Bearded Dragons spend a large portion of their day basking but it’s often a mystery to most people why Bearded Dragons actually bask? I decided to research the whole behaviour and give you all the answers in this article.
So why do Bearded Dragon bask? Bearded Dragons bask under external heat sources such as the sun or heat lamps so that they can heat their body up to the optimal temperature. Basking is vital to a Bearded Dragon and processes like digestion would be very difficult without it.
Read on to find out how long bearded Dragons need to bask for, what temperature they need to bask and more.
First, let’s take a closer look at why Bearded Dragons actually bask?
Why Do Bearded Dragons Actually Bask?
Bearded Dragons are exothermic which means they need to rely on an external source of heat so they can warm up their body to the optimal temperature.
In the wild, the sun is the external heat source that is used for basking and in captivity the ‘heat lamp’ or basking lamp in the heat source that is used for basking.
Having a good quality basking lamp is vital to the health of your Bearded Dragon.
Bearded Dragons use basking areas throughout the day to keep their body at the optimal temperature.
They also use basking areas after meals to help them digest food. Without this intense heat, they wouldn’t be able to digest the vital nutrients they need.
Baby Bearded Dragons that are growing at a furious pace need to eat up to 5 times a day and without the help of a basking light to aid digestion, they would struggle to grow and be healthy.
The basking lamp will also help to stop impaction through poor digestion. This is where your Bearded Dragons food basically becomes stuck in the digestive system.
Impaction can cause your Dragon to lose their appetite and end up in quite a bit of pain.
Overall basking it vital to your Bearded Dragon and it would be unhealthy without it. You should make sure that you have both a good basking area set up and a high-quality basking lamp for your Dragon.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Bask With Their Mouths Open?
Bearded Dragons are often known to bask with their mouths open for a long period of time while basking.
This is because when they reach their optimal temperature they open their mouth to let heat escape from their body so they don’t get any hotter.
Because a Bearded Dragon can’t sweat to cool down like humans do opening their mouth while basking is a very clever way to regulate body temperature. The Reptile Magazine actually talk about this directly in one of their online Q&A sessions.
This is perfectly normal behaviour for a Bearded Dragon and they will move to the cool spot in their tank when they feel that they no longer need to bask.
There are also other reasons why your Bearded Dragon could be opening their mouth. Here’s a post that shares the 9 reasons why Bearded Dragons keep their mouths open.
How Long Do Bearded Dragons Bask For?
There really is no right and wrong here. I’ve seen lots of different Dragons and different ages that all have totally unique basking behaviour.
Some Bearded Dragons will spend around 8 hours a day under the basking lamp and never seem to move.
Other Dragons will spend only 15 minute periods under the basking lamp and then move around for a short while and then come back again.
There are so many variables to consider that it is hard to give a direct answer here.
Your Bearded Dragon is more likely to bask after a meal, so the more times a day they eat the more you should see them basking to help digest their food.
How long they spend basking will also depend on the quality of your basking lamp and the heat it gives off.
It will also depend on how long you have had the lamp and if it needs replacing because if it’s old the heat it offers won’t be as strong as when it was brand new.
The best thing you can do is to make sure that you are providing them with a high-quality basking lamp, the correct temperature and a good basking rock so they have everything they need when they are ready.
I personally only recommend natural basking rocks as they offer a much better basking experience for your Bearded Dragon, for example, they don’t get too hot, unlike cheap imitations rocks. Here I share what the best natural rocks are and also the best place to get them from.
What Temperatures Do Bearded Dragons Need to Bask?
Having the correct temperature not only in the basking area but also in the cool spot in very important so your Bearded Dragon can regulate its body temperature.
Having the correct temperature will allow your Dragon to digest it’s meals quicker and there is less chance of any digestive problems as a result.
They will also become happier and healthier over time if the temperatures are at the correct levels so it’s important that you closely monitor the temperatures in the tank daily.
I’ve written a complete guide detailing the temperatures a Bearded Dragon needs and all related questions. You can check it out here to have all your temperature questions answered.
Here is a guide to the temperatures for different areas of the tank:
Please Note: Basing temperatures are to be used as a guide only, you should always consult your vet.
Bearded Dragon Tank Temperature Guide
|Bearded Dragon Temperature Guide|
|Basking Area 95°-100°F|
|Cool Spot 75°-80°F|
You should turn off the basking lamp at night time to keep the temperature in the tank stable and allow your Bearded Dragon time to sleep.
Also if you notice, baby Bearded Dragons and adults have different heat requirements so it’s important that as they get older you adjust the temperature in the tank to account for this.
Signs That The Basking Temperature is Incorrect
If the temperature in your Bearded Dragons tank is incorrect then your Dragon might just behave in a manner that shows you something is wrong.
Bearded Dragons can display these behaviours for many reasons so it’s not always something to do with the temperature in their tank but it’s certainly worth checking.
Glass surfing is when you Dragon stands up, presses it’s front legs on the glass and runs from side to side in what is sometimes a frantic motion.
This can look cute or funny but often there is a serious reason for this behaviour.
If you notice your Bearded Dragon doing this then it’s a good idea to check the temperature of the basking area and also the cool spot.
If your Dragon is getting too hot and passes its optimal temperature then it will look to cool down. If the cool spot is also at a high temperature then your Dragon will struggle to regulate its body temperature.
Bearded Dragons are known to glass surf for a lot of reasons and one of them is when they get too hot to the point of not being able to regulate their temperature so it’s always a good idea to check the temperature around the tank.
If you want to know all the reasons why a Bearded Dragon can glass surf then I’ve written the complete guide here. This post will answer all your glass surfing questions.
Digging is another behaviour that Bearded Dragons can do for a whole host of reasons.
Here’s a post that explains all the common reasons why your Bearded Dragon could be digging and what you should do in that situation.
If you notice your Dragon is doing it you should take the time to check the temperature in their tank.
Sometimes when a Bearded Dragon is digging they are simply trying to get lower to find a cooler place.
This can be a tell-tale sign that the tank temperatures are too hot and they need adjusting.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Heat Lamps At Night?
When a Bearded Dragon is on captivity you want to mimic their natural habitat and environment as much as you possibly can.
This includes the day time temperatures where they have an opportunity to bask and also a cooler area that mimics the shade where they can escape the heat when they need to.
You also want nighttime to be the same kind of environment as the wild. Their semi-desert environment in the wild would get cooler to around 70-75°F at night so you want your tank to do the same.
Depending on where you live in the world and how hot your house is, you might be able to achieve this heat for them on a night with no nighttime lamps on.
On the other hand, if the temperature through the night is reducing to 65°F or less then you might want to consider using a low heat lamp to top up the temperature through the night.
You can purchase purpose-made ceramic heat emitters that produce low heat and light so they don’t disturb your Bearded Dragon while it’s sleeping, these are ideal for when your Dragons tank drops under the required temperature at night.
I actually share details of all the heating and lighting equipment I personally use including the ceramic heat emitter right here.
So generally speaking, as long as your house temperature is 70-75°F at night you shouldn’t need a heat lamp at night but if it props lower then it’s time to top up the temperature a little.
Using a Good Quality Basking Lamp
One thing that you don’t want to do is use low quality heat lamps when it comes to basking.
Lamps you get in hardware stores generally don’t give off anywhere near enough heat to give your Dragon the temperature it needs for essential things like digestion.
Using a high-quality purpose made basking lamp will give you a piece of mind that your Dragon is getting the heat it needs and it will also retain its heat levels for a long period of time.
Cheap lamps lose their heat levels very quickly and will need replacing frequently.
Heat lamps come in various watts, the higher the wattage the more heat and light it will give off.
For example, a 50-watt lamp will give off less heat than a 100-watt lamp.
The size of your tank will play a large part in the size of the lamp that you will require.
Are Thermometers Important?
One of the most important pieces of kit you can purchase for your Dragons tank is a thermometer.
Thermometers are really inexpensive but play a hugely important role in keeping your Dragon healthy.
With thermometers, you can check the temperature and humidity of several areas of the tank. As we have already talked about earlier in this post this is vital for making sure that you have the correct temperatures in different areas throughout the tank.
You have the option of using either analogue thermometers or digital ones. I would highly recommend that you use digital as they are easier to check at a glance and more efficient.
You can see more about thermostats and which one I highly recommend you use here
What is the lowest temperature a Bearded Dragon can tolerate? Bearded Dragons can probably tolerate temperatures from low 60 -63°F for a short period of time.
These temperatures aren’t good for them for long periods. They will become lethargic and internal tanks like digesting food will become very difficult.
You should always keep your Bearded Dragons tank to the recommended temperatures to ensure you maintain a happy and healthy Dragon.
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