The next most important point is to choose a heat source that allows heating overnight, without disrupting the day/night cycle. Many people would argue that reptiles only need heating during the day, however we recommend providing heating 24/7 as our enclosure environments are much different to ‘out in the wild’. Climate change has meant that our seasons are much less predictable, leading to some ‘cold’ summer nights which can chill reptiles and compromise their immune systems. Some more advanced thermostats have the capacity to provide a lower night temperature, and this is something that you can discuss with your reptile veterinarian at your next appointment.
As all reptile enthusiasts will know, reptiles are not capable of maintaining their own body temperature, they rely purely on their environment. Hence, our enclosures must have a ‘temperature gradient’ that ranges both above and below the preferred body temperature of the species it houses. This allows the animal to move between these areas to maintain their body temperature correctly. So the heat light should be positioned at one end of the enclosure, making it the warm end. Our enclosures lose heat very quickly, so within about an hour of turning off our heat lights, the entire enclosure will be roughly the same temperature. For a reptile this means their body temperature will be whatever the enclosure temperature is, which may not be optimal. They absolutely require a ‘cooler’ end – reptiles can suffer heat stroke as well!
Standard white heat lights are obviously only suitable for daytime use. There are a number of coloured heat lights that are marketed for night time use, including purple and red lights, as previously it was thought that reptiles could not see these colours. However, more recent research has found that reptiles CAN actually see these colours, so leaving these lights on overnight may be disrupting the day/night cycle and causing stress.
CERAMIC HEAT EMMITERS however do not produce any visible light, making them ideal for consistent heating 24/7.
UV lights can then be used to provide the ‘daytime’ light, as well as providing important an important UV source as we discussed a couple of weeks ago.
If you have any questions about heating requirements for your reptile, feel free to give the clinic a call on (07) 3217 3533