If you want your bearded dragon to live a long and healthy life, you should know how to setup proper bearded dragon lighting. Bearded dragons are diurnal which means they are active during the day. Having that in mind, they will be needing the type of lighting that replicates the natural sun outside. When trying to mimic the natural sun, you will be needing bulbs that will give three things…
- UVA Rays
- UVB Rays
- Heat (Approximately 110°F Basking Spot)
Luckily, there are special reptile bulbs to achieve these requirements.
Bearded Dragons need UVA
UVA rays help encourage natural behavior, breeding, and basking. These types of UV rays also help in identifying other items in the enclosure like food (insects). They will be able to detect and find food a lot faster and better with the UVA rays. UVA rays will usually be given off by regular heat lamps, so you will not be needing any other bulbs to have UVA rays throughout the enclosure. If you want to add a little more UVA rays, you can add an additional florescent bulb.
Bearded Dragons need UVB
UVB lighting is very important for your bearded dragons health. It is a must have. The UVB rays help with the build up of vitamin D throughout the body. Its primary function is to metabolize calcium for proper bone growth.
Without this type of UV radiation, your bearded dragon will most likely suffer a slow agonizing death from a disease called Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). Handicaps, multiple fractures, breaks, and paralyzing, come from MBD. This is why it is very important that you have a UVB bulb in your bearded dragons enclosure.
Below is a list of UVB bulbs that we recommend. They are ranked by popularity and use by many reptile enthusiasts.
- Reptisun 10.0 by zoomed
- Arcadia D3 12%
- Exo Terra Repti Glo 10.0
Most light fixtures come with a plastic see through cover to protect the light bulb. Some of these plastic see through covers block UVB rays (not all), but to be safe, make sure to remove the plastic cover.
When choosing a UVB bulb, try to avoid getting coil version light bulbs. Coil bulbs do not last as long as the tube versions. A lot of people will also argue that “coil versions ruin reptiles eye sights”. Although, I am unsure of this statement, I would not risk it. Another thing you want to do when picking out a UVB bulb is to make sure that you get one that will take up at least 3/4 of the enclosure. Anything smaller will give your bearded dragon a chance to hide from it.
Remember: UVB bulbs have a lifespan of about 7 months. After this time period, the UVB bulb will have little effect on your bearded dragon because the UVB rays will have worn out by then. So make sure to replace them every 7 months.
Bearded Dragons need a Basking Spot Lamp
Bearded dragons come from a place where temperatures reach well over 100 °F. So if you are wanting to get a bearded dragon, or if you have a bearded dragon, you should get a heat lamp to replicate the natural heat that they would normally get in the wild. You will be needing a heat lamp that reaches the 110 °F mark. Bearded dragons will use the heat to bask and digest their food. If proper temperatures aren’t being reached, digestion problems may occur.
Choosing a heat lamp depends on the size and location of your enclosure. If you live somewhere cold, you will want to buy a heat lamp that has a higher wattage. On the other hand, if you live somewhere warm, you will want to buy a heat lamp that has a lower wattage. The amount of wattage will also be depending on where you will be hanging your heat lamp (the distance from lamp to bearded dragon). The higher the heat lamp is, the more wattage you will be needing.
Usually these watts will normally work with the associated tank size.
4ft x 2ft x 2ft tank – 75 Watt
2ft x2ft x2ft tank – 60 Watt
anything smaller – 40 Watt
Bearded Dragon Lighting Schedule
Your bearded dragon lighting schedule should follow a routine everyday. The best way to do this is to buy an electrical outlet timer which you can set up to turn on and off at specific times during the day. With bearded dragons, you are going to want to follow a 12 hour on 12 hour off light cycle. If you are the one that likes taking things to the next level, you can change-up the hours during the winter and summer. You may adjust the light cycle to 10 hours on during the winter and 14 hours on during the summer. Some may choose to change-up the light cycle to replicate the seasonal changes and others may not, it’s really up to you if you’d like to do this. The important thing here is to have a routine and stick with it.
All lights should be facing down, from the top of your enclosure. Never hang or place a light on the side of your enclosure. This will sometimes cause eye irritation and stress. Facing the light down into the enclosure will reduce glare in your dragons eyes, and direct more light into the tank.
Bearded dragons love to bask and will bask the majority of the day. This is why you should place the basking spot lamp and the UVB bulb close together. If you separate the two by putting one on each side of the enclosure, there will be a possibility that your bearded dragon will suffer a lack of UVB rays. So make sure to place them close together.
Natural Sunlight for Bearded Dragons
Nothing is better than natural sunlight for bearded dragons. A vet once told me “1 hour in the sun is better than 12 hours of UVB light”. This just shows how much better the sun really is. If it is sunny outside, let your bearded dragon spend a few hours outside, in a protected area of course. But be careful, they are very fast and are sometimes good swimmers. So if you have a pool or a lake, be careful they don’t go in for a dip.
Getting sunlight outside is not the same as getting sunlight through a window of your house. So don’t plan on placing your bearded dragons tank next to a window thinking its the same. This method will not work and your bearded dragon will suffer from a lack of UVB rays. Unless it is direct sunlight, it will not work.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding on how to set up proper bearded dragon lighting.
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