Buyer’s Guide: Best Heat Lamp for Snakes

Not all snakes need heat lamps but, for the ones that do, you might want to know what kind you should get. Or, you might be wondering why a snake would need a heat lamp in the first place. Here is some of my research on the topic.

What is my heat lamp of choice for a pet snake? After carving through many websites, I finally found some I think would be best. I recommend getting the Exo Terra Glow Light Porcelain Clamp Lamp for the dome lamp. For the light bulb, I recommend the Fluker Labs Reptile Incandescent Daylight Bulb.

Let me be clear. This guide is for snakes in general. This is just a general choice I would make from the research that I have done. To be more certain on what type of lamp you should purchase can also depend on what kind of snake you are getting. That’s on you to research if your specific snake might need heat lamps.

How to Choose a Lamp

You’re going to want to understand the temperature that your snake is used to. Where is it from? What kind of heat does it need? Does it need shade to hide? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself.

With the heat lamp, you’re also going to want a night light or “night glow.” The night glow is a light that has red or purple lighting. It helps with the sleep cycle of the snake.

Without this cycle of lighting, it may mess up your snake’s habits. This may end up making your snake more stressed, sluggish, or reluctant to eat. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right type of light. 

You’re going to want to have an incandescent light bulb since they get hot. You could just use the light bulbs from your house if you aren’t interested in buying more. You can find them in various wattage.

You’re going to want to get the proper wattage for your tank. The smaller the tank, the smaller the wattage.

Another heating source is ceramic heating elements (CHE). They are used for heating and incubating eggs and baby chicks. These can be used as an alternative.

Get a lamp with a ceramic socket. The incandescent light bulbs will heat up too much. Most incandescent sockets are plastic and they will melt with the heat of the lamp.

Incandescent bulbs are dangerous for you and the snake. The ceramic ones won’t melt on you so buy those. You can find light fixtures with ceramic sockets at pet stores or online.

Another kind of lighting socket is porcelain, which is similar to the ceramic ones. Use porcelain sockets for the ceramic heating elements. You can find these at feed & ranch stores.

Most likely you will want a wireframe screen on top of your tank. A plastic one could work but it could melt from the heat of your lamp.

Remember: Snakes will find a place where they are comfortable. They enjoy a good warm basking spot and then another cooler spot for hiding and cooling down. (It’s kind of like how we enjoy being out in the sun and then we find shade when we get too hot. It is the same idea.)

A good idea is to make sure that you have both a warm spot and a cool spot. Get a thermometer so you can test to see how warm different areas are. You can adjust your wattage as you watch your snake.

Pay attention to its habits. Where does it go to warm up or cool down? When you find it warming up, see how warm it is there.

If they are too far away from the lamp when they are warming up, then maybe you need to get a bulb with less wattage. If they can’t find a cold spot or you can’t find a spot a few degrees colder, then you need to get a bulb with fewer watts.

The snakes need to be able to have both a warm and cold spot so they can find the middle ground. This will allow a thermal gradient for your snake.

Don’t place the lamp near the water bowl because you don’t want to evaporate the water and dehydrate your snake. It might be a good idea to turn off the heat lamp for an hour or so a day just to give your little guy a break.

My Chosen Heat Lamp

I chose the Exo Terra Glow Light Porcelain Clamp Lamp for my tank. It’s the best clamp lamp I’ve found on the market.

It proclaims that it is constructed in a way that allows you to place the lamp where and how you need it. There is a spring loaded swivel clamp that allows you to turn the lamp with ease.

It has a metal reflector and a ceramic socket to resist the heat of the bulb. There is a reflective, luminous coating on the inside of the dome of the lamp that keeps glowing after you turn off the lamp so as to give your snake or reptile a little bit more light to get settled in for the night.

It has a 3.5 out of 5 star’s rating on Amazon with a great price of about $30 USD. It works great, but it struggles with higher wattage or ceramic heating element. Besides that, it has a lot for the price and many people have enjoyed it. Give it a try!

As for the actual bulb, I chose Fluker Labs Reptile Incandescent Daylight Bulb. There is a 40, 60 and 100-watt bulb. The bulbs are blue. It is great for your snake to bask in. It provides heat through infrared light.

It is $10 USD for a single bulb. It has a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon. Many reviews are loyal to the Fluker brand. Others said that the bulb did not last very long. That is a problem with many of the light fixtures. It is a trend I am seeing. Overall, this is a good product for your snake.

Alternative Heat Lamps

For my alternative lamp, I chose Fluker’s Clamp Lamp. It’s a dome shape. It has a ceramic socket which works well with incandescent bulbs, ceramic heat elements, and fluorescent bulbs. That last one is more for photography. It works best up to 75 watts.

It is held in high review with 4 out of 5 stars. Most people enjoy it. It works well and it doesn’t cost much at around $15 USD. A few reviews said it stops working after a few months. That could be because the wattage was too high, so play around with it and see what you can do.

If you want to control the light and temperature even more than there are options for a clamp lamp with a dimmable switch.

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An alternative bulb I would recommend is the Philips Heat Lamp Clear Light Bulb. Like the other one, it is infrared lighting. It heats up quickly so you don’t have to worry about it wasting energy.

It’s a sturdy build that should last you some time. These aren’t generally used for reptiles. It’s more of a house product, but you can use these kinds of lights for reptiles as I mentioned earlier. It proclaims that it lasts for 5,000 hours. I can’t confirm that but I haven’t read anything against it.

It’s a 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Everybody seems to love this lamp. The only bad thing that I have read about it is that it didn’t heat up someone’s bathroom well enough. Fortunately for you, you won’t be heating up the bathroom. You have a tank to heat up which is much smaller. A great choice if I do say so myself.

Alternatives to Heat Lamps

You can also find night lamps for your snake if you would like. They usually shine with a red or purple glow so as to work with the light cycle and not mess up the snake or reptile. These lights are dark and do not have harsh light.

One I would recommend is the Zoo Med Nocturnal Infrared Incandescent Heat Lamp. Low visible light. People like it. It is simple. It works the way you expect it to. I recommend it. It says you can use it for 24 hours a day but I don’t recommend it unless your animal is always nocturnal.

It is $10 USD for one 100 watt bulb. It has a 4 star out of 5 rating on Amazon. The only negative things I have read in reviews are some say the bulbs have a short life, and one person said it exploded. So, typical to the other lights.

Heating pads are one alternative to heat lamps. I don’t use them because it makes it harder to measure and control the temperature. They are good for covering wide surface on the tank’s floor but I wouldn’t recommend this for your snake.

Another heat source you can use that I have mentioned previously are ceramic heating elements or CHE. They are flat ceramic disks that give off good heat. They are similar to the ones on older stovetops, like the non-induction ones.

These are more expensive I’ve found but it may work for you. If other options have not, I would give this a shot.

They are an infrared heat with no light. These are used more for tropical or desert reptiles. You want to use ceramic/porcelain socket lamps for these.

I would recommend another Fluker’s product (I’m not sponsored, I promise). It’s called, Fluker’s Ceramic Heat Emitter for Reptiles.

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It’s a great little piece. A lot of people have positive things to say about it. It’s priced well and comes with a 4-stars-out-of-5 on Amazon. Lots of good reviews with happy customers. The only problems I found were that the bulb didn’t screw in right on the track and someone didn’t like the customer service at Fluker’s. Besides that, this product is fine.

You’re going to want this Exo Terra Porcelain Clamp Lamp if you do use ceramic heating elements. It’s perfect for it with the metal cage. The socket is porcelain, just like I told you that you would need.

It’s a little more on the expensive side at $26 USD. It’s 3 stars out of 5 on Amazon. Most people said good things like about how good the socket is. People said there were parts that broke after a couple of months. You could look for others but this is a general idea of what you want for ceramic heating elements.

Why do Snakes Need Heat?

Snakes are cold-blooded creatures. They warm up to the temperature of the heat in the area. They can’t generate their own heat, so they need an external heat source. They also need heat for digestion. If it’s too cold, they become sluggish. It’s like when I don’t want to get out of bed on a cold day.

They need the difference in temperature. This gives them a temperature gradient. They have warm spots for when they want to be warm and then shaded cold spots without heat.

They will find a sweet spot too that works for them. They need this so they can regulate their own temperature externally since they can’t do it internally. You want less heat at night and a cooler light for any nocturnal snakes or reptiles that you may have.

UV light is important because it produces vitamin D. I can’t go into the specifics of the science behind it, mostly because I don’t know it. I do know that vitamin D is needed for most living things and plants, so it stands to reason snakes would need it as well.

Some may require UVA lighting and others UVB, it just depends on what kind of snake you have. You can find more about that online I’m sure.

I have already talked about the different ways of heating. Now you know all you really need to know about heating. It will take some trial and error but you will find what works for you.

Related Questions

Does my snake need a heat lamp? Depending on your snake you will need a heat lamp. Most likely you will The light helps with their daily cycle. You will want incandescent light bulbs.

What kind of lighting do ball pythons need? You may not need a heat light for ball pythons depending on how warm you keep your house. Ball pythons need about 90 degrees for basking during the day and a night temperature in the low 80’s.

Ball pythons need belly heat, not basking heat. Do not use a heat rock for them. Just have a warm light to warm up the area for the ball python.

Do ball pythons need a UVB light? You do not need UV lighting or supplemental lighting for ball pythons. They do fine with ambient room light, so whatever you have on.

They will be fine as long as the light is not consistently on. They will need that cycle of light. So turn down or off the lights at night. They are nocturnal so too much lighting can stress them out.

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