Unlike cats, dogs, and other pets, bearded dragons need heat and light to help them not only regulate their day to night cycles, and also their digestion.
Naturally, the best (and only!) way to give your dragons the heat they need on a continual basis is to provide a basking light that will give them an area to, well, bask in!
If you want to know what the best basking bulb for a bearded dragon is, along with the answers to some other heat/basking bulb related questions, then just keep reading!
What Happens if a Bearded Dragon Gets Too Cold?
First, it’s important we discuss what can happen to bearded dragons that are subject to less than ideal temperatures.
Your bearded dragon needs heat as a means to digest food properly.
Without adequate heat, their food can get “stuck” so-to-speak in their digestive track.
When food is unable to become digested, this can lead to impaction.
Also, bearded dragons that stay too cold for an extended period of time can develop an upper respiratory infection.
This is why it is important to use a good thermometer and closely monitor their temperature.
While there is no need to worry excessively over the body temperature of your bearded dragon during minor incidents like short power outages, it is important to ensure their tank is warm enough 99.9% of the time.
Short little bursts of cold won’t and shouldn’t pose a huge threat to your dragon.
But extended bouts of chilliness? That can be serious…
The Best Basking Bulbs for Bearded Dragons
A Regular Old Bright White Bulb
Without a doubt, one of the absolute best basking bulbs is going to be just a regular old bright white bulb.
Any bulb that is bright white (doesn’t put out color) and is between 50 to 75 Watts will likely work for most cages.
But, you may need to play around with the positioning of the bulb to get just the right temperature on the basking spot.
Hotter bulbs a little farther back from the tank are my personal favorite because they provide a wider birth of warmth.
I recommend giving this 6 pack from Simba Lighting a try.
75 watts is typically a good amount to start at, and adjust accordingly.
Plus, any lights that don’t work can just be used around the house! Win-win.
4 Pack By Exo Terra
If you want to go the traditional route, you can always opt for a branded reptile basking bulb, such as this 4 pack by Exo Terra.
In my experience, these lights will typically last for about 6 months and then burn out, so a 4 pack will keep you going for some time.
Dome Fixture for Basking Bulbs (that won’t melt)
Also, regardless of whether you opt for a reptile basking bulb or regular old white bulb, you will need a proper fixture that won’t melt.
I recommend the Dome Fixture with a Ceramic Socket.
What if My Power Goes Out or the Bulb Burns Out? Are There Any Bearded Dragon Heat Lamp Alternatives?
If you’re simply looking for a quick alternative during a power outage, or in the instance of a burnt-out bulb then you do have some options…
Heated Water Bottle
You can always heat up a water bottle or pour boiling water into a water bottle and then wrap it in a blanket as a source of heat for your dragon.
This is a great last-minute option. Just be prepared to have to reheat the water bottle every 1-2 hours.
Rechargeable hand warmers are a great option to have on hand because you can charge them ahead of time and use in the case of emergency.
My personal favorites are these by Heat to Go.
I simply drop them in boiling water and store them fully charged.
When the electricity goes out or a bulb burns out, I’ll activate a hand warmer and place it under a blanket or small towel. Sometimes two.
Each hand warmer provides heat for about 45 minutes to an hour I’ve found, so having a pack of 8 will allow you to almost provide your dragon with an entire day of heat!
With a t-shirt between you, allow your dragon to snuggle up against you and warm themselves off your natural body heat.
I recommend putting a fleecy jacket on (if you can comfortably stand it) and allowing your beardie to hang out between the jacket and t-shirt.
If you can’t sit still long enough or your beardie seems averse to your cuddle sesh, try making them a nice warm blanket fort to chill in, just make sure they can breathe.
I always opt for the furriest and fleeciest blankets on hand.
Does My Bearded Dragon Need a Heat Lamp at Night?
If the temperature in your bearded dragons cage drops below 65 degrees Fahrenheit (or 18 degrees Celsius), then yes!
I highly recommend purchasing a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) to provide adequate heat for your dragon while they sleep.
The goal of a CHE is to ultimately raise the temps just enough to get them into the low to mid 70s.
Since it is night, your dragon will not need the temperature to be as high as it does in the day. Low to mid 70s is ideal.
I don’t recommend getting an under the tank heater because they can actually burn your dragon, and have been known to even overheat!
Because your dragon can’t sense how hot something is beneath them, they run the risk of laying over the heater and burning themselves.
Depending on how cold the tank gets, you may need to buy a higher wattage CHE. Also, the wattage you need will depend on the size of your tank.
I recommend starting out with a lower wattage CHE like this 2 pack of Wuhostam 50W bulbs (see below), especially if you’re trying to heat a 40-75 gallon tank.
If the tank is exceptionally cold, say less than 50 degrees or exceptionally large, say 125 gallons you may want to consider the 75W bulbs.
Lastly, you’ll also need to use a porcelain light socket as CHEs get hot enough to melt plastic.