Heating pad experiment.

Grunyon

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I keep my house on the cooler side and I was really bummed when people were so against heating pads because they definitely consume a more affordable amount of energy than my furnace or a space heater would.

As a result of reading a lot of conflicting information and opinions all over the internet about almost every Tarantula subject I decided to do my own experiment. I purchased a 4w heating pad (one of the smallest you can get) and plugged it in. I let it go for an hour and it was just lukewarm. So I took a big old candle in a glass jar with a flat bottom and put it on top of the heating pad so it was now sandwiched between my thick butcher block countertops and that big old candle in a glass jar with no air gaps. I really expected this to accumulate unsafe levels of heat like everyone had claimed but it didn't. It got warmer but was nothing close to "hot". I even let this setup go overnight and there was nothing I think could be considered dangerous. With the rubber spacers they provide you for air, a good thermometer and a rheostat I can't see how this could be dangerous for my GBB.

Does anyone have any first hand experience they could provide? I'm looking for primary sources here. I'm wondering if maybe the new ones got better? Maybe people were misusing them and not following directions? I'm going to work on finding my infrared thermometer so I can get more scientific with this.

Thanks
 

Olan

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Definitely don't put it under the enclosure. Tarantulas go down to cool off.
But I see that your GBB just molted on another thread? That suggests your ambient temperature is fine. What are the temps in the house?
 

mack1855

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I never used heat pads,but used a ceramic heat bulb ( 40 watt),to supply heat for three slings.
I never had a problem with a death.I monitored the temps using a liquid filled thermometer,and
made sure I was heating the area around the enclosues,not the enclosures themselves.Water dishes kept
full.Misting a small area of their enclosures.
I did finally move to a oil-filled space heater,only because my collection grew by a lot.
 

Grunyon

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Definitely don't put it under the enclosure. Tarantulas go down to cool off.
But I see that your GBB just molted on another thread? That suggests your ambient temperature is fine. What are the temps in the house?
True, she did just molt the other day. I've literally only had her less than a week though so I doubt my conditions contributed to anything.

In the winter, my heat is set to 55 overnight, 68 for two hours in the morning when I wake up, 58 during the day at work, and 64 after work from about 5 to 10. I don't consider myself a cheap guy but I'd rather put on a sweatshirt and save my money for spending elsewhere than turn up the heat. Plus I'm usually running the wood stove for a few hours a day so it's usually 80-85 degrees before I go to bed and the temps rarely actually drop below 60 unless it's a REALLY cold night. I'd have to say that temps in my house probably average mid 60s and like I said rarely drop low, but I'd feel a lot better if I can bump everything up by 5 degrees for her.
 

Python

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I don't think you're going to find a lot of "primary" information on T's being roasted alive by heating pads. Most people have such a biased hatred for them that they've never actually used them, only listened to what others have said. I have used them and never had a problem although I will say that I would put the heat source above the enclosure rather than below. My reasoning for this is very simple, the sun is in the sky, not underground. Putting the heat source about will allow for the air in the enclosure to warm up rather than just the soil, plus it will allow for a cooler burrow just like one would expect to find anywhere else in nature. This means that when the T wants to warm up, it can come up out of it's burrow and when it wants to cool down it can go back in. Built in temperature gradient.
I have used heat pads from behind and above tanks and never had a problem of any kind. I've never had one go nuclear or even get hot enough to become uncomfortable. Interestingly enough, I don't remember ever hearing any first hand information either about them cooking animals either. I'm not saying it's never happened, only that I've never heard of it first hand.
 

cold blood

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Bulbs and lamps are far and away the most dangerous way to heat a t....they really dry the air out to dangerous levels quickly.
 

Grunyon

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I have used them and never had a problem although I will say that I would put the heat source above the enclosure rather than below. My reasoning for this is very simple, the sun is in the sky, not underground. Putting the heat source about will allow for the air in the enclosure to warm up rather than just the soil, plus it will allow for a cooler burrow just like one would expect to find anywhere else in nature. This means that when the T wants to warm up, it can come up out of it's burrow and when it wants to cool down it can go back in. Built in temperature gradient.
I have used heat pads from behind and above tanks and never had a problem of any kind.
I was considering a top mount myself. I'm sure it matters less with a species like mine that doesn't burrow much/at all but a top or upper side would probably be the way to go in my opinion. As long as you're not blocking any ventilation. And if it's on the side in glass, I doubt it gets any hotter than the ground would get on a hot summer day for a tarantula in the wild.
 

Python

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A heat bath is a much smarter and safer way to heat economically.
I don't know that it's safer, unless there is some evidence that heat pads are unsafe, which so far there isn't. Heat baths are more economical since they can heat more than one enclosure at a time, however I would be concerned that it would raise the humidity and for some of the more arid species that might be bad news. I could be wrong but I don't use water as a heat device simply because it can be troublesome refilling after evaporation, humidity spikes plus being messy dripping water all over when working or spilling it outright due to clumsiness or whatever. I've also seen aquarium heaters explode (I've personally seen it quite a few times) due to water level dropping too low or sitting the heater aside to get it out of the way for a moment. To me, a heat pad provides all the benefits of ambient heat without all the potential problems that working around water presents. That said, this is only a personal choice, not the "right" way. There are many people who have never had an issue with using water to heat and it is a valid method when used properly so don't discount it just because I don't prefer it.
I wasn't trying to say that heat pads are the best way, I just simply meant that I've used them and never had a problem. I'm not sure where the bias against them started but I do know the OP asked for any experiences and the only one that has provided any are me and those were positive, not negative. I even provided the methods that I've used in the past that I've had success with. Maybe heat pads aren't the bane of the hobby as many people suspect. Like the OP I would be greatly interested in hearing other people's experiences , both positive and negative. I feel that it could benefit the hobby as long as everyone is receptive to the information presented, be it good or bad.
 

Belegnole

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The negative views on heat pads do not so much come from this hobby but from others where they have been used for years. The reptile hobby has a history with heating pads that shows how dangerous the things can be. Heating stones and pads often get hotter than they should and end up burning the animal they were suppose to be keeping healthy. Add to this how complicated it would get to use them with more than a few tarantulas and one can begin to see why many keepers just heat an entire room. I personally have one rescue animal that was burned and do not need any further evidence that they can be dangerous.
 

Jeff23

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When I recently had to work in a warehouse where the temps were in the 30s I thought about getting a heat pad as a mouse pad as my experiment. But unfortunately 120V heat pads in a 240V supply only works for a second or two.

I think any of these local heat sources that do not have a closed loop system for the desired target is a risk. You can place a thermometer in the enclosure but it isn't going to be in your face every time you walk through the room. And how much time does it take for a heat source gone wild to bake your T? Space heaters are so much better because at least your own body becomes the closed loop.
 

Venom1080

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i did use a heat mat under my porteri's 10g when i first started out, used it for about 6 months and took it off in the summer. shes alive and kicking today.
 

EulersK

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Heat mats aren't great. As has been said, it is a tarantula's instinct to burrow when it gets hot... you see the problem.

So I took a big old candle in a glass jar with a flat bottom and put it on top of the heating pad so it was now sandwiched between my thick butcher block countertops and that big old candle in a glass jar with no air gaps. I really expected this to accumulate unsafe levels of heat like everyone had claimed but it didn't. It got warmer but was nothing close to "hot". I even let this setup go overnight and there was nothing I think could be considered dangerous. With the rubber spacers they provide you for air, a good thermometer and a rheostat I can't see how this could be dangerous for my GBB.
Concerning this specifically, though. You've be surprised... I was. I have several roach colonies that actually require heat to breed, so I provided them with heat mats. Concerned about the heat, I ran almost an identical experiment and came to the same conclusion. I housed the roaches, and all was well. At least until a layer of frass ("roach poo") built up, insulating the heat. It got hot enough to melt a hole the plastic tub they were in. Run your experiment again in an enclosure with actual dirt (with no spider in it). You'll find that the heat mat gets ridiculously hot.

If you must run some type of heat, here's what I found to work during my time in a winter state. Get yourself a long heat pad, something quite a bit larger than what you've got. Also go to a hobby shop (Joann's, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, etc.) and pick up some small terra cotta pots. The smaller, the better. Place them upside down on the heat mat, and place your enclosure in front of the heat mat but not making any contact with it. The pots will radiate off a surprising amount of heat. If I recall, the temperature in my enclosures was a comfortable ~70F while the room was ~50F.

Note that any supplemental heat, no matter how it is introduced, will dry out enclosures. Take that into consideration.
 

Python

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I've used them under tanks but not in a long time. When I use them now (and I'm not using anything at the moment), I use them either behind enclosures attached to the wall, or over enclosures attached to whatever is up there (shelf, ceiling, etc). The above experiences with heating pad malfunction is what is needed here, first hand experiences from people who witnessed it themselves. I do know that heat pads can get hot and when they are pressed up against something that heat can get somewhat intense. When I did use them under tanks years ago, convention at the time was to wrap them in towels so the heat had some way to dissipate somewhat. I didn't do it for long though. A bare pad can indeed get pretty hot. I only have one now and I use it on my back. It has a shut off though and for some reason it only seems to get hot for a few minutes and then it doesn't seem to help after that. It's terribly annoying.
 

cold blood

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I don't know that it's safer, unless there is some evidence that heat pads are unsafe, which so far there isn't. Heat baths are more economical since they can heat more than one enclosure at a time, however I would be concerned that it would raise the humidity and for some of the more arid species that might be bad news. I could be wrong but I don't use water as a heat device simply because it can be troublesome refilling after evaporation, humidity spikes plus being messy dripping water all over when working or spilling it outright due to clumsiness or whatever. I've also seen aquarium heaters explode (I've personally seen it quite a few times) due to water level dropping too low or sitting the heater aside to get it out of the way for a moment. To me, a heat pad provides all the benefits of ambient heat without all the potential problems that working around water presents. That said, this is only a personal choice, not the "right" way. There are many people who have never had an issue with using water to heat and it is a valid method when used properly so don't discount it just because I don't prefer it.
I wasn't trying to say that heat pads are the best way, I just simply meant that I've used them and never had a problem. I'm not sure where the bias against them started but I do know the OP asked for any experiences and the only one that has provided any are me and those were positive, not negative. I even provided the methods that I've used in the past that I've had success with. Maybe heat pads aren't the bane of the hobby as many people suspect. Like the OP I would be greatly interested in hearing other people's experiences , both positive and negative. I feel that it could benefit the hobby as long as everyone is receptive to the information presented, be it good or bad.
Filling evaporated water is hardly "troublesome", its so simple a 4 year old could maintain in without issue. Dripping water?? Just use a tub that doesn't leak and you will be ok, its really that simple. I've never once had spillage issues in the years I used this. I suppose if you were leaving it on the ground where you could trip over it, but I kept mine on a table.

As for humidity concerns...you are aware the water is outside the enclosures, right? Its effects are not noticeable...but considering dry air is the most common issue with heat sources, one that doesn't dry the air should be seen as an obvious improvement. It just doesn't cause humidity spikes, I would have been able to observe that.

I've raised a lot of different species with a heat bath, IMO its the only heat source better than a space heater, its just not a feasible heating application with large collections.

As for using a heat pad without any problem...well that's just flawed logic. Fact is that we KNOW for a fact that there are inherent problems with heat pads. Aside from what was mentioned, we have seen countless threads with people having issues with their ts as a result of poor heating options like pads and lamps. You and some others not having problems is no different than people using their oven to heat their homes...happens all the time and those doing it use the exact same flawed argument of "I've been doing it for years without a problem"...yeah, till there is....yet we all know for a undisputable fact that its an exceptionally dangerous way to heat your home....just like pads and lamps.
 

cold blood

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i did use a heat mat under my porteri's 10g when i first started out, used it for about 6 months and took it off in the summer. shes alive and kicking today.
Yep I did the same with my porteri. I thought everything was fine with the pad....removed it and realized that a stress curl wasn't her "normal" position afterall.
 

Venom1080

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Yep I did the same with my porteri. I thought everything was fine with the pad....removed it and realized that a stress curl wasn't her "normal" position afterall.
i dont remember her behavior much, i sold her to a friend a while back. i just know she barely ever ate. but then again, she was a G porteri.
 

Andrea82

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I don't understand how a heat mat can get too hot. I don't know what kind of pads people here are referring too, but the one I have, and the heatcable don't get hot at all. I can comfortably hold it in my hand for long periods of time. The temp is 38°C at its core, and measured directly on the cable is 25°C. That is not nearly enough on its own to burn/ cook a T.
Maybe if it was directly under the enclosure, with no no way of cooling, the substrate might get hot. But that is just solved by putting it on top or at the sides of the enclosure.
 

Python

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Filling evaporated water is hardly "troublesome", its so simple a 4 year old could maintain in without issue. Dripping water?? Just use a tub that doesn't leak and you will be ok, its really that simple. I've never once had spillage issues in the years I used this. I suppose if you were leaving it on the ground where you could trip over it, but I kept mine on a table.

As for humidity concerns...you are aware the water is outside the enclosures, right? Its effects are not noticeable...but considering dry air is the most common issue with heat sources, one that doesn't dry the air should be seen as an obvious improvement. It just doesn't cause humidity spikes, I would have been able to observe that.

I've raised a lot of different species with a heat bath, IMO its the only heat source better than a space heater, its just not a feasible heating application with large collections.

As for using a heat pad without any problem...well that's just flawed logic. Fact is that we KNOW for a fact that there are inherent problems with heat pads. Aside from what was mentioned, we have seen countless threads with people having issues with their ts as a result of poor heating options like pads and lamps. You and some others not having problems is no different than people using their oven to heat their homes...happens all the time and those doing it use the exact same flawed argument of "I've been doing it for years without a problem"...yeah, till there is....yet we all know for a undisputable fact that its an exceptionally dangerous way to heat your home....just like pads and lamps.
First off, let me say that I wasn't knocking a heat bath, I just posed some concerns I might have, all legitimate. As for dripping, unless you never take anything out of said tub, the water that stick to the containers can and will drip. Spillage would happen in my home and possibly others because of other pets that roam through the house. For example, I have cats and I have T's. My cats ignore the T's for the most part but if there was a pan of water sitting out, they might try to get into that and the possibility exist for it to get knocked off the shelf. Also, there is an appliance with a cord sticking out of the water, Right? Cords are notorious for getting caught on things and pulling stuff off of tables. Apple redesigned their laptop cords for this very reason. As for humidity, unless there are no air holes in those containers that are sitting in the water, there is no way you can convince me that there is no humidity getting in through those holes. I can understand that you believe it is the only heat source better than a space heater, but I suspect it's because you haven't tried very many other options. I've used the water bath method and like I said, I've seen plenty of aquarium heaters explode throwing glass everywhere. Some were because the water level dropped just a little too low, others, I have no idea why they blew up. I do know this though, I have never had a heat pad blow up. I have never had one malfunction other than to just stop working altogether. I also know that this argument ...
"You and some others not having problems is no different than people using their oven to heat their homes...happens all the time and those doing it use the exact same flawed argument of "I've been doing it for years without a problem"...yeah, till there is"
can be made for anything at all. There is no problem with heat baths "till there is". Using this argument, there is absolutely no heat source that can be safely used since the absence of a problem is in no way a proclamation of safety. How many homes are lost each year to space heaters? Not safe, do not use. What about central heat? Some thermostats use a mercury switch so unsafe, can't use it. I've personally witnessed heaters blowing up. I've been hit by hot glass, so I know for a fact that heat baths are dangerous, do not use. I think you can certainly see how silly this argument is and there is no reason to carry on. The fact of the matter is, there is no reason not to use a heat pad if you know how to use it, just like there is no reason not to use a heat bath, also, if you know how to use it. The fact of the matter is, and it is a fact, each heat source has it's own inherent dangers and there is no 100% safe method. With a little common sense and care, a lot of the risk can be mitigated. If you want to discuss this on a pure logical level, I have been in the hobby for over 2 decades and have personally used both methods and had no problems with heat mats and had problems with heat baths, personally. I was able to observe the results first hand and did not rely on any stories gleaned from another party. Now what is your experience with both and what did you personally observe?

"As for using a heat pad without any problem...well that's just flawed logic. Fact is that we KNOW for a fact that there are inherent problems with heat pads. Aside from what was mentioned, we have seen countless threads with people having issues with their ts as a result of poor heating options like pads and lamps. You and some others not having problems is no different than people using their oven to heat their homes...happens all the time and those doing it use the exact same flawed argument of "I've been doing it for years without a problem"...yeah, till there is....yet we all know for a undisputable fact that its an exceptionally dangerous way to heat your home....just like pads and lamps."

This is incorrect. First, using logic, I can determine that the one I have not had problems with is safer than the one I have had problems with, Yes? It's not flawed since this is how the scientific method works, we observe then make determinations based on what we observe. If two people observe different things then an average of the two should be used. I have had many bad experiences with aquarium heaters and you have had none. I would be willing to bet that I have probably used more considering I used to care for around a hundred tanks on a daily basis and I also leased out more that I cared for on a bi-weekly basis. I don't know what your experience level is but I've dealt with thousands of aquarium heaters over the years and seen quite a few catastrophic failures. Explosions and electrocutions were not entirely uncommon. I haven't used as many heat pads but I do know that I've never had one explode or electrocute me nor have I lost animal to one failing. Also if you're talking about the inherent problems associated with pads, don't group it together with lamps, that wasn't an issue. As far as being indisputable, I can dispute it, I have the years, the experience and the common sense to back it up. I can also say that I haven't seen very many issues reported on pads and I've been on this board for over a decade. What I have seen has mostly been someone repeating something that someone else told them or someone using one improperly, but more often than not, I've seen someone with no experience at all stating as fact that pads are bad because everyone knows they are with absolutely no anecdotal evidence whatsoever to back it up. Used from behind a tank or above a tank, there simply is no evidence at all of any sort of pad killing animals. The only time that pads have directly caused a death is when they were in direct contact with the enclosure itself with no temperature control and cranked up on high, I'd be willing to bet on that. If you have evidence to support the position that they are dangerous when used properly, I would be more than happy to see it. I have offered up my own experience but I don't have anything other than that to go on. I won't offer second hand information as proof of anything since someone saying they heard it from someone else doesn't qualify as proof in anyone's book. But if you can offer up a post that shows a properly used heat pad causing a death that will suffice.
 

Grunyon

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I would very much like to hear from someone who used a heating pad and had it cause harm. Then I'd like to know if they were using it bottom, side, if they were using the standoff rubber feet, had a rheostat, etc.

The heat bath idea seems cool but I'm looking for something that'll work for a display tarantula I mean to keep in a pretty enclosure in my living room. If I ever had a collection, I'd probably get some kind of display case with shelving and a sliding glass front door and heat the inside.
 
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