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A thermostat won't ever make the mat warmer - depending on the type of stat it'll either hold the mat at a certain temp or switch it off when the set level is reached, and then back on when the temp drops.

Generally speaking, it's just not safe to use a heat mat inside a viv, on the floor, without it being on a stat. They can reach temps way over 100F, especially with substrate on top.

Taking the temp of a heatmat is very hit and miss. One mat i have (a 17"x11" on a pulse stat) has a temp variation of about 10F at various points across the surface, so when taking the temps do it in several different areas.
I use either an infra-red thermometer or a digital one with the probe blu-tacked or taped to the mat.
 

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If you using it for a royal then definitely get a stat - royals in particular are prone to burns from mats.
If you cover it with something you'd need to leave an air gap between the mat and the cover so that it doesn't overheat. Best way is to put it under a false floor - a sheet of laminated hardboard cut to the size of the floor of the viv and sealed around the edges with the mat underneath it. This'll also prevent the possibility of liquid waste getting to the terminal block and shorting the mat out.

Will you have another type of heating in the viv - eg. a bulb? A mat won't heat the air much (if at all) so you'll need something to raise the ambient temp.
 

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Sorry - for some reason when I first read this thread I missed the first two posts where you said about your stat, which I PM'd you about the other day :shock: and I've also been rambling on about stuff which i already said in your other thread!

Is it a red bulb? If so you could just rig that up to the stat (when you get it back) and leave out the mat. Ok, it'll switch on and off, but if it's a red one it wouldn't cause too much disturbance - it'd be safer for the snake too. But as I said on the other thread a ceramic would be a better long term option - you could run a ceramic from a mat stat as long as it isn't over 100w.

After hearing a few stories on another forum about heat mats I'm really careful about how I use them now.
(I certainly wouldn't have a mat in the viv plugged straight to the mains as someone has said on this thread.)

The following link has some pretty graphic pics of snakes with severe burns caused by mats:

Link:
http://www.livefoodshop.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=46481&hl=

Note: I don't necessarily agree with all the views expressed in this thread (the one on the link) - just thought I'd post it to show what can happen if sufficient care isn't taken.
 
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