Heating Review

Written for Reptiles Australia Magazine Vol. 4 Issue 1              by Shannon Benson {Plummer}

Heating is a crucial element of enclosure set-up.

We all know reptiles are ectotherms and as such it’s our responsibility as keepers to provide an appropriate temperature gradient for the individual species.  This can be done using a range of products from globes to heat mats.  In this review we look at a few of the options available on the market today in a range of prices points.

It should be understood that this review only touches on heating products and does not cover the more detailed area of lighting which includes important aspects like Ultra-Violet and Full Spectrum lighting.

When using any source of heat a thermometer and sometimes a thermostat should be used to determine and control the heat output.  If any type of heat lamp or ceramic emitter is used within the enclosure it should be protected with an appropriate guard to prevent the reptiles coming into contact and risking burns.

Basking Lamps

Designed to produce a narrow beam of heat for the reptile to bask under.  Ranging from 50 to 150 watts, they sell for $14 - $20.  These lamps have the added bonus of producing visual light, however, they are not full spectrum lamps.  They are limited to daytime use only as continual visual light will stress the reptile.

Zoo Med Basking Spot Lamp   100W / 150W  $18 - $20

Exo Terra Sun Glo Tight Beam  50W / 75W / 100W / 150W   $14 - $20

URS Basking Spot  60W / 75W / 100W / 150W   $14 - $17

Ceramic Heat Emitters

Ceramic heat emitters produce infrared heat without visual light.  For this reason they can be utilised in a 24-hour cycle without disturbing the animals sleep patterns.  Available in various wattages, these lamps can become extremely hot and must be used in conjunction with a thermostat and thermometer.  It is also recommended the emitted is combined with a wire guard or dome cover to prevent burns to both the animals and humans.

Zoo Med Ceramic Infrared Heat Emitter  60W / 100W / 150W / 250W  $78 - $100

URS Oz White & Oz Black   60W / 100W / 150W / 250W   $38 - $45

Herp Shop Black Nite   60W / 100W / 150W / 250W  $38

Repta Cera Heat   60W / 100W / 150W  $42 - $50

Heat Mats

Heat mats come in a variety of sizes and can be utilised on the enclosure base or side depending on the effect required.  When choosing a heat mat pick one that is no larger than half the enclosure size to allow a temperature gradient to be maintained.  The heat mat should be adhered to the outside when used with a glass enclosure.  When used in conjunction with a wood enclosure, however, it can be adhered to the inside, even between the enclosure wall and a background print for a cleaner look.  Again, they should be attached to a thermostat for maximum control of heat output.

Exo Terra Heat Wave Rainforest  Sml / Med / Lge   $50 - $80

Exo Terra Heat Wave Desert   Ex-Sml / Sml / Med / Lge  $20 - $80

Aussie Sun Heat Mats   Sml / Med / Lge  $50 - $70

Repta Heat Mat   5 Sizes  $25 - $40

MicroClimate Heat Mat  7 Sizes  $50 - $100

Heat Cord

Heat cords are a versatile method of heating and can be placed in or underneath substrate as well as used vertically on enclosure walls.  They are available in various low wattages and lengths, so in some cases they can be used without a thermostat. However, it is always advised to err on the side of caution and use a probe thermostat and always use a separate thermometer.  Heat cords don’t produce very high heat output so are not suitable as the only heat source for high heat requiring reptiles such as dragons or monitors.

URS Heating Cord 4m – 9m   $20 - $60

Heat Rock

Heat rocks should be considered an accessory and therefore used in conjunction with other heating products.  They are usually a ceramic or resin ‘rock’ that the reptile lays on with an internal heating element.  In the past some heat rock products have proved to be less than safe, causing thermal burns.  More recent, higher quality products are available; look for ones that have an auto shut off once a set temperature is reached.  It is wise to control the heat rock with a thermostat.  At the very least, place a probe thermometer in contact with the rock to monitor heat output.

Exo Terra Heat Wave Rock   Sml / Med / Lge   $60 - $130

Zoo Med Standard and Deluxe Rock Heater  Sml / Med / Lge   $65 - $100


N.B. Prices in Australian Dollars.

Prices and information correct at time of publishing.