Do Turtles Need A Water Heater? Detailed Explanation For Beginners

In the past, having turtles in a community tank was something not everyone could afford. Nowadays, turtles are among the most common creatures that make a good addition to your aquarium.

That said, taking care of turtles remains a challenge for many aquarists, mostly due to this animal’s peculiar habitat and temperament.

In today’s article, we will explore an aspect closely related to how healthy your turtles can be: heat. Do turtles need a water heater? And what is the best temperature range for them? Find out the answer right below!

Do Turtles Need A Water Heater?

You will have to examine two main factors before deciding whether to invest in a heater or not.

First of all, it is the classification of your turtles. Tropical turtles prefer a much warmer habitat compared to turtles coming from temperate zones.

At the same time, sick and newborn turtles also require a higher temperature range to thrive and remain healthy. Studying the conditions of each turtle’s natural habitat will help you determine the necessity of a heater.

Secondly, you should check out the conditions of the tank. If you place it somewhere the temperature does not fluctuate much, then chances are a heater is excessive.

On the other hand, if you happen to live somewhere with drastic changes in weather patterns, it is wiser to have a tool regulating the temperature.

To sum up, having a heater for turtles is not a must. Still, it would do you good to do some research beforehand. In case you think a water heater is beneficial for your turtles, there is no reason why you should shy away from having one.

The Significance Of Turtle Habitat Temperature

For newbies, it can be confusing why having a heater is vital to the survival of turtles. This is because turtles are highly sensitive to temperatures. As they are cold-blooded, they rely on the surrounding area for body temperature maintenance.

If the outside is warm, turtles will take in the heat and use it for their activities. But when it becomes cold, their body temperature will drop significantly, causing turtles to feel lethargic and slow.

Furthermore, their metabolism will be affected, which leads to malnutrition. Should a turtle feel cold for a long time, it will inevitably die.

Given the role temperature plays in the survival of turtles, it is no wonder why aquarists are deeply invested in ensuring the perfect habitat for these vertebrates.

Here, a mere slip in temperatures can mean the life and death of your pets.

When A Turtle Is Exposed To Cold, What Happens?

As explained above, turtles are highly vulnerable to cold weather. A drop in temperature will prevent them from staying active, which explains why they enter a stage of hibernation.

Turtles start to lower their energy consumption and stop moving around in an attempt to live through the cold spells. You will see turtles resting for the entire time until the temperature goes up, preferably in a hiding spot with enough warmth.

That said, this pattern only applies to wild turtles. Pet turtles are slightly different in the sense that their livelihoods depend on their keepers.

When the temperature drops, pet turtles are more susceptible to diseases and illnesses. As owners, make sure you have a backup option to provide enough warmth for them. Otherwise, turtles will soon get sick.


1. What is the ideal temperature for turtles?

Most turtles will be fine with temperatures ranging from 23 degrees Celcius to 28 degrees Celcius, which is the equivalent of 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your turtles are newly hatched or sick, raise the temperature range by 5 to 8 degrees.

2. Can the water be too warm for turtles?

Yes. Many people are under the illusion that turtles have to be kept warm all the time. This is not necessarily true. If the turtles feel like they have enough heat provided, they will not bother coming out and basking.

A lack of mobility may contribute to turtles getting lethargic. Therefore, consider creating incentives for turtles to move around once in a while by simply keeping the water gradually cold for a short period.

3. Can turtle live in cold water?

The only type of turtle capable of living in cold water is an adult painted turtle. By changing their blood chemistry, painted turtles can survive conditions with an extremely low oxygen supply.

However, most vertebrates will die within a few days if left in such dire circumstances.

4. Do turtles need light 24 hours a day?

Not necessarily. Turtles only need daytime lights for around 10 to 12 hours daily. Keeping UVB and basking lights for too long may tamper with these animals’ behaviors and disrupt their sleeping patterns.

When the night comes, it is better to replace the daytime light with a night light. Or, in case the temperature is favorable, you do not even need a light.

5. Can a water heater burn turtles?

No. If the hot part is placed underwater, rest assured that the heat itself will dissipate quickly. There is no way it can touch and harm your turtles.

6. Is there a way to keep turtles warm without using a water heater?

If you cannot afford a water heater, here are some alternatives.

  • Incandescent light bulbs: Light bulbs are an excellent source of both heat and light for your turtles.
  • Heating pad: Putting several heating pads around your tank helps the water remain lukewarm.
  • Heating rocks: Not only are these suitable for decoration, but they are also efficient in diffusing heat.


Do turtles need a water heater? If the surrounding area is not favorable, then the answer is yes! Make sure to keep your pet turtles warm and healthy, so you get to enjoy their company for a long time