Turtles spend the majority of their time in the water, however, they still need a basking area to exit the water now and again. Turtles need to bask for a few hours a day either in the sunshine or under a UV light-bulb.
The source of UV-A light is good for their metabolism, mood, and breeding. UV-B light helps them produce vitamin D3, which strengthens bones and other organs. Turtles who aren’t able to bask are likely to get stressed, and may even develop certain health conditions.
In this article, we’ve put together a list of the best turtle basking platform ideas and we’ll also be discussing common issues associated with basking platforms.
This “turtle topper” basking platform securely mounts to standard size tanks via 2 adjustable 1.5” suction cups that lock onto the tank’s walls providing a safe and stable platform for your turtles.
This platform measures 17 x 14 x 10 inches to provide a spacious area for your turtles to bask on and is made from a durable plastic that is easy to clean.
A highlight of this product is the easy access it provides for your turtle: it has a ramp that allows your turtle to easily climb up to the upper level where they can bask, eat and rest, and also comes with a hanging platform that sits below the water line to allow your turtle to rest while being partially submerged in the water.
The platform also has a clear top with ridges to which you can mount two heat lamps, while the central metal grill door allows heat to pass through while granting you easy access to your turtle friend, and is easy to open, close, and lock in place.
- Multiple levels provide a range of basking options for your turtles
- Ramp for them to easily access the platform
- Secure suction cup mounts for a safe and stable docking option
- Clear top with access grill with ridges for adding two clamp-style heat lamps
- Designed for standard rectangular tanks up to 55 gallons and 13 inches wide, so not ideal for larger tanks or those housing more than 2 medium-sized turtles.
The Reptology Floating Turtle Pier has an innovative design that doubles as a basking platform and floats slightly above the waterline inside your tank.
The pier’s platform rests upon 4 pylon supports that are attached with suction cups that connect to the bottom surface of the tank, providing a safe and secure basking platform.
It allows easy access for your turtles thanks to the docking ramp which allows your pet to easily climb onto the upper level of the pier.
The platform of the pier also has a built-in gravel bin that’s used to counterbalance the weight of your pet as they enter the ramp, providing a more stable platform.
The standout feature of this platform is the natural-inspired design and attention to detail which makes this a great-looking addition to your tank.
It works well in various set-ups thanks to the adjustable pylon supports which can be lowered to 3” for setups without water or up to 16” for those with water.
- Adjustable pylon supports
- Easy to access docking ramp
- Built-in gravel bin (Gravel not included)
- Nature-inspired design
- Can fit a range of tanks, from 20 gallons or bigger, making it perfect for turtle tanks. The platform has dimensions of 16” (Length) x 11” (Width) x 1.25 (Height).
- Not the most durable design
For smaller turtles, the Zoo Medium-sized Turtle Dock is ideal. This dock is adjustable and semi-floating and has a downward curved shape to it that allows your turtle to easily climb up it.
This is a great dock if you’ve got limited tank room but still want to provide your turtle with adequate basking space.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that it won’t be able to bear much weight. So, while it’s ideal for smaller turtles, it’s not going to be able to accommodate medium-large sized turtles.
For example, species like sliders and painted turtles will only be able to use it when they’re young.
- Downward-curve shape for easy access
- Automatically adjusts to all water levels
- Great for smaller turtles
- Space-saving design
- Won’t accommodate medium-large sized turtles
Homemade basking platform ideas
Turtle basking platforms can be expensive, so if you’d rather make a basking platform yourself, there are a few things you can make one from that you may already have around your home or in your backyard.
We’d also advise against floating platforms. The main issue with these is that they usually sink very easily, so any turtle larger than a few inches - or numerous turtles - will sink the platform as soon as they climb on it.
There are also issues associated with the materials these platforms are often made from. Floating platforms can be made out of a type of plastic or Styrofoam that can be torn off and even eaten by your turtle, which is of course something any pet owner wants to avoid.
If you’re interested in a floating platform, the best way to achieve this is by making it yourself. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing…
Driftwood is ideal because it’s smooth to touch, provides a stable surface, and can easily float.
The main consideration here is to ensure you position the driftwood in a way that allows it to be easy to climb. Driftwood is a great material to use as a basking platform inside of a small pond but also works well for indoor tanks, too.
You can use some fishing wire to secure your driftwood docking platform to the tank. You should also consider temperature and whether the basking platform will get hot enough for your turtle.
You should ensure that it will reach temperatures between 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and should also be mindful of any potential predators if you plan on using driftwood in an outdoor setting.
Large stones are also a good alternative to use as a basking platform for your turtles, though they work best in outdoor ponds rather than indoor set-ups.
Ensure the stones are large enough so that your turtle will not dig them out of position. Arrange them in smallest to largest, and ensure that your turtle will be easily able to climb onto them, making sure they’re snug so that the turtle can climb between each one.
The main concern with using stones as a basking platform is the threat of predators. You can protect your turtles by ensuring their pond has some sort of perimeter that blocks intruders, and by covering the pond with some sort of natural foliage that ensures the turtles are camouflaged.
However, you also want to ensure the turtles can still access sunlight - temperatures in the 80-degree Fahrenheit range offer perfect basking conditions for them.
Beware These Turtle Hunting Predators
If your turtles are in an outdoor set-up, you need to be conscious of any potential predators that may be lurking around, especially if you have young turtles. Here’s a list of the most common turtle hunting predators:
- Stray dogs and cats
- Coyotes and foxes
- Birds of prey, such as falcons and eagles
- Rats and mice (who will often target turtle eggs)
- Raccoons and hedgehogs
- Humans (sadly)
There are several things you can do to ensure your turtles are as safe as possible in their outdoor habitat. Here are some ideas:
- You’ll want to make sure the pond has a perimeter or wall that blocks the edges and protects your turtles from outside intruders.
- Also, consider whether the perimeter can be dug under easily or knocked down.
- It’s a good idea to have some sort of natural cover or foliage that partially covers your pond and ensures turtles are not continually exposed.
The Problem With Many Turtle Tank Basking Platforms
There is a wide range of both manufactured and natural basking platforms you can install for your pet turtles.
However, there are many issues associated with basking platforms and it’s important to consider these to ensure optimal conditions for your pets.
Common problems with turtle tank basking platforms include:
- Their platforms are too small and do not accommodate the size of the turtles or the number of turtles in the tank which means the platform feels cramped and overcrowded.
- The platforms are hard for the turtles to access. This may be because of their shape, or if they have ramps, these can sometimes be slippery, steep, or unstable for your turtles to climb.
- The basking platforms are large and cumbersome and take up too much space in your tank.
- You have to suction it to the bottom of your tank, which then doesn’t allow you to have enough water in the tank.
- The basking platform can’t hold the weight of your turtle and is therefore unstable.
Things to consider before buying or making a turtle basking platform
Can your turtle easily access the basking platform?
Ensure the platform is a shape that your turtle can easily climb (for example, a downward curve), or if it has a docking ramp, check the surface isn’t slippery.
Ensure your basking platform is big enough for your turtles, especially if you have more than one. Floating platforms sink very easily and aren’t recommended for medium-large sized or multiple turtles.
If you’re purchasing the basking platform online, ensure that it is the right size for your tank capacity and dimensions before purchasing.
The whole point of a docking station is to allow your turtle access to light - whether that’s natural sunlight or an artificial UV lamp. Ideally, you want your turtles to be exposed to temperatures around the 80-degree Fahrenheit mark.
If it’s too cold, your turtles won’t be able to adequately heat their internal body temperature to a normal range which helps them fight off diseases.
Equally, you also want to ensure that it’s not too hot for your turtle; this can happen with extremely reflective surfaces, as turtles can end up burning themselves.
If you’re installing a basking platform in an outdoor turtle enclosure, be sure that it won’t leave your turtles exposed to predators.
Try to position the platform in an area where they can get enough sunlight without being left completely out in the open.
We hope you found this article useful. You should now have all the necessary information to purchase a suitable basking platform for your turtles or alternatively make your own basking platform from driftwood or rocks.
Don’t forget to refer back to this article for all the things you need to consider before installing a basking platform. Happy basking!