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Summer heat basking tips for bearded dragons from Apex Veterinary Centre

June 14, 2021

If your pet of choice is a bearded dragon, you’ll be familiar with their need to bask in an external heat source. But what happens when we get some actual summer heat in Stirlingshire – is there such as thing as ‘too hot’ for bearded dragons?

Samuel, our vet & Nikki, our nurse have put together their top tips for keeping your dragon’s vivarium at an optimal temperature for basking this summer.

Eight summer heat basking tips for bearded dragon owners:

1. Avoid an all-in-one heat bulb with UV light – It is better to have a separate heating and UV light source – UV light helps to prevent metabolic bone disease, and heat is needed to warm up your exothermic pet’s body to its optimal temperature. This makes it easier to mimic their natural environment and ensures essential functions like digestion work properly.

2. Install a thermostat – This vital piece of equipment will dim the heat lamp when the set temperature is reached, reducing its heat output. Look for a high-range dimming thermostat. In hot weather you can adjust the thermostat to keep the vivarium at the optimal temperature. Without one, your bearded dragon could be exposed to dangerous temperatures of 42+ degrees with nowhere cold enough to cool down.

The optimal temperature for a bearded dragon is 37 degrees celcius (for older bearded dragons), 43 degrees celcius (for younger bearded dragons) in the basking end of their vivarium for basking in, and 22-26 degrees in the shaded end. The heat lamp and UV bulb should be on first thing so your dragon can spend about an hour energising for the day.

3. Install some fans – Attach fans to the vivarium vents to blow fresh air in and suck stale air out. This will create a steady airflow exchange in the enclosure and help cool it by a few degrees. Room fans on especially hot days can help a little too but be careful on placement and ensure your bearded dragon cannot climb onto or near them.

4. Add more ventilation – During hot summers, you might want extra ventilation in your dragon’s enclosure to help cool it down and reduce humidity (and risk of bacteria). If you’re a keen DIYer or know someone who can help, try adding some secure mesh panels to the walls of the enclosure.

5. Try water misting – Cool down your dragon’s home in the morning, afternoon, and evening with a quick misting.

6. Water ‘bath’ bowls – Give your bearded dragon a large, shallow water bowl they can easily climb in and out of. This will make an excellent summer soaking tub to cool down in if they so desire.

7. Create a dragon ‘cooling room’ – In the darker end, create a shaded, moist area for your dragon to cool down in if needed. Line it with a bed of sphagnum moss, which you can buy online.

8. Substrate digging – We would advise having a base such as linoleum flooring for bearded dragons as it is easy to clean and less likely to cause impactions. When using substrate, be careful on selecting which substrate to use as these can cause impactions if ingested.

We hope our hot weather basking temperature tips have been helpful. If you have any tips for other dragon owners, please do share them on our Facebook page.

Here’s one final piece of advice from Apex Vets’ team – Routinely we would advise seeing your beardy yearly for a routine health check and faecal screening just to keep on top of your bearded dragons health. It’s not normal or healthy for bearded dragons to sleep all day in the summer as they will miss vital basking time. If your pet has become lazy, lethargic, and isn’t eating, this could be a sign of being too hot (or something else), please book them in for a check-up with your exotics vet as soon as you start noticing something is not right.

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