bearded dragon handbook

Get our pet owner's guide for bearded dragons and help your special friend live its best life.

Are Heat Rocks Safe for Bearded Dragons?

Bearded dragons rely on heat for several bodily functions, including digestion, regulating metabolism, and shedding.

There are many different ways to provide a warm environment for your bearded dragons, such as specialized lamps, heat pads, and heat rocks.

However, there is some controversy among bearded dragon owners when it comes to heat rocks. 

As a whole, heat rocks are not a safe option for your bearded dragon. Heat rocks are one of the most common reasons for burns for pet bearded dragons. While they provide ample amounts of heat, they are too hot to the touch and cause quick burns whenever bearded dragon makes contact with them. 

While some improvements have been made to the thermostat in these hot rocks over time, they still aren’t deemed as completely safe for your beardie.

Keep reading for more information on how bearded dragons regulate their body temperature, as well as some tips on how to protect your pet from getting burned.

bearded dragon heat rock

How Does a Bearded Dragon Regulate Its Body Temperature?

A bearded dragon’s native habitat is the deserts and semi-arid grasslands of Australia.

Since bearded dragons are ectothermic, they rely on the sun for body heat. 

When they get too hot, they move into a shady area or burrow in the ground to cool down.

Sometimes, bearded dragons will flatten their bodies to absorb as much sunlight as possible.

When they get cold, bearded dragons will darken their body. 

This allows them to absorb heat from the sun more quickly.

In captivity, it is essential to provide your lizard with a heat gradient in its enclosure.

The overall ambient temperature of the tank should be around 86° degrees Fahrenheit (30° C). 

The cool side of the enclosure should be close to 76° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C). 

The basking area in the tank should have a temperature range between 90-95° degrees Fahrenheit (35° C).

Baby dragons and juveniles require slightly warmer tank temperatures until they reach at least one year of age. 

The basking area should have a temperature between 100-110° degrees Fahrenheit (43° C).

Having this temperature gradient provides your lizard with a variety of temperatures, so it is able to be comfortable.

To learn more about proper tank temperatures check out our post on what temperature should a bearded dragon’s tank be.

bearded dragon temperature

What is the Parietal Eye of Bearded Dragons?

The parietal eye isn’t an eye like we use to see images with. 

Instead, it is an organ in reptiles, and scientists believe it plays an important role in detecting sunlight and shadows.

The parietal eye is located on the top of the bearded dragon’s head, and it appears as a tiny dot between the eyes.

In various studies, scientists have also determined this third eye helps a bearded dragon navigate, possibly by tracking sunlight.

To avoid startling your beardie, you should always approach it at its eye level, rather than reaching behind it where this parietal eye will “see” the shadow.

The parietal eye is protected from injury by a clear scale covering it.

Understanding the function of the parietal eye is important because it serves the beardie well when it comes to seeking out light for warmth. 

It is important to place any lights in the enclosure so they don’t damage the parietal eye.

If you want to learn more about this “eye” read our post dedicated to the bearded dragon’s third eye.

How Do You Provide Heat Sources For Your Bearded Dragon?

Even if you keep your house at warmer temperatures, it will not be sufficient for your lizard. 

Placing incandescent bulbs with reflector domes above your bearded dragon’s enclosure will provide them with a source of heat as well as a light source.

Be sure to install the light bulb at one end of the cage to create a thermal gradient. 

This allows your lizard to have a cool area to go in the enclosure.

Since incandescent bulbs do not provide UV rays, you should also invest in a proper UVB lamp as a supplement. 

UVB rays play a crucial role in a bearded dragon’s ability to properly absorb calcium in its body. 

Having the right light sources in the enclosure is vital to your lizard’s health and helps prevent metabolic bone disease.

Radiant heat panels suspended above the enclosure also provide heat for your bearded dragon when used together with proper lighting.

The lights should be on for at least 12 hours every day and turned off at night to allow for cooler temperatures so your lizard can sleep well. 

This mimics the day and night cycle and maintains your pet’s circadian rhythm.

Using a timer on your lights is an easy way to maintain a steady light cycle, and you won’t have to remember to turn the lights on or off every day.

A heating mat underneath the enclosure is also a safe option because it does not contact your lizard. 

Be sure to monitor the surface temperature of the heater to ensure it is not getting too hot for your pet.

Since bearded dragons are diurnal lizards (active during the day), they do not need heat at night. 

You will not need to leave the tank heater on unless the room itself is very cold. 

Your lizard will be fine in cooler temperatures at night as long as it does not get lower than 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C).

How Do You Protect Your Bearded Dragon From Getting Burned?

In addition to avoiding heat rocks, there are a few precautions to take to keep your bearded dragon healthy and prevent it from getting severe burns.

When using heat bulbs above the enclosure, you should use a screen cover to protect your lizard.

Heat bulbs get extremely hot, and they will burn your lizard if it climbs up and accidentally touches one. 

Using a quality wire mesh screen cover will keep your lizard from touching the bulb and getting burned as well as preventing any chance your pet will escape.

Another way to prevent burns to your lizard is to make sure the heat lamp you are using is the correct wattage for the size of the enclosure. 

If the heat lamp is too powerful, the enclosure will get too hot for your lizard to be comfortable.

Your local veterinarian or pet store will be able to help you find the best bulb for the size of your enclosure.

We also have a post reviewing heat lamps if you’re interested in what we recommend.

When installing heat lamps, UVB lighting, and other electrical devices in your bearded dragon’s tank, be sure to scrutinize everything for faulty wiring.

An electrical wire which has shorted itself out poses a great risk to both your pet and yourself. 

A shorted wire may burn or shock your lizard or you, and it also poses a risk of starting an electrical fire in your home.

You should never use faulty or damaged electrical equipment, and be sure to replace or repair a damaged device as soon as you notice anything wrong with it.

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