Bearded Dragon Complete Lighting and Heating Guide
What’s The Proper Lighting Setup For A Bearded Dragon?
Lighting is essential to any reptile habitat. Our complete bearded dragon lighting and heating guide will help you prepare your setup for your reptile’s home. If you are creating a habitat for your bearded dragon, we highly recommend setting up your entire enclosure, before your pet arrives in its new home.
Bearded Dragons are diurnal, which means that they are most active during the day. This also means that they are stimulated by the presence of bright white light in their environment, and they require strong, high-quality UVB lighting for survival.
UVB lighting can be tricky, because in order to get the right strength of UVB (UV Index, or UVI), distance and potential mesh obstruction must be considered. To provide appropriate UVB in a single 48” x 24” x 24” bearded dragon enclosure, you will need a 22” Arcadia Dragon 14% bulb, placed on the warm side of the enclosure.
The basking area should be placed as follows:
- UVB mounted over mesh: basking area 7-11” below UVB lamp
- UVB mounted under mesh: basking area 12-18” below UVB lamp
(These recommendations are approximations based on available data. For best results, use a Solarmeter 6.5 to determine the best placement to achieve a UVI of 4.0-6.0 in the basking area.)
Bright light with a color temperature of 6000-7000K is suggested by experts to be important to bearded dragons’ mental health. Bearded dragons with additional “daylight” lighting in their enclosure seem to be more alert and active than those without, as well as demonstrating better appetite and more natural behaviors.
Full-spectrum lighting is not the same as reptile UVB lighting, so you will need two separate lamps.
Bearded Dragon Light Schedule:
Being a diurnal species, bearded dragons need a day and night cycle. According to data on sunrise and sunset times in bearded dragons’ natural habitat in Australia, a cycle of 14 hours/day during summer and 10 hours/day during winter (with gradual adjustments in-between) is appropriate.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Night Lights?
Black/blue/red light bulbs for night viewing or supplemental heat are not needed for bearded dragons and can actually mess with their day/night rhythm. Also, nightly drops in temperature are actually healthier than providing heat at night. If you are experiencing temperature drops below 55ºF at night, a ceramic heat emitter can be used as it does not provide visible light.
Are Red Lights Bad For Bearded Dragons?
Contrary to popular belief, reptiles can see red light. When a red bulb is used, it washes a red hue over everything in the enclosure making it difficult to perceive depth, this can lead to mental distress of your pet bearded dragon.
What’s The Proper Temperature And Humidity Levels For A Bearded Dragon Setup?
Humans are warm-blooded, which means that our body temperature is automatically regulated. Bearded dragons, however, are cold-blooded, which means that they have to move between areas of different temperatures to regulate their body temperature. Bearded dragons warm up by basking under the sun in the wild. In captivity, they do best with a halogen heat lamp as a heat source.
- Basking surface temperature: 105-115°F (40-46°C)
- Cool zone temperature: 70-85°F (21-29°C)
Generally speaking, 100w PAR38 halogen flood bulbs should be plenty to achieve those basking temperatures in a 24” tall enclosure. However, if you notice that they’re getting too hot, dial it down with a plug-in lamp dimmer. If your basking area is too cool, you need higher wattage bulbs.
To measure the basking surface temperature, use an infrared thermometer (a.k.a. temperature gun). To passively track basking temperature, use a digital probe thermometer, with the probe placed on the basking surface under the heat source.
Bearded dragons should have an average ambient humidity of 30-60%, as measured by a digital probe hygrometer with the probe placed on the ground on the cool side of the enclosure. Humidity levels that are consistently higher than 60% can make your bearded dragon sick.
Reptile enclosure accessories for your bearded dragon to bask on:
Providing accessories that hold on to heat, like the Zen Cave and Zen Corner Cave make excellent basking platforms. Underbelly heat has been shown to help aid in digestion. In the wild bearded dragons will bask on hot rocks and the Zen Cave mimics this. Other options for basking include rocks, branches, ledges, hammocks, etc.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Heat At Night?
Most reptiles benefit from a nightly drop in temperature, which science suggests may strengthen their immune system. Provided that daytime temperatures are correct, pet bearded dragons can handle nighttime drops as low as 50°F without ill effect. In fact, providing cooler temperatures at night encourages beardies to bask in the morning, which subsequently makes for a more active dragon. However, without adequate daytime warming, these cool temperatures may induce brumation or illness.
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