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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 Rocks
  1. 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 hot.
  2. 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 heat.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

See what the experts have to say about Heat Rocks

What do I use to heat my cages if I don't use Heat Rocks?
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  Heating Tips
  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. Heat rocks make excellent cage decorations after you cut the wire off!
    Other Articles on Heat Rocks & Heating Issues  
Thermal Burns by MelissK   Lighting & Heating by MelissK 

    What are Heat Rocks Good For? Heat rocks are actually for for a few things if you have an old one laying around.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Cut off the cord and use it outside to hide a key under.
*make sure it is unplugged first!


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