2001-Tue Jan 24 14:25:28 MST 2017
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When cold weather comes, especially in areas that experience
significant climate changes with the seasons, there are some steps reptile
owners should take to help ensure their pets stay happy and healthy. With a few minor differences, the concerns for snakes, lizards,
turtles and tortoises are the same.
First, all of these coldblooded animals, whose body
temperatures adjust to the environment around them, require supplemental heat
for proper digestion, immune function and metabolism. This is especially true when
A reptile who may not need additional heat from an
over-the-tank heat bulb or an under-the-tank heating pad during the summer may
need these added heat sources during winter. This is especially true for
certain reptiles, such as tortoises, which require high temperatures to remain
healthy. The best way to determine whether your
reptile’s cage temperature is adequate is to use an infrared laser temperature
gun to test areas in the tank where your pet hangs out. Different species require different optimal temperatures; with a temperature gun, you can get an accurate idea of what your pet’s
tank temperature is and compare it to the recommended temperature range for the
species. The best source for recommended temperature ranges for specific
species is your veterinarian. If you do not have a temperature gun, at a minimum you should have thermometers that stick on the inside of the tank so that
you can monitor the tank for temperature changes.
Any heat source should be plugged into a thermostat that is set
to turn the source on and off in order to maintain temperatures within the
prescribed range. This helps limit the risk of burning the pet as well as reduces
the risk of setting an electrical fire. So-called hot rocks — fake rocks
that contain a heating element — should not be used with reptiles. These items
cannot adequately heat a tank, and many reptiles lack the necessary sensation in
their abdomens to prevent a burn if they sit on them for too long. Reptiles
who live in water, such as turtles, must also have their tank water temperatures
reassessed when the air temperature drops in winter. If the water temperature drops
too low for your pet’s particular species, you need to add additional water heaters.
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