As a bearded dragon owner, you know how important it is to keep your reptile warm. After all, they are cold-blooded and native to desert climates. Something that may have crossed your mind from time to time is what would happen if you didn’t have their heat lamp. Maybe you’ve forgotten to stock up on replacement bulbs, or worse, a power outage from storms has killed all heat lamps. What could you do to support your beardie during this time? Let’s find out.
So, how do you keep a bearded dragon warm without a heat lamp? As a temporary solution, you can cover their tank with blankets, use covered hot water bottles or grain pillows, or wrap them gently against your body for warmth. If done appropriately, providing a bath is another solution to consider. Either way, Bearded dragons shouldn’t be without a heat lamp long-term, though.
So now you have a few different ideas of how to keep your dragon warm, let’s check out each option a little further and the precautions you need to be mindful of.
The first thing to learn is what temperature is too cold for your reptile.
How Cold Is Too Cold for A Bearded Dragon?
Temperatures below 65°F are considered too cold for bearded dragons and deemed unsafe to house bearded dragons at. While they can recover from temperatures as low as 60°F, they will be subjected to any number of cold-afflicted illnesses.
As you know, bearded dragons need heat to survive.
They depend on the surrounding environment to help them regulate their own internal temperature.
Without this heat, especially for prolonged periods (24 hours or more), they will be susceptible to health complications or death.
If your bearded dragon is living in temperatures of 65°F or a little higher, they might go into brumation (a hibernation state for reptiles).
Not all dragons brumate, and if they are exposed to this low temperature for longer than two days, it would be best to get them checked out with an exotic vet to prevent any long-lasting effects from the cold.
Signs An Symptoms A Bearded Dragon Is Too Cold
Some symptoms beardies may experience dealing with coldness include one or more of the following.
This is the most common symptom to occur for a cold beardie.
Digesting food requires heat to complete, and bearded dragons get this heat from external sources.
Without heat, they won’t digest their food in order to prevent any more heat loss.
It’ll stay in their stomach, where it will begin to rot.
Leaving this unchecked can be fatal to your bearded dragon.
When beardies are in cold environments for an extended time, they’ll slow down and will become weak from the lack of digestion and absorption of essential nutrients.
Once the temperature in their terrarium has been raised, monitor your lizard to ensure that they are eating and defecating as normal.
Brumation happens when bearded dragons go into a deep sleep to help cope with cold temperatures.
Seeing your reptile unresponsive and breathing shallowly can be frightening, but this is normal behavior under normal circumstances.
If you notice that your dragon is still unresponsive after raising the vivarium temperature back up, and it’s not during winter, you need to bring them to a vet immediately.
A darkened bearded dragon is a strong indicator that they are too cold.
Beardies will darken their bodies to absorb more heat and maintain their body temperatures.
You may have noticed this some mornings before they’ve had the opportunity to bask.
It is worth noting that darkening their colors could be a sign of something other than being cold, so if this still happens after the temperature of their habitat has gone back to normal, it’s important to figure out why they’re doing this.
How Long Can a Bearded Dragon Go Without a Heat Lamp?
Bearded dragons can survive 24 hours without a heat lamp, so long as their habitat remains above 65°F. They need warmth to survive and remain healthy so any longer than 24 hours without a heat lamp poses a significant risk.
Sometimes there are times when your reptile will have to go without a heat lamp for a while.
It could be because of a blackout or needing to go to the store to pick up another bulb.
Or perhaps when you’re bringing them with you on your vacation.
A few hours of no heat lamp exposure is okay in some circumstances, but it is important to get them back to their normal habitat temperature range as soon as possible.
Some dragons may opt to brumate in response to having no heat lamp, which is okay to allow them to do for up to 2 days (so long as the temperature is at least 65°F).
Though, dragons under 12 months shouldn’t brumate at all.
If you know that your dragon is going to be without a heat lamp for more than a few hours, possibly due to wintry/planned power outages or road closures, it’s important to be prepared to keep your reptile as warm as you can until they’re back in their warm terrarium.
The following methods in the next section should help.
Otherwise, do immediately invest back in a new/replacement heat lamp, your beardie is going to need it!
What Are The Best Ways To Keep A Bearded Dragon Warm Without A Heat Lamp?
There are several ways to keep a bearded dragon warm without a heat lamp. Cover their tank with blankets, use microwavable grain pillows and hot water bottles as heating pads. During summer, bring them outside to absorb naturally warm UV rays.
If you’re stuck without a heat source for your bearded dragon, you must do whatever you can to keep them warm.
You can work with blankets in two ways; either placing them over the tank to retain heat or putting your beardie directly in them.
If you choose to cover their tank with blankets to keep it warm, make sure to check the thermometer regularly, so the enclosure stays in a range higher than 65°F.
If any lights are still being used inside the tank, it’s important to watch them in case they overheat and catch the blanket on fire.
Other options you might have to resort to if your dragon is still too cold is to wrap them gently in a blanket and use your body heat to keep them warm.
Hot Water Bottles/Grain Pillows
A handy warming tip is to use a hot water bottle or grain pillow as heating pads for your dragon.
With either of these options, it’s vital to cover them with a towel or cloth.
Direct contact can easily burn their bellies.
When it comes to grain pillows, ensure that there are no gaps or holes in the pillow.
Dragons cannot digest grains, and accidental ingestion could add another concern to your beardie’s health.
Take Them Outside
During summer, you might consider bringing your beardie out into the sun to give them a natural source of heat and UV.
In this case, make sure that they are kept in a safe playpen or are on a harness; otherwise, your dragon could eat harmful plants and insects.
Or even consider bringing them with you into a heated car, doing so by placing them in a blanket first.
This might be difficult to achieve as some dragons don’t like being wrapped in blankets or being handled for too long.
Another last resort option to keep your reptile war is to give them a bath.
Make sure to keep the water below their mouth and nose, and to keep the water between 85°F and 92°F.
The downfall to trying this warming method is that bearded dragons usually cool down after a bath, even if they’re patted dry.
This is why they usually go to their basking spot once they’re back in their enclosure.
It is only a stopgap, though.
How Do I Know If My Bearded Dragon Is Warm Enough?
You’ll know that your dragon is warm enough by observing its behavior and checking the tank thermometers or thermostats. If your dragon isn’t behaving out of the ordinary and the tank is at the right temperature ranges, you’ve nothing to worry about.
As you’ve seen, bearded dragons can be seriously affected if they are too cold.
On the other hand, dragons are at risk of overheating.
This can be an issue with a malfunctioning thermostat, overheating bulbs, or the atmospheric temperature outside of the tank is higher (during a heatwave, for example).
Signs And Symptoms Of An Overheated Bearded Dragon
Here are some symptoms to watch out for in an overheated bearded dragon.
If your beardie is moving around with their mouth hanging open, this could be an indication they are overheating.
Dragons don’t sweat, so this is one of the ways they cool themselves down.
If you see your dragon incessantly digging, this is another sign of being too hot. They are digging to get to cooler temperatures below the surface.
When bearded dragons start paddling their bodies against the glass, they are trying to tell you something is wrong with them or their vivarium (including if it’s too hot).
Your beardie may take refuge in whatever hidden spots they can find in their tank. However, this isn’t unusual behavior to see from time to time.
If they’re not leaving this spot, especially in combination with other symptoms of overheating, then the temperature of the tank needs to be checked.
Cold-blooded reptiles, like bearded dragons, depend on external heat sources to keep their bodies warm.
To provide that, as a beardie owner, the best thing you can do is set up heat lamps in their tanks.
If you don’t have a working heat lamp, thankfully, there are a few alternative ways to keep your dragon warm as a temporary solution until you can get their heat lamp up and running again.
But don’t depend on them too long.
These are emergency measures, after all.
Can A Blanket Keep A Bearded Dragon Warm?
Blankets can temporarily keep a bearded dragon warm, and you can use them in two ways. Either cover the tank to retain heat or wrap your bearded dragon in them. You need to be careful with either method; the first can result in suffocation if no air can enter the tank, and the second option can cause stress.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.