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Reptiles are cold blooded (Ectothermic) animals and they rely on the sun and climate to maintain their body temperature, if their body temperature is not correct they will become lethargic and will not be able to move and hunt properly. More importantly their digestive system will not be able to function effectively. As we want to keep them in captivity for a number of different reasons, i.e. (pets, studies and breeding) it is down to us to make sure that we replicate their natural habitat as best we can. To do this correctly we have to replicate a number of given factors, here we are concentrating on heat. For the majority of reptiles (but not all) a heat source is required. Although there are a number of different options on the market today I still feel the best way is to heat from above, replicating the heat from the sun, with a ceramic heater/pulse stat combination or incandescent bulb/dimming stat combination (please make sure that all heaters are protected so your animal cannot burn themselves). These will give an effective heat source, which if setup correctly, will not need adjusting when our own climate changes or need to be turned of at night. Above I have tried to give you a simple but effective way of setting up a heat source in your enclosure that will work well with either of the above combinations.

As you can see from the above diagram we have fitted the heat source to the roof of the enclosure, this should be approx ⅔ to ¾ of the way along the top of the enclosure i.e. (if you have a 48” enclosure then place the heat source 30 – 36 inches from one end of the enclosure). By doing this it will allow us to maintain a hot end and a cooler end. It is very important to have a heat gradient to create a cooler end so that if required the animal has an area where they can retreat and get away from the heat. We have placed the probe from the thermostat at one end of the enclosure, this is used by the thermostat to sense the heat of the area and then turn on or off the heater to keep a consistent temperature. If we set the thermostat at 84˚F the area under the probe should be reading the same temperature. As the probe is not directly under the heat source the temperature there should be slightly higher (90ºF) and the further away we move from the heat source the cooler the temperature becomes (78˚F) giving you a cooler end of your enclosure. The higher we go towards the heat source the greater the temperature will increase (95-100ºF) giving you a basking area so this would be a good place to put an elevated platform. There are various different ways in which this can be achieved but generally a large rock or a pile of rocks will be sufficient or you can place a piece of cork bark in a diagonal position under the heat source with the high end towards the hot end of the enclosure and the low end towards the cooler end of the enclosure. (Please remember to make sure that whatever you place in the enclosure is secure and cannot fall and harm your animal). Either of these will allow your animal to get closer to the heat source and bask at his/her pleasure. It is also a very good idea to place two hides in the enclosure one at the cool end the other at the hot end, this way you are not forcing an insecure animal which wants to retreat, to be in a temperature it really does not want to be in, purely because he is desperate for the security of a hide.

As the temperatures above are just guides you will need to use a digital temperature gauge to measure the temperatures in your enclosure and adjust the thermostat accordingly. By using this kind of setup you only really need to concentrate on measuring the temperature directly under the heat source at ground level, once this temperature is consistent and correct you can rest assured your animal can move in and out of the cool, hot and basking areas, as required. As well as using a digital thermometer you can use observation to help you further, if your animal is always down the cold end of the enclosure trying to get out or constantly sitting with his mouth gaped open then it is probably to hot and you need to adjust the temperature accordingly. However if he is constantly at the hot end hugging the heat source then this could mean it is to cold and needs to be rectified. Remember, a happy animal will normally use most of its enclosure throughout the course of the day.

I hope that the above has been of some help to you, but if you have any further questions then please ask a member of staff in the shop and they will be happy to help you.