Written by Dr. Amy Nicewonger
Temperature and Humidity Recommendations for Reptiles
Each reptile species has a species-specific temperature range and humidity requirements. There are many resources available that list these ranges so they will not be discussed here. You can also ask your veterinarian what the optimum temperature range and humidity level is for your particular reptile.
What can I use to control the temperature in my reptile enclosure?
Many products are available for providing heat support for reptiles. Under tank mats, basking lights, ceramic heaters, etc are widely available. I prefer to use a ceramic heater for my bearded dragon because it provides constant heat but no light so I can use it 24 hours a day if needed. It is important to provide a temperature gradient within the enclosure to allow the reptile to self-regulate body temperature. However, many reptiles will seem to avoid the warm areas of the enclosure due to bright light in their eyes or that they feel too exposed due to inadequate hiding opportunities.
How do I monitor the temperature?
It is important to closely monitor the temperature in the reptile’s habitat at different times of the day and with the change in seasons. The ambient temperature in the room, opening and closing of doors and windows, and sunlight shining into the habitat can vastly change the temperature within the enclosure. The temperature at the top of the habitat can vary significantly from the bottom of the habitat. It is important to have several thermometers within the enclosure. They should be at different levels in the habitat and should be in areas where the reptile spends the most amount of time. Temperatures that are too warm or too cold can lead to anorexia and eventually, severe health issues.
Why is proper humidity control important?
Correct humidity levels within the enclosure are equally important to the overall health of the reptile. Incomplete or improper shedding, constipation and respiratory issues are risk factors if proper humidity is not provided. Foggers/misters and water drippers are available. Some reptiles benefit from misting with a spray bottle. Reptiles requiring very high levels of humidity should be provided with humidity boxes. As with variations in temperature, humidity levels should be closely monitored during different times of the day and with the change of seasons.
Reptile owners that live in areas where temperatures change with the seasons may need to consider a “summer” habitat and a “winter” habitat to keep their reptile within a constant temperature range and humidity level.
Check back next week for the final chapter in this 3 part series: Proper Feeding of Your Reptile