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Pet Reptile Care

Reptile Temperature Regulation

Since reptiles are cold blooded (ectothermic), it is important that you provide the correct temperature for their environment to keep them healthy. The external temperature is what regulated their body temperature. You should be able to get a fact sheet on your pet reptile's species from the pet store. This sheet will tell you what temperature ranges to provide.

A gradient of temperatures must be provided. They will sometimes need warm temperatures and sometimes colder. If a reptile is too cold, it will not digest its food well. In an environment with gradated temperatures, they can move to whatever temperature they need.

Put a basking light or other heat source at one end of the cage to provide a temperature at the high end needed by their species. The other end of the cage can then be cooler, at the low end of their range.

If your reptile likes to hide, provide a hiding place at both ends so it will not stay at one temperature all the time. Similarly, if your reptile climbs, provide a place to climb at both ends of the cage.

Keep a thermometer at both ends and monitor the temperatures regularly. The appropriate temperature is vital to your pet reptile's health.

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Heat Sources

Avoid heat rocks as they may cause burns.

Overhead light simulates an environment where a reptile would bask in the sun. However, it may not provide enough heat. Under tank heating can supplement it.

Avoid placing the heat source inside the cage as it may result in burns. If it is placed inside the cage, be sure it is shielded.

Heat options:

  • Basking lights, incandescent lamps or spotlights. Experiment with wattage and placement to provide the correct temperature.
  • Ceramic heating elements. These provide heat with no light. They screw into a socket like a light bulb. But you must use a socket designed for these heating elements or you may cause a fire.
  • Under tank heating pads or heating tape. These can be used to supplement an overhead light.
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It is important to regulate the temperature of your pet snake, lizard, turtle and other reptiles.  Here is some good information on how to do that.
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