Bearded dragons make great pets for reptile enthusiasts of all levels of experience. They are generally easy to care for and can be handled without too much trouble. One important part of caring for a bearded dragon is making sure that they have an environment that is both comfortable and healthy.
This means creating a space where your bearded dragon can bask in the heat and light they need to thrive. In this guide, we will discuss the ideal basking temperature for bearded dragons and provide tips on how to create a basking area that is perfect for your pet.
What is basking and why is it important for beardies?
Basking is the act of basking in heat and light. Bearded dragons are ectothermic, which means that they rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. Basking allows them to warm up their bodies so that they can digest their food properly and stay active.
In the wild, bearded dragons bask in the sun to get the heat they need. However, in captivity it is important to provide them with an artificial basking area that is as close to the natural environment as possible. This means that you need to create a space where your bearded dragon can get warm and bask under a light.
The beardie in your home is not in the wild and you’ll need to recreate their natural habitat by setting up the ideal temperature setting that would enable it to thrive in health and growth.
The most important set up is having a beam of light that your beardie can bask inside the tank.
You can create a natural-looking gradient of light and darkness in your vivarium by putting your light source close to the basking area. Choose a high output 10%-12% UVB fluorescent tube that’s up to half the length of the vivarium, and fix it into the roof of the vivarium as close to the hot end as possible. The cool end will be darker, like it is in nature. Use a reflector of the correct length so that you can direct the light onto your beardie. Follow the recommendations from UVB tube manufacturer about how far away from lamp your beardie should sit.
Your basking area should be at one end of the vivarium so your bearded dragon can move between the warm basking area and the cooler end of the vivarium to regulate its body temperature.
Bearded dragons need a 12-hour day/night cycle, so you will need to use a timer to turn the lights off at night.
Basking surface temperature:
Various literature makes the claim that a range of 88 to 100°F is the ideal temperature for the basking surface set up for a bearded dragon. Other resources I came across indicate that the range can even be higher, 105-115°F (40-46°C). It is essential that you use a digital thermometer to constantly monitor the temperature of your basking surface, as it can change quickly and unexpectedly.
Can Beardies attain these temperatures basking in the wild?
In the semi-arid dry weather of Australia where bearded dragons are native to, it is common for daily temperatures to rise well above 100°F (38°C). At these temperatures, bearded dragons will often be seen basking on rocks or other surfaces. As long as they can find a way to cool down at night, they are perfectly capable of sustaining themselves in these temperatures for extended periods of time.
Is a cooling surface necessary besides the basking surface?
As you set up the basking surface temperature setting, make sure you also set up a cool zone with the cool zone temperature of the surface being 70 to 85°F (21-29°C). Your beardie will take advantage of this temperature differential by moving between the two zones to help thermoregulate its core body temperature. Without this, your beardie will not be able to maintain a proper body temperature, which can lead to health problems.
Bearded dragons use two types of UV light, called UVA and UVB, for different purposes. while UVA is essential for their colour vision, the latter allows them to make vitamin D3 in their skin.
This process is crucial as it helps store calcium in their bodies-which can be difficult to do without exposure to sunlight. Because windows don’t allow passage of UVB light, however, you should never place a vivarium near one. Instead, opt for a reptile-specific lamp that will provide your pet with the right levels of both kinds required for good health.
What kind of basking lamp should I use?
There are a few different types of basking lamps that you can use to create the ideal basking area for your bearded dragon. The most common type of basking lamp is a regular incandescent bulb. These bulbs come in various wattages and can be found at most hardware stores.
Another option is to use a ceramic heat emitter. These emitters do not produce light, but they do produce a lot of heat. This makes them a good option for basking areas that are set up in enclosed spaces, such as vivariums.
Finally, you can also use a basking spot lamp. These lamps emit both light and heat, making them a good all-in-one option for basking areas.
As a general rule, 100w PAR38 halogen bulbs are more than enough to produce the basking temperatures you need in a 24” tall enclosure. However, if they begin to get too hot, use a plug-in lamp dimmer to lower the heat output. Conversely, if your basking area is too cool, then you will need higher wattage bulbs.
You can measure the basking surface temperature with an infrared thermometer (a.k.a. temperature gun), or you can passively track it with a digital probe thermometer. If you’re using a digital probe thermometer, place the probe on the basking surface under the heat source. Some brands of digital probe thermometers have a “max” function that will hold the highest temperature reading since it was last reset. This can be helpful in tracking basking surface temperatures.
An important note about basking lamps:
Basking lamps should never be placed on top of mesh screening or any other type of open air enclosure. The heat from the basking lamp can cause serious burns to your bearded dragon. Always use a solid piece of ceramic, slate, or another type of non-flammable material as a basking surface.
No matter which type of basking lamp you use, it is important to make sure that it is the correct size for the space. A bulb that is too small will not produce enough heat, while a bulb that is too large can be a fire hazard. It is also important to position the basking lamp so that your bearded dragon can get close enough to the heat source to warm up, but not so close that it is in danger of getting burned.
What else do I need to create the perfect basking area?
In addition to the basking lamp and surface, you will also need a few other things to create the perfect basking area for your bearded dragon. The first is a digital thermometer so that you can keep track of the temperature in the basking area at all times.
You will also need to provide your bearded dragon with a hiding spot. This can be a piece of driftwood, a cave, or even just a cardboard box. Bearded dragons like to have a place to hide when they are basking so that they can retreat to a cooler temperature if they start to get too warm.
What if the basking temperature is too low?
If the basking temperature is too low, your bearded dragon will not be able to digest its food properly. This can lead to health problems such as impaction or metabolic bone disease.
Without the synthesis of Vitamin D3 that takes place when your bearded dragon basks in UVB light, it will also be unable to absorb calcium properly. This can lead to calcium deficiency and a host of other health problems.
Symptoms your beardie isn’t getting enough light:
- Slow growth
- Swollen joints
- Soft bones
- Muscle twitching
- Inability to walk properly
If you think your beardie isn’t getting enough light, take it to the vet for a checkup. They can give you advice on how to increase the amount of UVB light your beardie is getting.
What if the basking temperature is too high?
If the basking temperature is too high, your bearded dragon can overheat and suffer from heat stroke. This can be fatal if not treated quickly.
Symptoms of heat stroke in bearded dragons include:
- Inability to stand
If you think your beardie is suffering from heat stroke, immediately move it to a cooler area and contact your veterinarian. Heat stroke can be fatal if not treated quickly.
Tips for creating the perfect basking area:
- 1. Use a digital thermometer to keep track of the temperature in the basking area at all times.
- 2. Position the basking lamp so that your bearded dragon can get close enough to the heat source to warm up, but not so close that it is in danger of getting burned.
- 3. Provide your bearded dragon with a hiding spot so that it can retreat to a cooler temperature if it starts to get too warm.
- 4. If you think your beardie isn’t getting enough light, take it to the vet for a checkup.
- 5. If you think your beardie is suffering from heat stroke, immediately move it to a cooler area and contact your veterinarian. Heat stroke can be fatal if not treated quickly.
What is the ideal basking temperature for bearded dragons?
The ideal basking temperature for bearded dragons is between 88 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This range of temperatures allows them to thermoregulate effectively and stay healthy. Higher temperatures of up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit can be tolerated for short periods of time, but should not be maintained for extended periods as this can lead to heat stroke.
What is the ideal basking surface temperature for bearded dragons babies?
Baby beardies can’t thermoregulate as effectively as adults, so it’s important to provide a basking surface that is a little bit cooler. The ideal basking surface temperature for baby bearded dragons is between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
How about juvenile beardies?
The ideal basking surface temperature for juvenile bearded dragons is between 95 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the middle of the range for all bearded dragons, so it’s a good temperature to start with and then adjust as needed.
Can adult bearded dragons tolerate higher temperatures?
Adult bearded dragons can tolerate higher temperatures of up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods of time, but should not be maintained for extended periods as this can lead to heat stroke.
Summary of this temperature guide for beardies to bask:
A temperature of 75-85°F (24-29°C) during the day is required. The basking spot should be at a temperature of 88-110°F (31-46°C). Temperatures should be kept at around 70-75°F at night. Both ends of the enclosure may be monitored with thermometers.
Set up a cool zone temperature and a basking temperature. The basking temperature should be about 10-25 degrees Farheneit warmer than the cool zone. If the basking spot is too hot, your bearded dragon will start to pant. If this happens, lower the temperature gradually over the course of a few days until they stop panting.
Bearded dragons need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness each day. They need a basking spot that has full-spectrum UVB light for at least 12 hours a day. If you can’t provide this, take them to the vet for a checkup.
UVB light is essential for bearded dragons and they can only go a maximum of 2 days without getting the light and on the third day, you’ll start seeing the impact of UVB deficiency. Your bearded dragon will start to get lethargic, stop eating, and might start to pant a lot. If you can’t provide UVB light, take them to the vet for a checkup.
What happens if my bearded dragon doesn’t have a basking spot?
If your bearded dragon doesn’t have a basking spot, it will be at risk for a number of health problems, including metabolic bone disease, respiratory infections, and digestive problems. A basking spot is essential for bearded dragons to thermoregulate effectively and stay healthy.