We buy an array of equipment to warm our reptiles and amphibians in order to replicate the environmental temperatures of their natural habitats. When our houses become cold in the winter, our thermostatically controlled housing can simply amp up the power in our heat sources, maintaining the desired toasty temperatures that keep our animals happy. But what happens when things get too hot?
Reptiles can only stick a certain amount of heat, just like us. This of course varies from species to species but can be life-threatening as reptiles are very much at the mercy of their environment manipulating their body temperatures (being ectothermic). They cannot sweat to cool down and are contained in a finite space. Amphibians also need to stay at an optimum temperature and moisture level.
Recent hot weather in the UK has had some pondering how to keep their reptile and amphibian enclosures at a comfortable temperature range when external temperatures soar. Here are some of our tips for cooling down enclosures on the hottest summer days.
3. Try ice. Ice blocks and packs from the freezer can help lower the ambient temperature. It’s important to prevent any direct contact between the pack and your animal, so cover it with a towel if it is going inside the enclosure. Enclosures with a mesh top can have ice packs placed on top, allowing cool air to drop down into the enclosure and also create some condensation. If the weather is really hot, you may need to invest in multiple packs and swap them out continually as they thaw. Alternatively, you can freeze water bottles to achieve the same effect, or use tile or slate slabs that have been in the fridge.
4. Use water. A cool (not freezing cold) misting down will help to remove heat as it evaporates. Some reptiles don’t naturally get regular humidity spikes, but very hot days will help to remove the water before it becomes problematic so long as the entire enclosure isn’t soaked through. Keep the water in any water bowls topped up and cold (ice cubes can be added). You may want to switch to a larger water bowl, and some reptiles and certainly amphibians will appreciate the respite from the heat in a water bowl.
5. Substrates. Deep soil-based substrates will be cooler towards the bottom, especially if they are kept suitably damp. Many reptiles dig into soil as a natural way to seek cooler temperatures. Additionally, keeping the substrate in a moist hide cool and wet will help maintain a cool area for your pet to use.
Signs of heatstroke
The second complete guide encompassing heating for amphibians and reptiles.
A guide covering all varying types of lighting for exotic animals to help you weigh up the best choice for your setup and animal.
A complete care guide for Horsfield's tortoises; Agrionemys horsfieldii.