One of the most important components of a tortoise’s ecosystem is the temperature. Since most tortoises come from warm environments, it’ important to emulate their natural habitat in their enclosure. In today’s article, I will review some of the best indoor and outdoor heaters for tortoises, and also discuss when and why you need a heater for your tortoise.
Outdoor tortoise heater
The two best outdoor tortoise heaters are the KANE Electric Pet Heat Mat and the Zoo Med Laboratories SZMRH20 40-Watt Repti Therm Habitat Heater.
KANE Electric Pet Heat Mat
If you prefer a mat that can be placed in your outdoor tortoise enclosure, then this is your best bet. It is a great option for larger tortoises, as it is 18 inches long and 18 inches wide.
The mat is both weather resistant and waterproof, so it will easily withstand outdoor conditions. The cord to the mat has a steel coil which will protect the cord from your tortoise chewing on it.
The only downside with this mat is that it is not recommended to put substrate on top of the mat. This means that your tortoise should sit directly on top of it. Luckily, the mat is very easy to wipe clean.
Zoo Med Laboratories Habitat Heater
Another great option for an outdoor tortoise heater is this one by Zoo Med. The heater has a great mechanism that automatically shuts off the heater once it hits 119 degrees fahrenheight, which will prevent your tortoise from overheating.
While this heater is moisture proof, I suggest keeping it under your tortoises house. The heater has mounting rails which allows you to put the heater on the side of your structure or on the ground.
This heater is also a bit more affordable than the KANE mat. It currently costs around $62.
If you live in a cold climate, you should check out my guide on the best tortoises for cold climates.
In terms of indoor tortoise heaters, there are plenty of options.
Indoor tortoise heaters
The easiest way to heat an indoor tortoise enclosure is with a heat lamp. However, you can also use a heat rock or mat.
FOUDOUR Reptile Heat Rock
If you have a smaller tortoise, this heating rock is a great option. It has a temperature range between 91 and 118 degrees fahrenheight. There is also a very convenient thermometer attached so you can monitor the temperature.
This heater will also aesthetically fit in very easily with your enclosure. Also, it only costs around $30 which makes it one of the most affordable options.
VIVOSUN Reptile Heating Pad
If you prefer a heating pad for your tortoise, the VIVOSUN is a great option. It has dimensions of 6×8 inches, so it should be good for most tortoises in an indoor enclosure. If you have a larger tortoise, there is also an 8×12 inch and an 8×18 inch version.
What I really like about this heating mat is that it is easily placed underneath your tortoises terrarium/tank on the outside.
This means that it radiates heat through the bottom of the enclosure, without directly coming into contact with your tortoise. I like this a lot because it means you don’t really ever have to clean the pad. It has a temperature range of up to 108 degrees fahrenheight. There is also a screen that displays the current temperature which comes in handy.
Ceramic heater for tortoises
Some people elect to use a ceramic heater for their tortoises’ enclosure. The main benefit is that it can provide heat for your tortoise at night without emitting light like a heat lamp. If you want to buy a ceramic heater for your tortoise, I suggest this one from Luck Herp.
It only costs 14 dollars and it can easily last for over a year.
Why is a tortoise heater better than a heating lamp or basking light?
Like I mentioned earlier, many people elect to use a heat lamp to maintain a warm temperature in their tortoise’s enclosure. However, in some instances, a heater makes more sense. Below are some reasons why a heater can be better than a heating lamp:
Doesn’t emit light: If your tortoise needs access to light during the night, a heat lamp is not ideal. The constant light can mess up your tortoise’s sleep schedule and cause them stress. It can also be annoying for you if their enclosure is near your bedroom. A heater helps maintain a healthy temperature without displaying annoying light. Keep in mind, your tortoise will need access to light during the day in order to access UVA and UVB light.
Better for outdoor environments: Lights are not ideal for an outdoor enclosure since most lights can withstand intense weather conditions. Therefore, the right outdoor heater can help provide your tortoise heat while withstanding the outdoor conditions.
Heat from the bottom: While lights emit heat from the top of the tank, a tortoise heater can provide heat from underneath. This can help warm up substrate, rocks, and under objects in the enclosure. This bottom up heat is more natural for a tortoise, especially at night.
More energy efficient: Most heating pads are more energy efficient than heating lamps. This is because they don’t have to waste energy emitting light. This means they are better for the environment and better for your electricity bill.
Last longer: Finally, tortoise heaters tend to last way longer than heating lamps. This is because most heating lamps have to have their bulbs replaced every couple of months. On the flip side, most tortoise heaters can last well over a year.
I hope this article helped your realize the benefits of adding a heater to your tortoise’s enclosure. They help maintain the proper temperature in their enclosure and can be more convenient than a heating light. That being said, if you have an indoor tortoise or an outdoor tortoise that doesn’t have a lot of access to light, you will still need to provide a basking light so they can access UVA and UVB rays.