Bearded dragons come from warm, semi-arid regions of Australia, which brings some challenges for heating a bearded dragon habit. When keeping a bearded dragon as a pet it is extremely important to mimic their natural environment as much as possible .
Since the bearded dragon’s native environment is a warm, 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 temperatures. These include companies such as Zoo Med, Exo Terra, and ESU Reptile, among others. These companies produce a wide range of items specifically designed for bearded dragon heating.
Let’s go over the items you will need for properly heating a bearded dragon habitat.
Heating a Bearded Dragon Habitat With Heat Lamps
Basking Spot Lamps are generally incandescent light bulbs that produce heat and light specifically made for reptiles. They came in many different shapes, wattages, and applications.
There are Mercury Vapor bulbs which produce both heat and UV lighting. Mercury vapor bulbs come with a screw-on base like the basking spot lamps.
Use a heat lamp 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 heat lamp will produce more heat than a 60 watt bulb.
The wattage bulb you require depends greatly on the size of the habitat. Generally, a 125 gallon terrarium will require a higher wattage bulb than a 55 gallon terrarium in order to reach the same temperature in the basking area.
It may take some experimenting with different bulb wattages to find the one that works ideally for your particular habitat.
Our Favorite Basking Spot Lamp
One of the best heat lamps to use for bearded dragons is the Zoo Med Repti Basking Spot Lamp. 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).
Nighttime Heat Lamps
You may need a heat lamp for keeping nighttime temperatures from dropping below 70 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 cycle.
You can find them in dark blue, or red hues, and range from 15 watts to 75 watts. We recommend the Exo Terra Night Glo Reptile Bulb as a great 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 underneath the terrarium and then plugs into an electrical outlet.
This is ideal for warming the substrate and supplying a supplemental heat source, especially during cold winter months.
The size of the undertank heating pad depends 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 with a screw-on base similar to an incandescent bulb, and 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 ideal to supply nighttime heat since they do not provide light. This will give the bearded dragon radiant nighttime heat while avoiding to disrupt sleep.
The Fluker’s Ceramic Infrared Heat Emitter is one of the best heat emitters available.
Heating a Bearded Dragon Habitat With Mercury Vapor Bulbs
Use Mercury vapor bulbs 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. We do not recommend Mercury Vapor Bulbs for small habitats because they can get hot enough to burn your bearded dragon.
The Zoo Med PowerSun UV Mercury Vapor UVB Lamp is a very good option, and come in 80 watt, 100 watt and 160 watt sizes.
Use heat tape, or heat cables, to warm certain areas of terrariums. The most common application is to provide supplemental heat near the basking area during colder seasonal months.
We only recommend heat tapes for supplying supplemental heat. Avoid using heat tapes in areas where the bearded dragon may come in direct contact with the device. Prolonged direct contact may cause overheating and possible burns. We recommend to connect heat cable to a thermostat to regulate usage. This will help prevent chances of overheating.
Zoo Med Repti Heat Cable is a reliable device for supplying additional heat.
Avoid Using Heat Rocks and Heat Caves
Never use heat rocks or heat caves 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.
Place thermometers in both the basking area and the cooler areas so you can constantly monitor temperatures within the bearded dragon habitat.
You can use either a digital thermometer, such as the Zoo Med ReptiTemp Digital Infrared Thermometer, or an analog version like the Zoo Med Analog Reptile Thermometer and Humidity Gauge.
We recommend placing thermometers in different areas of the terrarium so you can adjust temperatures, and monitor humidity accordingly to keep your pet happy and healthy.