As with most other cold-blooded reptiles, bearded dragons need enough heating to live and thrive in captivity. Inadequate heating may trigger symptoms like tiredness, weight loss, and appetite loss in them. But what temperature does a bearded dragon need?
Bearded dragons are native to the arid, semi-desert regions of Central Australia, where the temperature rises above 110 degrees F at daytime and drops below 70 degrees at night. Ideally, you must replicate the same temperature variance in your terrarium.
But maintaining proper heat in a bearded dragon enclosure takes work. This article provides useful information about the heating requirements for a bearded dragon during the day and nighttime, at different phases of its life, and how to create a temperature gradient across your vivarium.
Proper temperature for a bearded dragon at daytime
Typically a bearded dragon enclosure would have a basking spot and a separate cooling area within it. The temperature of the basking area should be between 95 and 105 degrees F during the day. The cooling spot on the other end of the enclosure should have a temperature of between 75 and 85 degrees F. However, you may need to vary the temperatures slightly, depending on the age of your pet.
Correct temperature ranges for a baby bearded dragon
Baby bearded dragons aged 0 to 6 months would normally need more heat than an adult beardie would need. The basking area temperature for a baby bearded dragon should be in the rage of 100 to 110 degrees F. On the cooler side of the enclosure, consider keeping the temperature anywhere between 80 and 90 degrees F.
Correct temperature ranges for a juvenile bearded dragon
As a baby beardie gets older than 6 months and enters the juvenile phase, it would need a slightly cooler setting. More specifically, the basking area temperature for a juvenile bearded dragon should be between 95 and 105 degrees F, while the cool-down area’s temperature could be kept the same 80 to 90 degrees F.
Correct temperature ranges for an adult bearded dragon
For adult bearded dragons aged 18 months or older, you should keep the basking area temperature in the range of 90 to 95 degrees F. The temperature of the cool-down area should still remain the same at 80 to 90 degrees F.
Setting the nighttime temperature
Bearded dragons need a cold and dark environment for a good night’s sleep. In order to recreate their natural habitat at your terrarium, consider keeping the temperature anywhere between 70 and 75 degrees and turn off the basking light. But make sure the cage temperature does not drop below 60 degrees. You can use a ceramic heater to maintain a steady temperature across the terrarium at night.
How to know if your bearded dragon is getting enough heat
Bearded dragons have this ability to regulate their body temperature. When their body temperature crosses the optimal level while basking, they’d open their mouths to dissipate the extra body heat. This behavior of bearded dragons is commonly known as gaping. So try different temperatures at the basking area and see if your beardie is gaping. If not, then maybe it isn’t getting enough heat at the basking spot.
Overheating symptoms to watch out for
If the outside weather is too hot and dry, it may affect the temperature inside your terrarium. As a result, your bearded dragon could get dehydrated from too much heat. To know if your bearded dragon was overheated, check whether it is staying away from the basking area most of the day. Other overheating symptoms to watch out for include heavy breathing, dry heaving, and weight loss. If you suspect your bearded dragon is overheating, give it a bath. If the symptoms persist, consider taking your pet to a herp vet.
How to create a temperature gradient
As already mentioned, your terrarium should have a basking spot and a cooling spot for your bearded dragon. To that end, you need to create a gradient of temperatures across the enclosure, so that your beardie can regulate its body temperature by moving between the cool and hot zones as needed. Thankfully, there are many tools available to help you create a temperature gradient. But you need to choose the right tools and know how to use them the right way. Here’s a rundown of some common tools you might want to use.
Most bearded dragon owns use a heating bulb from the top down to create a basking area for their pet. You’ll find mainly two types of heating bulbs – 1) light emitting bulbs and 2) non-light emitting ceramic bulbs. If you want both heating and lighting at your basking area, consider using the first type, such as incandescent bulbs and halogen bulbs. On the other hand, ceramic bulbs emit heat without any visible light. This type of bulb is perfect for nighttime heating. One common mistake people make is they place the basking bulb in the middle of the enclosure. Instead, place it on one side of the enclosure from the top down. That way, you can keep enough distance between the basking spot and the cool-down area.
Choosing the wattage of your basking bulb
The light emitting bulbs for a bearded dragon enclosure come in a variety of wattages, such as 60 watts, 75 watts and 100 watts. If you want to generate more heat, choose a bulb with higher wattage. For instance, a 100-watt bulb would generate more heat than a 60-watt bulb. However, there’s another important thing to consider when choosing the wattage. Interestingly, when a bulb is dimmed down, the more its wattage the less bright it looks. For instance, a 60-watt bulb dimmed down to 50 watts looks brighter than a 100-watt bulb dimmed to 50 watts. So if you want to make the basking area look brighter, choose a 60-watt bulb over its 100-watt counterpart.
A thermostat automatically regulates the temperature inside a terrarium, making life easier for bearded dragon owners. The device comes with a probe that reads the current temperature and regulates the heating accordingly.
Choosing the right thermostat
You’ll find mainly two types of thermostats for a bearded dragon enclosure. Choose the right type for you depending on the type of heating bulb you’re currently using. If you’ve got a light emitting bulb, consider using a dimming thermostat. A dimming thermostat sends power gradually, so it’ll either gradually brighten up or dim down the light bulbs inside your terrarium. On the other hand, a pulse thermostat, as the term suggests, sends power in pulses. This type of thermostat is perfect for those who use a non-light emitting ceramic bulb.
Heat mats are another great tool to create a temperature gradient inside your bearded dragon enclosure. Typically, heat mats emit infrared radiation to provide uniform heating across an enclosure. But if you place the heat mat on one of the sidewalls of your bearded dragon cage, it would help you create a smooth temperature gradient across the terrarium.
Maintaining proper temperature inside the terrarium is crucial to the health and well-being of your bearded dragon. While setting up the proper temperature gradient inside your vivarium is no cakewalk, the above information should make the job easier for you.