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How Reptiles Maintain Their Body Temperature

Before you get to the methods of heating your reptiles, you will need to know how a reptiles body works in regards to regulating temperature. You and I are endothermic ( warm blooded) this means that we can regulate our body temperature ourselves. We turn the food we eat into energy, we metabolise this energy and use it to increase our body temperatures.This is why people eat more in winter. Our body temperature is regulated by parts of our brain. Other means such as sweating are used to cool us down. Reptiles on the other hand are exothermic ( cold blooded) which means they cannot regulate their own body temperature. The body temperature of a reptile will be exactly the same as its surroundings. Reptiles regulate their body temperature through what is called thermoregulating. Simply put this means basking in a warm area to heat up and moving to a cool are to cool down. Reptiles are experts in thermoregulation and are able to maintain an ideal body temperature most of the time. Reptiles hibernate in winter if the weather is too cold for them to reach the required body temperature. Reptiles will also seek out cool areas and stay inactive should the temperature get too high. The closet a person can get to thermoregulating is to change your jersey for a T shirt or your jeans for a pair of shorts. In captivity we must give our reptiles a choice of temperatures so they may thermoregulate. The easiest way to do this is to put the basking lamp or heat pad on one side of the cage, this allows the reptile to move from the heated are to the cool area. The reptile can then maintain the correct body temperature. Use a thermometer to enable you to keep an eye on the temperature. A lot of people think reptiles need very warm temperatures, however reptiles can boil to death if kept too warm. In fact in some cases reptiles can tolerate cool temperatures better than very hot temperatures. As I was writing this article I had to turn my Bearded Dragons heat lamp off as he was gaping, this is a sign he is too hot. It may just be time to start turning off heaters in my reptile cages during the day. Most reptiles need a drop in temperature during the night. In general heating your reptile should not be a problem.