Most turtles are semiaquatic, meaning they divide their time between water and land. So your aquarium or other turtle habitat needs water and a dry area. How large and deep each area needs to be depends on the type of turtle you have, so consult a qualified expert source for specifications. In general, the water must provide swimming room and be at least as deep as your turtle is wide, and the land area should allow your turtle to bask and move around a bit without touching the water at all.
Attach a full-spectrum UV fluorescent light bulb to the top of your turtle tank in such a way that it shines where your dry area will be. Turtles require UV radiation while they bask to remain healthy.
Affix a heat lamp designed for turtles to your tank so that it shines directly onto the basking area. Turtles require this heat source to dry off and stay comfortable and healthy. Follow the manufacturer's directions for positioning the lamp an appropriate distance from the dry area.
Purchase a ready-to-use turtle terrarium fixture, such as a plastic container filled with soil, sand or other aquatic substrate, that protrudes from the water just enough to stay dry while allowing your turtle access. Add it into the tank as per the product instructions.
Add a large, smooth rock with a slanted top that sticks out above the water that your turtle can crawl up on. A ready-made fixture featuring different elevations of smooth rocks is another option. These are available for purchase from a pet store, or you may be able to find suitable rocks outside. You can also cheaply buy smooth landscaping or paving stones from a home improvement store.
Include an appropriately sized arched bridge that rises out of the water or a plastic-coated high-density foam floating dock in your turtle tank. Docks and other types of floats attach to the side of your tank to remain anchored in place. These sorts of items are available from pet stores.
- Any rock-based dry area should be smooth to prevent damage to your turtle's shell.
- If you stack rocks in your turtle tank to create a dry area, make sure they're secure enough that your turtle can't topple the pile.
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Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.