Your Reptile and Amphibian Resource and Information Site

Uromastyx Forum

Click Here To Register and Become A Member Of The RepticZone Family  

Back to Uromastyx Forum   Forums   Home   Members Area  

Bab5470   Takahiro111   Bab5470   Takahiro111   UroMorty   Corpsb6  

 Member  Message


View Profile

 Alternatives to Under Enclosure Heaters

We’ve had our Uro (Izzy) for over four years now. Other than having parasites when we first got her (which we treated and she’s recovered from) She’s generally been very healthy and active - she’s big and fat, and eats almost every single day.

However when we first got her we had trouble getting her terrarium hot enough. We bought her the largest terrarium we could find at any pet store around our area (including a couple of specialty reptile stores) on advice from this forum and as we understand Uro’s need lots of room to establish a proper temperature gradient to regulate their body heat.

It’s this one from Exo-Terra
Natural Terrarium Large/Wide
90 x 45 x 45 cm / 36” x 18” x 18” (WxDxH)

In any case to get the terrarium hot enough we purchased two separate 160W UVA/UVB combo heat lamps/bulbs, and we also have a third UVB light as well. We also tried a ceramic heater, as well as placing a a piece of Plexiglas (LOOSELY) above the terrarium to help retain heat however Izzy refused to leave her hide or eat.

So we finally purchased an under enclosure heating pad. I know there are risks that those things burning our Uro’s tummy (as they can’t sense temperature as well on their underside) however we exhausted every other idea before resorting to the heating pad - and it seemed to do the trick. After installing it Uro would come out of her hide, and she started eating regularly.

As a precaution we line the interior of her enclosure with two layers of thick (Bounty) paper towels and under her hide (where the heating pad is), as well as under her food (where she makes the most mess) we add two paper extra paper towels. So in those two areas there are 4 paper towel thicknesses between her and the glass/heating pad in an attempt to protect her from burns. This provides a very gentle warmth from bottom of the terrarium which seems to make all the difference and we’ve really had no issues with it.

However recently we noticed Izzy stopped coming out during the day and we couldn’t figure out why. We thought perhaps she was bromating but she stopped coming out at all and we finally thought to check the heater and discovered it wasn’t working. It seems to have burned out. (see attached pictures). I’m quite alarmed at the way it failed - it looks like it could have easily started a fire!! So I’m quite torn as to what to do.

It seems at these under enclosure heating pads pose a fire risk in addition to a burning risk to Izzy, but we can’t find any other way to get our enclosure hot enough. Does anyone have any thoughts or advice? I welcome input but I would ask that you refrain from suggesting:

1) We buy another enclosure. The one we purchased was extremely expensive (as I said the biggest most expensive one we could find anywhere around). And as much as we love our Uro we have neither the aptitude, nor the tools to build our own enclosure.

2) Suggesting we switch to play sand. We started with calci sand (yes I know now it’s risks - we didn’t know any better when we first got her - once we found out about it we stopped using it). However besides being an impaction risk, it was a mess to clean and maintain. She would drag her food out into it, which would break into small pieces due to the heat, and poop in it and it just got sand everywhere trying to clean it. I’m not sure what others do that use play sand - filter your sand with a screen once a week? What a disaster.

If you have other suggestions - perhaps a safer brand of under enclosure heating pad? Or some other suggestions I’d appreciate hearing from others.


Burned out Under Enclosure Heater 1
Burned out Under Enclosure Heater 2
Our Enclosure Setup
Izzy Top View
Izzys Hide

12/07/14  10:04am


View Profile

  Message To: Bab5470   In reference to Message Id: 2311201

 Alternatives to Under Enclosure Heaters

You don’t want suggestions so the only thing I can say from experience is tanks suck at holding both heat and humidity therefor shouldn’t be used with reptiles that require very high temps or very high humidity...but that’s just my opinion. Cage building is better and cheaper. My water monitor was in a 40gal tank and he hated me for buying it because it didn’t hold heat and humidity so my only option was getting a friend to build it and temps and humidity isn’t a problem anymore and he lived like this for 4+ years. You’ve tried everything and that was a high wattage bulb and it didn’t work and heat mats can cause fires and my biggest fear is using them for that reason.

12/07/14  10:33am


View Profile

  Message To: Takahiro111   In reference to Message Id: 2311204

 Alternatives to Under Enclosure Heaters

What is the difference between a tank and a cage? Is it just the materials the enclosure is made out of (wood vs glass?)? I’m truly reluctant to get a new enclosure, as we spent a small fortune on the existing enclosure (and besides it being difficult to heat it’s a nice enclosure)

Is there somewhere we can buy a "cage" pre-built? Again I don’t know anyone handy enough to build something and I live in an apartment so I can’t use power tools (the neighbors would have a fit). I’d prefer something local (Toronto, Canada) but if shipping isn’t astronomically expensive I might consider something online.

12/07/14  02:08pm


View Profile

  Message To: Bab5470   In reference to Message Id: 2311209

 Alternatives to Under Enclosure Heaters

Shopping for cages online is beyong expensive..I spent close to $5,000 for a cage and it was ridiculous. The difference between these cages is the wooded one hold more heat and humidity than the glass tank. This place has a ebay page on its siteand sell cages cheap and new

12/07/14  09:22pm


View Profile

  Message To: Bab5470   In reference to Message Id: 2311201

 Alternatives to Under Enclosure Heaters

In my case, I use the seed mat as a heat pad (under the glass not inside the tank). You find them on amazon or in a local grow store. They tend to last longer and hold a steady low heat, during winter i use the seed mat heat pad under his usual sleeping area. During summer no need for the extra heat. My uro loved more rocks I stacked slate rocks as high as you can to give different levels of basking and more room then instead of just the bottom your uro can explore more dimensions thus more space. They really love and need to be able to burrow under rocks or in substrate. Research of the animals in their nature habitat prove they spend most of there time burrowing just under the beating sun to still absorb heat but not roast in the harsh desert environment. Having many different areas in your tank allow the lizard to determine what it likes and what temperature feels right at the current time. My uro moves from 120 basking to burrow to other basking spots all the time.If you like your calci-sand look. Look for the washed aquarium sand the more expensive stuff(still cheaper then calci-sand) is probably the washed which gets rid of all those sharp edges that lead to impaction. Used it for the nice inside home look with out any problems. Looks very similar to the calci-sand. Just speaking from experience I’ve done it all and a lot of time looking just a little harder and you can find good stuff for cheap. the name brand pet stuff is always super pricey. They even have seed mats that you can regulate the temp. Your Uro looks good and fat. never had a pad melt like that being out side the tank is there air flow under your tank?

12/07/14  11:44pm


View Profile

  Message To: Bab5470   In reference to Message Id: 2311201

 Alternatives to Under Enclosure Heaters

I can’t tell from your information but I assume that the top of the cage is screen that is open to the air except for where the lights are. If this is true, a cheap and pretty effective way you could increase the temps is by putting a layer of aluminum foil on the top of the cage to reduce loss of heat. You could play around with how much of the top to cover to get the right temps at the basking site and still provide a temperature gradient across the cage as well as still have some air circulation. I have done this over the years with the glass aquariums I have had and it works pretty well. I currently have a juvenile Saharan Uromastyx in a similar setup and it works fine. The rest of my cages are homemade wooden cages with glass front doors. I hope this helps.

12/09/14  08:32pm

Back to Uromastyx Forum   Forums   Home   Members Area