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How to Raise Temp in Bearded Dragon Tank & Why It’s Cold


Do you know how to raise temp in bearded dragon tank? Beardies have pretty specific temperature ranges to thrive in captivity (1).

I found out rather sadly when I nearly lost Yoda, my beardie, thanks to low temperatures in his tank.

Looking back, I realize I was a naive, ignorant first-time beardie owner. I didn’t even know how to raise temperatures in the terrarium.

I’m wiser now and will provide you with insights to ensure you don’t make the mistakes I did.

6 Reasons Why a Bearded Dragon Tank is Too Cold

I thought I had nailed my impersonation of a bearded dragon’s natural habitat. I had a heat lamp and a different bulb for basking. Those were the only heat sources.

So you can imagine my shock when a vet told me my tank was too cold. Here are five reasons a bearded dragon tank is too cold for your pet.

1. You’re Using A Small or Low-Wattage Bulb

A low-wattage bulb won’t emit enough heat for your beardie to regulate body temperature. It makes it even worse if it’s the primary heat source.

According to Bob Doneley, a veterinary doctor, bearded dragon temperature affects the absorption of nutrients from digested food (2).

That’s why you need bulbs that will provide enough heat. Think of a large UVB bulb that will cover the length of the tank.

2. The Tank is Losing Heat Too Fast

Most bearded dragon owners don’t know, but the tanks lose heat. If the rate of heat loss is faster than your source of heat can replenish, the tank gets cold fast.

3. Your Thermostat is Too Weak

If you use a thermostat as the primary heat source, it needs to be the high-range type. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to hit the correct temperatures for the bearded dragon enclosure.

4. Your Beardie’s Tank is Too Big

Tank size also affects the ambient temperatures of the captive reptile’s habitat. It would be best to have enough light bulbs, producing a lot of heat for the best temperature gradient.

This is the same thing I faced. The sheer size of my tank made it challenging to attain the best temperature gradient.

It is a common issue for many bearded dragon owners. A 20-gallon tank needs more heating fixtures than a 10-gallon tank. Keeping a larger tank hot enough will be harder if you have several night heat lamps.

5. You Use Faulty Thermometers

Faulty thermometers won’t give you the accurate readings you need. What is a thermometer if it can’t provide an accurate reading?

That’s only a problem waiting to happen in the form of health issues.

6. Poor Choice of Substrate

Did you know the choice of substrate affects the vivarium’s temperature? Picture this: a wet substrate will need a lot of time to warm up, and guess what it’ll use? The heat from the tank’s heating sources.

It’s challenging to get an ambient temperature if the substrate keeps sucking away the heat!

So if your reptilian pet suffers health issues you can attribute to cold, you know why.

Now let’s look at how to raise these temperatures.

How to Make My Bearded Dragon Tank Hotter

reptile tank with uvb light

Chances are your bearded dragon enclosure can’t get direct sunlight. But if you don’t want your bearded dragon too cold, you can’t depend on nature to help you get the ideal temperature.

Here is where you’ll need to get creative.

1. Work on the Lighting- Get The Correct Bulb

Dr. Robert Ness of the Ness Exotic Wellness Center says a dragon cage needs a high output of UVB light (3).

Therefore, to make the tank hotter, consider getting a proper bulb. By proper, I don’t mean buying the biggest bulb you can find.

Instead, invest in a UV light system that can achieve appropriate temperatures fast.

You could also increase bulb wattage in the room you house the dragon. Bulb wattage affects the heat the bulbs emit and helps you achieve higher temperatures.

Mercury vapor bulbs are a favorite amongst beardie owners for the heat they provide. Before going gung-ho on making the bearded dragon tank hotter, note that you need to know what temperature will kill a bearded dragon.

2. Invest In a Reliable Thermometer

Even with all the heat sources, you’ll still need to know how hot the tank gets. Extreme heat can hurt beardies too.

Here is where a proper thermometer comes in.

With the many digital thermometers on the market, finding one isn’t that difficult. The best thermometer for bearded dragon is either an infrared thermometer or a temperature gun for accurate temperature readings.

Most of the time, you’ll find that you can get a high-quality hygrometer together with a digital thermometer.

3. Get a Better Substrate

To drive up the tank temperature, it helps to use a substrate that won’t absorb too much heat. Sand could be the best substrate but ensure you don’t use wet sand on your tank setup.

It takes too much heat to warm up and could affect your dragon’s body heat. Use a digital probe thermometer to check the temperature of the substrate each day to ensure it isn’t too cold.

4. Prevent Heat Loss By Covering The Tank

Like me, you probably have a glass terrarium for your reptile friend. Glass tanks are a popular choice for many dragon keepers. The only problem is glass tanks lose heat fast (4).

You can prevent this by covering the outer glass walls with a piece of cloth or a towel.

5. Have A Hot End of the Tank

Most reptile keepers know the reptiles will go to a hotter side if they want to warm up. They need external heat sources and can tell where the heat is.

Therefore, if you’re struggling to keep the whole dragon tank warm, why not have a hot end and another cooler spot?

That way, you only have to make one side hot instead of the whole tank. You’d need to move all your heat sources to that side, though.

6. Add Basking Structures in the Tank

Basking light fixtures will turn up the heat in the entire tank. But with hot and cold ends, beardies will gravitate towards warmth when they need it.

Adding basking structures on the hot end or near a heating source could help keep the dragon warm and healthy. Elevating a heating pad will also make the dragon want to warm itself.

Dragons naturally will climb the structures (5). They are partly tree dwellers in their natural habitats and love climbing on things, as shown in the video below.

Bearded Dragon Too Cold Symptoms

Even with a nailed-on habitat setup, you still need to look for signs that your beardie is cold, especially in the winter months.

Here are the telltale signs:

  • The dragon is cold to the touch
  • Slow Food Digestion
  • Lethargy
  • A poor appetite
  • Little Mobility

If you see any of the above signs, you’re not providing the proper temps for your pet. Rectify any issues to keep your dragon healthy.

Here is a video with some tips for taking care of your dragon even in cold weather:

FAQs

What temperature is too low for a bearded dragon?

beardie in a cage

The lowest temperature a dragon can endure is 65 Fahrenheit. That can be higher if it’s a baby dragon. It should never get to that.

What happens when a lizard gets too cold?

Extreme cold can make lizards go into shock and even die if they can’t find a heat source (6).

How do I regulate the temperature in my bearded dragon tank?

A Thermometer will come in handy when you need to regulate the day and nighttime temperatures in the beardie tank.
Place one at the hot spot and the other on the cool spot for a better idea when you need to raise the temperatures.

Conclusion

Temperature is a sensitive aspect for reptiles that are usually cold-blooded. It would be best if you always kept your dragon warm enough to lead a happy life.

The first step in keeping a dragon warm and healthy is knowing when the perfect heat gradient is and how to achieve it.

With all I’ve mentioned here, you should be able to offer better care for your beardie.

Think there’s something I haven’t covered in keeping a bearded dragon setup warm enough? Ask your questions below in the comments, and I’ll answer you as soon as possible!

orange beardie inside a tank

Resources

  • 1. Bearded Dragon Care 101 [Internet]. www.petmd.com. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/reptile/bearded-dragon-care-101
  • 2. Doneley B, Health A, Toowoomba W. EXOTICS -REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS _________________________________________________________________________________ 1607 CARING FOR THE BEARDED DRAGON [Internet]. Available from: https://www.cabi.org/ISC/FullTextPDF/2006/20063121821.pdf
  • 3. Available from: 3. https://nessexotic.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Reptile-Bearded_Dragon_Care.pdf
  • 4. Aquarist A, Aquarist A. Heat Transfer in Aquariums Part 1 – Basic Theory [Internet]. Reefs.com. 2009 [cited 2022 Sep 7]. Available from: https://reefs.com/heat-transfer-in-aquariums-part-1-basic-theory/#:~:text=We%20can%20see%20from%20the
  • 5. Green D. Keeping Bearded Dragons [Internet]. Google Books. ABK Publications; 2009 [cited 2022 Sep 7]. Available from: https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ogBRDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=symptoms+of+a+cold+bearded+dragon&ots=IiKme5cZO1&sig=Oon8f58kD3tGJkZWXrQoTI5mt18&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=symptoms%20of%20a%20cold%20bearded%20dragon&f=false
  • 6. Why do lizards plummet in the cold? [Internet]. news.miami.edu. [cited 2022 Sep 7]. Available from: https://news.miami.edu/stories/2022/01/why-do-lizards-plummet-in-the-cold.html#:~:text=They%20learned%20that%20when%20temperatures
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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