Why Do Turtles Need Sunlight

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Why Do Turtles Need Sunlight? Here’s Why?

Turtles are fascinating creatures that have been around for millions of years. These slow-moving reptiles are known for their unique physical features, such as their protective shells, and their gentle demeanor.

However, one aspect of a turtle’s life that is often overlooked is the importance of sunlight. Sunlight is crucial for the health and well-being of turtles, and it plays a vital role in their daily routines. 

In this article, we will explore the reasons why turtles need sunlight and why it is essential for their overall health and survival. 

Why Do Turtles need sunlight? 

Why Do Turtles need sunlight? 

Not just turtles, every organism to some extent requires sunlight in their existence. Sunlight is extremely necessary for turtles and it helps them in a variety of ways. From regulating body temperatures to the production of Vitamin D3, it comes as a vital essence of their survival. 

Let’s go over the benefits and reasons why turtles need sunlight. 

Turtles need sunlight to keep themselves warm 

Sunlight is crucial for the health and well-being of turtles. Turtles are ectothermic animals, which means that they cannot regulate their own body temperature internally.

Instead, they rely on external sources of heat to warm their bodies. This is where sunlight comes in. They absorb heat from the sun’s rays, which raises their body temperature.

This increase in body temperature helps turtles to digest their food more efficiently, and it also boosts their immune system. 

Sunlight helps in the production of Vitamin D3 

Why Do Turtles need sunlight?  Sunlight helps in the production of Vitamin D3 

Sunlight is also important for turtles as it helps in the production of vitamin D3, which is necessary for healthy bone development, maintenance, and growth. The turtles absorb UVA and UVB light from the sun’s rays. 

With UVB light, turtles can develop Vitamin D which then becomes Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 helps turtles to process calcium within them and then they use that calcium to strengthen themselves and their bones. 

On the other hand, UVA light that the turtles absorb from the sun helps them to improve their breeding, appetite, and physical activities. 

Therefore, with the help of Sunlight, the turtles can improve their life in a lot of ways and strengthen and improve themselves. 

Sunlight Helps regulate their daily routine 

Why Do Turtles need sunlight?  Sunlight Helps regulate their daily routine 

Turtles are diurnal creatures, which means that they are most active during the day. They spend their nights resting or sleeping, and in the morning they bask in the sun. Basking is an essential part of a turtle’s daily routine, and it is necessary for their overall health and well-being. 

With sunlight, they can keep their daily life intact. As turtles are susceptible to stress, and a lack of light can disrupt their routine which leads to stress. 

Sunlight assists turtles in drying themselves

Why Do Turtles need sunlight? Sunlight assists turtles in drying themselves

Turtles spend the majority of their time swimming around in the water. But remaining in contact with water for a long time can hamper their health.

By remaining wet or in water for a prolonged time they can garner fungi and bacteria. 

Therefore, sunlight contributes to keeping them dry as well. By basking in the sun, turtles keep themselves dry.

What if my Turtle Doesn’t get enough sunlight?

Insufficient sunlight can be harmful to your pet turtle. Sunlight contains UVB radiation that helps turtles produce vitamin D3, which is crucial for their bone growth and development.

Turtles require sufficient UVB radiation to avoid metabolic bone disease, weak bones, shell deformities, and potential death.

Additionally, inadequate UVB radiation can compromise a turtle’s immune system, leaving it at higher risk of disease and infection.

How Much Sunlight Does My Turtle Need?

For sufficient sunlight for your turtle, it is essential to consider factors such as the turtle’s species, age, and health.

In general, it is recommended that turtles receive approximately 2 to 5 hours of sunlight or UVB light daily.

To prevent your turtle from overheating, ensure that its enclosure has both shaded and sunny areas.

Turtles can overheat if exposed to too much sunlight, particularly during the hottest time of the day. By providing both types of areas, your turtle can regulate its body temperature and sun exposure.

In case you reside in a region with a cold weather or insufficient exposure to natural sun rays, you can use artificial UVB light for your turtle to ensure it gets enough UVB radiation.

It is crucial to select a superior quality UVB bulb and adhere to the guidelines provided by the manufacturer for appropriate placement and handling of the bulb.

Turtles That Require Sunlight

UVB radiation or sunlight is essential for all species of turtles as it helps in synthesizing vitamin D3 which is necessary for proper bone growth and development. But some species of turtles require more sunlight than others.

For example, Aquatic turtles, like red-eared sliders, painted turtles, and map turtles, need a basking area that provides UVB light so they can regulate their body temperature and metabolism effectively.

Here is a list of some species of turtles that require sunlight or a source of UVB radiation:

  1. Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
  2. Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)
  3. Map turtle (Graptemys spp.)
  4. Box turtle (Terrapene spp.)
  5. Spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata)
  6. Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)
  7. Eastern river cooter (Pseudemys concinna)
  8. Mississippi mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis)

It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and that all species of turtles require some level of sunlight or UVB radiation to maintain their health.

Can Turtles Die from too much exposure to Sunlight?

Turtles generally enjoy basking in the sun and they will not die. Especially, in normal conditions, if you are keeping a pet turtle, and letting them bask in the sun for a couple of hours is completely fine.

In the wild, turtles are at risk of dying from too much sun or UVB radiation. However, this usually only happens if they are in temperature extremes or exposed to direct sunlight for a long time without any shade or water.


In conclusion, sunlight is crucial for the health and well-being of turtles. It helps them to regulate their body temperature, boosts their immune system, and is essential for the production of vitamin D3. Basking in the sun is an important part of a turtle’s daily routine.

By understanding the importance of sunlight for turtles, we can help ensure that our pet turtles live happy and healthy lives. 

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