|Best Overall||iPower 8 by 12-inch Under Tank Heat Mat Reptile Heating pad with Digital Temperature Control|
|Best Budget-Friendly||Fluker's Premium Heat Mat for All Reptiles|
|Best for Large Reptiles||Blue Spotted Under Tank Heater, Large|
|Best for Ease of Use||Zilla Heat Mats Reptile Terrarium Heater|
|Best Digital||Zoo Med Laboratories SZMRH20 40-Watt Repti Therm Habitat Heater|
If you’re keeping a pet reptile at home, you must know there are certain elements they need in their enclosures. One of those is a heat mat. Along with incorporating a ceramic or basking bulb into your reptile’s habitat, you can set your scaly friend up with both a secondary heat source. The overhead bulb mimics the heat that emanates from the sun, which is where they would normally obtain their warmth. It’s natural for reptiles to seek out a heat source that exists above them. Heating pads are a little different because they deliver heat to your reptile from below. A basking bulb or ceramic bulb along with a heat mat work in tandem. The heat mat warms the substrate at the bottom of the tank while the overhead bulb crates that warm air pressure reptiles are attracted to.
A heat mat only works for a certain area of your reptile’s tank. Reptiles need a spectrum of temperatures with an area to cool off and an area to get warm. A heat mat helps to isolate one area and make it a warming or basking area for your reptile. Allowing your reptile to choose whether to warm up or cool down is extremely important as they exercise autonomy in natural environments. The best types of heat mats already come equipped with built-in thermometers and temperature controls. Heat mats should never cover the entirety of the floor of your tank. This would create way too much heat that would make your reptile extremely uncomfortable.
To find the best heat mat for your needs, you need to consider the size and features of different heat mats. Below, we highlight the top-rated options you have so you know where to direct your attention when deciding on a final option. We give you all of the details you need about each product to help you understand whether it’s a good choice for your reptile. We also help you by providing some tips on how to choose the right heat mat and break down how to properly use a heat mat in you are reptiles habitat.
Best Overall: iPower 8 by 12-inch Under Tank Heat Mat Reptile Heating pad with Digital Temperature Control
The best overall heat mat for your reptile is the iPower under tank heat mat. This heat mat measures 8” x 12” but there are some smaller options and one larger option as well. You can pick up the heat mat plus hygrometer or heat mat plus thermostat design. We’ve highlighted the heat mat plus thermostat design here. It’s equipped with a new PTC heating material which increases insulation overall. Heat transfer is easy across the mat, and you can reach the desired temperature in just a few short minutes. It has 3M adhesive paper which provides a strong grip on the contact area. Once you place it down, it stays put.
This heat mat is ideal for use with reptiles, other small animals, amphibians, and even plant terrariums. The digital thermostat helps regulate the temperature and you can select between Celsius or Fahrenheit. It has an easy plug-in operation with LED indicator lights and a three-prong grounded plug. This design is also great for saving energy. It consumes significantly less power than other heat mat products. Safety when using heat mats is extremely important and this manufacturer has rigorously tested the thermostat controller to ensure the safety of your pets.
On average, customers rate this heat pad 4.4 out of five stars. One customer says that it works as advertised so long as you use it properly. She found the thermostat easy to implement and she uses this heat pad along with a bulb for the day. She did make a mistake with the temperature probe when she used it the first couple of times because she placed it about 2 inches above the base and it was giving her measurements that were somewhere between 5°F to 10°F lower than they actually were. This caused her to think that it wasn’t heating properly for her corn snake but once she moved the temperature probe to the bottom of the tank, she received more accurate readings.
- Increased heating insulation due to new material
- Stays put due to adhesive paper
- On average, customers rate this heat pad 4.4 out of five stars
Best Budget-Friendly: Fluker’s Premium Heat Mat for All Reptiles
Fluker’s offers a premium heat mat that is safe for use with all reptiles and amphibians. It’s designed to be easy to use with durable construction that provides uniform, evenly distributed heat. You can operate it at a constant 100°F and use it either inside or outside your tank. It measures 11” x 11“ and weighs only 0.6 pounds. You can mount it under or on the side of your pet’s enclosure. Just remember that if you do mount it below the enclosure, make sure there’s only a very thin layer of substrate in the tank and that there is proper ventilation to prevent heat buildup. If there is no bottom ventilation or the substrate in your reptile’s tank is too thick, the manufacturer recommends side mounting.
Most customers rate this heat pad 4.5 out of five stars. One customer calls it “reliable and safe.” It does what it’s supposed to do and nothing else which is what makes it so perfect. He had previously decided that he was going to go the cheap route and ordered a different brand for the other side of his 20 long where his leopard gecko resides. However, that product got dangerously hot after malfunctioning. He’s now using this heat mat at the bottom of his tank and then he has a ceramic tile inside the tank for a floor. Now, this heat mat creates a hotspot, but it does not exceed 104°. He is adding a thermostat to make sure he stays on top of any fluctuations, but he doesn’t have to worry about this design going crazy or malfunctioning. He offers a word of advice to any reptile owners and that’s not to go cheap with your heat mat. It could be a big mistake.
Best for Large Reptiles: Blue Spotted Under Tank Heater, Large
If you have a large reptile, you need a larger heat mat. This under-tank heater by Blue Spotted measures 8” x 18”. This is an ideal option to use as a primary or secondary heat source for tropical and temperate reptiles. It’s also a great option if you have amphibians or other small animals. This heat mat focuses heat to the desired location and is energy efficient along the way. Pair this with a basking bulb and you have two amazing heat sources for your reptile. This design is easy to install because it adheres directly to glass vivariums for maximum heat transfer. When it arrives, you’ll see that it comes in a plain brown cardboard box along with a set of instructions.
Customers have rated this product 3.8 out of five stars. One customer has had this heat mat for years. As soon as he received it, he turned it on and has kept it on 24 hours a day. He uses a light dimmer to control the heat output and he can’t believe that it still works after so long. He did say that the glue melts so you might have to use duct tape to hold it onto the tank bottom. He has used heat mats that get warmer, but he needed a secondary heat source, and this has worked perfectly for his needs. Another customer says that it works great but make sure to use it with a thermostat. This can help ensure that your reptile is always comfortable.
Best for Ease of Use: Zilla Terrarium Heat Mats Large
This heat mat by Zilla is available in mini, small, medium, and large sizes. This 24-watt heat mat operates as the ideal heat source for both desert and tropical reptiles. It’s equipped with carbon fiber which is what radiates uniform heating without any hotspots. It’s also an energy-efficient design without wires that can pinch or break. Just use the adhesive mounting either underneath or on the side of your tank. This product is designed specifically to help your reptile regulate its body temperature to enjoy a healthy life.
Your reptile needs an external heat source to elevate its body temperature. This Zilla heat mat provides that warm heat your reptile needs to absorb from its surrounding environment. Without a proper heat source in the tank, your reptile is thrown off kilter. This could affect his activities, digestion, and appetite. Each one of these units has an adhesive backing and is low voltage with a maximum temperature of 113°F. Customers rate this heat mat 4.5 out of five stars. One customer happily uses this heat pad for her ball python while another customer had to go through a couple of faulty products before landing on this one. He says it delivers plenty of heat and is well insulated. It’s the best out of the three other different brands that he previously purchased.
Best Digital: Zoo Med Laboratories SZMRH20 40-Watt Repti Therm Habitat Heater
This Zoo Med laboratories 40 watt habitat heater is made from an easy-to-clean, moisture-proof, and high-density polyethylene plastic. It’s equipped with metal protection on the power cord which adds an extra layer of safety for both you and your reptile. This design is perfect for use with tortoises and other large reptile cages. It has a convenient LED indicator light that lets you know when the heater is on and working. There’s also automatic thermostat protection that shuts this heat mat off at 119°F to help prevent overheating. This is an ultra-valuable feature for your reptile’s safety.
Customers rate this heat mat 4.7 out of five stars. It’s solid and long-lasting, making it a must-have for large reptiles. One customer shares that she has a 70-pound African spurred tortoise that will just not get off it. He absolutely loves it. She wrote this review about five years ago and she posted an update that her sulcata is still using it every day and it’s still working perfectly. She says her big boy can be very destructive by accident, but this heat mat has demonstrated its durability. Another customer bought this heat mat for his 3-foot savanna monitor in an 8’ x 8’ enclosure. He loves it. He has been running it nonstop for about four years now. Overall, it has worked great for his needs.
- Perfect for use with tortoises and other large reptile cages
- Made from an easy-to-clean, moisture-proof, and high-density polyethylene plastic
- Customers rate this heat mat 4.7 out of five stars
How to Choose the Right Heat Mat for Your Reptile
Your reptile needs a solid heat source to survive and thrive. However, not every heat mat is designed in the same way. They vary in wattage, output, quality, and extra features. Nevertheless, there are a few things that you should consider before purchasing a heat mat for your reptile. For one, it should be specifically made for reptiles. You should not be using any other type of heat mat in your reptile tank. Your heat mat should also have safety features like automatic shut off after a certain temperature is reached. The wattage should always be somewhere between 4 and 24 watts as well.
The reason you shouldn’t use any other type of heat mat unless it’s specifically designed for reptiles is because these products are usually preconfigured to stay within a certain heat range. For example, you could potentially find a cheaper product that’s meant for industrial work. Yes, you’ll save up front, but those heat pads are not designed for reptiles and quickly overheat, making your reptile uncomfortable, or worse.
You can always purchase a thermostat separately from your heat mat or you can purchase an option that has this built-in feature already. A thermostat works as a safety feature to automatically shut off the heat pad if it goes past a certain temperature setting. Any time you’re using a heat source, even when it’s high-quality, you should always remain vigilant. A thermostat helps keep you abreast of your reptile’s environment so you can make real-time adjustments as needed.
When we talk about the wattage range, it’s because the wattage of your heat mat is ultimately what determines just how hot the mat will get. Generally, larger heat mats get hotter than some of the smaller options though that is not always the case. Using improper wattage for your reptile’s needs can lead to having the wrong temperature settings for your reptile. If the temperatures don’t get high enough, your reptile may become slow and sluggish. Additionally, this may cause issues with your reptile’s digestive system. On the other hand, if it gets too hot, your reptile can suffer from respiratory infections, or all the symptoms related to dehydration.
To give you an idea of how to shop, consider that a 20-gallon tank would do well with 8 watts. If you have a much larger tank that’s about 50 or 60 gallons, then you’ll need something like 24 watts. A smaller 10-gallon tank can operate well with 4 watts. Knowing the wattage can help narrow down your choices. If you have a 10-gallon tank, go for 4 watts and a heat mat that measures about 4” x 5.” If you are in the 20-gallon range, you’ll need a heat mat that is somewhere closer to 6” x 8.” For a super large 50 or 60-gallon tank, purchase a heat mat that measures 8” x 18.” If it’s too small, your reptile won’t have enough of a temperature gradient for comfort. If it’s too big, it creates the same issue but with not enough of a cool space for your reptile to enjoy.
How to Properly Use a Heat Mat for Your Reptile
Each of these top-rated heat mats is designed for ease of use and durability. They shouldn’t require too much figuring out upon delivery. To create the best experience for your reptile, you should position your new heat mat on the tank before you add any other products like substrate. Remember, you have to create a temperature gradient inside the tank so usually, the best place for your heat mat is beneath the overhead heat source. This way, your reptile can warm up and absorb the UV rays it needs to remain healthy. When you have the basking bulb directly above the heat mat, you create an ideal environment where you are killing two birds with one stone.
Once you figured out the best configuration for your heat mat alongside your basking bulb, go ahead and remove the protective cover of the adhesive on your heat mat. Go ahead and add the heat mat to your desired location and make sure that it doesn’t cover more than half of the tanks floor. Then, you can turn it right side up and begin adding your substrate. Remember not to use too much substrate because then the heat will not be able to emanate as effectively upward for your reptile. If you purchased a heat mat that comes with the temperature probe, go ahead and insert it down into the substrate just above where you’ve placed the heat mat. Remember that if the probe is too far from the heat mat, the temperature reading won’t be accurate, which can cause the thermostat to communicate to the heat mat that it needs to create more heat. This may not actually be the case and could become dangerous.
You may want to consider adding an extra, independent thermometer, so you have a different temperature reading to confirm the temperature reading of the built-in thermometer for your heat mat. After installing a heat mat for the first time, you’ll want to keep an eye on it. Keep checking back regularly to make sure that the temperature is staying within the appropriate range. Once you have confirmed that everything is working properly, you can move forward with setting up the rest of the habitat and introducing your reptile to its new and improved enclosure.
Up Next, Explore More Ways to Keep Your Reptile Happy and Healthy:
Keeping Pet Reptiles – Types, Care, Feeding, Cost, and More – Your one-stop guide on caring for your reptile.
The Best Night Bulb for Your Pet Reptile – Reptiles love to bask, and a night bulb provides a heating element while also providing enough light for you to enjoy your reptile’s nocturnal behavior.
The Best Feeding Rock for Your Pet Reptile – when finding the right feeding rock, there are several factors to consider. Learn what those are.
The Top Rated Heat Mats for Your Reptile FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are heat mats good for reptiles?
Heat mats aren’t just good for reptiles, they’re necessary! Your reptile relies on external heat sources to regulate its body temperature. Without a heat source in its enclosure, your reptile won’t be able to remain healthy.
Do reptile heat mats cause fires?
If it’s a properly designed and manufactured heat mat, it should not cause a fire. Some heat mats are equipped with extra safety features as well, like automatic shut-off when it reaches a certain temperature.
What is the best heat mat for a ball python?
Ball pythons love belly heat, so make sure you select a heat mat that fits the enclosure you’ve set up for it. Remember not to purchase a heat mat that takes up more than half of the floor space of your tank.
What temperature should a reptile heat mat be?
That depends on the type of reptile you have. Make sure you are selecting the appropriate temperature based on your reptile’s unique needs.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.