Exotic Pets

Do My Reptiles Need Additional Heat in the Winter?

You heat your house or apartment in the winter, so your reptiles should be covered as far as heat goes, right? Maybe.

Winter temperatures that are comfortable for you may not work best for some reptiles. It depends if you lower or raise the temperature in your home at night and whether you have drafty doors or windows that may be lowering the ambient temperature of the enclosure.

Here’s what to know about when your exotic pet needs another heat source and what kind of heat to provide.

Do seasons make a difference for indoor pets?

Although you likely have heating and cooling to theoretically keep your home about the same temperature all year if you desire, it doesn’t always work that way. In the winter, as your heating system works to keep the house warm, the ambient temperature of your reptile tank can decrease.

For some animals, this isn’t a problem if they come from temperate habitats and do well in a range of temperatures. Some of these animals may also brumate when the temperatures drop, meaning there’s no need to increase the heat for them. You should check the temperature requirements and brumation habits of your particular species of pet to know for sure.

Heat lamps

Lightbulbs and basking lights can raise the temperature in an enclosure sufficiently to keep your pet comfortable. You probably already have one since most species of reptile require a basking light and temperature gradients, but if the ambient temperature is too low, you can add an additional bulb. This is especially useful if you have a large enclosure.

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The thing to keep in mind with heat lamps is that you can only leave them on during the day, so if you need additional nighttime heating, this is not the option for your pet.

Heat pads

If you need something to add heat at night or day without adding additional lighting, a heat pad is a good option. You place them under the enclosure to add radiated heat. ZooMed provides a good under tank heater for a variety of tank sizes.

Under tank heat pad

You can also place heat pads on the outside walls of tanks for arboreal species with tall enclosures.

Ceramic heat emitters

Ceramic heat emitters look like lightbulbs, but they do not emit any light, just heat. You screw them into a dome just like a bulb. You can use these both day and night to boost ambient heat, just like heat pads.

The Tye-Dyed Iguana sells these heaters in several wattages for various heat outputs:

60W Ceramic Heat Emitter

100W Ceramic Heat Emitter

150W Ceramic Heat Emitter

40W Nano Ceramic Heat Emitter

Ceramic heater

Using a fixture with a dimmer switch can help to regulate the temperature of a ceramic heat emitter.

Water heaters

Of course, if your reptile lives in an aquatic environment, such as turtles, you’ll need a heater that is submersible and can heat up their water, like the ZooMed Turtletherm Aquatic Turtle Heater.

Turtle water heater

Because reptiles are cold-blooded, monitoring their habitat temperature with a thermometer is essential to their care.

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