Pictures of reptiles basking in the sun are reminders that heat is vital to their survival. As ectotherms, they can’t produce their own body heat and rely on heat from external sources. In the wild, that’s usually the sun, but for pets it’s an artificial heat source.

As a reptile owner, you have to provide the right heat source for your pet’s health. While there are various supplies on the market, such as heat rocks and heat pads, we recommend basking spotlights.

Basking spotlights

These lights provide a more natural heat source for reptiles. A spotlight can create a basking site or “hot spot” that your reptile can move in and out of. These hot spots help reptiles digest food and fight off disease. Basking lights also mimic a reptile’s natural heating method, since reptiles heat their bodies from top to bottom, not bottom to top, as used by heat rocks or pads.

They are also more suited to a reptile’s heat receptors, which are quite deep in the skin. Unlike humans, reptiles don’t feel heat immediately on their skin. They may get third-degree burns from a heat rock before actually feeling the burning sensation.

How to use basking spotlights

The type of bulb to use depends on the size and depth of your terrarium. Your goal is to provide a heated basking site and a cool site that’s comfortable for your pet. If the temperature difference between the two sites (the thermal gradient) is not enough, your pet won’t be able to cool off sufficiently and can overheat.

Use the chart below as a quick guide to correct wattage for various tanks. Keep in mind, the thermal gradient that is needed varies by reptile and habitat. Also, some tank sizes are not recommended for certain species.

Keep your reptile warm and healthy with basking lights and other reptile-care supplies at Pet Supermarket