Do Pet Snakes Need Heat Lamps?

heat lamps

HEAT LAMPS FOR SNAKES GUIDE | One of the most essential aspects of snake ownership—and reptile care in general—is the need for an external heat source. Reptiles are ectotherms (the scientific term for being cold-blooded).

This means that they cannot regulate their body temperatures and are reliant on external sources of heat to stay warm and keep their bodies functioning. Failing to provide an adequate heat source would result in a lethargic and ill reptile.

But while every reptile-owner knows and agrees that keeping their pet snake warm is crucial, it’s not universally agreed upon what’s the best method or equipment to use to do this. Heat lamps are a popular option but just one of several various means of providing warmth to a reptile.

Determining which is best to use will largely depend on the precise snake species you own. Keep reading to learn more about the two most commonly used heating elements as well as which is best for certain species.

Heat Lamps

Heat lamps are extremely simple to use and inexpensive to both buy and maintain. Although similar in appearance to a desk lamp you might use for reading, they are not the same thing.

heat lamps for snakes

Heat lamps use special bulbs that intentionally generate more heat than a standard incandescent bulb. Depending on the snake species and their desired climate, you might not need these specialty bulbs and might be able to get away with using an undertank heater only.

Another difference is a color correcting feature. These bulbs claim to have removed yellow wavelengths, which is supposed to be easier on the reptile’s vision.

Speaking of wavelengths, many reptile owners like heat lamps as a means to provide their scaly pet with a boost of UVB or UVA rays. These are only possible by the use of specialty bulbs, all of which were created specifically for reptiles.

Heat lamps are best for species like the Green Tree Python or Tree Boa as well as other species that like to bask.

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Heat Mats

Heat mats are a great set-it-and-forget-it option for keeping a reptile warm. They can be attached to the sides or bottom of a tank, providing a natural radiating heat that mimics the warmth of the ground.

Heat Mats

Most heating mats come with a thermostat that owners can set without the need for fussing with switches, manually having to turn it on and off. It’s a great option for reptiles that don’t require a basking light which makes this already convenient heating method even easier to use.

The one caveat of using heat mats is ensuring there is proper air circulation between the mat and the tank. Because they can remain on for 24-hours, not only can it make your pet’s environment uncomfortably hot, but also risks causing the tank itself to crack from the heat. Heat mats are best for species like the Ball Python, Corn Snake, Hognose, and King Snake.

Where To Find Reptile Heat Elements?

No matter which type of heating apparatus or heat lamps you think are best for your pet snake, you’ll likely always be able to find either type of equipment wherever you can find snakes for sale. When in doubt, ask your pet store staff for their recommendations.