Do Tortoises Need Heat Mat?

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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You will often catch the pet stores offering flashy deals on tortoise heating mats. But are these pads worth the money? Do tortoises really need heating mats?

Heating mats are not absolutely necessary for tortoises, nor can they replace heating lamps. Instead, they are an excellent source of additional heat during cold nights and when the pets are sick. It is safe to install the mats under the enclosure lid.

Catch more details on the heating mat and its pros and cons for tortoises below.

Is a Heating Mat Necessary For Tortoises?

Let me clear up the confusion first. We are talking about a heating mat, not a heating lamp here.

Unlike bulbs, heating mats are not mandatory for tortoise enclosures. In fact, replacing the lamps with these pads can be proven dangerous and harmful for the tortoises. It is because,

  • Heating mats can not radiate sufficient heat to the tortoises. Therefore, there is a high chance that your pets will feel cold and retreat into hibernation mode.
  • As you know, heating mats only provide limited warmth. So, the tortoises will experience a disrupted thermoregulatory system. It will affect their activity, metabolism, and sleep cycle.
  • You can not expect your tortoises to bask near the heating mats. Well, it is because these pads are not programmed to raise temperature to such levels. Hence, solely relying on the heating mats will make the tortoises physically unfit.

In short, heating pads are not a necessity for tortoises. Thus, you can not replace your heating lamp with these mats. Your tortoises will fall sick if you try to do so.

But yes, the heating pads seem to complement the bulb. Besides, these mats add extra benefits to the pet’s life under certain conditions. For example, in a severe cold, during a sickness, etc.

What Are The Use Of Heating Mat For Tortoises?

By now, you already know heating mats bring no real benefits to tortoises. But is it true? Are the heatings mats totally useless?

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Well, of course not! I have mentioned that replacing heating lamps with these mats is foolish. But heating pads can definitely complement the bulbs and benefit the tortoises in some scenarios. For example,

  • In harsh winters, the heaters and basking lamps are not enough to keep the tortoises warm. In such cases, installing heating mats in the habitat seems like a good plan.
  • Again, in winter, tortoises often suffer from the cold nights. But keeping the heater and bulbs on after the dark can interrupt the pet’s sleep. Well, setting up a heating mat will solve this issue. This pad only radiates heat with no brightness.
  • The baby tortoises are in need of additional warmth even when it is not winter. A heating mat will serve them well and keep them warm.
  • Respiratory illness or other infectious diseases like shell rot demands a dry and hot surrounding for the tortoises. While the heating lamp fulfills the heating requirement during the day, the pets need other arrangements for the night. The easiest solution here is to install heating mats in the pen.

Are Heating Mats Harmful To Tortoises?

Heating mats are harmful if you replace the bulbs with these pads. Also, the tortoises can barely reach the heat as these pads are buried under the substrate. So, what if you install the mats closer to the surface?

That is not convenient either. In fact, the whole heating mat setup is dangerous because of the electrical lining.

See, your tortoises are the best burrowers with sharp claws. Thus, there is always a risk of these pets getting electrocuted by the heating mat lines. The wires can be set on fire if you accidentally spill water on the leakage.

Many keepers do not find the heating mats useful at all. According to them, the heat does not reach the tortoises. There is no benefit in installing a warm blanket beneath and away from the pets.

But I personally believe heating pads are life saviors on cold nights, especially for the baby and old tortoises. Of course, you have to secure the wires to avoid any accidents. The safest alternatives for heating mats are night red and blue nights for tortoises.

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The radiant heat panels are also safe for nighttime use. As these panels are mounted on the roof, there is no risk of tortoises getting electrocuted.

Many professionals suggest ceramic heaters and heating rocks for tortoises. But I do not agree with them entirely. For example, the former promotes basking without emitting any UVB rays.

Again, your pets can be dehydrated if they are exposed to these emitters more frequently. The electric wiring of these bulbs also poses a danger to the tortoises. You can install a heat-resistant fitting or lamp cage for safety.

Finally, the heating rocks are definitely an excellent source of heat on cold days. But you can not rule out the risk of burning because of this equipment.

In short, radiant panels are safer options only for cold nights. Heating mats can pose a danger if the wires get rigged. It is better to secure the lines or avoid the setup altogether.

How To Install The Heating Mat Safely?

Generally, keepers set up the heating pads under the substrate. But the beddings act as a barrier to radiate the heat. Again, tortoises may dig down the substrate, reach the pads, and cause severe damage.

Hence, I recommend installing the heating mats underneath the lid of the enclosure. This way, the tortoises can not reach the pads and stay safe. Try to avoid setting up the pads under the substrate and side walls of the pen.

So, go for small adhesive mats. A 15-watt heating pad is enough for medium-sized housings. Go for higher wattage if required.

Do not forget to add a heating mat thermostat to the setup. It will help you regulate the temperature more efficiently.

Which Heating Sources Are Mandatory For Tortoises?

By now, I have made it clear that heating mats are not an essential supply in the tortoise enclosure. You can still install it only for nighttime use in winter. So, which heating sources are a must for the tortoises?

Well, tortoises only require heat during the daytime. A heating bulb, along with a UV lamp, is the best suited for these creatures.

While tortoises utilize the heat for basking, the UVA and UVB exposures are significant too. These rays help the pets build shells, bones, and immunity.

See also  Proper Temperature Guide For Keeping Tortoises [Must Read]

You will find the effecting heating lamp and UV bulb suggestions for tortoises in this article.

Tortoises do not bask during the night. So, no heat or light is necessary for the pets after dark. Additional brightness or heat can disrupt the sleep cycle of these creatures. In reality, tortoises prefer a chill temperature for an uninterrupted sleep.

Yet, some keepers install night lights to observe the tortoises 24/7. A heating source is necessary for severe cold and respiratory sickness, even at night.

Again, in some regions, the winters are harsh, and the tortoises also need additional heaters during the day. For this purpose, you can set up heaters, heating pads, or panels in the pen.

Do Tortoises Need Additonal Heating Source?

Tortoises are cold-blooded creatures and can not regulate their body temperatures. As a result, they rely on external heating sources to warm up their bodies and be functional. No wonder a heating lamp is mandatory for these pets during the day.

What if a heating source is absent in the tortoise enclosure? Well, obviously, the pets will feel cold. Hence, you will notice them taking longer naps and being lethargic. Loss of appetite is also common if the temperature falls in the pen.

The temperature drop can encourage bacterial growth in the habitat, making the tortoises vulnerable to infectious diseases. Moreover, the pets may hibernate if the temperature reaches 55F or lower. As we all know, unprepared hibernation can be deadly for indoor tortoises.

Furthermore, an outdoor tortoise requires no additional heating source. It receives both heat and UV rays directly from the sun. However, the outdoor tortoises will also need extra heating arrangements during the winter to avoid hibernation.

Learn more about the winter care of the tortoises from here.

Before You Go

While heating lamps are absolutely essential for tortoises, the mats are more of an optional supply. But hey! Installing the bulbs is insufficient, and you must maintain the proper temperature. The below article speaks about the proper temperature guide for tortoises.

Proper Temperature Guide For Tortoises [Must Read]

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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