This page is devoted to why you should not use
heat rocks (of any brand name) in any reptile's enclosure except for a very few exceptions
with desert animals.
Please don't listen to the pet store personnel
that try and sell you Heat Rocks for use with your Iguana, Leopard
Gecko, Snake, Bearded Dragon etc. They want to sell you one because
they make a ton of money on them. Trust me, your money is far better
spent on heating pads and basking lights! Take a look at the following
and make your own decisions.
My Top 4 Reasons not to use Heat
Many Heat Rocks cause burns. Lizards
don't know they are getting burned until it is too late. They lack
the nerve structures in their bellies to detect when they are too
Lizards and snakes bask in the sun
to thermoregulate. They sense solar power from above. It is unnatural
for them to lay on a hot object that never cools down to obtain
eat Rocks do not warm the air in
a cage. Many times I've seen some poor lizard plastered to his hot
rock because the rest of the cage is "freezing" to him.
I've heard many people say "My
lizard LOVES his heat rock. He is on it all the time!" This
is a stupid statement attributed to item #3 above! Of course he
is always on the heat rock, he can't move around the cage because
it is too cold!
what the experts have to say about Heat Rocks
What do I use to heat my cages if
I don't use Heat Rocks?
Use Basking Lights during
the day - There are cheap clamp-on type lamps at many hardware stores.
They cost around $5. Experiment with different wattages of regular
light bulbs and a thermometer in the cage until the desired temperature
is met.. You can either clamp the light to something or it can lay
on the screen top of the enclosure. Be sure that there is no way
for the reptile to come in direct contact with it. DO NOT leave
these on all night. See alternatives below.
Ceramic Bulbs - These are
GREAT to use day and night. They are expensive but last a long time.
They emit no light but a great deal of heat. Use them in a clamp
light that has a ceramic base to it, not the cheap ones from the
hardware store. They give off too much heat to use the cheaper plastic
ones. I use these over my Leopard gecko cages day and night to give
them a nice 95 degree basking spot at one end of the cage.
Under Tank Heating Pads -
These are great to use by themselves in some instances but are usually
better off when used in conjunction with some sort of basking light.
Usually they are placed under about half of the cage. The animal
will use it for belly heat to aid in digestion. Heating pads will
heat up the substrate that is directly over it and radiate some
of that heat into the air unlike hot rocks which only heat themselves
up. I use these in conjunction with ceramic bulbs for one of my
Bearded Dragons. The heating pad is on the same side of the cage
as the ceramic bulb (45 gallon tall tank). The whole thing is on
a night-drop thermostat so it stays constant all day and drops down
at night. Heating pads can be used alone for Leopard Geckos also.
They don't climb too much so they are always close to the warm substrate.
Articles on Heat Rocks & Heating Issues
It is a good indication that the
heat is set up correctly for your animal if he moves around the
cage during the day. He should bask for a while to warm up and then
he might move to the cooler side to cool down a little. If he is
constantly in the warmest area of the tank it is most likely too
cool overall. If he is always on the coolest side chances are there
is too much heat.
Get the enclosure all set up and
to the right temperature BEFORE you bring the animal home.
You don't want to cook him or freeze him by experimenting while
he is in there!
Use at least 2 thermometers in the
enclosure. Put one as close to the hottest part of the cage as possible
and the other as far away as possible. There should be a distinct
difference between the two. All reptiles need some sort of temperature
gradient so that they can thermoregulate (adjust their body temperature
by moving between warm and cool areas). All reptiles have different
requirements, so do some research on the web and read some books
and THEN go buy your reptile!
Heat rocks make excellent cage decorations
after you cut the wire off!
are Heat Rocks Good For? Heat rocks are
actually for for a few things if you have an old one laying around.
Cut off the cord* and use
it as a plain old rock under a basking light. I have many of them
that I use like this because every herp I have been given seems
to come with "his favorite" heat rock.
Use one as secondary heating
with basking lights or ceramic elements but bury it under sand for
desert creatures so they don't get burned.
Cut off the cord and use it outside
to hide a key under.
*make sure it is unplugged first!