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Gadget Guide for Your Reptile's Enclosure

Updated on May 9, 2011
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Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003

Pet Reptiles

For the most part, most pet reptiles need the same basic elements in their enclosure- heat, humidity, and light, and the same basic gadgets and accessories are necessary to provide the proper husbandry and to monitor the husbandry.

You can go cheap quality and improper husbandry or high- quality and proper husbandry. But, remember that just because it's high- quality, it doesn't mean that it's going to be expensive.

Below you'll find a basic guide to reptile gadgets and some examples of my preferred products and why I prefer them.

Heating a Reptile Enclosure

Heat is probably the most important aspect of a reptile's enclosure. Without proper temperatures, your reptile cannot digest its food properly, which can cause it to stop eating.

Improper temperatures can cause health concerns such as respiratory problems, and improper temperatures can hinder a reptile from properly thermo-regulating its body temperatures.

The best was to ensure that land dwelling reptiles, such as ball pythons, leopard geckos, and bearded dragons, get the appropriate temperatures is to use an under tank heater (UTH). UTH's are probably the most important gadget that you're going to need besides a digital thermometer.

Under tank heaters and be placed on the side or underneath the aquarium, and are great even for those reptiles that do not need much supplemental heat, such as crested geckos and gargoyle geckos. In the cooler months, the provide the perfect heat when placed on the side of the tank. (Not using the sticky)

There are different brands of under tank heaters, but I find that ZooMed is by far the best. The ESU and other reptile brands tend to be too small and very thin. The ZooMed UTH's are safe for all reptiles and have been tested in laboratories. Plus, you get a 1 year warranty.

The other brands tend to be flimsy and have a shorter lifespan. I've had ZooMed UTH's last for over 4 years without any problems.

Just make sure to (1) raise the enclosure if you place the UTH underneath it so to prevent heat build- up and stress cracks and (2) put a towel or something under the UTH to prevent burning your furniture. (I have burn marks for not replacing towels regularly.)

Lighting a Reptile Enclosure

Not all reptiles need a light source, but many do appreciate it, and it helps to heat the air temperatures in the enclosure.

Nocturnal reptiles, do not necessarily need a light source, but it can help to produce a day/ night scenario. You can use a red bulb at night for your own viewing pleasures, but during the day a simple light bulb would be fine.

Diurnal reptiles, must have light. They, also, need a UV source, as well. Becuase diurnal reptiles are active during the day, they need vitamin D3 to help absorb calcium into their body. The UV rays help to create synthetic D3, but you should still add D3 into the reptile's diet.

As for brand... I prefer ZooMed, once again. Their product have anger lifespan, in general. I have had to replace clamp lamps, but for the most part they continue working until you experience a short in the cords.

For UV lighting, I like ESU. They just seem to have a better source of UV bulbs and fixtures. In terms of UV fixtures, make sure to get one that is sized appropriately for your reptile's enclosure. If you upgrade the aquarium, upgrade the UV light fixture.

Monitoring Reptile Temperatures

The most important gadget that you can invest in for your reptile is a digital thermometer. Most people buy the cheap, flimsy stick on temperature and humidity gauges. These are very inaccurate. For the most part the stick on thermometers read the temperature of the glass or the temperature of the air, depending on which style you purchase.

Your land dwelling leopard gecko doesn't care diddly- squat what the temperatures above him are. He needs the surface temperatures to be between 87F and 90F- no hotter and no cooler.

The best way to monitor the temperatures within your reptile's enclosure is with a digital thermometer with a probe. You can even go cheap and buy the ESU digital thermometer; they just read the temperatures, not the humidity.

Or, you can go a little more expensive and purchase the Fluker's Digital thermometer and hygrometer. The Fluker's digital thermometer is the best, but they're usually around $25; Amazon has them at around $15, which is the cheapest I've seen.

This is by far the most important gadget that you need to purchase for your reptile, no matter what species. I use these on all of my enclosures that are not regulated by a thermostat.

Temperature Gun

Another nifty gadget to have on hand, but is not necessary, is a temperature gun. You can go out and buy heavy duty ones from Lowes or another home department store, you can buy reptile temperature guns by Pro Exotics. I have the PE1, but I've heard the more advanced temp guns are definitely worth the money.

Although, I do use the digital thermometers, it's best to check the enclosure temperatures once in a while jut to make sure that the battery in the digital thermometer isn't going bad.

My dad has even used my simple, handheld temp gun for testing the temperatures in God knows what, but he has asked for it a time or two. He prefers it to his Craftsman Electrical Meter because the handheld temp gun actually reads the temperatures versus the electrical output.


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    • profile image

      Pennyv 8 years ago

      As for UV lighting I prefer Zilla's desert series for my bearded dragon (though they make for tropical). Those bulbs have always worked great for me. But yes, its very important to know whether your pet is diurnal or nocturnal.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      Oh definitely go with the temp gun or a digital thermometer or 3. ;-)

    • monitor profile image

      monitor 9 years ago from The world.

      Thanks. Great summary. I have a friend that keeps three lizards. Now I know what to get here for her birthday.