In the terms of exotic pets, bearded dragons are a fun one to consider. These creatures hail from desert climates and have plenty of love and devotion to give to you. Unlike cats and dogs though, they do require some specific things for their care and keeping that are different than what you’d need for a furry friend.
Bearded dragons are reptiles, and because they come from a climate that is sweltering hot during the day but milder at night, you’ll find that these little guys need a different set up in order to live comfortably in your environment. Terrariums with specialty lamps and temperature gauges are necessary because these little guys are cold-blooded and need special equipment to help them stay warm when not in their natural habitat.
But what does cold-blooded mean exactly, and what do you need to do to keep your beardie comfortable?
What Does Cold-Blooded Mean?
Bearded dragons are considered ectothermic animals, meaning that their heat source is usually derived from their environment. They use the sun’s rays and the warmth of the sand beneath them typically to keep themselves thermoregulated. Their blood alone doesn’t keep them warm the same way it does for mammals.
They can survive fine when it is chilly, as it typically gets cold at night in desert climates, but that doesn’t mean that they are functioning at their optimal. Their metabolisms tend to slow down when it gets cold which means they can survive on little to no food for the duration of that cold period. But they will need to feed again when it warms up.
It is recommended that install a basking lamp in your beardie’s terrarium so they can go sun themselves to get their metabolism going, help them digest, as well as get all the vitamins and minerals that light helps to provide them with. You should monitor the temperature of their terrarium and keep it warmer during the day when they’ll be up and about, and turn it down just a bit at night. For their basking spot, you’ll want to keep it a little over 100 degrees, the base temperature of their tank should be around 90, the cool side will want to range between 70 to 85 degrees, and at night you’ll want it to stay around 65 to 70.
If your bearded dragon gets too cold they’ll be sleeping a lot and become lethargic, so it is important to keep some spots specifically for them to warm up, especially during the winter. Making sure to maintain consistent temperature changes for them will help to keep them from getting sick as well. Too much cold can cause respiratory infections, which will require a vet visit, monitoring, and medication, to rectify.
Keeping a temperature gauge in the terrarium is the best way to ensure you’re keeping your little cold-blooded buddy as comfortable as possible. As long as they stay nice and warm, your beardie will be happy as can be.