Encouraging red eared sliders to bask is important to their health. They should be getting out of the water and drying off on a regular basis. If you turtle is not doing this, you need to look at your tank set up to make sure basking is inviting to your slider. First of all, make sure you have provided appropriate basking areas as well as a good temperature differential to entice them to bask. Ideal temperatures:
- Water: 75-78 for adults; 78-80 F for hatchlings
- Basking spot: 90-95 F
If the temperatures (water or basking) are too low, turtles will be sluggish and may not bask. However, the difference in temperature between the water and the basking spot is also very important and it's that differential that entices them to bask. If the water is much warmer than recommended or the ambient air temperature too cool, the turtles will be unlikely to get out of the water to bask.
Provide a Good Basking Area
The basking area should be nice and dry, stable and easy to climb onto. If these conditions aren't met, the turtle will also be unlikely to use your basking area. Make sure your turtles can get out of the water and onto the basking spot easily enough; this is especially crucial with hatchlings.
If your basking area is readily accessible, the temperatures are in the correct range and your turtle still will not bask, a visit to the veterinarian for a check-up is in order.
- Accessibility – The spot has to be partially submerged or have a ramp and the turtle has to be able to climb on it easily.
- Heat source – This spot should be about 10 degrees F warmer than water temperatures to entice basking. An area that is too hot won't promote basking and may even put the turtle at risk of hyperthermia.
- Non-toxic – Do not treat homemade platforms with any chemicals and don't allow metal to rust. Even platforms that are natural or organic can alter the water.
- Stability – The basking platform should be secure and not be prone to dismantling.
- Safe – Make sure your turtle can't wedge itself between the basking area and the tank walls or use the spot to escape.
- Textured – The basking area should let turtle's plastron dry.
- UVB light – Place the light over the basking area so the turtle can take full advantage of this important light. Glass blocks UVB rays which are also filtered out by water. Position the light out of reach and not so close that it can burn your turtles, especially if you have a few turtles that stack on top of each other to get closer to the light. Make sure that the bulb can't get wet if the turtle's splash; the bulb can shatter when wet, posing a hazard.
- Feeding – Offering food before turtles bask will let them digest more easily.
- Privacy – Red-eared sliders don't like to be bothered when they're basking. If you interrupt them, they might become startled or begin begging for food. Consider covering the sides of the tank to encourage basking.