Bearded dragons are one of the most popular pet lizards kept in captivity. So many people love having bearded dragons as pets because they are easy going and super cool. These awesome reptiles can live to be over 10 years old. If their needs are met, that is, and an important part of what a bearded dragon needs is to be provided with the right temperatures and access to heat. Since they are in captivity and not their natural environment, it’s our responsibility as bearded dragon owners to provide for those needs. But just how long can a bearded dragon go without heat and how much heat do bearded dragons actually need?
The short answer is that it depends on the individual bearded dragon and its particular situation. In general, adult bearded dragons can survive without supplemental heat for a few days, although the exact amount of time will depend on the ambient temperature of the environment. Young bearded dragons may not be able to survive as long without heat, particularly if the environment is cooler than ideal. In captivity, an external source of heat is a non-negotiable for these cold-blooded animals if you want them to be healthy and happy!
Why Do Bearded Dragons Need Heat?
Bearded dragons come from desert climates. So naturally, their little bodies are designed for those climates. Bearded dragons need heat to help them digest their food properly and to keep their internal body temperature at the right level. They are ectothermic, which means they need to regulate their body temperature externally. They do that by moving in and out of the heat. In the wild, that would look like sunbathing to warm themselves and then burrowing underground to avoid extreme heat (and predators).
The heat from heat mats, heat lamps, and other external heat sources helps them to do this in their enclosure in captivity. Heat also helps them to properly metabolize their food, as well as giving them energy for activity. Heat is necessary for their growth and development, and helps them to absorb nutrients from the food they consume. Without adequate heat, bearded dragons can become stressed and can develop health problems.
What Temperature Should My Bearded Dragon’s Tank Be?
Bearded dragons prefer temperatures between 95-110°F. This range is considered to be their ideal temperature. They need a basking spot that averages 95°F, and the ambient temperature needs to be in the low to mid-90s. A basking spot or hot spot should also be provided in the enclosure. This should be a temperature of 95-110°F provided with a basking light or spot lamp. This helps to maintain the bearded dragon’s body temperature. Without this, their body temperature can drop which can lead to serious health complications.
In addition to providing the proper temperature, the enclosure should also have a cool side. This should be a temperature of 78-82°F provided with a light or ceramic heating bulb. This helps to maintain the correct temperature gradient within the terrarium. Without this gradient, bearded dragons can become stressed or get sick. They should be able to move in and out of the heat as needed to regulate their own body temperature.
What is the Best Way to Provide Heat for My Bearded Dragon?
The best way to provide heat to a bearded dragon is to use a basking spotlight bulb or lamp, which creates a hot spot for the dragon to bask in and absorb heat. A basking area with light mimics the sun for your bearded dragon, which we can only imagine as humans how must make them happy to have a visible light since that’s what they would use in the wild.
The basking lamp should be placed in one corner of the tank and the temperature should be monitored using a thermometer. You also need to provide a cool area of the tank for you’re bearded to get out of the heat from the UVB bulb and cool off.
There are other options for providing heat for your beardie! You can use one or a combination of any of these, as long as you keep those cooler temperatures on the other side of the tank!
- An under-tank heater provides heat from the bottom up
- Ceramic heat emitter to provide infrared heat
- Place your bearded dragon’s enclosure in an area of the home that receives natural sunlight
- Use a heat mat or pad to provide heat directly to the enclosure that might mimic your beardie laying on a warm rock in the sun in their natural habitat.
- Invest in a thermostatically controlled heating system that allows you to adjust the temperatures within the enclosure.
Tips for a Power Outage or a Bulb Burn Out
It’s a good practice to have backup bulbs in case a bulb breaks or burns out. If you don’t have one, that’s okay! This is where a heat mat comes in really handy! If you don’t have a heat mat, you can cover the bearded dragon enclosure with a thick blanket to trap in the existing heat. Use a hot water bottle as a heat source inside of the tank. Check the tank temperature periodically and makes sure it stays above 65°F. If it starts to drop, you can use external heaters from your home outside of the tank to warm up the room and to bring the temperature up.
If your power is out, use the blanket to trap heat, check the tank temperature frequently, and use any source of heat you can find. Hand warmers or a non-electric source of heat like a wood burning fireplace. Move your bearded dragon to the warmest room in your house. If you can keep the tank above 65°F and the power outage doesn’t last more than 24 hours, your bearded dragon should be okay!
It’s a good idea for beardie owners to play it safe and always have backup supplies and battery powered heat sources.
How Long Can a Bearded Dragon Go Without Heat?
A bearded dragon can survive 24 hours in low temperatures without heat as long as the temperature doesn’t go below 65° degrees Fahrenheit.
In order to give your bearded dragon the best chance at survival, it is important to provide it with a temperature gradient in its enclosure. This means that the temperature should vary from one end of the enclosure to the other. This allows the bearded dragon to choose an area to retreat to that best suits its temperature needs.
If you are planning to be away from home for any length of time, you may want to consider leaving a reliable friend or family member in charge of your bearded dragon’s care in your absence. This way, if the heat lamp fails, they can immediately intervene and provide to get some heat to your pet.
In general, it is best to avoid leaving your bearded dragon without heat for longer than a day. Without the proper temperature gradient and supplemental heat, bearded dragons can get stressed. Stress can lead to decreased appetite and other health problems. It is important to monitor your dragon’s behavior and health closely during and after periods of time without heat. If you notice any changes, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
In conclusion, it is generally best to avoid leaving your bearded dragon without heat for extended amounts of time. However, if it is absolutely necessary, adult bearded dragons may be able to survive a day without supplemental heat. Be sure to provide your bearded dragon with a temperature gradient and monitor them closely to ensure they stay healthy and happy.