The Importance of Correct Lighting for Bearded Dragons


There are several factors to consider while designing habitats for any reptile. To keep your beardie happy and healthy, you must establish an enclosure closely resembling their natural habitat. Bearded dragon care necessitates understanding one of the most crucial components of keeping them in good shape: light.  

Light has a significant impact on your beardie’s circadian rhythm, which regulates critical physiological activities, including hormonal balance and sleep-wake cycles. Circadian rhythms are psychological and physical changes that affect beardies behavior.

As a general rule, leave the UVB and daylight on for 12 hours, then turn them off for another 12. Continue reading this post to understand why lighting is vital and ensure that you select the appropriate equipment.

How Important Is UVB for a Bearded Dragon?

Bearded dragons spend most of their time basking in the sun in the wild, and they do so for various reasons. 

  • They use the sun’s rays to keep warm. Bearded dragons, like all reptiles, are ectothermic, meaning they derive their body heat from external sources. 
  • Additionally, they rely on the Ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun to synthesize vitamin D in their bodies. Without the UVB spectrum, the bearded dragon cannot obtain vitamin D from the meals it consumes. Unfortunately, in the absence of this vital vitamin, the beardie will suffer from various health problems, including bone deformity.
  • A shortage of UVB light can impair beardies’ capacity to produce vitamin D3, impacting their calcium levels. Calcium deficiency can result in metabolic bone disease (MBD), which affects the beardie’s metabolism and bone density. Lethargy, swelling, tremors, distortion (in developing beardies), and softening of the shell are also symptoms of MBD.
  • When beardies are newborns and juveniles, UVB light is extremely crucial because of their rapid growth and the high calcium requirements for healthy bone formation. 
  • Pregnant beardies are no exception as egg production also needs an increase in calcium intake.

Nothing equates to the sun’s ultraviolet light, but the right lighting products can provide a sufficient amount of UV to guarantee proper health.

There are numerous lights available to assist you in this endeavor. 

What Are the Best Types of Lights for Bearded Dragons?

Your bearded dragon’s lighting should offer the UV rays necessary for vitamin D production while also simulating natural sunlight’s 12 hour day/night cycle. 

Lights are classified according to their bulb structure and estimated output in watts and ultraviolet radiation. Additionally, there are several suggestions for their location within the enclosure to maximize the UV output.

Fluorescent

When it comes to UV exposure, your beardies enclosures must have full-spectrum fluorescent lights or tubes. The linear fluorescent light bulbs are the most popular aquarium lighting since they cover a larger area. For reptiles, it’s better to use bulbs specifically designed for specific UVA and UVB illumination requirements.

The length of these bulbs typically ranges from 15 to 48 inches, and because you want more than two-thirds of your beardie’s cage to be exposed to UV radiation, make your selection based on the size of your enclosure.

To use these fluorescent tube lights, you’ll need a hood or ballast, which you may pick up from the bulb’s maker or a hardware shop, and do not forget to verify compatibility. To get the most out of your UV lamp, be sure to replace the full spectrum bulbs at least once every six months.

Mercury Vapor

Mercury Vapor bulbs produce UVA and UVB radiations, light, and heat in one compact package, making them ideal for microhabitats. They are more expensive but have better UV output; they last longer and require less frequent replacement. 

However, they have the same issue as CFL lights in terms of coverage. Your beardie will not obtain as many UV rays if it moves away from the MV bulb (e.g., the basking location). 

It’s best to use fluorescent tubes for coverage, but they don’t give much heat. Additionally, it would help to place the MV bulbs further away from your basking zone because of their higher total output.

Compact Fluorescent

Compact fluorescent (CFLs) are smaller, typically spiral-shaped lights that you can put into dome light fixtures. The bulbs spend less energy while producing the same amount of light.

You may have heard about the dangers of CFL lights on a reptile’s eyesight, but this isn’t true. These were some of the earliest designs that harmed a reptile’s eyesight on the market. 

The good news is that the CFL bulb has previously been redesigned and is now safe for reptiles, thanks to the use of glass and phosphors (the light-emitting element) that don’t release harmful short wavelength Ultraviolet rays.

Some owners are still undecided, but here are some points. Due to their tiny form, CFLs generate a lot of glare when hung from the top of your cage. That puts the light directly in front of you and the reptile’s eyes, causing glare. Some are dull or don’t render colors well. Placing these lights on a dome or screen top solves this issue.

To protect your bearded dragon, keep all lights at least 7-8 inches away from it.

The limited light coverage that small fluorescent light bulbs can create is disadvantageous. Bearded dragons move about a lot, and the UV rays will only cover a tiny portion of your habitat. CFL bulbs can not provide as much UVB light as long fluorescent tubes, which can cover up to 80percent of your beardie’s cage.

Instead, these CFL lights are ideal for illuminating the most obscure corners of your enclosure. Some reptile keepers use them to illuminate specific regions of their tanks or as an additional source of light in the overall setup of their terrarium.

UV rays are essential for vitamin D synthesis, and you want your bearded dragon’s illumination to mirror natural sunshine with a 12 hour day/night cycle. Bulbs, UV radiation, and wattage ratings are essential considerations when choosing a light.

Several suggestions exist for where they should be placed in the enclosure (i.e., how far away from your beardie’s basking location).

What Wattage Bulb Should You Use?

The more watts a bulb has, the more light and heat it produces. If you have a tank of more than 150 gallons, you may want to consider purchasing two lights instead of just one. Another option is to move the bearded dragon’s basking location closer to the light bulb.

You must do your homework before purchasing any of these items so that you know which ones would best suit your bearded dragon’s needs and which ones are made from eco-friendly and sustainable materials. To get the ideal temperature in the aquarium, you can select from many light bulbs.

Choose the one you believe will work best for you and proceed accordingly.

Below is a table showing reviews of the best-bearded dragon lights:

Light Watts Dimensions UV Output Application Style
Zoo Med ReptiSun Mini Compact13W6 x 2 x 2 inches10% UVB & 30% UVAIt is compatible with ordinary threaded sockets and light fixtures and might be positioned either way
Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb100W7.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches5% UVB & 95% UVAAll-in-one self-ballasted light with UVB, UVA, and heat
MyComfyPets125W7.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches5% UVB & 95% UVAIt fits standard bulb fittings and is self-ballasted for safety
Zoo Med ReptiSun High Output T830W24 inches10% UVB & 30% UVAA strip light-style light fixture is required
TEKIZOO Super Sun80W3.75 diameter x 4.8 height (inches)10% UVB & 30% UVAOnly vertical mounting in conventional threaded sockets/light fittings is possible with this lamp.

How Much Light Do Bearded Dragons Need A Day? 

Beardies need 14-16 hours of exposure to light per day throughout the summer, and they should have between 8 and 10 hours of nocturnal illumination. However, when winter arrives, this number decreases slightly. 

Bearded dragons should acquire 10-12 hours of light during the day and 12-14 hours at night in winter.

Without the illumination, the bearded dragons may experience a variety of health concerns, including mental instability, appetite loss, and metabolic bone disease. Your bearded dragon requires both UVA and UVB radiation, which they would naturally obtain from the sun.

To match the natural 12-hour day/night cycle, you should turn off UVB at night. Because the sun provides UVB light within their natural habitat, the earth receives no UVB radiation at night.

Select light bulbs that emit no more than 5 – 7 percent UVA or UVB radiation. UVA protects the health of your bearded dragon, while UVB enables the pet to digest vitamin three and calcium.

You want to choose a full-spectrum light, and many people opt for linear fluorescent bulbs. However, when selecting a suitable bulb, ensure that it is made explicitly for a beardie.

Never purchase a fluorescent bulb at a hardware shop, as it might be too weak or strong, and you do not want to take any chances. Additionally, select a light bulb that is 80 percent the length of the cage.

You will protect the bulb by enclosing it in a hood made specifically for it. Replace the bulbs once every six months.

FAQ’s about Bearded Dragons

Conclusion 

Bearded dragons need a variety of things to keep them healthy, and one of those things is a routine that mimics their natural habitat. The lights in a bearded dragon’s tank serve a fundamental purpose, and we hope you now have a better understanding of their significance. 

There are several lighting options available for beardies and other reptiles, and the chore of selecting one may be very challenging. However, it would help if you remembered are a few simple things:

  • The proper UVA and UVB yield for the beardie (high).
  • The lamp’s proper placement in your terrarium (distance from your beardie’s basking spot).
  • Diligently replace the UV lighting to ensure correct lighting for your pet at all times.

Maintaining good health for your bearded dragon will make you an excellent bearded dragon keeper, and you’ll have a companion with whom you can share many years of cherished moments.

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