You already know that reptiles like bearded dragons are cold-blooded animals that cannot regulate their internal temperature the way mammals can. Instead, they rely on their environment to manage their core temperature.
This means that bearded dragons require a temperature gradient with a basking spot, a cooler area, and a dwelling zone, each with different values. The dwelling zone sits between 71-77 °F, the basking area between 100-107 °F, and the cooler area around 65 °F.
Today, we will discuss bearded dragon temperature regulation during winter and in conditions of low temperatures. Let’s see how you can keep your beardie warm.
Factors that Affect Bearded Tank Temperature
Several factors, some of which are rather unexpected, can influence the tank’s temperature.
- Ambient temperature – If you keep the tank in a cold room, the tank’s temperature may consequently drop too. Especially if you don’t have a good-enough heating system in place. Outdoor tanks experience this issue more often than not, which is why you shouldn’t keep your bearded dragon’s enclosure outside.
- Humidity – Humidity can also influence environmental temperatures. Higher humidity always equals higher temperature, which isn’t necessarily good. It’s also important to note that humidity shouldn’t exceed certain values, which sit in the 30-40% range for beardies. If humidity is too high, the dragon may experience skin infections and respiratory problems, including pneumonia.
- Tank size – Bearded dragons vary in size dramatically, depending on the specimen, living conditions, diet, etc. These lizards can grow between 12 and 24 inches, sometimes slightly more. This can come with unexpected logistical problems as you try to accommodate your lizard in a potentially insufficiently large tank. The minimum setup is 50 gallons, although most bearded dragons demand more than that. You may need to invest in a 100-120-gallon piece if you have a larger reptile, closing in on the 24-inch mark. If the tank is too small, the temperature will get too high due to the increased humidity stemming from various sources, including the animal’s breathing.
- Heat sources – You will naturally have several heat sources in your dragon’s tank, which are necessary to balance out the temperature gradient. Whether you’re going for UVB basking lights, heating pads, ceramic heat emitters, or any other source, you need to adjust the temperature output to the environment’s requirements. If the heat source is too powerful, the basking spot may be too large when it only needs to occupy 30% of the tank’s total volume. If it’s too weak environmental temperatures may not reach the ideal values, and bearded dragons need higher temperatures than other reptiles.
As you can see, there is a sum of aspects to consider, as these can all influence your dragon’s environmental temperature in one way or the other.
5 Ways to Keep Bearded Dragon Tank Warm in Winter
If you have problems with ambient temperature and can’t stabilize your dragon’s tank temperature, consider the following tips:
1. Cover and Insulate the Tank
This is a poor man’s solution, but hey, if it works, it works. If you have no other option available, you can try to cover the tank with a blanket, for instance.
This won’t necessarily generate heat but will prevent heat loss and stabilize the temperature.
One tip here: don’t cover all of the ventilation holes, as this can lead to CO2 accumulation, and that’s not good.
2. Increase Room Temperature
This is an obvious one. You should always keep your beardie’s tank in a heated room. The ambient temperature will influence the tank’s internal temperature values, which is especially dangerous during nighttime.
The main problem here is that bearded dragons are more sensitive to temperature changes than other reptiles.
They need higher and more stable temperatures will fewer variations, which is why keeping their tank in an unheated room is particularly dangerous.
So, either place your tank in a circulated room that is regularly heated to accommodate the occupants or heat the room for your dragon specifically. Either works.
3. Adding an Additional Heat Lamp
This only works if your current heat lamp isn’t enough for the job. The area in the lamp’s immediate vicinity is the basking spot where bearded dragons migrate to warm up.
The lamp should generate temperatures around 100 F, preferably slightly more, up to 107 F. If the bulb isn’t as effective as it should be, either add another one in the exact same area or upgrade the one you already have.
The main takeaway is to make sure you don’t overheat the basking spot. Have a reliable thermometer in place and measure local temperatures. If the temperature rises above 110 F, consider elevating the bulb more to decrease the heat output.
4. Adding a Heat Pad
Heat pads aren’t always advisable, and they aren’t fit for all reptile species. Some reptiles require slightly lower environmental temperatures and rely on the substrate to cool off. This can be more difficult with a heating pad in place. Bearded dragons, however, don’t mind them.
Furthermore, a heating pad can actually make for a smart investment if your beardie’s environmental temperature is suboptimal.
The heat pad is especially useful during nighttime when temperatures tend to drop below the beardie’s comfort level. Just make sure you adjust the temperature properly.
If the substrate-level temperature is too high, your beardie may not be able to cool off, which can lead to stress, overheating, dehydration, and a variety of other problems.
5. Use a Ceramic Heat Emitter
Ceramic heat emitters are the go-to option for overnight heating. They produce lightless heat, keeping your lizards warm and cozy during nighttime.
Recommended Temperature Range for Bearded Dragons
The ideal temperature range for bearded dragons sits between 71 and 107 F. This temperature range is based on a specific gradient distribution. The main dwelling area, around the substrate, should sit between 71 and 77 F. These are comfortable temperatures for everyday activities.
The basking area should be necessarily elevated, with the hottest zone sitting between 95 and 107 F. The closer to the heat source, the warmer.
Now you have the dilemma of allowing your bearded dragon easy access to the basking spot. You can achieve this via climbing ramps with a resting vantage point close to the heat source.
Something as simple as a log or a piece of bark resting diagonally on a rock should do the trick.
While there may be several other access options, I believe the ramp-based layout is the ideal approach. That’s because it allows the bearded dragon a gradual ascent and descent, which is great for adequate temperature regulation.
Monitor and Adjust Tank Temperature
Temperature monitoring is absolutely necessary for bearded dragons. These lizards require higher temperatures than what you may be used to from other reptile species. Get a good thermometer and constantly check your beardie’s environmental temperatures.
More importantly, keep an eye on other heat or cold sources that could impact the tank’s temperatures. We’ve mentioned several of them in today’s article already.
Bearded dragons require high and stable temperatures, especially during the cold season. Fortunately, you now have several tools at your disposal to see that happen.
Monitor your lizard’s environmental temperature properly and adjust it as necessary to support your pet’s normal physiological functioning.