Bearded dragons are cold-blooded or ectothermic, which means they cannot control their body temperature without the help of external heat sources. In the wild, they prefer to live in warm, arid areas such as deserts and savannas since they rely on daytime light to survive. In captivity, you must provide them with a heat source to keep them healthy and happy.
We know that life can be unpredictable. There could be a power outage, or you might just forget to get replacement bulbs. What can you do to keep your pet alive during this time?
How long can your bearded dragon go without heat? The short answer is 24 hours. But we will dig deeper into this topic shortly.
In this article, we will discuss why heat matters so much, how lack of it affects bearded dragons, as well as how you can deal with unexpected circumstances.
Why do bearded dragons need heat?
As cold-blooded reptiles, bearded dragons need warmth to survive. In the wild, they rely on the sun, wood, and rock items to help warm their bodies. In captivity, the heat lamp is their main source of heat.
Here are the reasons bearded dragons need heat.
If you own a beardie, you might have noticed that he goes to the basking area right after feeding. This is because bearded dragons need heat for proper digestion.
Heat promotes good bacteria in their gut, allowing them to digest food and absorb the nutrients. In addition, heat promotes healthy bowel movements.
If they don’t get heat after eating, they might experience indigestion, which can cause problems such as bloating and constipation. Signs of indigestion in bearded dragons include:
- Loss of appetite
- Spitting food
For calcium absorption
Calcium is essential for the good health of bearded dragons. It helps with blood clotting, muscle contraction, bone strengthening, and regulating metabolism. Calcium supports healthy growth and overall development.
In the wild, bearded dragons convert the heat from sunlight exposure into vitamin D3, which helps them absorb calcium efficiently. Since pet lizards get limited exposure to the sun, proper lighting serves this purpose.
If they don’t get enough heat, they can experience calcium deficiency, which can cause serious health issues, including:
- Metabolic bone disease
- Poor appetite
- Abnormal movement
- Swollen joints and bones
Besides providing proper lighting, you should ensure that their food items provide enough dietary calcium.
To regulate their body temperature
Since they are cold-blooded, bearded dragons depend on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature through a process called thermoregulation. Thermoregulation simply means that they can bask in warm areas to heat up and move to cooler areas to cool down. This allows them to have an active lifestyle since their bodies are at the ideal temperature (neither too hot nor too cold).
If your beardie has problems thermoregulating, you should check ceramic emitters (those that provide heat at night) and heat bulbs to ensure they are getting enough power and heat.
Other ways you can help your pet regulate its body temperature efficiently include:
- Having power backups in case there is a power outage
- Ensuring there is an appropriate basking spot
- Ensuring the heating appliances are working properly
How long can bearded dragons go without heat?
Bearded dragons need heat for their bodies to function optimally. The best way of providing heat in the enclosure is through the sun or UV bulb. We recommend they get heat for 10 – 14 hours daily. However, sometimes this might not be possible due to loss of power or issues with the heat lamps.
So, can bearded dragons survive without heat? If not, how long can bearded dragons survive?
They can survive without heat, but only for a short period. Generally, they can survive up to 24 hours without heat when the temperature is at least 65 °F. When the temperature is lower than that, they can barely survive for a few hours. Without heat, food can rot in their stomachs, and they can experience health issues and even die.
What is the ideal temperature for bearded dragons?
Bearded dragons have different temperature requirements:
- Overall temperature
- Basking temperature
- cool spot temperature
- nighttime temperature
Each temperature serves a different purpose.
The overall temperature of the tank should be high. This is because bearded dragons are naturally from warm areas, and their environment in captivity should be similar.
The ideal average temperature of the enclosure for all bearded dragons should be around 90℉ (32℃). Since temperatures fluctuate throughout the day, you can use a thermometer to ensure you get the appropriate temperature.
In the bearded dragon’s enclosure, there’s a vital spot called the basking area. This is where the heating lamp is located. “Basking temperature” is the temperature directly below the basking light or heat lamp.
This temperature differs according to age. For baby bearded dragons, the temperature should be between 100-110 °F (38-43 °C), while for adult bearded dragons, the temperature should be 105 °F (40 °C).
Bearded dragons go to this spot to absorb heat, especially after feeding.
Cool spot temperature
The cool spot or cool zone should be somewhat opposite the basking spot. This spot is important as it helps the bearded dragon thermoregulate. If it becomes too warm while basking, it can move to the cool spot to cool down. Additionally, this spot helps them relax, destress, and hide from predators.
The ideal temperature should be 70 – 85 ℉ (21 – 29 ℃).
At night, temperatures can drop, depending on the season. You should always try to have an environment similar to that of their natural habitat. Since they spend most of their day basking under the sun in the wild, at night they tend to find shelter and sleep. So, they get used to sleeping in cooler temperatures. Therefore, cooler temperatures are normal during the night.
We recommend turning off the heat lamp to adjust the temperature in the enclosure. When you turn off the lamp, the temperature decreases to room temperature.
Low heat emitters are a good option at night because they offer cooler temperatures. You can also use infrared bulbs, heating mats, heat rocks, and heating cables. But you should keep checking on your pet to ensure that he doesn’t become too cold, as they can become sick.
Ideally, the nighttime temperature should be 70-75 °F (21-24 ℃).
What temperature is too low for a bearded dragon?
The lowest temperature a bearded dragon can survive in is 65 ℉. If exposed to lower temperatures than that, they can develop serious health issues and stress and might even die. They can survive at this temperature for a short period. If the temperature remains this low, they might go into brumation (a hibernation state for reptiles).
Cold temperatures can affect vital bodily functions such as movement and digestion. Therefore, if your pet is too cold, you should adjust the temperature immediately. You can tell whether your pet is too cold if you notice the following signs and symptoms:
- Digestive issues.
- Lethargy or inactivity.
- Skin color changes (if their color darkens).
How can you keep bearded dragons warm without heat lamps?
There are several options to keep your pet warm without heat lamps, especially due to power outages or for whatever reason.
The following methods can help keep them warm.
There are two ways to keep your beardie warm using a blanket. You can either cover the top of the enclosure to retain heat or gently wrap the blanket directly around them. If it’s too cold, you can wrap it and use your body heat as well to generate heat.
Always use a thermometer regularly to ensure the temperature is above 65°F.
Hot water bottle
Hot water bottles work well to provide heat. Just make sure that the bottle is not too hot for you to hold, because if it is, it could burn your bearded dragon. Also, ensure that it’s wrapped and the lid is secure because you don’t want any hot water leakage. Alternatively, you can also place two water bottles in the tank. They are enough to keep them warm.
Bask your pet in the sun
Basking your bearded dragon in the sun is a great way to ensure they get sufficient warmth and vitamin D. In the wild, bearded dragons stay warm by being exposed to direct sunlight. So, it’s not a crazy idea to take your pet outside.
In this case, keep an eye on the pet just in case it gets too hot for them to handle, and they need to get back inside.
- Use heat packs.
- Use hand warmers.
- Car heating.
- Bath them.
Bearded dragons are native to warm areas. So, they are accustomed to the heat. As a result, you should always ensure that they get sufficient heat in their enclosure.
Bearded dragons can go without heat for 24 hours when the temperature is at least 65°F. If the temperature is below that or for any reason they stay more than 24 hours without heat, they can develop health-related issues. For this reason, always check the temperature in their enclosure using a thermometer.
In the case of heating emergencies, you can use blankets, hot water bottles, basking, heat packs, hand warmers, and car heaters to keep them warm.
We hope this article helped you gain a deep understanding of the appropriate temperatures for your pet and what to do in case of unexpected events.