How Do I Heat My Reptile Enclosure

Temperature in your Reptile Enclosure is one of the most important factor which affects all chemical and biological processes for an animal, particular digestion of food. Mammals and birds have the luxury of being able to maintain their temperature, however reptiles cannot and are completely reliant on external heat sources. If there is not enough heat (or too much) the health of your reptile will degrade over time.

Determining the Optimal Temperatures for a Species

How Do I Heat My Reptile Enclosure?The most common health issues for reptiles is low temperatures. One of the most important things you can do for your reptile is work out its Preferred Optimum Temperature Zone or (POTZ). The POTZ for bearded dragons and desert monitors is 35 degrees celcius, however to achieve this you will need a heating source that produced around 40 degrees. Every species will have its own POTZ which will need to adjusted accordingly.

One of the best investments you can make is buying a trusted book to provide you with the correct animal husbandry requirements of you species. See our How to Find Information about a Species article and our Product Review page and for a selection of books which provides these books.

Temperature Gradient

How Do I Heat My Reptile Enclosure? 1You want to aim for a temperature gradient across the whole enclosure so that there is a gradual change from high to low temperatures. Aim to have a 5 degree Celsius drop between the hot end, the middle of the enclosure and the cool end. So for example a bearded dragon who’s POTZ is 35 degrees will need a 40 degrees under the heat source, 35 degrees in the middle and 30 degrees at the cool end.

Tip: One of the most common mistakes is when a temperature reading is made underneath a heat source (i.e. light bulb) and this is taken to be the temperature for the whole hot end. Your desired temperature must be obtained across most of the hot end, not just under the heat source.


Without adequate ventilation the reptile enclosure will overheat and lose its temperature gradient. This is not only dangerous for your animals, it is also costly.

The Right Equipment – Thermometers
Correct Enclosure
For tips on how to pick the right enclosure see the following article.
Which Reptile Enclosure Do I Choose (article 3 below)

To learn how to breed feeder insects for your reptile click here.