'Extending' a heatmat?


Old Timer
Dec 11, 2005
Where to post equipment questions? I hope it's okay here.

I keep my collection in a heated cabinet - 30x40x15", with two thermostatically-controlled 35x11" heatmats in the back. I was getting a little dissatisfied with the way the heatmats work - heating one side of the spider containers closest to the mat to about 27C (what's that, 80F?), and letting the front of the cabinet plummet down close to room temperature, about 68-70F.

I know most people reading this are going to feel like trotting out the usual advice - room temperature's not so bad, put the hardier species at the colder side, etc. I know. But still.

So I thought about some method of diffusing the heat, maybe allowing it to heat the space as well as the closest solid object. Having attended basic chemistry I knew copper is a good thermal conductor. Great, I thought. I'll line the cabinet with radiator insulation, stick some copper tape along the back and sides, and stick the heatmats back in. My theory was that the copper tape at the back would pick up some heat at the back and spread it around a little.

Some insulation, copper tape, and months (!) of procrastination later, I had a chance to test my theory. I had a starter colony of discoid roaches about to be rehoused in a large plastic tub, resting on a sheet of polystyrene and with a 6x11" heatmat under one end. I stuck a network of copper tape over the styrene, stuck the heatmat down, and placed the roach tub on top.
I waited a while, then took temperature readings at places inside the tub. The end under the heatmat reached 82-84F, and the opposite end was a balmy room temperature of 62F. I took down the tub and felt the copper tape, placed the thermometer directly on it for a while. Stone cold, even beside the mat.

As far as I can tell the copper tape is just sticky copper foil. Or could I have been fooled by the colour and the name, and it's something else? Or are copper's vaunted conductive properties not all that?
I realise I'm probably not going to get many answers, but I'd like any suggestions or advice from anyone with a bit of knowledge or experience. (Barring 'room temperature's not so bad, put the hardier species etc. etc.'. I'll keep it in mind.) So far I've had the pretty weak ideas of giving it a while, or using more tape.


Old Timer
Sep 29, 2006
actually, they way a heatmat works is great for ts - in nature, they can choose their temperature to a certain degree if they are too hot or too cold (for example by burrowing deeper/coming to the surface).

i use very small, dim lamps for my ts that have the same effect as your heat mats, and they certainly make use of the temperature zones. in the morning, my l. parahybana will go sunbasking near the spot and move to a cooler region of the tank after about an hour.

for reptiles, it is necessary to have those temperature zones, and for ts it is great. so i see nothing wrong with your setup.