How do you make a turtle basking platform?

Providing pet turtles with a proper basking area is crucial for their health and well-being. Turtles are cold-blooded reptiles that need a place to climb ultimately out of the water to warm up their bodies and prevent fungal shell infections.

In this post, I’ll explain a basking platform and why turtles need them. I’ll review the requirements and considerations for optimal basking dock placement and construction.

Then, I’ll give a step-by-step tutorial on building a simple DIY turtle basking platform at home using easy-to-find materials.

Whether you want options for corner platform designs or floating docks, this post will cover everything you need to know about creating the ideal basking area for any aquatic turtle habitat.

With a plastic container lid or some egg crate sheets, you can make a warm, dry perching spot your turtle friend will enjoy lounging on.

How do you make a turtle basking platform?

A turtle basking platform can easily be made at home using a plastic or wooden board, egg crate or mesh for grip, bricks or blocks for a base, and zip ties.

Cut the egg crate to fit the board top. Zip-tie them together, space the bricks into a frame, and then place the platform on top near the basking lamp.

Make sure it’s entirely out of the water with a textured ramp that your turtle can comfortably climb up on its own to benefit from UVB exposure.

What is a Turtle Basking Platform?

A turtle basking platform, or a turtle dock or ramp, is a raised area above the water that allows turtles easy access to climb up and get out of the water. Turtles must spend time basking to warm up their bodies and dry off completely.

Basking helps:

  • Regulate their body temperature
  • Synthesize vitamin D from UVB rays for bone health
  • Prevent fungal or bacterial shell infections from developing
  • Speed up their metabolism for digestion and rest

Turtles can struggle with their health and quality of life without a proper basking area. Providing an attractive and sturdy basking dock makes it easy for them to follow their instincts.

Basking Platform Requirements

When making or choosing a basking platform, there are a few requirements to keep in mind:

  • Entirely out of the water
  • Large enough for the turtle’s entire body
  • Stable and won’t tip over
  • Easy to climb onto with textured ramp

The platform should allow the turtle’s entire shell to fit on top with extra room to stretch out. It needs to support its entire weight without sinking or capsizing. Adding a textured ramp prevents slipping and makes it easy for them to climb up.

The basking area should be placed at the water’s warm end, where temperatures reach 75-85°F. For maximum benefit, it must be as close as 6-12 inches from heat and UVB lighting.

How High Should It Be Above Water?

The basking platform should be situated so that:

  • The top is entirely out of the water
  • The ramp enters the water at least 3-4 inches to prevent drowning

For most aquarium setups, a height of around 6-10 inches above the water line is ideal. This leaves space for adequate water depth while keeping it low enough for easy access.

Larger turtle tanks and ponds may need taller platforms around 12-18 inches high. Make sure to test different heights and observe your turtle’s behavior. They should be able to use the ramp without any difficulty swimming underneath quickly.

Best Materials for Turtle Basking Platforms

There are many options when it comes to materials for building a DIY turtle dock:


Plastic boards or boxes work well and won’t rot. Make sure the plastic is sturdy and won’t crack or bend. Avoid slippery plastic.

Natural Wood

Untreated, unpainted wood like driftwood is safe. Avoid pressure-treated lumber, which contains toxins. Soak and sterilize any found wood before using. Smooth wood can be slippery.

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Floating Docks

Foam or plastic floating dock pieces allow adjusting the height. Attach to prevent flipping.

Rocks or Bricks

Use large, flat rocks or pavers to create a stepping-stone platform. Make sure they are securely stacked. Round rocks could roll.

Egg Crate

Plastic light diffuser grids make instant platforms. Zip tie or wire together to fit any size. It must be supported underneath.

How to Build a Simple Turtle-Basking Platform

Building your custom basking dock is a simple weekend project. Here is a step-by-step guide:

Supplies Needed

  • Plastic or wooden board, 12 x 12 inches minimum size
  • Four bricks or concrete blocks for the base
  • Egg crate or outdoor mesh
  • Zip ties
  • Scissors or utility knife

Step 1: Cut Egg Crate to Size

Use sturdy shears to cut a piece of plastic egg crate slightly smaller than your board size. This will provide grip and prevent slipping.

Step 2: Attach the Egg Crate to the Board

Center and attach the egg crate to the top of the board using zip ties fed through the grid holes. Make sure it lays flat and is securely fastened. Trim any excess length off the zip tie ends.

Step 3: Setup Base Supports

Arrange the four bricks or blocks into a square frame more petite than the board size. Space them evenly to balance the weight once the platform is on top.

Step 4: Place the Platform on Bricks

Carefully set the basking platform onto the brick base, with the egg crate side facing up. The bricks should fully support all sides.

Step 5: Position Near Basking Spot

Place the assembled basking dock at the desired position in the tank or pond. It should be slightly submerged with a ramp toward the warm, shallow end.

Step 6: Observe Usage

Allow your turtle time to discover the new platform. Monitor their behavior and make any adjustments needed to improve access or stability. Enjoy watching your turtle bask!

Alternative Basking Platform Ideas

For turtle owners looking for other quick and easy basking platform solutions, here are a few more options:

  • Turn a plastic storage container lid upside down. Cut a v-shaped access area on the side.
  • Use marine dock foam sheets. Cut to shape and poke holes to zip-tie together layers.
  • Stack large flat rocks and secure them with aquarium sealant. Be sure they are sturdy.
  • Weave together branches and secure them with twine to make a natural wood platform.
  • Attach suction cups to the underside of a plastic tray or board to affix to the tank wall.
  • Buy a floating foam turtle dock designed for your tank size. Secure it in place with a fishing line.

Be creative and use materials you already have at home to provide your turtle with the perfect basking area. Just be sure it is stable, safe, and easy to access!


Providing a proper basking area with UVB exposure is one of the most essential elements for keeping a turtle healthy and thriving. Taking the time to build or install a suitable basking platform allows them to follow their natural behaviors.

The ideal basking dock allows easy access out of the water, remains completely stable, supports their full body weight, and places them at the optimal distance from heat and UVB sources. There are many options when it comes to safe materials and designs.

With just a little time and effort, a DIY turtle basking platform can be created using simple and affordable supplies. Getting creative with plastic containers, egg crates, floating docks, wood, or stone materials can lead to the perfect custom basking area your turtle friend will enjoy.

FAQs About Building Turtle Basking Platforms

How wide does my turtle basking platform need to be?

Aim for a platform width and length that matches the approximate size of your turtle’s carapace or upper shell. Leave at least a few inches of clearance around the edges for safety and comfort.

Should I use sandpaper on the ramp?

Adding some texture can help create a grip for climbing. Lightly sanding the ramp with fine sandpaper or attaching outdoor carpet mesh strips can help avoid slipperiness.

What angle should the ramp be?

The ideal ramp angle is around 30-45 degrees. Any steeper and your turtle may not be able to climb up. Make adjustments if needed until you observe easy usage.

How often does it need cleaning?

Algae and other grime can make the platform slippery. Scrub and disinfect all surfaces at least once a month. Avoid soap products, which could be toxic if residue is left behind.

Can I stack rocks or bricks without mortar?

If arranged securely, neatly stacked bricks or rocks can safely support a basking platform without needing mortar. Just be sure to test weight-bearing and stability first.

My name is Shayan Mondal, and I am a passionate turtle owner and enthusiast who enjoys sharing my knowledge and experience with fellow turtle lovers. As a proud owner of several turtle species, I understand the importance of proper care, habitat setup, and nutrition for these delightful creatures. This website regularly updates the latest insights into turtle health, diet, and conservation efforts.

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