Reptiles That Don’t Need A Heat Lamp

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It’s easy to think of reptiles needing hot sunny environments, but some species thrive in more temperate conditions. There are a good number of reptilian house pets that won’t need a heat lamp. This group includes mostly geckos and some snakes.


Temperate Reptiles


Crested Geckos

Crested Geckos, or cresties, are an excellent choice for a room-temperature pet. They a calm and can get quite tamed, which is nice for handling and interacting with them. They love to climb, so be sure to place some branches in their tanks.

– Best temperatures: 74-78 deg and they cannot tolerate anything over 85 deg.


Russian Rat Snake

This gold-banded snake has been labeled as the friendliest large snake! They hail from a cooler land, thus giving them the ability to enjoy cool environments. If your home is on the colder end of their temperature spectrum, provide an under tank heater. You’ll feed a Russian Rat Snake every 3 days and they like to eat smaller prey.  

– Best temperature: 70-80 deg


Gargoyle Geckos

Probably the coolest name, these little creatures make excellent beginner pets. They’re easy to take care of and can live up to 20 years! They won’t need a heat lamp but would benefit from a fluorescent tank light. Make sure their diet includes vitamin D3 and they won’t require that UVB light.

– Best temperatures: 74-78 deg and they cannot tolerate anything over 85 deg.


Mourning Geckos

Nocturnal and group-friendly, the mourning gecko will do great at room temperature. They can live up to 10 years and do well cohabitating with other mourning geckos or even poison dart frogs! And guess what, they’re all females. So girl power, all the way. 

– Best temperatures: mid-70s – low 80s


Japanese Cave Geckos

These gorgeous geckos are dark black with bright orange and white stripes. They enjoy a diet of insects and can get up to 3” long. You could house a couple of them together and be sure to provide a shallow water dish, as they like humid environments. 

– Best temperatures: 65-72 deg and they cannot tolerate anything over 75 deg.


The benefit of not needing a heat lamp


Electric Bill

Reptiles aren’t especially expensive pets when it comes to care and supplementary needs, but one thing might surprise you: your electric bill! Pets that require a 24-hour heat lamp tend to not lean towards the energy-efficient. 

Especially if you’re looking to house a few reptiles, this is a major consideration to take into account. 


Access to Power

You might also consider your living environment. In older houses with few electrical outlets, you might not have the option to plug in any items where you want to. Or maybe you’re a drifter living in a sprinter van and you have no extra battery power to spare. 


Go for an alternative 

Harness the sun: In nature, reptiles use sun-basking to provide them with body heat. Another method of getting toasty is lying on hot rocks or the warm ground. If you have a huge sunny window that gets loads of rays, you might be able to place the tank nearby to provide natural sun heat. 

Just make sure there is a cool and shaded area for your scaly pal to rest in. 

The species you choose might need a heat source, but be able to thrive without a full heat lamp. Another alternative here would be a heating pad to replicate hot rocks or an under tank heating element. 


Set the stage

Whichever reptile you choose to add to your family, make sure you do them right by providing them with the ideal environment. They’ll be spending most of their time in their tank, so it’s got to be perfect. You can find species-specific information for tank set up to guide you. But remember the basics:

  • Check the temperature: You can use a thermometer sticker on the side of the tank
  • Hiding places: rocks, little caves, small logs
  • Branches or climbing unit
  • Misting 2-3x a day (if your species needs it!)


The Thrill of the Chill

Already quite easy to care for pets if you don’t mind bug-handling, reptiles that don’t require a heat lamp are even easier


Keep them happy by making sure the rest of their home is exactly as they need it! Using a tank setup when you don’t want to, or can’t, accommodate a heating lamp doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get a slithery little pal. 

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