Do Terrapins Need A Heat Lamp?

When you have a pet terrapin, you have to ensure that you create an environment in which they can thrive. Many pet owners ask, do terrapins need a heat lamp to be happy and healthy.

Heat lamps can be expensive, so you don’t want to buy one unless it is necessary for your terrapin’s wellbeing.

That’s why, in this article, we go into the question of do terrapins need a heat lamp.

What Is The Ideal Environment For Pet Terrapins?

To answer the question of do terrapins need a heat lamp, you need to know what the perfect environment for them is first.

And to know what the ideal environment for your pet terrapin is, we have to look at their natural habitat in the wild.

Terrapins In The Wild

Terrapins, which means ‘Pond Turtles’, are reptiles with shells. In the wild, they live in brackish water of coastal areas, creeks and shallow marshes.

While they are aquatic creatures, they need both land and water to survive.

Most of their time is spent in the water, but they come on land to bask in the sun and lay their eggs.

When they sun bathe, they warm up, but at the same time, they also get vitamin D, which is necessary for them to be healthy.

So, to create the perfect environment for them, you have to provide them with both water, land, and sunshine.

terrapins need water, land and sunshine

Because they are reptiles, they will hibernate in winter, when the water temperature decreases. They will reduce movement and stop eating and hide under mud.

When the temperatures increase again, they will become active again.

Hibernation is a strategy for them to survive winter in the wild. However, in captivity, hibernation could make them fatally ill.

So it is advisable to keep the water and air temperature in the terrapin tank constant, which will keep your pet’s body temperature at a level, so it won’t try to hibernate.

Do Terrapins Need A Heat Lamp?

So, now that we know what the natural habitat of terrapins looks like, we can answer the question, do terrapins need a heat lamp.

The short answer is yes, terrapins do need a heat lamp. Because it will replace the function of the sun and provide your terrapin with the warmth and light it needs.

What To Look For In A Heat Lamp For Terrapins?

The heat lamp is used to mimic the sun if a pet terrapin won’t be able to bask in the sun. 

Heat And Light

terrapin basking in the sun

As we have seen, having the right temperature in the terrapin tank is vital to keeping your pet healthy, happy, and playful. 

If the temperature in the tank becomes too low, your terrapin could get a respiratory infection.

But it also needs the sunglight, or a replacement, to get vitamin D. A lack of this vitamin could result in blindness or deformity of the shell.  

So make sure that the heat lamp you buy will give up enough heat to provide your terrapin with warmth.

While all lights will emit heat, there are lamps that are designed for this purpose.

The lamp should provide UV lighting, as this is the closest you can get to actual sunlight. A combination of UVA and UVB light is the most suitable for a terrapin lamp.

Type Of Lamp

Depending on the setup you have, you might need a certain type of heating lamp.

If you have a tank that has a lid, you need lights that can be integrated into the lid.

Or you might. have a tank without a lid, so you need a lamp that can be fixed to the tank in some way, such as a clip.

Because these lights can be expensive, it is important to make sure you buy the type that will work with the tank you have.

Recommended Heat Lamps

Because we know how important it is to get this right, we have done some research, and here are two lamps we would recommend.

Recommendation #1: Reptile Aquarium Heat Lamp Clip

IOOTSEA Reptile Aquarium Heat Lamp Turtle Lights Clip, 2 Uva Uvb Bulbs (50W) Basking Lamp Adjustable Holder, Pet Heating Light Lamp for Reptile Turtle Lizard Snake
539 Reviews
IOOTSEA Reptile Aquarium Heat Lamp Turtle Lights Clip, 2 Uva Uvb Bulbs (50W) Basking Lamp Adjustable Holder, Pet Heating Light Lamp for Reptile Turtle Lizard Snake
  • REPTILE HEAT LAMP - UV rays can effectively increase pet appetite, help digest food and promote balanced growth of nutrients, which is essential for healthy bone growth and prevention of metabolic diseases.( With 2 halogen UVA+UVB bulbs 50W)
  • PREMIUM MATERIAL- The aquarium heat lamp holder made of ceramic, it is heat-resistant, safe and durable. The flexible tube is stronger and more durable than ordinary one, 11.8 inch in length, it can be rotated 360¡ã, no deform, wider coverage.
  • ADJUSTABLE TEMPERATURE - The Basking Lamp Switch can adjust the brightness and temperature, and the heating lamp head distance can be adjust according to your needs, meet the needs of reptile at different times. The basking lamp is the optimal choice for all day-active reptiles.

This heat lamp is ideal if you have an open tank. You can easily fix it to the edge of the tank with the clip.

This also means you can position the lamp wherever it is needed. We really like this flexibility, because it gives you options on how you want to arrange your terrapins home.

You can also adjust the brightness and temperature to suit the needs of your pet terrapin. And the lamp head itself is also adjustable via a flexible tube, so you can provide the light your pet needs in any situation.

The lamp emits both UVA and UVB rays, to keep your pet terrapin healthy.

The lamp comes with two 50 watts halogen bulbs, which means you don’t need to worry about new bulbs for a while.

Recommendation #2: Accardia D3+ Reptile Light

Arcadia D3+ Euro Range 10 Percent Desert Reptile Light, 600 mm
265 Reviews
Arcadia D3+ Euro Range 10 Percent Desert Reptile Light, 600 mm
  • Balanced uva to uvb ratio
  • Typically x3 more usable uvb than most lamps
  • Excellent colour emissions

This light is designed to fit into the lid of a tank, so it’s ideal if you have a lidded tank. 

The long bulbs emit both UVA and UVB rays in a ratio that is perfectly balanced for reptiles, such as terrapins.

So your terrapin will get the best possible combination of both UV lights to thrive.

This light has a long lifespan and should last you around 9 months.

You can also get this light in different sizes to suit the tank that you have.

Do Terrapins Need A Heat Lamp During The Night?

Many terrapin owner’s wonder if they should switch the lights off during the night. The answer is yes.

Like us humans, terrapins need a period of darkness as well as light, as this will regulate their circadian rhythms. This is vital to ensure your pet is sleeping well and does not become stressed.

If your terrapin becomes stressed, it could result in health issues, so it’s vital to provide your pet with the right lighting conditions.

By switching off the lights overnight, you signal to your pet that it is nighttime now, which will prompt it to sleep.

As a general rule, you should have the lights on for about 8-10 hours per day and off for about 10-12 hours.

Can A Terrapin Survive Without A Heat Lamp?

terrapin on its back

If you are asking, do terrapins need a heat lamp, you are probably also wondering if they can survive without one.

If your terrapin has access to a dry sunny spot, then a heat lamp is not necessary. 

In the wild, a terrapin would leave the water and bask in the sunlight to dry out, get warm and absorb vitamin D.

If your terrapin lives in a tank in the house, then a heat lamp is critical to its survival.

Because the heat lamp does not only provide warmth, but also UVB light, which the terrapin utilises to create vitamin D and convert it into vitamin D3.

This is needed, so your pet can use the nutrients it has eaten, such as calcium. 

A lack of UVB light will lead to health problems and ultimately can cause your terrapin to die.

So it is important that you provide your pet terrapin with UVB light in the form of a heat lamp.

What Kind Of Light Do Terrapins Need?

As we have already mentioned above, UVB light is essential to keeping your terrapin healthy and well.

But they also need UVA light, as it helps to keep your pet’s activity levels up. 

You also want to replicate the natural environment your terrapin would have in the wild as best as possible. 

And this means providing light that is as close to the light of the sun as possible. This includes UVB and UVA rays.

To make sure you give your pet the light it needs, it is best to purchase a reptile lamp, as this will have the right light for a healthy terrapin.

What’s The Difference Between A Basking Light And A Heat Lamp?

Generally, basking lights give up UVA light, whereas heat lamps emit both UVA and UVB light.

As we have seen, terrapins need both UV lights, so it is better to get a heat lamp. So you don’t have to buy two different lamp fixtures.

Both basking light and heat lamps will provide your terrapin with heat.

Do Terrapins Like Cold Or Warm Water?

do terrapins like warm or cold water?

Terrapins prefer to live in warm water because if the water gets too cold, they will hibernate.

While this is a good strategy in the wild, in captivity hibernation can cause health issues.

To keep your terrapin happy and playful, you should provide it with heated water.

This is best achieved with an aquarium heater, which you can set to a certain temperature. The ideal water temperature for terrapins is between 23.8°C to 26.6°C.

If you want to know more about how to keep your pet terrapin happy and healthy, you can read our article about how to create a terrapin home.

Now that we have answered the question, do terrapins need a heat lamp, you will be able to keep your pet terrapin happy and healthy for years to come.