How many watts should the heat bulb be?
How should you mount the heat bulb, so it stays secure?
So you have your 40-gallon bearded dragon enclosure all ready for your lizard, but one thing is still missing: the heat source to keep your beardie warm and cozy.
What color bulb should you use, and what temperature should the tank be once you have the bulb set up?
Does your beardie need heat at night?
Read on to learn more about the best heat bulb for a 40-gallon tank and the ideal setup to simulate a hot desert habitat for your bearded dragon.
Table of Contents
What Watt Heat Bulb Do You Need For A Bearded Dragon In A 40 Gal Tank?
For a 40-gallon size enclosure, a white 100-watt basking bulb is perfect for keeping your bearded dragon warm and their environment within the appropriate temperature range during the day. A ceramic heat emitter should be used at night if the temperature in their enclosure falls below 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C).
Note: 100 watts is an approximation and a general recommendation.
The exact wattage will depend on how you mount the lamp, how far away it is from the tank floor, and the average temperature of your home.
For 40-gallon enclosures, you may potentially even use a 60 or 70-watt bulb if your house is relatively warm and the pen isn’t very tall, but generally, 100 watts is a fair estimate.
You’ll be able to adjust the way you have mounted the bulb and move it further away or closer to the tank, so don’t worry if, at first, the temperature is off by a few degrees in either direction.
Focus on maintaining the appropriate temperature in the tank.
For bearded dragons, the ideal temperature for their basking area is around 90 to 95° degrees Fahrenheit (35° C), while the tank’s cool side temps should be about 80 to 85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C).
White basking bulbs are best for bearded dragons because they emit a concentrated amount of heat and light in one spot while also giving off enough extra heat to warm the rest of the tank.
This ZooMed basking bulb is excellent for 40-gallon enclosures.
You will also need a dome or hood to plug into an electrical outlet and hold the bulb.
Make sure your dome is suitable for the wattage your bulb puts out.
For a 100-watt basking bulb, this ReptiZoo dome works excellent.
If your dome is only designed to handle up to a 60-watt bulb, you don’t want to put a 100-watt bulb in it and create a fire hazard.
What Color Bulb Should You Use?
For daytime basking spot lamps, white light is always the best color to go with primarily because whiter light best imitates the natural sunlight beardies are used to in their natural habitats.
Whenever you add anything to your bearded dragon habitat, whether it is decorative or if it serves an actual purpose, you should choose the least intrusive and most natural-looking option.
Avoid using red or blue bulbs, even for nighttime purposes, as the colored lighting will upset your bearded dragon’s sleep cycles and hurt their eyes.
You probably won’t even need much or any nighttime heating anyway, but colorful bulbs will not help if you do.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Nighttime Heating?
Generally, your beardie won’t need any night heating.
A temperature of around 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C) at night is perfect for these desert-dwelling lizards, and the temperature in most people’s homes is already kept at approximately 65 to 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C).
However, if you find the ambient room temperature in your home dips lower than 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C) at times, purchase a ceramic heat emitter to provide a small amount of gentle heat for your lizard at night.
You will want to avoid a heat bulb for nighttime heating as the excess lighting at night will upset your lizard’s diurnal sleep schedule.
A ceramic heat emitter is excellent for keeping your beardie warm at night because it gives off a small bit of heat without producing the bright lighting, which is characteristic of most basking bulbs.
A ceramic heating element such as this one by Fluker’s is perfect for giving off the small amounts of heat your lizard needs at night.
You will need a separate hood for your ceramic heating element if you opt for one, so you might want to purchase two of the hoods we mentioned in the previous section.
As with basking bulbs, be sure the hood is designed to handle the wattage of the heat of the bulb or heat emitter you plan on putting inside it.
You might have noticed heat rocks and heat pads available at your local pet shop or online.
Still, most experienced reptile enthusiasts and veterinarians recommend you avoid them because they often cause burns due to uneven heating.
The best supplemental heat source for nighttime is a ceramic heat emitter.
How Should You Set Up The Heat Bulb For A Bearded Dragon?
For most basking bulbs, it is OK to just screw it into a hood and place the hood directly on top of the tank’s screen.
Most 40-gallon bearded dragon enclosures have a durable screen lid explicitly designed for bearded dragon owners to put the bulb up against the screen.
However, if you don’t like this option or if you don’t have a screen-type enclosure, hang it above the tank with a mounted hook.
Many reptile owners prefer this kind of setup as it looks great, and you won’t have to bother with the lamp every time you open the enclosure.
Finding the perfect distance to mount the lamp at first is somewhat tricky, but you will be able to easily adjust it until you find what works best for you.
A third option would be to mount the lamp inside of the enclosure, but this is tricky and even impossible for some 40-gallon pens as they aren’t tall enough to safely mount a heat bulb and its hood inside.
For a 40-gallon bearded dragon enclosure, the wattage of your basking bulb could vary from 70 to as much as 150 watts, depending on how you mount the bulb and its hood.
Generally, a white 100-watt basking bulb works great for daytime light in most tanks.
For nighttime, no lighting is needed, though some setups do use ceramic heat emitters to keep the tank from dipping below the threshold at night if you need to.
Always maintain the proper temperature within the appropriate range at all times to keep your beloved beardie healthy and their body temperature nice and warm.