Heating a Bearded Dragon Habitat

Bearded dragons come from the semi-arid, desert regions of Australia. Because of this, it is extremely important to mimic those conditions when keeping a bearded dragon as a pet.

Since the bearded dragon’s homeland is a hot, dry place with little humidity, their habitat must be as well. Supplying the correct amounts of heat is crucial for its health and well-being.

Fortunately, there are many companies that manufacture products that work well for sustaining proper heat levels. These include companies such as Zoo Med, Exo Terra, and ESU Reptile, among others. These companies produce heating items that are specifically designed for supply heat to reptiles.

Let’s go over the items you will need for properly heating a bearded dragon habitat.

Heat Lamps

Heat for a Bearded DragonHeat lamps are generally incandescent light bulbs that produce heat and light. They came in many different shapes, wattages, and applications. There are also Mercury Vapor bulbs and ceramic heat emitters that can be used to provide radiant heat.

Heat lamps are mostly used to create basking areas for the bearded dragon. Basking areas are where the bearded dragon will lay, or perch, during daytime hours in order to receive heat and ultraviolet rays just as it does in the wild.

The higher the wattage of the heat lamp, the greater amount of heat it produces. For example, a 100 watt bulb will produce more heat than a 60 watt bulb.

What wattage bulb you will need depends greatly on the size of the habitat. If you have a 125 gallon terrarium then you will need a higher wattage bulb than a 55 gallon terrarium in order to reach about the same temperature.

It may take some experimenting with different bulb wattages to find the one that works ideally for your particular habitat.

One of the best heat lamps to use for bearded dragons is the Exo Terra Sun-Glo Basking Tight Beam Bulb. This heat lamp is ideal for creating basking areas, and comes in wattages ranging from 50 watts (for small terrariums) to 150 watts (for very large terrariums).

A heat lamp may also be needed for keeping nighttime temperatures from dropping below 65 degrees F. There are many nighttime bulbs made to provide heat while creating subdued levels of light. This is important for not disturbing the bearded dragon’s sleep.

You can find them in dark blue, or red hues, and range from 15 watts to 75 watts. The Exo Terra Night Glo Reptile Bulb is a highly recommended nighttime bulb. The small amount of light these bulbs give off is invisible to bearded dragons. This is important because you do not want to use a daytime bulb at night because your pet will not be able to sleep properly.

Undertank Heat Pads

Undertank Heat Pads are a great way to supply a gentle heat from underneath the habitat. Heating pads have an adhesive side that sticks to the underneath of the terrarium and then plug into an electrical outlet.

This is ideal for warming the substrate and supplying a supplemental heat source, especially during cold winter months.

If a undertank heating pad is needed, the size you need will depend on the size of the terrarium. They come in sizes from 5 gallon tanks to 50 gallon tanks. If you have a very large tank, more than one heat pad may be needed.

The Zoo Med Substrate Heater is one of the best on the market today.

Ceramic Heat Emitters

Ceramic heat emitters produce heat very much like a heat lamp, but do not produce any light. It is basically a ceramic heating element shaped like a bulb, but only emits infrared heat.

Like the heat lamp, heat emitters come in a variety of wattages ranging from 60 watts to 150 watts.

Ceramic heat emitters are most commonly used to supply nighttime heat since they do not provide light. This will give the bearded dragon subtle nighttime heat while avoiding to disrupt sleep.

The Fluker’s Ceramic Infrared Heat Emitter is one of the best heat emitters available.

Mercury Vapor Bulbs

Mercury vapor bulbs can be used to supply both heat and ultraviolet lighting. They contain two filaments – one that is an incandescent filament for producing heat and another mercury vapor arc tube for producing ultraviolet rays.

Mercury vapor bulbs are ideal for heating a large terrarium because they can produce quite a bit of heat. They are not recommended for small habitats because they can get hot enough to burn your bearded dragon.

The Zoo Med PowerSun UV Mercury Vapor UVB Lamp is very popular, and come in 100 watt and 160 watt sizes.

Heat Tapes

Heat tape, or heat cables, can be used to heat certain areas of terrariums. The most common application is to wrap decor pieces with the tape to provide additional heat. Wrap the bearded dragon’s perch with the tape to supply additional heat while basking.

Heat tapes are only recommended when additional heat is needed. Avoid using heat tapes too much in the terrarium because it can cause overheating and burns.

A great heat tape to use is the Zoo Med Repti Heat Cable.

Avoid Using Heat Rocks and Heat Caves

Heat rocks and heat caves are never recommended for use in reptile terrariums. These electric devices are infamous for overheating and causing burns on the undersides of bearded dragons.

It is much better to supply radiant heat via heat lamps, heat emitters, undertank heaters, or heat tapes.


Thermometers should be placed in both the basking area and the cooler areas so you can constantly monitor temperatures within the bearded dragon housing.

You can use either a digital thermometer, such as the Fluker’s Digital Thermometer for Terrariums, or an analog version like the Zoo Med Analog Reptile Thermometer and Humidity Gauge.

Placing thermometers in different areas of the terrarium is highly recommended so you can adjust temperatures, and monitor humidity accordingly to keep your pet happy and healthy.

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  1. Raptortodd says

    Wow great article here. I have had beardies for over 5 years now, and most recommend the heat rocks, good to finally see someone else telling owners to avoid them :)

  2. Kimberly Morris says

    Quick question . please answer if you can .
    My beardie is about 3 months old.
    I have recently transfered him from his 10gal glass tank to a 55gal glass tank. we bought the ZooMed heating pad for 55 gal tank but i’m curious if i need to use the red heating lamp that i have also?
    I don’t want him to burn up too much . But i don’t want him to be too cold either.
    How can i tell?
    Main question is should i use both the heating pad and the heat lamp together?

    thank you so much for reading.

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