Best Thermostat for Reptiles- 4 Great Options and 1 to Avoid!

I am glad you are here! That means you likely understand the importance of using a thermostat in your reptile’s setup. Read below to see my list for the best thermostat for reptiles.

Thermostats are an extremely important piece of equipment and should be included in many reptile setups. Reference the chart below for when to use one:

Heat BulbNo (use a dimmer instead)
Ceramic Heat Emitter (CHE)Yes
Heat CableYes
Heat Mat or Heat TapeYes
Radiant Heat PanelYes

See a pattern? Yep, pretty much every type of heat source should be controlled by a thermostat.


Why Use a Thermostat?

I don’t want to spend to much time writing about why a thermostat is necessary but here are the Cole Notes—Your reptile does not feel the temperature in the same way you do. Because of this, your animal can EASILY burn itself on a malfunctioning heat source… Google it… it’s horrible to see. Also, having an unregulated heat source is a fire hazard… you can Google that too if you like.

Best Thermostat for Reptiles: Types of Thermostats

There are two main types of common thermostats:

  1. An “On/Off Switch” Thermostat
  2. A Proportional Thermostat

On/Off Switch Thermostat:

Best Thermostat for Reptiles
Best Thermostat for Reptiles

This type of thermostat operates in the same way your room thermostat works by setting a minimum and a maximum temperature.

For example, if you want to maintain a hot spot of about 90°F you would set you the maximum temperature to 90°F. When the probe reads a temperature of 90°F the thermostat clicks the heat source OFF. The thermostat will also allow you to set a temperature for the heat to be switched back ON, typically 1-2° lower than the maximum temperature setting.

Typically On/Off Switch thermostats are relatively inexpensive, although due to the constant switching from On to Off they enviability wear out and break. I recommend checking your temperatures manually at least once per week (see below).

Proportional Thermostats:

Best Thermostat for Reptiles
Best Thermostat for Reptiles

This type of thermostat is more advanced than the On/Off version above. A proportional thermostat operates by oscillating the electrical power being sent to the heat source.

In other words, it “smoothly” adjusts the heat source’s power to maintain a very stable heat. The heat source is on all the time but will go through waves of delivering more/less power.

These thermostats are usually quite expensive but for good reason. The quality is much higher than the On/Off thermostats and they are much more versatile. Typically they allow you to program in night drops and the really expensive ones allow you to run multiple heat sources with multiple probes. Definitely what you want if you have several enclosures in close quarters.

My Recommendations: Best Thermostat for Reptiles

Here is a list of thermostats I recommend because I personally use them. I will not recommend any “inexpensive” thermostats that I have not personally used.






Find on Amazon

InkBird Temperature Controller

•Easy to Set up

•Small size

•On/Off Temperature can be set within 1° i.e. Heat off at 88°F, on at 87°F for example.

•Detachable probe

• Relatively thick probe

•Device plugs in directly to the wall (could be an inconvenience if you need to access the controls regularly, although a simple extension cord would fix this)


• Overall I rate this thermostat 4 out of 5.

• It is a perfect thermostat if you are looking for something simple, especially for beginner hobbyists.

WillHi Thermostat

•Very long probe cord

• Detachable probe

• Small/narrow probe tip (easy to tuck under heat mats)

•On/Off Temperature can be set within 1° i.e. Heat off at 88°F, on at 87°F for example.

•Easy to hang on wall or side of enclosure

• A little confusing to set up although doable



• Overall I rate this thermostat 4 out of 5.

•I have and would buy this thermostat again.

Ringder Thermostat• It functions as it should…

•Complicated to program

•Temperature Probe is fixed

•Probe tip is very large

•Probe cable is short


•This was the first thermostat I had ever purchased and as I said in the ‘pros’ column, it does work as it should.

•But honestly, I only give this thermostat a 2 out of 5. The probe is annoying because it is so short and the tip is quite large.

Again, the thing functions but your dollars can go much further on one of the examples above.


If you are truly looking for THE BEST THERMOSTAT FOR REPTILES than these would be your answer! Here is a list of the two main proportional thermostats on the market. I do not have personal experience with them but they are both highly valued and widely used in the reptile hobby.

Vivarium Electronics VE-300
List Price:$139.99
Price Disclaimer
Herpstat 2 Redline
List Price:$239.99
Price Disclaimer


If you are using a light bulb for your heat source a thermostat is not very convenient (you don’t want the bulb to click on and off) so instead, I use an outlet dimmer:

Leviton TBL03-10E Tabletop Slide Control Lamp Dimmer, 300-Watt, Black
List Price:$16.97
You Save:$5.00
Price Disclaimer

This allows you to control the output of the bulb and set the power to a level that gives you the hot spot temperature you are after. You’ll need an IR Temperature gun to monitor the hotspot:



How to Setup Thermostat Probe

The video below is a compilation of three clips from videos that I had previously made. In the video, I explain how to set up your thermostat probe and how to program the thermostat.

Time Stamps:

0:00– Installing probe using a heat mat

1:48– Programming the Inkbird Thermostat

2:56– Installing probe using heat tape, making an air gap


For more of those videos go to:

It is very important that the probe is kept outside of the enclosure (or if using a radiant heat panel the probe should be hovering in the air somewhere). If your animal has direct access to the probe i.e. if it’s on the floor, the temperature reading can be very inaccurate. This is because your animal can move the probe or even worse the probe could get wet and stop working.

NOTE: The temperature you set your thermostat to WILL NOT automatically equal the hotspot temperature inside the enclosure! Since the probe is between the heat source and the bottom of the enclosure, it will likely be reading a much higher temperature than the hotspot inside the enclosure is showing. This is because the heat has to penetrate the bottom floor of the enclosure meaning this is very dependent on the type of material your enclosure is made from.

Best Thermostat for Reptiles
Best Thermostat for Reptiles
Best Thermostat for Reptiles
Best Thermostat for Reptiles

The thermostats above are maintaining a hotspot inside their respective enclosures of about 90°F. As you can see I have had to overshoot the thermostat setting to reach my desired temperature.

This is a crucial step!! When setting up a thermostat to the proper temperature these are the steps you should follow:

•Buy an IR Temperature gun if you don’t have one (they’re cheap and useful!)

•Set your thermostat for the temperature you are aiming for and let it warm up for 1 hour or so.

•Point your IR Temp gun at the hotspot to read the temperature.

•Adjust your thermostat setting accordingly until you reach the desired temperature inside the enclosure.

This is NOT the Best thermostat for Reptiles!

Unfortunately (at least in my experience), decent thermostats are not often carried in chain pet stores. Considering how vital they are to your reptile’s health I can’t understand why that is the case.

Anyway, most pet stores do carry a device they like to pass off as a thermostat. This device is a RheostatThese are NOT thermostats! They basically act in the same way as the dimmer switch I described above. They allow you to control your heat source’s power output.

The issue with this is that it has nothing to do with temperature. For example, let’s say you set up your enclosure and find that you get a perfect hotspot of 90° with the rheostat set at the “medium setting.” Now let’s say your room temperature rises the next day unexpectedly… your rheostat is still going to be pumping out heat at a “medium” level, making the hotspot far hotter than your original test. Whereas a thermostat would have clicked off.

In other words, don’t buy a rheostat!

Best Thermostat for Reptiles: Things to Remember

1. You should always be checking your hotspot temperatures manually to ensure everything is functioning properly.

2. Make sure you set up the temperature setting properly. I.e. use an IR temperature gun to establish the correct setting.

3. Remember, the cheaper the thermostat the more likely it will fail but a cheap thermostat is better than no thermostat! Saving up for a high-quality thermostat should be on your list of things to do eventually, especially if your collection starts to grow.

Best Thermostat for Reptiles- 4 Great Options and 1 to Avoid!
Article Name
Best Thermostat for Reptiles- 4 Great Options and 1 to Avoid!
What is the best thermostat for reptiles? In this article, I review both inexpensive and expensive thermostat models as well as a product to avoid!
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Animals at Home
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