DIY Turtle Basking Area

DIY Turtle Basking Area with Egg Crate

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How To Make A Turtle Basking Area

Providing a basking platform for your turtle is a task you need to complete even before you acquire a turtle. Most turtles need to bask several hours a day and need a basking area to do so comfortably.

Basking enables the turtle to dry off (this retards fungal infection growth, and rids the turtle of ectoparasites and algae), regulate its body temperature and synthesize vitamin D3.

You can either decide to build a basking platform from scratch or obtain an already made commercial basking platform/ramp.

There are many reasons to build a basking area yourself. For starters, commercial turtle basking platforms can be limited in space. Building your own platform gives you more control over the final product.

It is a fun project, one that can be completed over a single weekend. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

Quick Reference Section

Building An Egg Crate Basking Platform

A popular choice is the egg crate basking platform. This is easy to build and can be completed in a single day.

There isn’t a single correct way, and you can experiment and adjust your design as needed. Working with egg crates and PVC pipes requires little construction skills.

Method 1 (an In-tank Basking Platform)

If you want to create a basking ramp and platform that goes into the aquarium and doesn’t sit atop the aquarium, you can use the steps detailed below. This basking area is especially useful if you find above tank basking areas to be bulky.

Materials Needed

Tools

  • A pair of pliers, cutters, and needle nose pliers – If you don’t already have one, I recommend you borrow one from a neighbor or just picking up a tool set like this Dekrpro tool kit which has everything.
  • Tape Measure – If you don’t have a tape measure, borrow one from a neighbor if you can. One is also in the above kit mentioned.or you can buy one separately like the Komelon Self Lock Power Tape.
  • Pair of cutting pliers – Not included in the kit above, I recommend you borrow one from a neighbor, otherwise the CRAFTSMAN Diagonal Cutting Pliers (8-Inch) are great.
  • Pencil – a normal pencil works great
  • PVC pipe cutter – It’s best to borrow one if you can. The RIDGID Model RC-1625 Ratcheting Plastic Pipe and Tubing Cutter (not included in the tool kit, but you can use the hacksaw instead) is a good tool.

You can find PVC pipes and fittings at any hardware store.

Steps

  1. Measure your aquarium first so as to ensure the basking platform isn’t bigger than necessary. Since this basking area sits within the tank, it needs to be small enough to fit inside the tank.
  2. Cut out 11 PVC pipe pieces. These pieces should  be of the same length. Make sure the length of the pieces is more than the height of the water level in the tank, but short enough so that they can easily fit in tank without being cramped.
  3. Join 3 pieces of PVC pipes together using two 2-way tee PVC fitting to form a rectangle with only 3 sides.
  4. Follow the previous steps to create another 3-piece rectangle.
  5. To ensure the rectangles don’t float, fill them with sand.
  6. Pick up 4 more pieces of PVC pipes.
  7. With the help of four 3-way tee PVC fittings join the 4 PVC pieces together to form a rectangle.
  8. Fit a 3-piece rectangle to either sides of the 4-piece rectangle to form a table as seen in the picture above. The egg crate goes onto this PVC table.
  9. Now cut out a rectangular egg crate to fit the top of the PVC table, and also act as the ramp. The width of the egg crate cutout should be the same as the top of the PVC table but the length should be twice the crate’s width. Bend the egg crate cutout so it forms a 120-degree angle.  (This works if the egg crate is bendable enough). If the egg crate isn’t bendable, attach the amp to the platform using zip ties.
  10. Take the last piece of PVC pipe. Cap one end and fill the pipe with sand. Then cap the other end. Tie this pipe filled with sand to the bottom part of the ramp using zip ties. This ensures that the ramp is sturdy. Using more zip ties, tie the egg crate to the PVC table.

Method 2 (an Above Tank Egg Crate Basking Platform)

This is an above tank basking area and as such sits atop the tank. Before you get started, you need to measure the tank and determine how big the basking platform needs to be. Try to build a basking platform covers no more than a fourth of the tank.

Materials Needed

  • Fisk tank egg crate –  This can be found in many hardware stores. On Amazon, the Kayueti Grid Divider Tray Egg Crate is a good choice.
  • Zip ties – These are easy to come by and can be found in any hardware store. The Cable Matters Nylon Zip Ties can be used for other DIY projects as you won’t use all 200 zip ties.

Tools

Steps

  1. You need to, first of all, determine how big you want the platform needs to be.
  2. Start by measuring the width of the tank (including the thickness of the glass panels on both sides). The basking area will sit on the glass panels. The height of the basking area is up to you; so is the length. Only the width of the basking area must correspond to that of the aquarium.
  3. Cut out the floor of the turtle basking area. This should cover about ¼th of the aquarium. Cut out the roof as well. The roof and the floor should be of the same dimension. In the roof, cut out a square that acts as a hole for the basking lamp as seen in the video above.
  4. Now cut out the pieces that make up the walls. Only 3 walls are needed. (if you add a fourth wall, it needs to have an entrance cut into it so the turtles can enter the basking area.
  5. Assemble the floor, walls and the roof. Use zip ties to tie the walls, floor, and roof together.
  6. Next, you need to create a ramp so the turtles can access the basking area. Cut a rectangular shape that acts as the ramp. And attach it to the floor of the basking area. The ramp should have a gentle slope so the turtles can easily access the turtle basking platform.
  7. Carefully place the turtle basking area atop the aquarium and lay a square of reptile terrarium liner on the floor of the turtle basking platform.
  8. You can cut egg crates to form extended walls as seen in the video above but that is optional
  9. Place the basking lamp in such a way that the light/heat generated goes through the hole you cut into the roof of the turtle basking platform.  This should keep the egg crate plastic from melting. Not to worry though, the at produced will have minimal effect on the egg crate.

Why Build A Turtle Basking Area From Scratch

Building your own turtle basking platform instead of acquiring one from the store has its advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on you and what you want.

If you are handy with tools or are a DIYer, then it’s a no-brainer. Building your own turtle basking platform is the way to go.

Even if you aren’t handy, the DIY turtle basking area detailed here are super easy to build and requires no special skills.

Additionally, the sense of accomplishment felt from building your own turtle basking platform cannot be matched.

Pros

Cost Reduction: Except for the egg crates, the materials used to build the turtle basking area are easy to find around most homes. Building this DIY turtle basking platform should cost most people below $15.

Even if you don’t have the tools used, you can borrow them. You can even get most or all of the pieces needed for the build cut up into the required shapes and sizes at your local hardware store.

Building it yourself is cheaper especially if you’re a DIYer since you will have most of the materials and tools needed lying around.

Control over the size of the basking platform: Many commercial basking platforms aren’t large enough to find many turtles. If you decide to build your own, it can be as large as you want it to be.

If you have a very large tank with many turtles, you may have no choice but to build the turtle basking area yourself.

Better Quality control: Since you built the turtle basking platform yourself, you can ensure that it’s of the highest quality.

Cons of a DIY turtle basking area

Time-consuming: The only downside to building a basking area is the time that goes into it. This, however, isn’t much. Also, many DIYers find the time spent on a project a pleasurable one. 

Even experts make mistakes, so don’t be too hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Make sure you double-check every measurement.

Conclusion

Building a turtle basking area from scratch may be the best way to provide a basking platform for your turtles.

Before undertaking a DIY Turtle Basking Area project, you need to consider the basking needs of the turtles in question.

If you have a large turtle tank that houses many turtles, most commercially produced basking platforms and ramps just won’t cut it as they aren’t large enough.

This DIY project allows you to built a large turtle basking area at a minimal cost.  If you have one or two turtles, it is usually best to acquire a commercially made turtle basking platform such as the Penn Plax Turtle Tank Topper.

DIY projects like the one described here have its upsides and downsides. The upside includes cutting down costs and building a custom basking platform that fits the needs of your turtles perfectly.

Downsides include the time it may take to build the turtle basking area as well as the tools required. Luckily, the tools required for this project are still useful after the build. If you can, it’s best to borrow the tools needed. 

Do you have any DIY basking platform/ramp of your own design? If you do, tell us all about it. If you have any additional information or questions, leave a comment or two.

About the author

Brock Yates

Brock Yates has a passion for educating people about turtles & tortoises. He manages several websites and has a goal of getting everyone the best and most accurate information to help them with their turtle & tortoise care.

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