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Pet Snakes provides easy to understand, practical information and facts to help the new snake owner take care of their animals. At Pet Snakes we want to provide information that will help you enjoy your reptile more than ever.

Beginners guide to heating your snake tank


We’ve talked about the importance of regulating snake tank temperatures in past articles. Now we will cover some things to do and things to avoid when you heat a snake tank.

Things to do when heating the tank
Right Temperatures
Take some time and learn the proper temperatures for you snake. This information is easy to find online by looking for some care sheets.

Right Equipment

There are several options available for heating you snake tank. These include:

Regular Light Bulbs
The kind you put in your house lights. These aren’t generally recommended but they work in an emergency

“Nocturnal” Light Bulbs
Produce a dim light and have a special coating (blue, red, etc). These are NOT the same thing you see in the grocery store. The bulb is designed to both heat the tank and allow you to view the animal at night without causing it undue stress.

Ceramic Heat Emitters (CHEs)
These heating elements produce no light and very intense heat. They require a special porcelain socket to absorb the heat. Because they get so hot it is very dangerous to use them directly in a snake’s cage.

Radiant Heat Panels (RHPs)
Like CHEs this type of heating produces no light and intense infrared heat. Unlike ceramic heat emitters RHPs are safe to use directly in your snake tank because the surface temperature doesn’t get overly hot. These are generally installed permanently to the top of the snake’s tank.

Heating Pads
Special pads that are heated using an electrical element are attached to the bottom of the tank. These provide good belly heat which many snakes use for digestion. Heating pads should not be used for heating the entire tank due to their localized nature. It would be completely inefficient to heat using these pads except for the smallest tanks.

Heat Tape
This is special electrical tape that is usually sold under the brand name of Flex-Watt. It is much the same as heating pads except it is good for heating multiple cages at once.

You will need a digital thermometer with a remote probe, and something that allows you to regulate how much heat your chosen method puts out. A thermostat is the primary choice, but you can also use a rheostat.

Setup and Test
You should set everything up and test it for 2 or 3 days to be sure it is consistently producing the needed temperatures.

Things to avoid when heating the tank
Avoid the following practices.

Using the wrong method of heating
Each heating method has advantages and disadvantages. Learn how each one works and the effect it has on a snake. For instance we mentioned heating pads which work great for ground dwelling species such as Ball Pythons but they don’t work for arboreal species like Amazon Tree Boas.

Failure to regulate your temperatures
It is vitally important to make sure temperatures are within the appropriate ranges at all times. Going to high or to low can be deadly. The only way to do this is by using thermometers and thermostats/rheostats.

Trying to use cheap equipment
Your reading lamp burning out because you didn’t want to spend money on a good quality bulb isn’t a big deal. Your snake’s heating source burning out for the same reason is potentially deadly. Don’t skimp with cheap products. Yes you’ll pay more for good quality items but they will last longer and be safer.

We didn’t cover the placement of heating elements in this article because that information has been covered in depth in this article about homemade snake cages.

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