How to make your own floating turtle basking dock

Updated April 17, 2017

Turtles bask naturally in the sun for warmth and much-needed UV rays, so it is critical to have a basking dock available at all times. When choosing the design of a floating basking dock, you have several options. The most important consideration is the size of your pet, because the dock must be able to support the turtle's weight without sinking. Your goal should be to provide an adequate refuge for your pet that will adjust to changing water levels.

Measure cork bark to form a square that will cover one-quarter of the overall water surface. Cut the cork bark to allow for a loose fit when placed in the tank. Natural cork bark works best and can be found at most reptile pet stores or on the Internet.

Drill 32 mm (1.75 inch) holes 75 mm (3 inches) from the back and 50 mm (2 inches) from the sides of the cork bark. Bend the cork bark down on one edge to form a natural dock ramp.

Cut straight 25 mm (1 inch) PVC pipe as follows:

• 1 pipe equal to the width of the dock.

• 2 pipes equal to the length of the dock as it extends along the side of the tank.

• 2 pipes equal to the height of the tank.

Assemble PVC pipe to allow for a flat "C" shaped base and two pipes that extend vertically to the top of the tank. The vertical pipes will act as a track for the floating cork bark dock.

Slip the dock over the vertical PVC pipes to ensure they align and fit loosely, allowing free movement. If the holes are too tight, remove excess cork for more clearance.

Lower the PVC base into the bottom of the tank and place the dock over the two vertical pipes. Fill the tank with water. If properly seated, the dock will rise with the water level.


Always position your UV light directly over the basking dock adjacent to a heat lamp. Properly illuminated and heated habitats allow your turtle to dry out, which will inhibit bacterial and fungal infections. Check your floating dock periodically for signs of fungus. Affected areas can be cut out, but may require replacement of the dock if damage is extensive.


Check your dock and surrounding areas for rough or sharp edges that can injure your pet. This will prevent open wounds, which can become infected and require treatment.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Saw
  • Cork bark
  • Drill
  • 1 6 mm (¼ inch) drill bit
  • 25 mm (1 inch) diameter straight PVC pipe
  • 25 mm (1 inch) diameter corner PVC with triple connections (2)
  • PVC pipe cutter
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About the Author

Ron Bechtel is a Los Angeles author, screenwriter and lecturer. He has appeared on numerous radio and television talk shows, including NBC, FOX, and KABC radio Los Angeles. Bechtel's writing encompasses a wide range of subject matter from entertainment to health and medical related issues. Bechtel holds a degree from the Temple University film school.