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How to Use a Heat Pad for Reptiles

If you’ve ever expressed interest in owning lizards, snakes, or any manner of scaly friend, chances are that you have questions on how to set up their enclosure. Specifically, you may be wondering how to use a heat pad for reptiles.

After all, many traditional pet owners may be unaware of the fact that reptiles require external sources of heat. Understanding how to safely and properly install a heating pad for your reptile can seem somewhat intimidating at first. It’s natural to not want to make mistakes with something this important.

Fortunately, this brief guide will go into detail about why your reptiles may need these devices. In addition, we will discuss how to install them with minimal issues.

Why Reptiles Need Heating Pads

As previously mentioned, reptiles need a consistent, quality source of heat going directly into their enclosure. This is due to the fact that they’re endothermic, which means that they do not produce their own body heat. Therefore, they need an external source of heat that would likely come from a reptile lamp bulb or heating pad.

In the wild, naturally, they would have the appropriate amount of exposure to the heat and humidity needed to thrive. Unfortunately, that probably isn’t provided in most domestic situations. Thankfully, there are a variety of tools available to assist in getting our pets what they need to stay healthy and happy.

Who Benefits From Heating Pads?

Typically, reptiles that remain close to the ground, such as snakes, geckos, and skinks benefit most from the application of a heating pad. If your pet is more arboreal, such as some climbing snakes, they might not have as much use for the device. They will likely rely more on a heat lamp.

Heat Pad Safety

The first part of ensuring safety when using your heating equipment is keeping a digital thermometer nearby. This will allow you to constantly monitor your vivarium’s temperature. It will also help you remain on top of any unwanted temperature spikes or drops that may be caused by faulty equipment. Remember, sudden spikes in temperature can be detrimental to your reptile’s health.

They can also dry out its enclosure, and even set substrate on fire in a frighteningly short amount of time. If you live in an area where your power may be at risk of shorting due to electrical storms, we would advise that you invest in a surge protector for any electronic device you use in your reptile’s enclosure.

Of course, most heating pads have strict manufacturing regulations and are perfectly safe. However, it still helps to be prepared when using a heat pad for reptiles. Make sure you read through any instruction manual/care sheet that comes with your heating pad.

Installing an Under Tank Heating Pad

When looking into how to use a heat pad for reptiles, the first order of business is going to be installing it. Fortunately, installing your reptile’s under tank heating pad is no more difficult than installing any other part of its enclosure. Before committing to an area to put your pad on, be sure to give it a test run.

You can do this by putting it around the area without fully sticking it to a surface. Additionally, we would advise you to install your pad in an empty tank. This way, you can avoid anything getting in its way, and you can see where it’s actually making contact under the enclosure.

From there, simply separate the covering off of the adhesive side of the pad, and rest one edge on the glass. At this point, stick on the rest of the pad in a rolling motion. Be sure to carefully press around the edges and power cord.

With any reptile, you want to make sure they have a “basking” spot. This will remain around 88-100 degrees fahrenheit depending on the animal. You should also leave room for a “cool spot” that they can go between as they please.

It is also important to remember that temperatures drop at night. You can help mimic the natural rhythms of the outside world by turning down any heating elements you have for the enclosure at night. However, you still want to make sure that the overall temperature is species-appropriate.

Conclusion on How to Use a Heat Pad for Reptiles

With a little bit of preparation and research, installing your reptile heating pad doesn’t have to be a scary process. Soon, you’ll be on your way to setting up a quality enclosure that your pet can thrive in. Simply follow manufacturer instructions, and keep an eye on your enclosure’s temperature.

We would also advise keeping an eye for any symptoms of overheating in your reptile. This includes anxious behavior, hanging out around the water bowl more than usual, and drying out. 

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