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Old 09-05-17, 04:57 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

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Originally Posted by TRD View Post
Species which bask in tropical/desert environments around the equator may life in environments that have ambient temps at or about 28- 29C but the ground temperature on which they bask is a whole lot higher.
So going back to my original problem: "I've been running mine for the past couple of days without any substrate, and the glass floor surface directly above the heater is getting up to 38C/100F. The instructions (and dealer) say a thermostat isn't necessary..."

Do you think the instructions to not need a stat are actually correct in this case, considering I was thinking of a set up for a desert species (Angolan python)? I've moved countless rat snakes that I've found basking in the middle of the road in my neighborhood to safer locations when the air temps are over 36C/97F. The road surface is considerably hotter, I think it's safe to say well over 40C/104F (and judging by how often the snakes repay my thoughtfulness with a bite, they would have been perfectly happy to have stayed where they were!).
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Old 09-05-17, 05:00 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

One should never keep large/larger heavy bodied snakes on a heat mat because of thermo blocking and the resulting problems (read: possible thermal burns) that may result from it. Even a thermostat isn't going to help against that because it will only read 1 certain point of the mat, and not the whole mat itself.
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Old 09-05-17, 05:07 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

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One should never keep large/larger heavy bodied snakes on a heat mat because of thermo blocking and the resulting problems (read: possible thermal burns) that may result from it. Even a thermostat isn't going to help against that because it will only read 1 certain point of the mat, and not the whole mat itself.
Not to stir the pot, and I certainly don't want to be dismissive, but this (thermal blocking) is never brought up or mentioned in North America, or at least not that I have heard over the past 16 years or so even in the giants community, and heat mats are widely used at all levels (people keeping pets all the way up to zoological facilties) here as either primary/sole sources or secondary sources of heat. Are there actually any documented cases where a thermostat did what it was supposed to do but a burn still resulted due to thermal blocking? It doesn't really concern me much because the largest I would personally own is a boa and I would use RHP instead of belly heat, but I am very curious. I want to be clear that I am actually interested in experience from a keeper who has had this happen and not a scientific paper that could possibly misapply the concept. Thanks in advance.

Last edited by Andy_G; 09-05-17 at 05:13 PM..
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Old 09-05-17, 05:33 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

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...this (thermal blocking) is never brought up or mentioned in North America, or at least not that I have heard over the past 16 years or so even in the giants community, and heat mats are widely used at all levels
Don't rack systems usually use under belly heat, regardless of species? I imagine larger facilities just control the room temp, but most of the racks I've seen use flexwatt heat tape.
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Old 09-05-17, 05:36 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

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Don't rack systems usually use under belly heat, regardless of species? I imagine larger facilities just control the room temp, but most of the racks I've seen use flexwatt heat tape.
Back or belly heat.
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Old 09-05-17, 06:00 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

Well Andy, I don't have the experience myself as I don't use such heating sources but then there is the following;

1. Reptiles (snakes in particular) do not sense something that is too hot, even burning hot. Nobody seems to really understand why. Can be evolutionary as it holds no function for them, or maybe they do feel the pain but they do not associate it with the ground and understand they have to move away from it to stop. (Mader, DM). As someone (Fran Baines) also pointed out, they may associate light with heat, so even a brightly lid and perhaps extremely hot vivarium will still be an order of magnitude dimmer than outside full sunshine, hence the animal doesn't think it is too hot.
2. Snakes do not burn the same as mammals do. It can take several days for a 1st/2nd degree burn to show up after the fact and as such has the potential to become far worse due to that delay
3. Thermal blocking is simple to proof, something simply heats up when heat can't get away effectively. Ie- when part of the mat is covered which doesn't include the sensor, then the part block and not under the sensor will simply be hotter than the rest. Bad sensor placement of course plays a role here

There are many pictures around of thermal burns, mostly on ball pythons, we all know how most of them are kept.

I would be very cautious when using a heatmat. Humans burn skin with prolonged contact at 110 F, I don't know if the same applies to snakes but it's likely close to it.

Anyway, this is just my opinion, I know there are literally 10000s of snakes held on heatmats even without a thermostat on a paperthin substrate and they have no issues with burns. I just think it's a risk that can quite easily be avoided.

Last edited by TRD; 09-05-17 at 06:07 PM..
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Old 09-06-17, 03:44 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

I'd be willing to bet that all of those burns you mention are not due to thermal blocking...especially in regards to something as small as a ball python, and I still can't wrap my head aroud the concept being applied with snakes or even animals in general...I think of the instance of Kane brand heat mats being used for various livestock (pigs, cows..i'm talking fairly large bodied) that would sleep on them in cool barns in the winter...although they may be mindful enough to move when awake if the mats got too hot, asleep would be a different story and these burns just don't happen, but I will remain with an open mind and if I ever see someone experience it I will be the first guy to post it on here. Would I personally consider it when giving advice for husbandry at this time? No. I just don't see the risk to exist as you do.

Although I thank you for that information that you posted, it is not what I was looking for, but thank you nonetheless.

Last edited by Andy_G; 09-06-17 at 03:58 AM..
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Old 09-07-17, 08:10 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

I don't use heatpads for any of my snakes. i only use che and stats for all of them.
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Old 09-07-17, 10:53 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

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Originally Posted by scales.jp View Post
So going back to my original problem: "I've been running mine for the past couple of days without any substrate, and the glass floor surface directly above the heater is getting up to 38C/100F. The instructions (and dealer) say a thermostat isn't necessary..."

Do you think the instructions to not need a stat are actually correct in this case, considering I was thinking of a set up for a desert species (Angolan python)? I've moved countless rat snakes that I've found basking in the middle of the road in my neighborhood to safer locations when the air temps are over 36C/97F. The road surface is considerably hotter, I think it's safe to say well over 40C/104F (and judging by how often the snakes repay my thoughtfulness with a bite, they would have been perfectly happy to have stayed where they were!).

Use a thermostat. If for some reason your probe or something moves/fails the alarms will go off to notify you of an issue of too high or too low of heat.

Also, not to nitpick too much but angolan's are a savannah animal. Not desert. You'd set them up similar to a ball python but with a bit more height as they tend to be semi-arboreal.


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Originally Posted by TRD View Post
Well Andy, I don't have the experience myself as I don't use such heating sources but then there is the following;

1. Reptiles (snakes in particular) do not sense something that is too hot, even burning hot. Nobody seems to really understand why. Can be evolutionary as it holds no function for them, or maybe they do feel the pain but they do not associate it with the ground and understand they have to move away from it to stop. (Mader, DM). As someone (Fran Baines) also pointed out, they may associate light with heat, so even a brightly lid and perhaps extremely hot vivarium will still be an order of magnitude dimmer than outside full sunshine, hence the animal doesn't think it is too hot.
2. Snakes do not burn the same as mammals do. It can take several days for a 1st/2nd degree burn to show up after the fact and as such has the potential to become far worse due to that delay
3. Thermal blocking is simple to proof, something simply heats up when heat can't get away effectively. Ie- when part of the mat is covered which doesn't include the sensor, then the part block and not under the sensor will simply be hotter than the rest. Bad sensor placement of course plays a role here

There are many pictures around of thermal burns, mostly on ball pythons, we all know how most of them are kept.

I would be very cautious when using a heatmat. Humans burn skin with prolonged contact at 110 F, I don't know if the same applies to snakes but it's likely close to it.

Anyway, this is just my opinion, I know there are literally 10000s of snakes held on heatmats even without a thermostat on a paperthin substrate and they have no issues with burns. I just think it's a risk that can quite easily be avoided.
So you are saying due to thermal burns in ball pythons it MUST be bellyheat/thermal blocking causing them? Correlation does not equate causation.

Do you know 100% of these burns that there was no escape for the built up heat? Most of the time heat pads have instructions to leave a space below them attached to the underside of the enclosure. If you're suggesting people blindly follow pet store/read instructions then this is something they'd do.

Are we sure it isn't a malfunction of the heat mat itself?

Are we sure the keeper isn't improperly using the product?

Nothing to do with ball pythons being the example as that's just the most commonly kept species by new keepers.


I'm not being dismissive of thermal blocking but I'd like better evidence instead of "ball pythons are kept on belly heat and have burns therefore our theory of thermal block is real and we should never do this!"

I believe thermal blocking can be real, probably to do moreso with giants but it isn't an epidemic.
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Old 09-07-17, 11:23 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

Most Thermostats will cut power to UTH if it exceeds your "high" alarm setting. i normally set my Herpstat " high" temp (conservatively) three degrees higher than my day temp setting though I guess I could set it five. My low alarm setting is three degrees low.

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Use a thermostat. If for some reason your probe or something moves/fails the alarms will go off to notify you of an issue of too high or too low of heat.
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Old 09-07-17, 12:22 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

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Most Thermostats will cut power to UTH if it exceeds your "high" alarm setting. i normally set my Herpstat " high" temp (conservatively) three degrees higher than my day temp setting though I guess I could set it five. My low alarm setting is three degrees low.
Mine are 5 both ways. It's saved me when I didn't realize I hit a probe and moved it off the heat tape.
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Old 09-07-17, 01:18 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

Nop, nobody is sure about anything in regards to the use of UTH. Even from accounts of people on the internet posting about a thermal burn and stating they are using a thermostat can not be taken as truth.

I rather go by literature on thermal burns in reptiles from reliable sources (reptile vets) which states that they seen several 1000s of thermal burns on snakes, and most pictures of them show burned bellies. Whether they were burned by uncontrolled UTH, coiled up on a heat lamp at night and burned when it switched on in the morning, or whichever other reason is of course debatable.

One could try and place something heavy (like a heavy book) on the side of the terra where the UTH is that doesn't have the probe right there and measure the temperature difference an hour or so later. I would be curious if there's a significant difference.

In any case, I know UTHs have their place, just I do not particularly like them as heat source. It seems to go against the logic of nature where heat comes from above in the form of radiation, and shadow is suppose to be cooler.
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Old 09-07-17, 01:41 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

So...keep in mind I prefer rhp over heat tape as I say all of this...in actuality what you are basing your thoughts on is speculation and personal bias/affinity coupled with science that is usually applied in situations involving stationary inanimate objects where no airflow exists in retrospect to something related to our hobby such as properly using heat pads or tape where one side must be left open with a gap to exchange airflow and avoid thermal blocking between two hard surfaces...which has nothing to do with a snake...even a large one...coiled on a heat pad. Also perhaps consider that heat can come from both above and below in nature and using one while condemning the other in captivity could also come down to personal bias. I really wish people would offer relevantly applied studies with proper setups to back up opinions on thermal blocking with reptiles as you're describing...which as you describe is what would occur between a snake and belly heat...before claiming a risk to exist. I don't feel that to be unfair and It's a witch hunt to me at this point where things are just being applied incorrectly. Agree to disagree, or perhaps more accurately stated, agree to have vastly differing opinions I suppose.

Last edited by Andy_G; 09-07-17 at 02:00 PM..
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Old 09-07-17, 02:12 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

Bear in mind Andy that in Europe and the UK uth's are rarely actually uth and more often actually in the viv so the snake can make direct contact with it.

This leads to a much increased risk of thermal blocking / burns due to lack of stat control.

Burns by thermal blocking are very much recorded in the UK as are viv fires caused by people putting too much substrate on top of them - again causing blocking.

As I say this is predominantly due to the fact the over here heat mats are placed in, not under vivs.
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Old 09-07-17, 07:13 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Reptile Heat Panel Heater

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Use a thermostat. If for some reason your probe or something moves/fails the alarms will go off to notify you of an issue of too high or too low of heat.
My thermostat doesn't have an alarm, just a lamp to show if it's on or off.

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Also, not to nitpick too much but angolan's are a savannah animal. Not desert.
Sorry, my poor choice of words. What I meant was from an arid climate.

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It seems to go against the logic of nature where heat comes from above in the form of radiation, and shadow is suppose to be cooler.
I think it's based on the the theory that animals like ball pythons spend a lot of time in completely dark places like termite mounds where the inside temperature can get as hot as (hotter than?) the outside temperature.

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...in Europe and the UK uth's are rarely actually uth and more often actually in the viv so the snake can make direct contact with it.
This leads to a much increased risk of thermal blocking / burns due to lack of stat control.
Putting the mat in the viv just sounds like a bad idea all round. The highest temperature I recorded on the viv floor surface without using a stat was just over 38C/100F, but that was through 4mm of glass with a gap of about 1cm between the bottom of the viv and the heat panel on the floor underneath. The manufacturer states that the mat surface can reach up to 455C/104-122F and that it should NEVER be placed in the viv (nor should the bottom of the viv come into direct contact with the mat).

I ended up moving mine to the cool side of the viv with the stat set at 25C/77F just to keep the floor from getting too cold in winter. When I had it at the warm end, the heat lamp was already warming the floor to a higher temp than I had the heat mat set at, so it never switched on anyway!

Last edited by scales.jp; 09-07-17 at 07:30 PM..
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