Keeping Your Reptile "Cool" In The Summer Heat

A leopard gecko standing in their water bowl

Reptiles are some of the most rewarding pets to own, but housing them safely with fluctuating natural temperatures can be a challenge. What do you do when it heats up inside your own house? Check out this handy guide for adjusting your reptile's habitat to keep their temperature stable when summer hits. 

Reptiles love warmth - to a point

Many common reptiles, including bearded dragons, leopard geckos, and common snake species, require a very warm cage temperature, about 75 degrees Fahrenheit, year-round. This is because reptiles are ectotherms - they can only regulate their temperature by basking in the sun or hiding somewhere cool. To keep a good reptile enclosure, you'll need to be able to provide your reptile with both types of environment - hot places to bask, and some cool, dark places to hide. 

It's pretty common for folks to place their reptiles near a sunny window in the winter, but it can be dangerous to do that if you live in a hot climate during the summer months, especially if that window is exposed to direct sunlight for a large part of the day. 

Know your reptile's enclosure temperatures

The easiest way to tell if your reptile is being housed at a safe temperature is to have easily accessible thermometers placed around the enclosure at the places where you think it will be hottest and coolest. If your reptile requires a certain level of moisture, you can often buy combination thermometers/hygrometers to place around the enclosure. These sticky-backed tools will let you know where your reptile's cage is at any point during the day. 

How to adjust for temperature

If you notice that your reptile's cage is too hot, there are a few steps you can take. First, if the cage is in direct sunlight, find a new place for the cage. That will eliminate external light and heat sources from affecting the cage's temperature. Next, consider where the cage is inside your dwelling: is it in the hottest room of the house? If so, consider moving it during the summer months so that it doesn't get too hot. 

If you can't move the cage, you can control things externally. During the summer, you may need to dim or adjust UV lights on the cage; you may need to unplug heating pads or lamps. If you can't move the cage from a window, you can at least place a blackout or shade curtain on the window to block the sun. A sheet or blanket will do the trick in a pinch. 

You can consider a mesh cage or other, open-air alternative if the glass of an enclosure is holding too much heat. Make sure that you don't have other pets that might tear at fabric if you plan to use a soft-bodied cage. 

Finally, you can always get a portable air conditioner or dehumidifier to offset whatever heat is in the room where your reptile is living. If you keep the door closed, it should be relatively efficient - and you may only need to use it during the hottest days.