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Temperature Control - Monitoring

Temperature Control - Monitoring Information

Temperature Control - Monitoring

Temperature Control is vital to good husbandry. It is our responsibility to ensure that our leopard geckos have adequate temperatures to properly digest their food, thermoregulate, and maintain a healthy immune system. In order to do this, monitoring and control of the enclosures temperature is vital.

This section discusses the best methods for monitoring and controlling the temperatures, as well as the devices available to do so.

Thermometers

In order to know what temperatures you have within your enclosure, you must be using a quality thermometer. The thermometer you choose to use will allow you to adjust the temperatures within the enclosure with accuracy, and will allow you to monitor them to make sure they are sufficient. Having a thermometer is not the only thing you should be concerned with. The type of thermometer you use is equally important. A quality thermometer will yield accurate temperature readings. If you attempt to use a lower quality thermometer, you could find yourself providing sub-par temperatures even though the thermometer reads they are accurate. Below we have descriptions of the three most commonly used thermometers.

Acu-Rite 00891A1 Digital Thermometer
Acu-Rite 00891A1 Digital Thermometer

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Digital Thermometers

Digital thermometers are not only the most accurate thermometers on the market, but they are also reasonably cost effective when compared to lower quality units. The digital thermometers being sold today are easy to read and many of them display both the temperature as well as the humidity. There are reptile specific thermometers available, including the digitals, but they are often grossly over priced. This typically deters new enthusiasts from purchasing them since on the same shelf there is a much cheaper alternative.

The best digital thermometers are those that read both the indoor and outdoor temperatures at the same time. These units have an external probe that is designed to be placed out of a window while the base unit remains inside. From the comfort of the indoors, you can see the temperature of both the room you are in, as well as the temperature outside. This type of digital thermometer can be purchased at varying retail stores such as Target and Wal-Mart. Unbelievably, these can actually be bought for under $15.00 and sometimes as low as $10.00. The investment in this single unit will allow you to place the base of the unit over on the cool end of the enclosure and have the probe resting on the warm end. With this single unit you will be capable of monitoring both ends of the enclosure at the same time, and with great accuracy. This is the best solution for monitoring the temperatures.

I personally use the Acu-rite Digital Thermometer displayed above. This thermometer has an external probe and measures both the indoor and outdoor temperatures, as well as the humidity. The image shows a clock display but this can show the temperature instead (so that you see both the units temp and the probe temp) by simply clicking a button. I currently have over 20 of these units running in varying set-ups across my house and have been using them for years.

Radial Thermometers

Every petstore carries these things. They are small round thermometers that adhere to the wall of the enclosure with a sticky pad. They typically cost $5.00 or less and these are often used by new enthusiasts as the first thermometer investment they make. Unfortunately, while a bargain, you get what you pay for. These thermometers have been known to be off by as much as 5-10 degrees! Once this unit has been adhered to the glass, it can not be easily moved. From the time it is adhered, it begins reading JUST the temperature directly around it. If the unit is placed 6 inches above the basking spot, the reading could be off by as much as 15 degrees. This is especially true if you are using an under tank heat source.

These units should only be used when you can't afford to buy a quality digital thermometer and their readings should not be taken at face value. Instead, use the reading they display as an approximate temperature reading. They should be replaced with a quality digital thermometer as soon as possible.

In my opinion these units are a waste of money, which is why I am not providing a link to purchase them.

Stick-On Thermometers

These should never be used on reptile enclosures and are a complete waste of money. They were initially designed for monitoring tanks that had water in them. For that purpose, they are generally reliable though even serious fish enthusiasts believe a digital thermometer is far more reliable.

These pathetic things stick to the glass itself. In many cases, they are placed on the outside of the glass. By design, they are not capable of reading the airs temperature. Instead, they read the temperature of the glass where they are adhered. As a result, inaccurate readings are almost guaranteed. I would actually advise anyone tight on funds to simply skip these thermometers all together and use the radials listed above as a cheap alternative. At least with the radial thermometers you will be able to get a decent approximate temperature reading of the air and not the glass or enclosure material.

In my opinion these units are a complete waste of money, which is why I am not providing a link to purchase them.

Mini Infrared Temp Gun
Mini Infrared Temp Gun

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Temperature Gun

Temperature guns are an accurate and swift method to check out the temperature of your reptile cages and environments instantly, at any time. Using infrared technology, you simply aim the hand held device exactly at the point you are looking to get the temperature of, and you press a button. Within seconds, you get the exact temperature reading for that location. These units come in varying sizes and each carries a different cost. The average enthusiast can find one suitable for themselves for around $30.00 online. These are an invaluable tool and should be used by everyone in addition to regular monitoring equipment.

ReptiTemp Rheostat
ReptiTemp Rheostat

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ReptiTemp 500R Remote Sensor Thermostat
ReptiTemp 500R Thermostat

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Rheostat

A rheostat is a two-terminal variable resistor. Basically, a rheostat controls the amount of electrical current that is being supplied to the device that it is attached to. By reducing the amount of current, you are essentially reducing the amount of light or heat that the unit produces. There are several different types of rheostats on the market though they basically work the same. You simply plug the heating device into the supplied outlet on the rheostat, place the heat sensing probe on or in the area in which you will be regulating the temperature, and adjust the unit until your quality thermometer you purchased is reading where you need it to be. Once you have it set where you like, you simply stop adjusting the rheostat and it will control the desired temperatures.

Herpstat Intro Proportional Thermostat
Herpstat Intro Proportional Thermostat

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Helix DBS-1000 Proportional Thermostat
Helix DBS-1000 Proportional Thermostat

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Thermostat

Helix Controls, Inc. produces a thermostat that allows you to input the desired temperature to be maintained, and then has a digital output to show you the temperature at its current level. These units are not nearly as cheap as the rheostat described above but offer a much more reliable method for maintaining enclosure temperatures. like the rheostat, this unit has a probe that will read the temperature. The unit will then regulate that temperature based off the temperatures you have input into the interface. This is a quality investment for the serious enthusiast or breeder.

Dimmer Switches

If you are electrically educated, you can use light dimmers as a means of regulating the temperatures within an enclosure. Dimmers operate like the rheostats do but need to be wired directly into the cord of the unit it will be adjusting the power to. This does require a little electrical knowledge and also requires a quality thermometer to get the desired temperatures.

Once wired in, you simply adjust the dimmer and allow the enclosure to warm up for one hour. View the thermometer and continue making adjustments until the thermometer is holding at the temperature you want for three hours. At that point, it is a good idea to mark the dimmer and the box with a small line so it can be quickly readjusted if it is accidentally moved. You can even write in what the average temperature is using this line method. If you use different colored sharpies, you can set different line colors and temperature markers. This type of setup must be monitored consistently.

Attribution

Author: Richard Brooks