When setting up a bearded dragon’s tank, cage, or other types of enclosure, one of the most important features to keep in mind is the lighting. This is because these scaly creatures come from arid desert regions of the Australian outback where they usually get natural UVB and UVA radiation from the sun.
This radiation is crucial for their health and survival, which is why it’s imperative for owners to understand the best light for bearded dragons. And since they require radiation from the sun, owners have to try and purchase the kind of lighting that can replicate this level radiation.
The best ways to replicate the rays of the sun are through specialized full-spectrum lighting bulbs such as mercury vapor and florescent. These bulbs are readily available at many local pet stores.
It’s also very important that your beardie gets at least 10 to 12 hours of exposure from these types of bulbs. If this isn’t accounted for, it could lead to a series of health issues like loss of appetite, metabolic bone disease, and mental problems.
In this post, we’ll cover all there is to know about bearded dragon lighting and review the bulbs that are the most ideal for your pet.
- Which UV?
- Whats The Difference Between These Two Bulbs
- How Much UVB is Required?
- Is Night Time Ultraviolet B Necessary?
- The 3 Top Bulbs That Are UVB
- How To Mount Your UVB Bulb
- Final Thoughts
Both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B are essential for captive bearded lizards to remain healthy because they are both capable of emitting the natural radiation of the sun.
Ultraviolet A can be transmitted from just about any light bulb, but only a specialized light bulb can generate UVB. So even though your beardie may be getting adequate UVA levels just from the basking light, a specialized UVB bulb is required to keep them healthy.
Whats The Difference Between These Two Bulbs
UVA light comes with rays that are longer compared to the shorter length rays from UVB. Just about any light bulb can emit ultraviolet A rays, but when it comes to ultraviolet B lighting, a specific selection is required, in order for your beardie to absorb calcium and produce vitamin D3.
How Much UVB is Required?
In warmer seasons, they require between 10 to 12 hours of exposure to a UVB bulb. Make sure you turn it on in the middle of the morning and then off by mid-evening. As for cooler seasons such as winter, they require about 10 hours of exposure to ultraviolet B rays.
By properly adjusting the intensity of the UVB bulb for the whole year, you can create a more suitable location for your beardie to survive, allowing them to stay healthy and happy.
Is Night Time Ultraviolet B Necessary?
But it’s important to ensure that your beardie has received a sufficient amount of daily exposure according to the requirements stated in the previous section. After that, it’s lights out.
Important Note – if you turn the lights off right after feeding your reptile friend, it could present a bit of a problem for them when trying to properly digest their food. That’s why it’s better to feed your pet approximately one hour before you turn the lights out.
The 3 Top Bulbs That Are UVB
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of UVB lighting, it’s time to look into my favorite UVB light bulbs that your bearded lizards will love in their tank.
Most ultraviolet B light bulbs that are available in stores aren’t as safe as I’d like them to be. And that’s why we streamlined our list for this post to only three bulbs that i’ve found to be a safe resource for them.
The two best UVB bulb options, as we stated earlier, are mercury vapor or fluorescent. Fluorescent bulbs provide ultraviolet B lighting for your little scaly friend, are quite affordable and could last about six months.
Mercury vapor, on the other hand, supplies them with not only UVB rays, but also UVA and heat, which makes them an all-round solution. They also tend to last longer, are stronger, and relatively more expensive.
1. Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0 High Output UVB Fluorescent Bulb
The Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0 Bulb is considered a top UVB option available right now. It comes in sizes from 18 to 36 inches, allowing it to work great with larger tanks. It can be installed in a standard hood light providing the right kind of daylight apart from producing both ultraviolet rays.
- Makes 10.0 UVB light
- Comes in a variety of sizes from 18 to 36 inches
- Great for using in larger tanks
- Needs a hook fixture for mounting
- May not produce enough basking heat
2. Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb
If you’re looking for the best mercury vapor bulb (an all-round solution), no other product gets the job done better than the Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb.
It produces identical natural radiation to that of the sun and makes just enough heat for it to be used as basking light. It lasts longer than some of the other bulbs mentioned in this list and has a 160-watt intensity. It’s also self-ballasted just so it doesn’t produce any UVC rays for safety reasons.
- Doesn’t produce any UVC rays as its self-ballasted
- Produces natural sun-like radiation
- High intensity of 160 W
- Cannot be used along with dimmer switches
- 18-inch minimum setting distance for safety
3. Zilla UVB Fluorescent Bulb 18 inch
The Zilla T-8 UVB fluorescent bulb provides both ultraviolet rays which not only enhances the health of your dragon, but also the natural colors of their tank’s plants, product, and habitat.
Important Note – Just remember to replace these bulbs after every 12 months and be sure to position them at least 6 inches away from basking areas.
- Suitable for desert dwelling amphibians and reptiles
- Provides infrared radiation and full-spectrum light for warmth
- Requires T-8 florescent bulb strip for proper usage
How To Mount Your UVB Bulb
If you are using a Repti-Sun 10.0, we suggest mounting it about 6 to 8 inches away from your beardie.
If it’s a regular UVB bulb that you’re using, be sure to mount it on the inside of the enclosure, since UVB can be filtered by glass and screens. Be sure to mount your bulb approximately 6 to 10 inches away from the basking area of your dragon so they can sufficiently absorb the rays for proper digestion of their food.
If you’re going for a more powerful ultraviolet B bulb such as a Mercury Vapor Bulb, place it on top of the tank’s mesh lid. Just be sure that it is placed several inches above the screen with the fixture’s lips resting on the lid. And if you’re going to use a very powerful Mercury Vapor Bulb, have it positioned just a foot above the enclosure’s lid.
By now you’ve almost certainly noticed that the cost of housing a beardie can really add up. Even though there are several UVB lighting options available, I would only focus on the three that we’ve listed in this post. And if you use the right fixture and are patient, you’ll be able to keep your beardie healthy and help it avoid illnesses such as Metabolic Bone Disease and respiratory infections.