Different vivarium heating systems explained
Reptiles being cold blooded require an external heat source, they rely on external temperatures to either raise or cool themselves. Dangers involved with keeping reptiles as pets are not being able to provide a warm enough hot spot or temperatures that are too high. And also not allowing a cooler end of the vivarium for the reptile to cool down.
Therefore it is very important to match the heating you use with your reptiles and there enclosure.
Lets look at the more commonly employed vivarium and terrarium heating sytems.
Infra Red spot lights, - These are glass bulbs that emit a dull red light and a penetrating warmth that radiates into muscle. They come in a variety of wattages and are especially usefull for raising air temperatures. The low wattage bulbs can be used in normal bulb fittings but anything over 100 watts should be used in a ceramic fitting. These are good for nocturnal reptiles such as leopard geckos as they raise air temperatures and create a warm basking area as well as giving off a dull red glow that enables night time viewing.
Ceramic Heat emitters - these are ceramic heaters that give off heat but no light at all, they produce A lot of heat and the higher wattage ones are ideal for larger enclosures. Because of their high heat output they should only be used in cermic bulb holders for safety. they will easily overheat and melt a plastic light fitting causing a fire hazard. Because of the zero light output they can be used as a 24 hour heat source.
Spot Bulbs - These produce light and heat, especially good for desert day active animals such as bearded dragons as they recognize the bright light as the heat source, obviously not suited for nocturnal species.
Heat Mats - These work by emitting infra red waves that heat surfaces that they come into contact with. They do not heat air and only produce localised heating. Dangers with these heat mats are that when used under a substrate, if the substrate is too deep it will become overheated creating a fire hazard. Although these are only low wattage heaters they are capable of creating high temperatures locally so should be used with a mat stat.
Heat Cables - Simply a warm flexible cable, especially usefull for heating snake racks.