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Tarantulas and Heat Mats: A success Story

Discussion in 'Vivariums and Terrariums' started by matt82, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. matt82

    matt82 Arachnoknight

    How often do we see it said that heat mats are bad news in the T keeping hobby? A lot. Are there a lot of good reasons for this? Yes, probably too many.
    Next question is, do you as a keeper think there is a way to use heat mats effectively to provide heat for your Ts in circumstances where supplementary heat is required? I do.

    I know oil filled heaters are great (used them before to provide ambient temps in a room full of boas, and initially to heat my T enclosures!) But after sizeable electricity bills, I needed a cheaper method that was still effective. I found one that was over 95% cheaper... :D

    I maintain my entire collection at present in a 5 foot wooden vivarium, lined with polystyrene on all sides (ALL sides, floor and ceiling too), with a thermostatically-controlled 4 foot heat mat :eek:

    This setup is 110% proof that used correctly, heat mats can provide ambient temps in an enclosed space (such as the vivarium I mentioned).

    Still not convinced? Here is how I will break it down...
    -The 4 foot heat mat is mounted on the back wall of the vivarium after the entire inside has been lined with polystyrene.
    -The probe of the dimmer-proportional thermostat sits in the centre of the mat (slightly stepped away from the actual mat).
    -The ambient temperature right by the mat = 90 F (perfect for some of my mantids) , move 18 inches forward to the front of the vivarium, the ambient temps are a steady 70 F. temp immediately outside the viv, at times = mid to low 60's. That is proof of a heat mat providing a gradient to me.

    This means that with that gradient (yes I said gradient when referring to heat mat heat!) I can find a happy medium for all my inverts, in one overall housing (the wooden viv)

    Now I know that a heat mat emits infra-red heat, and in theory, should not really work in this situation, and granted, a little heat mat would not do the job, but after a year of using this style of setup for inverts during the cold stretches, I have had no problems, and actually my collection is thriving.
    (Just to say, in rare warmer Irish weather I do knock the heat pad off BTW)

    Now hopefully that lot did not come off as one big rant, far from my intention, but i just said i would put it out there and see what comes back, opinions wise.

    I also want to state, I am an adult and am fully open to any constructive criticism of this particular setup, in fact I would welcome it, but if you decide that this setup is not a good idea for keeping Ts and feel like replying here, please make sure you read the entire post, and didn't just read Tarantulas + heatmats in the same sentence and decide to rant :D :D

    Thanks a lot, AB is an excellent site BTW, glad i started posting here.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012
  2. happysmile88

    happysmile88 Arachnoknight

    I can't really visualize it, I need pictures of that vivarium. :)

    Heat mats aren't really bad news, it's just that some misinformed people just stick them directly under the tanks and they end up with a cooked pet. It's great that you're optimizing that huge 4ft. heat mat. :3
  3. catfishrod69

    catfishrod69 Arachnoemperor

    heatmats and flexxwatt are actually good. I dont use them on any of my inverts, but i use them for my geckos and boa. But what alot of people dont know, is with a heatmat or flexxwatt, you must have a dimmer switch, or thermostat in place too. thermostats are the best. if you dont have the heaters plugged in to these, your animals will cook. But if you are using them in a place where the animal cant get close to the heat source, like have the heatmat on something, then set the enclosure close to it. then it is ok.
  4. Introvertebrate

    Introvertebrate Arachnobaron

  5. matt82

    matt82 Arachnoknight

    Lol I'd have dead critters, but not of the cooked, of the frozen variety if I didn't use it :D. Thanks for the comment!

    Thanks for the feedback, that is kind of why I posted this, to show a different avenue for providing heat for Ts for folks that live in a colder climate, and hopefully dispel some urban myths surrounding the option of the heat mat!In saying that, I always liked the sound of keeping Ts without extra heat sources, must be great to keep Ts without the added hassle. cheers

    Thanks for the link, I'm gonna look at that now, cheers!

    Just out of interest folks, as I do not know off hand myself: is supplemental heat as uncommon in the States as I thought, or is it more widespread? I suppose every region varies in such a large country. I know during my trip to Oregon in 2010, the climate was not too far removed from Ireland, although, it was Summer.

  6. desertanimal

    desertanimal Arachnoknight

    I successfully used flexwatt to heat slings. I ran the flexwatt around three sides of the inside of a box and put the slings in the center. The flexwatt was on a thermostat and was wired up with the flexwatt I was using to heat my snake rack. It can definitely be used, but requires care and regular attention to detail. Unlike the snakes, the slings couldn't just move to an unheated section of their tub, so I monitored their temps daily (including max temp in every 24 hour period) and made adjustments as needed.
  7. Introvertebrate

    Introvertebrate Arachnobaron

    You get a different perspective on other message boards. For instance, the roach and mantis folks think that heat mats are just fine. They even use them underneath enclosures. In the words of Eric Clapton, "It's in the way that you use it."
  8. Nismo400rgtr

    Nismo400rgtr Arachnopeon

    I use flexwatt on a T stat underneath the enclosures of all my T's and gecko's. So far so good! Temps for individual needs can be controlled with placement on the mat, because the centers are warmer than the outer edges, and with substrate depth. I monitored temps in all my enclosures for at least 24 hrs. To make sure things are right before actually adding the livestock.
  9. zonbonzovi

    zonbonzovi Creeping beneath you Staff Member

    Some folks in the southern states forget that the rest of us don't live in year round t-shirt weather or they live utility payment free, hence the "no supplement needed" crowd. I have a heated, metal-framed, vertical cabinet very similar to your description in a room that can get down to 55F at night as well as a converted bedroom that stays consistently heated in the low 70sF. I think our average outdoor temps/weather are similar. A majority of inverts can be kept at comfortable, human dwelling temps but keeping those temps up w/o supplements can be expensive unless you have an efficient heat source.
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