Controlling and Monitoring Temperatures: Thermostat vs. Thermometer


Thermometer and thermostat sound similar, but they have different jobs to do in your box turtle's habitat (and everywhere else you use them!).

Use a thermometer to measure temperature and a thermostat to control temperature

Okay, we do realize that most of you know the difference between a thermometer and thermostat. But we’ve seen people using the wrong term.

Don’t be embarrassed if you are someone who sometimes mixes them up. They sound very similar, so it’s an easy mistake to make.

But it can lead to confusion. If you’re describing your setup or asking for help, using the wrong term can cause other people to misunderstand what you’re saying. Or you could misinterpret what someone else is saying if you get the words confused.

And that can lead to the wrong advice and possibly the wrong conditions for your pet. Although short-term temperature issues aren’t as big a problem for boxies as for some other reptiles, why risk it? Especially since it’s an easily avoidable mistake.

So, in the interest of being completely clear, here’s a quick definition of each:


  • Thermometer: This device measures the temperature in the spot where you put it or where you put its sensor. It does not do anything else except measure and display the temperature. It can’t affect the temperature in any way.
  • Thermostat: This device controls a heating device in order to keep the temperature of a room or other area(in your case your pet’s habitat) at the temperature you program into it. It does measure the temperature in the spot where you put the sensor, but it does more than just display that temperature. It uses the information to change the temperature as needed.

Many reptile owners do use both (sometimes more than one of each). A thermostat makes it easy to keep your pet’s habitat at a suitable temperature. A second thermostat can keep the baking area hotter than the rest of the cage.

And one or more thermometers in the habitat can ensure that your thermostat is working correctly. One at each end can also ensure that you have a nice heat gradient to allow your boxie to control her temperature.

Box turtle eating strawberrySo there you have it. A thermometer is strictly a measuring device.

A thermostat is a temperature controller that uses a thermometer to do its job.

One is not better than the other. They are just different, and both can be very useful for keeping your boxie healthy and happy.


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