Desert reptiles love heat. They want consistent heat covering their entire habitat, not just a single focal point of heat as provided by a heat lamp. They need this heat to keep their bodies running efficiently. A reptile heat mat is one of the best ways to give them the heat they need.
Some of the most common ways people heat their reptile habitats include heat strips, clamp lights, and heating stones. They are all work great for certain situations, but when what you really need is a complete surface to be heated they are not very efficient. A reptile heat mat gives consistent heat throughout the habitat floor to make sure your reptiles are warm and comfortable.
A reptile heat mat adheres to either the bottom of your reptile aquarium or to a side wall. You mount the mat on the bottom of the aquarium for your ground living lizards and reptiles. They will feel the heat spreading up through their bodies just like they would in a desert. Wall mounting the heat map is ideal for lizards and reptiles which live in trees and brush off the surface of tank. The heat radiate through the wall heating the air and the area where they are sitting.
While a reptile heat mat is ideal for a desert lizard it is also ideal for rain forest reptiles, too. The biggest difference in the two environments is vegetation and humidity. Rain forest creatures are used to very high heats on the ground from the decaying of plant life on the forest floor. These forests are normally in equatorial areas which stay very warm year round. Your reptile heat mats can be used to heat the substrate on the bottom of the tank evaporating moisture into the air to help maintain high humidity in the air.
The biggest advantage of a heat mat over heat stones, strips, or even lights is their ability to heat larger surface areas. Where a stone only heats itself and a very small area around it the heat mat is capable of heating a large area of your reptile habitat. Heat mats come in sizes starting at about 4” square and going to sizes which fit a large portion of a normal aquariums floor space. Often it is better to use several small heat maps to allow better control of overall heat in the habitat.
While a reptile heat mat may have a thermostat do not rely on it as your sole measurement of your reptiles living area. Use thermometers which measure the air temperature and the substrate on the floor to make sure your reptile has the proper levels of heat. Without proper heating they will be sluggish. With too much heat they can quickly develop major health problems which can even lead to death. Temperature levels are very critical to your reptiles.
Even though a reptile heat mat can be very efficient, do not neglect the importance of a heat light to give your reptiles the basking heat and light they often crave. Check into the needs of your species of reptile and then build your heating system to match.