Did you know that turtles lounge under the sun for 10-14 hours per day in their natural habitat? This makes it possible for them to live up to 20 or 30 years as the sunlight produces vitamin D3 that enables calcium absorption and metabolism.
Now, we’re pretty sure your turtle’s home is nowhere near the sunshine. You’ve probably heard of turtle heat lamps, too.
But in this article, we’ll teach you more about it--which turtle heat lamp wattage to get, what UVA and UVB light for turtles are, and what are the best turtle heat lamps you could get to light up your turtle’s life.
What is UVA, UVB Light for Turtles?
UVA and UVB light for turtles are the ones that mimic the sunlight for your turtle. They induce vitamins and activity which the sun does for turtles in the wild.
Read on to see how they work.
Since your turtles aren’t exposed to sunlight as much as they are in the wild, they tend to be lethargic. UVA light or Ultraviolet A facilitates the healthy lifestyle your turtles need, which the sun naturally aids.
These are the following aspects of your turtle’s life that UVA light for turtles facilitates:
As I’ve mentioned above, your turtles need vitamin D3 to keep them active and healthy. UVB light or Ultraviolet B synthesizes that vitamin.
Without adequate UVB light in your turtle’s home, it can suffer from metabolic bone diseases and shell problems. Prolonged deprivation of UVB light can cause your turtle to die.
The best way to ensure your turtle lives up to at least 20 years is to buy a UVB light for turtles and replace it every six months of use.
Turtle Heat Lamp Wattage
Watts aren’t that important in selecting your turtle heat lamp. The very first thing you have to do is to get both UVA and UVB lights for turtles.
However, wattage is associated with heating which your turtle’s home needs as well. Here’s how you determine the turtle heat lamp wattage you need:
- For small aquariums around 55 gallons
- If you have 1-2 turtles
- For small basking areas
- For over 100-gallon aquariums
- If you have more than two turtles
- If you have/need/want a bigger basking area
A 100-watt turtle heat lamp produces more energy, so it also generates more heat. This also means it has a broader scope that can cover a larger basking area.
For small aquariums with basking areas that are 2-3 lengths of your turtle or if you only have 1-2 turtles, 50 watts is already enough. Upgrading to 75 watts may only be necessary if you want a larger basking area.
How Far Away Should You Place Your Turtle Heat Lamps?
This is simply--the lower the watts, the closer their placement. You need to keep a temperature of 85-90 degrees within your turtle’s home, and distance depending on wattage is the only way to maintain that.
In general, the distance of the light from the artificial habitat should be between 8-15 inches. Here are the specific ranges based on wattage:
- 50 Watts: 5-7 inches away
- 75 Watts: 7-9 inches apart
- 100 Watts: 10-12 inches away
- 150 Watts: 12 or more inches away
Setting up Your UVA/UVB Light for Turtles
There are a lot of things to keep in mind when setting up your UV light for your turtle’s home. To make it easy to remember, we’ve narrowed them down for you here:
- UVB rays don’t penetrate glass or plastic surfaces. If you want a cover, leave the bulb’s area uncovered or use a wide mesh cover instead.
- Do not use fine mesh as it will block much of the UVB light.
- Use the distance guidelines we’ve provided above as they will ensure the safety and sufficiency of your UV lights.
- Replace bulbs bi-annually even if the lamp is still producing light. The amount of UVB decreases over time, and your turtle won’t get the benefits it needs from an old UVB light for turtles.
- Mercury vapor lamps produce both heat and UV, but they are sensitive to water splashes and get too hot, so rethink your choice of purchasing one for your turtle’s habitat.
Types of Turtle Heat Lamps
Now that you know the proper selection of turtle heat lamp wattage, it’s time we discuss the different kinds of turtle heat lamps for your turtle’s home.
Compact UVB Lamps
Compact UVB lamps or compact fluorescent bulbs are the best for smaller terrariums or “sick tanks.” The small size of these turtle heat lamps induces concentrated UVB exposure which your turtle needs.
People blame UVB lamps like this for causing eye damage seen in turtles and tortoises. However, there aren’t studies that prove so.
Also, it is insufficient dark retreats that are mostly related to the problem. Traditional UVB bulbs’ radiation can cause cloudy corneas in reptiles, and compact UVB lamps are different.
Tubular UVB Lamps
Tubular or linear lamps are straight UVB lamps that vary in lengths. It’s been a long-running debate whether these are better than compact UVB bulbs.
Tubular UVB lamps have a fuller coverage than compact bulbs, so it may not provide concentrated lighting but an equally distributed one. If you have a few turtles or a giant aquarium, linear lamps are the best choice.
Night Lights and Timer
Night lights or night viewing lamps come in purplish-blue or red. They have a faint light that makes it easy for you to view your turtle at night without disturbing them.
These night lights also emit heat, and it depends on you whether you want to keep it on the whole night or just when you’re checking on them. That’s when a timer comes in handy as you also don’t want to leave the night lights on until the morning.
In the morning, they need their day turtle heat lamps to stabilize their activity and health. The night light will only annoy your turtle and cause a surge in your electricity bill.
Daytime Viewing Lights
Daytime viewing lights are only recommended for big artificial habitats. They don’t have the essential purposes of turtle heat lamps like UVB lights for turtles, so they only increase your electric bill.
However, if you want a beautiful view of your turtles during the day, soft white or warm white LED lights are the best. They are cheap but can last as long as your turtles could even live.
Take note that you still have to turn on your UVA/UVB lights for turtles when using a daytime viewing light.
Basking lights are for the heating or basking part of the terrarium. Cold-blooded reptiles like turtles, so the temperature of their environment influences their bodies’ temperature a lot.
UVB lights for turtles also provide heat, but they are not advisable basking lights because long exposures to it can cause imbalances in your turtle’s system. Here are the required basking temperatures for the most common pet turtles:
- Florida Box Turtle: 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit
- Eastern Box Turtle: 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Ornate Box Turtle: 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Red Ear Sliders Turtles: 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Map Turtles: 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Painted Turtles: 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Mud Turtles: 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit
- Musk Turtles: 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit
Combination Turtle Heat Lamps
Combination turtle heat lamps are the ultimate solution in having both UVB light for turtles and heating in one setup. It’s not even about the cost but about the fact that it takes a lot of work to set up two separate lights in your tank.
However, combined lighting is suggested for massive setup use only. They produce too much heat, which small tanks can’t sustain.
You can also use a timer to run this kind of heat lamp, especially when switching between the two lights. Another thing to add is a screen underneath these turtle heat lamps if they are incandescent, halogen, or mercury vapor lamps as they get hot and are prone to explosion if splashed by water.
To save you from all this, pick combination turtle heat lamps that are fluorescent or LED.
Ceramic Turtle Heat Lamps
Ceramic heat lamps or ceramic heat emitters (CHEs) are a kind of turtle heat lamp that provides heat without any light at all. CHE is a heating component covered in ceramic and usually shaped similar to a typical heat bulb.
Another similarity it has with basking bulbs is that CHEs can’t sustain heat in large spaces but could overheat one that is too tiny. Experts also advise that you plug them in porcelain sockets instead of plastic ones because they get too hot and could potentially cause a fire.
Top 5 Best Turtle Heat Lamps
So we’ve already given you everything you need to set up your turtle heat lamps and how to choose them according to your needs. It’s time to get into real selection, so here’s a guided list of the top 5 best turtle heat lamps in the market.
There’s nothing sleeker than turtle heat lamps that don’t look like bulbs and blend well in the habitat. OMAYKEY combines style and efficiency in this heat lamp, with its minimalist look and long-lasting functionality.
It’s also easy to install. All you need is to screw it into a standard porcelain E27 screw socket, and you’re all set up.
Here are more key features that made us love this product instantly:
- Comes in a pack of two
- Turtle heat lamp wattage: 100W
- The diameter of Heating Surface: 8CM
- Color: Black
- Includes one digital thermometer in the package
Like I mentioned above, ceramic turtle heat lamps can get too hot, so having a digital thermometer to ensure the temperature in your turtle’s habitat is a big help.
What we love most about this clamp lamp light is its multifunctionality. You can use this to heat your turtle’s habitat and even use it as a table lamp in your workspace.
Here are a few more places where this clamp lamp light is used:
- Art studios
- As a growth light for indoor plants
- Work light in photography and workshops
By the looks of it, this should be on top of our list. However, what we hate about it is its traditional bulb that doesn’t look that good and is more prone to issues.
However, we can’t deny its practicality and quality features that still make it one of the best turtle heat lamps. Here are the following features that earned its second place on our list:
- 8.5-inch adjustable aluminum reflector
- Non-marring clamp grips for a secure hold
- On/off button with 6ft long cord
- Turtle heat lamp wattage: 150W
This lamp works best in large terrariums given its wattage. We recommend this for those who do some indoor plant growing or photography gig on the side so you won’t have to double up with equipment (we all know that’s expensive).
It was almost a tie between the first turtle heat lamp in this list and this ceramic heat lamp here. This one has a white color that gives off a cleaner look and works the same, so it’s just really a matter of aesthetic preference in hindsight.
However, this product by AIICIO only has 60 watts. That is very low-emitting compared to 100 watts, so large terrarium owners can’t enjoy this as much as they would the 2-pack OMAYKEY ceramic heat lamp.
Here are the features that at least make it the perfect heat lamp for smaller habitats:
- Can handle 24-hour use
- Can stand high humidity
- Increases ambient air temperature within the enclosure
Adequate ambient air influences turtles to be more active, which is good to keep their metabolism running sharp.
We’ve talked about the advantages of having a combined UVB light for turtles and heating. This Zoo Medkit is the best combination of lighting in the market, and for some reason, there are no other turtle heat lamps that seem to compete with it.
We’re pretty sure you’re curious why so here are let these features explain it to you.
- The polished aluminum dome that increases light and UV output by 30%
- Dual ceramic sockets (100W each socket)
- Depp dome goes beyond the lamp’s face to prevent the bulb from dangling out
- Double fixtures
This is how everyone visualizes an ideal combination turtle heat lamp to be like. No wonder this product is top-rated among turtle owners.
This clamp lamp is one of the simplest yet most effective ceramic turtle heat lamps in the market. What we love about this one is its secure hold that takes no fuss to attach.
The lamp comes in different sizes for different terrarium size. Here are three sizes:
- 5.5” - 75 watts
- 8.5” - 150 watts
- 10” - 250 watts
For turtle owners who want simple turtle heat lamps, then this is the best pick for you. Here are more features to admire this simple lamp.
- Lighter than most turtle heat lamps
- Comes with an on/off switch
- Has a polarized plug to reduce risk of electric shock
The reason why this ceramic lamp is at the foot of our list is that it looks like a traditional bulb. The best thing about ceramic turtle heat lamps is their flat design, but this one took a turn from that.
By now, you’ve probably realized how important proper lighting is for your pet turtles. It is more than having sufficient light to have a good view of them.
UVB light for turtles is essential in maintaining their health while UVA light for turtles facilitates their growth, activity, and breeding. This also makes you think how exposure to sunlight is that fundamental.
Us humans need sunlight for the strengthening of our bones, and the same goes for turtles, too. So making sure your pet turtles receive adequate lighting is the least you could do after taking them out from the wild.
You should also remember that heating, on top of it all, is what makes your cold-blooded pets alive in their manufactured home. As long as you have these vital factors and this entire guide in mind, we’re pretty sure you’ll do great in setting up your pet turtle’s habitat.