Loading... Please wait...

Our Newsletter

Semi Aquatic Habitat Setup


Semi Aquatic Habitat Setup



Semi-aquatic reptiles and amphibians such as water turtles, firebelly toads, newts and salamanders need an environment that has water deep enough for swimming and full-body soaking, as well as dry land areas for basking.


Body Heat:

Reptiles can't create their own body heat, so their homes must provide a source of heat for basking, with cooler areas available to help them regulate their body temperature (this is called thermoregulation).

Feels Like Home:

For your pet's comfort and security, you'll want to make his home as much like his natural habitat as possible.

Lighting & Heating:

Daytime Lighting
Use a daytime UVA/UVB light up to 12 hours a day to help your pet process calcium.

Daytime Heating

  • Aquatic turtles use a basking spot lamp to create a basking area at the opposite end of the home from the water area. Leave on for up to 12 hours each day.
  • Amphibians - they don't bask, but they do require appropriate habitat temperatures

Nighttime Lighting*
If the temperature outside the habitat is less than 60° F (16° C), use a specially-designed nighttime heat lamp to provide heat without visible light.

Water & Temperatures


Your semi-aquatic pet needs a water area large enough for swimming and full-body soaking. Depending on the pet's size, it can be as simple as a large water dish; change the water daily or as needed to keep it clean. A larger pet requires a deeper, more extensive water area; use an underwater filter to keep the water clean.



While requirements vary by species, general temperature guidelines for semi-aquatic reptiles and amphibians are:

  • Water - 65-75° F (18-24° C)
  • Night - 60-70° F (16-21° C)
  • Basking - 80-95° F (27-35° C) (for reptiles)
  • Use an aquarium thermometer to monitor water temperature
  • Place additional thermometers at each end of the home to monitor air temperatures



Be sure the home is well-ventilated to help your pet with thermoregulation. Use a screen top lid on the home to encourage proper air exchange.

*Requirements vary by species. Please see your pet's custom Care Guide for specific details.


Furnishing the Home


Use an appropriate size glass or plastic terrarium.

Your semi-aquatic pet needs a home with land and water areas. You can create this environment by:

  • Furnishing the terrarium with a water dish large enough for full-body soaking
  • Creating a divided terrarium with a water side and a land side. Be sure to create a gradual slope that allows your pet to get in and out of the water easily. Use small underwater filter to help keep the water clean, and a submersible heater (if needed), to keep the water at the right temperature.



Line the land area of the home with smooth aquarium gravel.

Basking Areas
Use smooth, flat rocks or natural or artificial logs to create basking areas for reptiles. These should bring your reptile closer to the basking lamp for warmth.


Artificial or appropriate live plants provide shade, shelter and add a natural look to the home. Consult a reptile book for a list of non-toxic plants to use.



*Requirements vary by species. Please see your pet's custom Care Guide for specific details.