunlight, using a heating pad, warm water, candles, aqua thermometer, etc.

Below are the alternatives you can use for the turtle to keep them warm. However, it’s always advised to use heat lamps for your turtle.

1. Warm water

You can use 20-30 gallons of water in the tank for baby turtles, while a larger turtle will require more water based on its size. You can use water heaters to keep your turtle warm. Please note that you must adjust the water temperature depending on the species of turtles you have.

You can check out this water heater on amazon. It has thousands of reviews and I am personally using it for my turtle tank. For smaller tank you can opt for 25 watt variant and for larger tank go with 50-300 watt heater. This heater comes with a temperature control knob and a display to monitor temperature.

2. Sunlight

Turtle requires 12 hours of sunlight every day if there is no heat lamp. Sunlight is the best alternative for heat lamps. You require separate lights apart from heat lamps, that is, UVB lights, to help the turtle produce vitamin D3, but when it comes to sunlight, it does both the job efficiently.

Sunlight can help the turtle regulate its body temperature, and the turtle can also absorb UVB rays from the sunlight, which produces vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is required to process calcium and other nutrients to keep their shells healthy and safe.

3. Heating pads

Sunlight can give the required benefit to the turtle, but during the night time when you do not have any alternative left, you can use a heating pad or heating mat. Most of the turtles do not require heat or warmth during the night. However, if your turtle is sick, you can use this alternative for your turtle, which works amazingly.

The heating mats or heating pads will allow the turtle to have a sound sleep but don’t put the heating pad or mat under the turtle as sometimes it gets too hot and might even hurt your turtle. Avoid putting the heating pad exactly under your turtle. Instead, you can mount it on the wall to keep your turtle safe while still giving them warmth.

You can buy this heating pad from amazon. This has great reviews and it is 100% waterproof as well shock resistant. Depending on your requirement you can purchase a 14-watt or 20-watt variant of this heating pad.

4. Automatic Day-Night simulator

You can get a day-night simulator for your turtle. The stimulator acts as sunlight for the turtle. It will automatically turn the lights on and off. It can allow you to illustrate the exact regular sunrise and sunset timings in the tank. The device also provides UVB lights to the turtle. It needs a little investment, but it is an excellent device if you want a replacement for conventional heat lamps.

Warning: The device produces Ultraviolet rays, so make sure you don’t directly look at these lights. Please keep it in the correct position to avoid direct eye contact as ultraviolet rays could harm your eyes.

Can turtles survive without a heat source?

Now, let’s find out if the turtle can survive without a heat source.
Whether the turtle can live without a heat source entirely depends on the environment, type of species, and the habitat they are living in. Adult turtles are better at adapting to the climate. The study suggests that certain turtle species can even survive if the outdoor temperature falls. Some turtles may not require a heat source, but that does not apply to all.

It is very rare for a turtle to survive without a heat source. Let us study the temperature requirement for different types of turtles.

The red-eared slider requires a temperature of 82-88 degrees Fahrenheit on the basking area. The tank temperature should be 76-84 degrees Fahrenheit for red-eared sliders.

Painted turtles require a temperature of 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit on the basking area. The tank temperature should be 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit for Painted turtles.

Box turtles will need a temperature of 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit in the basking area. The tank temperature should be 75-80 degrees for box turtles.

It is often seen that turtles survive longer in the natural environment. However, you cannot replicate the same environment for your pet turtle but try to make an environment similar to the natural environment.

Which heating sources should be avoided for the turtle?

Below are some heating sources which need to be avoided if you want to keep your turtle healthy and safe.

1. Hot rocks

Although many turtle owners use hot rocks to keep the basking area warm, it’s not advisable to use them regularly. If used regularly, it can lead to injuries and burns to the turtle, so be cautious if you use hot rocks.

2. Ceramic heaters or infrared dull emitters

This is believed to be the best heat source for the turtles, but they can even lead to the death of your turtle if they flip underneath. If they fall into the tank, they can even kill the turtle.

Can baby turtles live without a heat source?

As the baby turtle’s body is not fully developed, baby turtles cannot survive without a heating source. Baby turtles require a heat source to survive. During the initial few years of a turtle’s life, the heat source is mandatory for baby turtles to increase their body temperature and to bask to maintain their overall health.

However, the baby turtles do not require any heat source during hibernation like the adult turtle. Baby turtles require a lot of care and attention for their well-being. It’s advised to provide proper heat arrangements to enable baby turtles to grow healthy.


Turtles require heat lamps for basking. They need it to maintain their body temperature. If you do not use a heat lamp, ensure they get adequate sunlight or some other alternative to regulate their body temperature. You can use various other methods instead of heat lamps to keep them warm, but you need to ensure that you regulate the temperature of the device you are using. If you do not regulate the temperature and the device gets too hot, it might lead to burns or injuries to the turtle. However, baby turtles require a heating source as their body is not fully developed. You can keep them in sunlight or use devices to give them warmth. Unlike adult turtles, a proper heating arrangement is mandatory for baby turtles.