When bringing home an exciting new pet like a bearded dragon, it’s crucial to set up their enclosure properly. Providing appropriate heat for your bearded dragon is essential to keeping them healthy and comfortable in captivity. One common question faced by new bearded dragon owners is whether reptile heat rocks are a suitable heat source for their pet reptile tank.
Heat rocks are a convenient heating method for your bearded dragon’s enclosure. However, many experienced reptile keepers advise against using heat rocks. Improper temperatures and uneven heating, like warm and cool areas and can lead to injuries. That’s why overhead ceramic heat emitters or under-tank heating pads controlled by thermostats are preferred for heating your bearded dragon tank.
In our guide, you can learn more about how to keep your bearded dragon warm when required. By the end, you’ll better understand why and how to heat your bearded dragon’s tank and how to find the top picks for the best way to keep your bearded dragon healthy. (Read Why Do Turtles Hate The Color Black)
Should You Use Heat Rocks for Your Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons are popular pet reptiles known for their calm and friendly demeanor. However, caring for these exotic pets requires providing proper heating, like an incandescent bulb or heat lamp in their enclosure, to maintain their health. A common question for bearded dragon owners is whether heat rocks, a type of electric heat, are a good heat source or whether there are better alternatives, such as heat tape or lamps.
While some pet stores sell products like Zoo Med’s Repticare heat rocks, advertised as the best heat source, these heating rocks can get extremely hot, even with controls to turn them off at night. The amount of heat generated and direct contact with the rock’s heating element can lead to severe burns and injuries for your bearded dragon.
For safe heating that keeps your pet bearded dragon warm. Experts recommend heat lamps to provide heat for basking and infrared-c radiant heat panels as a much safer option over heat rocks. The key is using the correct heating device that radiates warmth but allows the dragon to move away and cool off if needed. This prevents overheating while providing the right heat your cold-blooded lizard needs.
How Does a Bearded Dragon Regulate Its Body Temperature?
Bearded dragons are ectothermic exotic pets, meaning these calm lizards use external heat sources to regulate their body temperature instead of internal heat generation. Cold-blooded bearded dragons do this in the wild by basking atop sun-warmed rocks during the day to absorb the heat they need and raise their body temperature. They can crawl into cool underground heat caves at night or when too hot to lower their temperature.
As popular pet lizards in captivity, owners must recreate this crucial temperature gradient within the bearded dragon’s enclosure to keep them healthy. Heat rocks and heat caves are among common ways to warm cold bearded dragons.
What is the Parietal Eye of Bearded Dragons?
A parietal eye is located at the top of a bearded dragon’s head, which is a third eye that detects light and shadows. This extra sensory organ assists bearded dragons in thermoregulation. The parietal eye allows bearded dragons to instinctively orient themselves toward a heat source by detecting light and moving accordingly.
This helps them find optimal basking spots in their enclosure, and in the wild, they would sit atop a warm rock to get their heat. (Read 75 Gallon Tank For Bearded Dragon)
How Do You Provide Heat Sources For Your Bearded Dragon?
There are several options for heating a bearded dragon enclosure:
- Heat lamps: These incandescent light bulbs screw into lamp fixtures above the tank to project heat downwards. The most common are halogen heat bulbs or ceramic heat emitters.
- Under-tank heaters: These adhesive heating pads stick underneath one side of the tank to create a hot spot from the under-tank heat mats for reptiles.
- Radiant heat panels: Mounted inside the tank, these large heated panels made by brands like Reptile Basics provide infrared warmth and are safe for 24/7 use.
- Heat rocks: Heat rocks are one of the common heaters, and come with a heating element inside, where the heat radiates throughout the faux rocks. You would need a thermostat to adjust the temperature of the rock to ensure it is completely safe when producing heat that radiates outward.
If you use a heat rock or alternative method, you choose to keep your pet warm, including bearded dragons, proper installation and monitoring are crucial. Never leave a heat source unattended; the dragon may develop sores or injury from overexposure.
How Do You Protect Your Bearded Dragon From Getting Burned?
Improper temperatures from heat sources like heat rocks are among the most significant risks when heating a bearded dragon’s enclosure. Reptiles can quickly overheat if a heat rock or heat lamp generates too much heat or cannot be turned off at night. Severe burns and injuries can occur if your pet lizard has direct contact with a heating element from an unsafe heat rock that gets extremely hot.
To prevent burns, always carefully follow all instructions when installing heating products. Never use a loose incandescent bulb for heat; ensure it is firmly secured in a ceramic fixture to avoid contact.
Also, provide a temperature gradient inside the tank so the bearded dragon can move between a warm basking rock and a cooler hideout to self-regulate if needed. Proper temperatures, safe use of heating devices, and patience while your cold-blooded pet acclimates are vital in preventing injuries. The goal is to keep your reptile warm without the risks from unregulated heat rocks.
How Hot Should A Basking Rock Be For A Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons require a heated basking area ranging from 95-110°F to regulate their temperature and digest food properly. The cooler end of the tank should sit around 75-80°F to give dragons a temperature gradient. Heat rocks contain a heating element, so if the Zoo Med Repticare rock heater or alternative cannot be turned off at night, the beardie must be able to move away to a cooler area to prevent overheating while sleeping.
Providing the proper amount and type of heat needed to keep your bearded dragon warm is essential, though unsafe options like unregulated heat rocks often get extremely hot and can cause severe burns. These gentle lizards can thrive with the correct temperature gradient and heating products. (Read Why Do Cows Sit Down When It Rains)
Are Heat Rocks Good For Lizards?
Unlike overhead ceramic heat emitters or under-tank heating pads, heat rocks come with additional risks and drawbacks:
- Overheating risk: Heat rocks can quickly overheat, especially without a thermostat. Direct contact with an overheated rock can lead to severe thermal burns for your pet.
- No temperature regulation: Your bearded dragon relies on instinct to move if a rock gets dangerously hot. A thermostat is required to prevent overheating automatically.
- Uneven heating: Rocks may create random hot spots to burn your lizard. They don’t heat as evenly as overhead lamps.
- Tip-over hazard: Loose rocks in a tank can trap or crush a reptile if tipped over. Proper mounting is essential.
For these reasons, heat rocks are controversial in the reptile community. While some owners successfully use them safely, experienced keepers typically recommend other options as much safer and more controlled heating sources for bearded dragons and other reptiles.
How To Choose The Best Basking Rocks For Your Bearded Dragon?
If you do opt to use a rock heater, choose a high-quality option and take safety precautions:
- Select a UL-certified heater explicitly designed for reptile use, like the ZooMed Repticare heat rock. Avoid cheap unregulated heating rocks.
- Properly mount the rock tank heater on the hot side using adhesive or wire ties to prevent tipping.
- Always use a thermostat to regulate temperature and prevent overheating automatically.
- Place a rock on top to distribute heat but allow your bearded dragon to move off if needed.
- Monitor temperatures carefully and watch your bearded dragon’s behavior on the rock.
How do I keep my bearded dragon warm at night?
While bearded dragons need to cool at night, yet you still need to prevent your reptile from getting too cold:
- A ceramic heat emitter bulb is much safer to use than other options to generate heat at night without light.
- Place a heating pad so the tank can make contact with the heat.
- Insulate the tank to retain warmth using foam boards, a blanket, or Styrofoam.
- Use a heat lamp or infrared bulb to heat the entire room at night.
- Monitor nighttime low temps and make adjustments to keep your enclosure above 65°F.
How do you keep a lizard warm without a heat lamp?
If you need an alternative to heat lamps for heating your lizard’s enclosure, consider these options to provide heat for the basking reptiles:
- An under-tank heating pad adhered beneath the tank in the warm zone.
- A radiant heat panel is installed overhead to project heat downwards.
- A ceramic heat emitter bulb in a lamp fixture provides heat without light.
- A space heater or infrared room heater can warm a small reptile area or room.
- Insulating your reptile’s enclosure will help retain ambient heat.
Always use a thermostat and thermometer to regulate non-lamp heat sources safely. Monitor your pet’s behavior to ensure they are staying nice and toasty! If you don’t have a thermostat, a heat rock is best avoided, or at least avoid heat rocks overnight.
Should I turn my reptile’s heat lamp off at night?
Turn off all overhead heating and basking lights in your reptile’s enclosure at night because:
- Reptiles need a cooler nighttime temperature to rest and regulate bodily functions properly.
- Light disrupts their circadian rhythms and can cause stress.
- Heat lamps left on 24/7 pose a burn risk and can quickly overheat a small tank.
Use a ceramic heat emitter or under-tank heating pad regulated by a thermostat to provide ambient heat at night as needed. Just turn lamps and basking bulbs off for 12 hours daily to give your reptile a healthy day/night cycle.
What are the Benefits of Using a Rock Heater?
Some benefits of using a regulated reptile rock heater include:
- Providing a warm, elevated basking area for climbing reptiles.
- Allowing belly heat contact for species that drape over surfaces.
- Adding a naturalistic heat source, reptiles can move on and off.
- Heating larger tanks more efficiently than a single overhead lamp.
- Creating a thermal gradient from the hot rock to cooler areas.
Rock heating can be an effective supplemental heat source for some reptile enclosures when appropriately used with safety precautions. (Read Do Goats Eat Bamboo)
What are the Drawbacks of Using a Rock Heater?
However, rock heaters also come with some drawbacks to consider:
- Risk of overheating and burns without a thermostat regulating temperature.
- Potential for uneven hot spots to harm reptiles.
- It can only heat a localized area versus ambient heat.
- Loose rocks may tip and crush inhabitants if not securely mounted.
- Lack of overhead lighting that provides vitamin D3.
Rock heating elements should always be used cautiously under strict supervision to ensure safety. Overhead heating is the recommended primary heat source for bearded dragons.
Proper heating for your bearded dragon is vital for its health and well-being. While convenient, heat rocks carry notable risks that require safety precautions.
Overhead basking lamps that create a thermal gradient are the safest and most natural heating options. If using a rock heater, regulate temperature carefully with a thermostat and frequently monitor your pet. Heat rocks may be a supplemental heat source for bearded dragons and other reptiles.