How to Use a Heat Mat

Written by amy shelleby
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How to Use a Heat Mat
Iguanas need extra heating to ensure good physical and mental health. (Reptile image by Sader from

If you wish to keep a reptile as a pet, you need to provide the animal with an enclosure that has varying degrees of heat. Reptiles are dependent upon the environment to regulate their body temperature. A reptile needs to move to warm or cool areas of the tank, depending on how they feel. Most reptiles enjoy a cage temperature of 26.6 to 31.1 degrees C. A complete reptile enclosure will have multiple sources of heat. A heat mat placed at the bottom or side of the enclosure is one part of the ideal heating composition of a reptile cage.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Herp-safe cleaner
  • Clean towel
  • Terrarium heater kit
  • Substrate of choice
  • Socket
  • 1 thermometer for every 20 gallons of enclosure

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  1. 1

    Clean the area where you want to place the heater with a herp-safe cleaner, which is safe for use with reptiles. Use a clean cloth to dry the area.

  2. 2

    Peel off the adhesive backing and place the heat mat in the desired position. The heater should be located on the bottom or the lower half of one of the sides of the enclosure. Rub your hand over the heat mat to make sure there is a bubble-free connection between the enclosure and the pad.

  3. 3

    Remove the adhesive from the rubber feet. If you placed the heater on the bottom of the enclosure, adhere one rubber foot to each corner of the enclosure.

  4. 4

    Place the desired substrate at the bottom of the enclosure. Follow the directions on the substrate for the correct amount to add. Never add more than 1.5 inches of gravel or sand if you placed the heat mat under the enclosure.

  5. 5

    Hang the thermometers in various areas of your enclosure. This will give you accurate temperature readings in multiple areas of the enclosure.

  6. 6

    Plug the heater into an socket. Wait six hours to get an accurate temperature reading. Add or subtract other heating elements to achieve an optimal cage temperature.

Tips and warnings

  • A heating pad is supplemental heating for a terrarium. You will need additional heating elements for a happy reptile.
  • Hermit crabs and some small rodents also benefit from heating pads.
  • Do not mount the heating pad under the enclosure if you are placing it on furniture, it could damage the furniture.
  • Once adhered to the enclosure it can not be removed. If you remove the heating pad you will need to purchase a new one.

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