Heat and temperature in terrariums

Since no terrarium animal can produce its own heat (cold-blooded animals), they depend on the ambient temperature. Many lizards and snakes actively seek out places where they can warm themselves in the temperature of the ground or the sun. Only with the right body temperature are they capable of reaching their peak performance (hunting) and keeping their metabolism working normally.

Because the sun generates heat in the wild, light is associated with heat. That’s why a lot of terrarium animals seek out places under bright spotlights. They would not recognize a dark (infrared) ceramic heat lamp without visible light! The Ceramic heat lamp is an ideal way to supply heat to the terrarium during the dark phase. Ceramic heat lamps and heating mats are the only way to heat without light.

When the animals have warmed up, they start looking for cooler places again. That’s why terrariums must never be heated evenly, but need different temperature zones. A floor heating like JBL TerraTemp heatmat should for example only be attached under one area of the terrarium.

It is also important that different daytime and nighttime temperatures are maintained, recreating the animals’ habitat conditions. Especially in deserts, it can be very cold at night and the animals retire to caves where heat is stored by the surrounding sand or rock. But even in rainforests the heat is not always on the same level. In the Amazonian lowlands, for example, the night temperature can drop to 22 ° C in the early morning hours!

Heating in a terrarium should be dimensioned so that the animals will not be “roasted” in the event that the control technology fails. In other words, a small terrarium should not be equipped with an oversized 100 watt heating cable with a controller. Instead it should have a small floor heating of 8 to 15 W ( JBL TerraTemp heatmat ). The heating effect of the lighting also needs to be taken into account. As a result, when the lighting is turned off, the nighttime drop in temperature occurs simultaneously.

The heat dissipation of a terrarium can be reduced – and savings in energy costs achieved as a result – by insulating the side panes with insulating material on the outside to prevent heat loss. Foam pads such as the JBL AquaPad under the bottom panel prevent heat emission but also prevent the bottom panel from bursting in case the supporting surface is uneven and there is no heating mat attached outside on the bottom. When placing a heat mat there, though, it is imperative to follow the relevant instructions in order to ensure a sufficient rear ventilation of the heating mat. The JBL floor heating mats ( JBL TerraTemp heatmat ) come with “feet” as spacers. If the lighting is not sufficient for heating and the installation of a heating mat under the terrarium is not possible, use ceramic heat emitters, such as JBL ReptilHeat ). These ceramic heaters heat up (not visible from the outside) and release the heat into the terrarium air. To prevent animals from getting burned, they should always be covert with a heat protection basket ( JBL TempSet Heat ).

Heat requirement of terrarium animals

In the following section you will find information about the heat requirements of animals from various habitats

Heat for tropical forest animals

Tropical forest dwellers usually need high daytime and slightly lower nighttime temperatures (e.g. Amazonia 32 °C day/23 °C night – should not fall below this limit!). You can lower temperatures by switching off the warm daytime lighting at night.

Heat for animals that are active at dusk and at night

Nocturnal tropical forest animals require higher temperatures between 23 and 30 °C during the night, whereas night-active desert animals prefer lower temperatures from 15-22 °C.

Heat for desert animals

Desert animals are used to high daytime and often to low nighttime temperatures. If it gets too warm for them during the day, they need to be able to retire to cooler places in the terrarium.

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