Bravo for doing research before getting a pet. If more people were like you we wouldn't have all these poorly cared for, abandoned herps. Keep up the good work. As for the heating, you could use just a UTH w/ paper towels as a substrate (easy to clean and you can layer it appropriately so that the temps are right on the hot side). You may want to raise the overall temp in the room a little. My reptile room stays around 80 so I don't have to worry about that. I hope this helps and good luck finding a new family member (just do a search on Kingsnake's classifieds and you will find someone who has captive bred AFTs!).