Reptile Heating - Lamps, Mats, Emitters or Cords?

By: Pet City   On: 9 March 2021 

This pet guide can help you choose the correct type of heating equipment for your pet's enclosure.

Not sure what kind of heating is best for your reptile? With so many heating solutions available it can be a little confusing! This guide can help build your knowledge and understanding of reptile heating and the products available.



Unlike humans, reptiles are ectothermic which means they rely on the temperature of their environment to regulate their body temperature. There are many different ways of providing heat to your reptile, such as through the use of mats, cords and lamps.


Regardless of the type of heat source you are using, it should always be connected to a thermostat to regulate the temperature and prevent over-heating. Likewise, the heat source needs to be inaccessible – a lamp can either be positioned on top of an appropriate screen lid or with a safety cage around the globe if mounted on the inside. This will help prevent thermal burns.


The heat source should also be positioned down the same end as the UVB lamp. This will help provide a heat and light gradient so that your reptile can move towards and further away from the heat and light as needed. Every species of reptile has its own temperature requirements and it is important to research what these are before purchasing a new pet. It is important to note that the basking area should be the size of the reptile’s entire body, not just a small focused hot spot as this can cause burns. For very large reptiles, you may need to use multiple heat lamps to increase the size of the basking area.



Different Types of Heating and Their Benefits


UVA White Light Heat Lamps

Most species of reptile commonly housed in captivity enjoy basking under a white light, and will gain added benefits from the UVA provided. Pet City recommends the use of a white basking lamp connected to a dimming thermostat as the heat source in most situations.

Ceramic Heat Emitters

Ceramic heat emitters are perfect for heating at night when required. They do not produce any light and therefore do not interrupt the day/night cycle of the reptile. As always, they should be connected to a thermostat. They can be used as a day heat source but they lack UVA and visual light.

Reptile Heat Mats

Heat mats are particularly useful for heating terrestrial gecko species. Heat mats are to be positioned on the outside of the enclosure. They are another non-light emitting heat source that can also be useful for night-time heating when required. However, in most cases a ceramic heat emitter is usually prefered. 

Heating Cords for Reptiles

Heat cords are usually utilised when many enclosures require the same basking temperature, such as in a hatchling rack type system. Heat cords are to be positioned on the outside of the enclosure.


Pet City recommend White Heat Lamps as the most universal and beneficial heat source for most reptiles.



Red Heat Lamps

Red heat lamps used to be widely recommended as a 24/7 heat source as it was thought that reptiles could not see the red light they emit. However, further studies have shown that this is in fact incorrect and the red light produced by these heat lamps can disrupt the day/night cycle quite considerably. To provide the best husbandry to your reptile, a non-light emitting heat source should be used at night if required. Red lamps shouldn’t be used during the day either as flooding the enclosure with red light is quite unnatural and the reptile will not be able to see the other colours of its environment properly.


Please remember that this is to be used as a guide only. If you need help choosing the correct heat source for your reptile, please contact us.


Eco Tech Dimming Thermostat



All heat lamps and emitters should be fitted to a thermostat to ensure your enclosure is not over-heated, and for safety reasons. 

We recommend the Eco Tech Advanced Day & Night Dimming Thermostat as it has optimal temperature control with a dimming feature, and allows you to set day and night cycles. The dimming feature also helps prolong the life of your heating equipment.



Have a Question?

Email our Reptile Team