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Myths and Misconceptions About Heating for Reptiles

Myths and Misconceptions About Heating for Reptiles

Myths and Misconceptions About Heating for Reptiles 

Many myths and misconceptions have been passed around for many years, making it difficult for keepers to know what is safe and ideal to use to heat their reptile.

MYTH: Reptiles Require Belly Heat to Digest

Do reptiles require belly heat to digest their food properly? - NO. 

In the wild, heat comes from above (the sun) and heats the surface below. Heat is not created from the ground, it is created from above and heats the surface, penetrating into the earth. Burrowing animals still receive heat from the sun when their burrow is warmed by the sun. 

Under tank heating is an unnatural concept that goes against the animal’s natural instinct to burrow to cool down. Instead, they burrow and it gets warmer closer to the UTH. 

A properly regulated overhead heat source over a warm hide allows the animal to remain hidden within the hide if they choose, or to come on top of the hide, where they can lay on the warmed surface and absorb belly heat, just like the sun would do in their natural environment.

MISCONCEPTION: Reptiles Need Heat Overnight 

Do reptiles require consistent access to a hotspot? - Not Usually! 

In the wild, when the sun sets, the environment clings to the heat of the day briefly before cooling down - this is natural.

Most adult reptiles can handle, and even benefit, from a night time drop in temperature!

It is important to research your individual species to find out how cool their environment gets at night and determine a safe level for temperatures to drop. You may choose to offer a small heat source that does not emit visible light, such as a heat mat or low wattage ceramic heat emitter, for your reptile to retreat to if they get too cold. Most commonly kept reptiles can handle their heat sources going off overnight and cooling to the ambient temperature of the average household (70ºƒ).

MYTH: Reptiles Cannot See Red Light

Do reptiles need heat lamps overnight? - NO. 

It was previously thought that red heat lamps could be used for a 24/7 heat source since reptiles cannot see red light. We now know that most reptiles can see the entire rainbow spectrum, except some species of gecko that lack the red-cone, which would make them red-green colorblind. For these species, evidence shows us that they can still see the light emitted from red heat lamps as if they were standard basking lamps. Using red heat lamps 24/7 can disturb the reptile’s circadian rhythm. In addition, red heat lamps are not the most efficient way of providing overhead heat to a reptile, and bathes the enclosure in a red glow, which can be disorienting. Regardless if a red heat lamp is used, any visible light sources should be turned off overnight to avoid throwing off the reptile’s natural cycles. 

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