Correct Bearded dragon heating
In nature, Bearded dragons live in environments with temperatures ranging from 40 ºC / 104 ºF during mid-day, to temperatures as low as 17 ºC / 63 ºF at night. As pets, Bearded dragons need similar environmental temperatures to do well.
In principal, Bearded dragon heating should be supplied from the top. By creating a ‘hot spot’ on one side of an enclosure, a natural temperature gradient will be created away from it. The ‘hot spot’ is often also used as the basking area.
The recommended temperature range for Bearded dragons is 40 ºC / 104 ºF in the hottest area(s) with temperatures of about 24 – 34 ºC / 75 – 93 ºF in the cooler areas.
Fortunately, heating equipment suited for Bearded dragons is readily available and fairly easy to control. Heating can be supplied efficiently by simply using an electrical heat lamp shining an appropriate strength heat source onto a basking area. Additional electrical equipment includes thermometers and thermostats.
Heat lamps (also referred to as spotlights or basking lights/lamps) with the appropriate strength light bulbs are either permanently mounted inside wooden cabinets or can be placed on a screen, or hanged over aquarium type enclosures. Caution must be taken to prevent direct contact with the heat lamp, light source and electrical wiring. It is recommended to allow a space of at least 20 cm / 7.8 ” to prevent contact.
Various incandescent heat sources can be used for the actual heating. Heat sources are usually in the form of a light source that emits heat as a by-product and is connected to the heat lamp. The source can be anything that emits enough heat to create the desired temperature. Heat sources include, more expensive, infra red heating bulbs (available from specialised pet shops), to regular, cheaper, spotlight bulbs (available from most shops). Generally screw-in type bulbs will be used.
Larger enclosures might need multiple heat sources to maintain the upper temperature requirements. Larger enclosures might also be large enough to create multiple hot spots – as long as cooler gradients are also made provision for.
Reaching the desired temperature
In smaller terrariums [approx. (900 x 350)cm / (35 x 14)”] it is generally only necessary to supply enough heat to create the recommended upper temperature range for Bearded dragons. If this is done properly, a cooler temperature gradient will follow naturally. In addition to using thermostats (see below), the desired temperature for different sized enclosures can be achieved with one or a combination for the following:
- The strength of the heat source. By increasing the Wattage of the light source, the temperature be increased. A lower Wattage will have the opposite effect. The light bulb Wattage will be in the range of 40 to 120 Watts.
- Size of the enclosure. Larger enclosures might need multiple heat sources to maintain the upper temperature requirements. Larger enclosures might also be large enough to create multiple ‘hot spots’ – as long as cooler gradients are also made provision for.
- Ventilation. By increasing the ventilation of the enclosure, temperatures will usually be a bit lower. Less ventilation will maintain heat better and allow for higher temperatures.
- Amount of heat sources. Multiple heat sources will have an additive effect.
- Distance of the heat source. Closer means hotter and vice versa.
Thermometers & thermostats
The thermometer, or the probe of the thermostat, must be placed as close as possible to the emitting surface of the heat source. In addition to being able to monitor the temperature with a thermometer, a thermostat will be able to switch the light source on and off to maintain the desired temperature.
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