Providing heat for your bearded dragon will be one of the most important things you will do for your pet. Bearded dragons come from an area where they are exposed to high temperatures and need these same high temperatures in captivity.

In the wild, bearded dragons keep a constant body temperature by thermoregulation. In captivity, we want to provide our dragons a way to thermoregulate naturally. This is the reason we set up a heat gradient.

Basically, a heat gradient is having a warm side and a cool side in your dragons cage so your dragon can move between them and regulate their body temperature.

How Warm Should My Bearded Dragons Tank Be?

  • On the warm end of your dragons tank the temperature should be around 90° to 95°  F (32° to 35°  C).
  • On the cooler side you’ll want a temperature around 75° to 85° F (24° C).
  • You’ll also want a basking spot that will reach a temperature of at least 110° F (41° C).
  • At night tank temperatures can drop to mid-60°’s without any problems. Letting the temperature cool down in the enclosure at night is a good idea.

On this page you will find information and tips related to bearded dragon heating. Pay special attention to this aspect of caring for beardie’s. If you get heating right most other things will fall into place.

Using a thermometer on opposite sides of the cage, will help you monitor your heat gradient. It is also a good idea to check the basking spot’s temperature.  Also, using a thermostat can also help you maintain a good temperature, but is not neccessary.

Properly heating your bearded dragons cage is vital to keeping a healthy dragon. It is fairly easy to set up your dragons home with proper heating.

Armed with a little bit of knowledge and some good heating equipment, you’ll have your dragons cage heated properly in no time.

Poor heating, is one the main causes of health problems in bearded dragons. It is important to spend a little extra care to provide proper temperatures.

It might seem a little tedious to get just the right temperature, but it will definitely pay off in the long run. You will be rewarded with a happy, thriving pet.

I really believe that having proper heating and temperatures is the most important thing about keeping healthy bearded dragons. If you are just getting started with bearded dragons, this is a very important part of their husbandry that needs special attention.

I receive many questions about ill dragons and most of the problems are heat related. Also, poor heating is a huge reason why a bearded dragon won’t eat.

Bearded Dragon Thermoregulation

What is thermoregulation? Basically, it is the way bearded dragons and reptiles regulate their body temperature. Since dragons can’t produce their own body heat they rely on the sun to warm their bodies in the wild.

Bearded dragons originate from a climate that exposes them to very high temperatures. They like to bask in the hot sun, helping them obtain a desirable body temperature. When their optimal body temperature is achieved, they will move someplace cooler to avoid overheating and maintain their desired body temperature.

Throughout the day they’ll move back and forth from basking in the sun to hiding in shade, keeping their body temperature at an optimal level. This process is called thermoregulation.

Knowing what bearded dragons do in the wild helps us understand how to properly care for them in captivity. Since dragons like higher temperatures, we have to provide them with that warmth. We do this with various heating equipment.

Providing equipment to heat your enclosure can get a little costly, but I have some money saving tips that can lessen the expense.

Bearded Dragon Heating Equipment

Bearded dragons like to bask in the sun to warm up, because of this a good primary source of heating is a basking lamp. This will  provide an ambient warmth for the entire cage, and it will also provide a high heat basking spot.

For most cage situations a basking lamp will pretty much be all the heating equipment you’ll need. There are some exceptions, though.

If your home is cooler than 60°- 65° degrees F at night, or if you are having trouble keeping a good ambient temperature in your dragon’s cage, you might need a secondary heat source.

Some good secondary (or additional) heat sources are ceramic heaters, under tank heaters, red heat lamps, and heat mats. These will provide excellent support for your basking lamp if you can’t keep a good temperature in your cage.

Heat Gradient

Providing one temperature throughout the entire cage is not recommended. It doesn’t let your dragon heat up or cool down, when they want to. Dragons need high temperatures to digest food properly, and also a place to go when they get overheated.

A constant temperature, that is to low, will not let them digest their food properly, causing the food to rot in their stomachs.

A constant temperature, that is to hot, will cause your dragon to overheat. Both of these situations can lead to severe illnesses and even death.

Keeping  a proper heat gradient in your dragons cage is key to keeping healthy bearded dragon. This is one of the keys to being a successful bearded dragon owner.

A heat gradient allows a bearded dragon to thermoregulate their body temperature. This is highly beneficial to a beardie.

Bearded dragons are do not produce their own body heat and rely on other sources to warm their bodies. In nature this source is the sun. In a vivarium this source is our basking lights or other heating equipment.

Bearded dragons will move from a warm area to a cool area in order to keep an optimum body temperature.

If a hot end and cooler end are not provided in your bearded dragons cage, it will greatly affect their eating, digestion, and health.

Setting up the Heat Gradient

Setting up a heat gradient is fairly simple. All you have to do is put all of your cage heating equipment to one side of the enclosure. This will give you a high heat side and also leave the other side a little cooler.

Keeping a good heat gradient is easily done in the bigger cage size that an adult dragon requires. It is a little trickier in a 10-gallon aquariums, but it can be done with a little bit of effort.

Sidenote:
Using a 10-gallon aquarium to house your dragon, other than temporarily, is not advised. These can be used to house very small dragons like hatchlings, but soon become too small.

I found that I did pretty good if I didn’t rest the basking light right on the screen top of the aquarium. When I put the light directly on the screen top of the aquarium it would soon overheat.

When I pulled the light back a little, it provided a nice warm basking area and also allowed one side of the aquarium to be cooler. An overheated enclosure, with no cool area for your dragon to retreat to, can cause health problems and even death.

This picture is yet another of my beautiful masterpieces. You can easily tell how a heat gradient should be set up. If you didn’t know, I was an art major in college.  I’m just kidding. Please don’t laugh at my atrocious art work.

How to Achieve a Good Heat Gradient

Achieving a good heat gradient is really going to be by trial and error. Setting up equipment and watching the temperatures in the enclosure over several hours, and making changes if needed. Make sure you do the trial and error before adding your dragon to the enclosure.

Trying different basking bulbs with varying wattage’s, and also using more than one can help you. If a 50-watt bulb isn’t warm enough, try using a 100-watt bulb. If the 100-watt bulb is too hot, try a 75-watt bulb.

Try different bulbs and combinations until you have reached the proper temperatures. The position of the basking lamp will also factor in. Try putting the light closer, or moving it further away.

Also, try using the other types of heat sources. I have found that I can get a good heat gradient by just using a combination of basking lamps, but that is just me.

In my cages that are 48″ x 20″ x 20″, I am able to get proper temperatures with one 75-watt basking spot lamp in the summertime. In the winter I use a 75-watt basking light and a 60-watt regular clear light bulb for added warmth.

I have the lights hooked up to a dimmer, so I can regulate the heat during the day. I will share with you how to make a cheap dimmer switch for your dragons cage in the near future.

Whatever you use to get a nice warm basking spot, make sure that there is a cool area where your dragon can retreat to if needed. It is vital that you let your dragon thermoregulate their own body temperature.

Conclusion

It’s important to provide proper bearded dragon heating. It is also key to let your dragon thermoregulate their body temperature by providing a heat gradient.

A lot of health problems can stem from improper heating. If you follow these heating guidelines, you should have no problem.

As in all cases with this website, these are my opinions. These are not set in stone rules for keeping bearded dragons. These are just some guidelines that have worked for me and others.

Feel free to research other sources to see what they have to say on bearded dragon heating. Always remember to do what is best for your dragon.

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