There are many ways to heat your reptile's habitat. The options for heating are expansive from light bulbs to heat tape. In this article you’ll find just how each option works.
Starting with the common choice: Light bulbs. Reptile lights from the pet store come in blue, red, and white. White bulbs are usually labeled ‘spotlight’ or ‘day-lights’. These bulbs give off a class white light, just as if a regular household bulb would. As a note, it is not recommended to keep your spotlight on all the time (from night to day). Reptiles need a night time just as we do. To solve this problem you can work with a red or blue bulb. These are designed to be nightlights. With these bulbs you can use at night because the color it gives off isn’t hard on the eyes. Both types of lights provide heat for your reptile and come in a range of wattages. Red and blue bulbs can be used at all times due to the fact is not as harsh.
Another type of bulb is a Mercury Vapor Bulb. This bulb provides heat as well as the needed UV light that reptiles need. These as well range in many wattages. When researching for your animal, be sure to go to some web forums, and see how mercury vapor bulbs affect your reptile. Some studies have shown that MVB affect some reptiles in different way.
Next, we will be meeting the cousin of the heat bulb, the ceramic heat emitter. The name gives it away as to what it is. This is a device that is made of ceramic, often found with a flat round end and the bulb part that screws into the lamp. CHE are more expensive than bulbs, but tend to last a while and also does not emit any light, making them great for day-round heating. As with bulbs, CHEs come in a few wattages.
Moving onto three types of heat resources that do not require a lamp, there are under tank heaters, a product called Flexwatt and something called a Radiant Heat Panel. An under tank heater is a plastic mat that heats what it is under. When using these, some type of heat control is needed, such as a rheostat, dimmer, or thermostat. Flexwatt is similar to an under tank heater except it comes in adjustable sizes (1 foot increments) and widths (3, 4, 7, and 11 inches). Flexwatt is attached via aluminum.
According the Reptile Basics FAQ, "Radient Heat Panel's are similar to Ceramic Heat Emitters (CHE) - they both project IR (infrared heat) heat into the cage. Unlike CHE's that get very, very hot on their surface, these RHP's maintain temperatures safe to use inside the cage. This Infrared Heat tends to heat objects more than the air, much like the natural sunlight outdoors. This type of heat mimics real sunlight both in the direction it comes from and its penetration into the muscle tissue. IR heat has been shown to have a therapeutic effect on sick and injured animals as well. Your reptiles will spend less time basking and receive a much greater benefit from it. The RHP has been the heat of choice for the bird community for years due to these benefits. We at Reptile Basics Inc want to see the RHP gain this popularity in the reptile field!"
All the above are acceptable choices for heating your reptile’s cage. Two of the most popular types of heating devices are also dangerous to your herp. These are heat rocks, also known as ‘hot rocks’ and heat tape (different from Flexwatt). Hot rocks are very popular and while they seem convenient and stylish in a tank setting, they don’t heat evenly, as with heat tape. This uneven heat causes thermal burns on your pet which are not only painful, but also require veterinary care.
There are many heating options out there to choose from. It needs to be stressed that all heating devices need to be controlled. This can be done via rheostat or thermostat. Another option, if you are handy, is that you can hook things up to a light dimmer switch. Another vital piece of equipment is a good working digital thermometer or a heat gun. Without these two items, you can’t measure how hot your heating devices are getting. This leads to problems down the line with your reptile not acting quite right. Choose what is best for your pet in all of the items you buy for it. Simple research will keep your reptile safe and you saving money.
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