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Bearded Dragon Lighting Guide

Providing proper lighting for bearded dragons will help them in more ways than one. It helps their appetite, their disposition, helps absorbtion of calcium and will also help make your dragons colors more vivid.

This is where you will find articles, information, and tips related to bearded dragon lighting. Whether you need information on UVB lights, mercury-vapor lights, or just basking lights, you’ll find it here.

There are two kinds of lighting for bearded dragons. The first is the light that will provide heat for your dragon. Bearded dragons are diurnal and need as much UV-A and UV-B rays that we can give them.

Basking lights will provide much needed heat and also beneficial UV-A rays. Check out bearded dragon heating for more information on lights used for heating.

The second type of bearded dragon lighting you are going to use are lights that provide beneficial UV-B rays. This kind of light is beneficial in a couple of ways. First it makes your cage brighter and helps stimulate your dragons appetite and other activities. A dark cage will do the opposite of this.

UV-B light also provides energy for the formation of vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for the metabolism of calcium and
phosphorus. Like other animals, and also people, dragons need calcium to have strong bones.

With poor amounts of calcium in their diets, or the inability to utilize calcium properly, will eventually lead to metabolic bone disease.

In nature the sun provides bearded dragons with UV-B rays. Although, there is no substitute for the sun, we can to provide similar conditions in captivity. The ways to do this are providing a good diet, vitamin supplementation and UV-B lighting.

An even better solution, for providing UV-B rays, is to expose your bearded dragon to the sun. This is a good option if the
temperatures permit where you live. Provided with 15 to 30 minutes of exposure a day, your dragon might not need a UV-B light. Though, it is good to keep your cage nice and bright.

Full Spectrum Bearded Dragon Lighting

These are florescent lights and also mercury-vapor lights that are designed to act like sunlight. These lights provide provide both beneficial UV-A and UV-B rays. They fall far short of what the sun does, but they are our best alternative.

To provide this lighting you’ll need a UV-B light and fixture to extend the length of your cage, or most of the cage. If you use a mercury-vapor light all you’ll need is a light fixture that can take the heat given off by these lightbulbs.

It is recommended that you use a bulb made for reptiles with high UV-B requirements, such as the Reptisun 5.0, Repti-Glow 8.0, and ESU 7%. These have a little higher UV-B level for desert animals. Also, the effects of UV-B diminish the further away from the source you are.

Florescent Tubes

With a florescent tube, you’ll want to arrange your cage so there are some places where your dragon can get within 6 to 8 inches of the light without touching it. You should also replace your bulbs once or twice yearly. The ability to produce UV-B fails before the bulb does.

Zoomed has come out with a new bulb, ReptiSun 10.0, that produces more UV-B rays, that last up to one year, and reach to 20″ from the source instead of 6″ to 12″. I use these bulbs in my cages and have nothing but good things to say about them.


Mercury-vapor bulbs provide stronger and further reaching UV-B rays than their florescent counterparts. I have not yet used these and don’t have a whole lot of knowledge on them yet. I do know that they only come in larger sizes such as 100-watt and higher.

If put into a smaller cage, these bulbs might be way too hot. Though, I hear they work great in bigger sized enclosures and open air enclosures. Open air enclosures are cages that have a lot of ventilation like a Reptarium.

I know of breeders that get better coloring out their high color morph dragons using mercury-vapor bulbs. They also claim better appetite and a better overall activeness.

I have not tried these bulbs because my cages aren’t big enough to support the heat that they give off. My cages measure 48″ x 20″ x 20″. I use a 75-watt Zoomed basking light and a Reptisun 10.0 bulb in my enclosures and get great results.

If you have a bigger cage, mercury-vapor might be worth checking into.  People who use these say they see better feeding response and brighter, vivid coloring in their color morph dragons.

Photoperiod for Bearded Dragons

What is a photoperiod? In a bearded dragons natural habitat, they are exposed to periods of day and night. This is referred to as a photoperiod. Basically a photoperiod is an animals day / night cycle.

A bearded dragon’s photoperiod is defined as the duration of a dragons daily exposure to light. The lengths of these periods also change with the seasons.

Bearded dragons will do well with a photoperiod of 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night (12:12 ratio). You can vary this over the year to simulate seasons. Such as a 14:10 ratio for summer, a 10:14 ratio in the winter, and spring and fall having a ratio of 12:12. I like to vary it in accordance with the season changes.

I highly recommend hooking all your lights to a timer to help keep a stable bearded dragon photoperiod. Doing this is a lot easier than having to remember when to turn the lights off and on. Timers can be bought for around $5 or $6 at hardware stores or even retail stores such as Walmart.

UV-B  Light Controversy?

There are some people that say with a balanced diet and vitamin supplements that bearded dragons will receive adequate amounts of vitamin D without UV-B rays.

They also say that UV-B lights do not provide any real benefits for your dragon. Some keepers never use full-spectrum bearded dragon lighting and don’t have problems. Although, there is still research to be done, for me I think that it is better provide UV-B light.

In short, no one really knows for sure how necessary full spectrum bearded dragon lighting is, but everyone agrees that it doesn’t harm your dragon. However, it has been increasingly shown that UV-B lights definitely have benefits for dragons in captivity.

Whether you provide UV-B lighting or not will have to be your decision. I highly recommend having some sort of UV-B provision for your dragon, but the choice is ultimately yours.

Providing bearded dragon lighting is vital to raising and keeping a healthy pet. Poor lighting and, even more so, poor husbandry are the cause for most illnesses in bearded dragons.

It only takes little bit of time, and knowledge to provide proper care for your dragon.

Whether or not you provide a UV-B source is up to you. Even though your dragon might be able to get enough vitamin D through diet and vitamin supplement, it would still be good to let them produce it naturally.

I like to provide my dragons with UV-B lights. Whether or not I need to is still up in the air. However, I do see definite benefits to providing UV-B lights. Even if it is just increased appetite, alertness, and better coloring.

This is one of those things where you’ll have to make the best decision with the information that is out there.

UVB Light and Fixture Information

The UVB light fixture and light are going to provide your bearded dragon with beneficial UVB rays. There are more and more reports coming out concerning the importance of using a UVB light with bearded dragons. Providing a good UVB light source will positively affect the health of your dragon.

There are different ways to provide this beneficial light to your bearded dragon. I’ll touch on the basic equipment you’ll need to get your dragon’s enclosure set up in no time.

UVB Light Fixture

There are different fixtures on the market that you can use in your dragons cage. The fixture, basically, is what you place the light bulb in. You can use one that is sold at a pet store or you can use a florescent light fixture that is sold at stores such as Walmart.

The fixtures at pet stores tend to be overpriced for a florescent light fixture. They don’t provide anything more than the ones you’ll find at Walmart. Though, the fixtures from a pet store look a lot better when used for vivariums.

I use a florescent light fixtures that you can buy at Walmart. I like to build my own cages, and I attach the fixtures to the inside of the cage. I use “Walmart” fixtures, because I find the price difference for a pet store light fixture can sometimes be double and triple what I pay.

Though, if you’re using an aquarium to house your bearded dragon, a “Walmart” flourescent light fixture doesn’t really look the best.

UVB Reptile Bulbs

You’ll want to use a florescent light bulb made specifically for reptiles with high UVB requirements. Full spectrum lights, aquarium lights and plant growing lights should not be used as a substitute. They are not the same and do no provide the same UVB levels that are needed.

There are different brands on the market that do a good job. Some people have personal preferences to certain brands. I like Zoomed Reptisun bulbs, but that doesn’t mean they are the best. Though, they very close to being the best.

Whichever type of fixture and brand of light you use is up to you. You’ll want to get a fixture long enough to run the length of your dragon’s cage. Also, you’ll need to provide a basking spot where your dragon can get close to the light source, without touching it, to get the full benefits of the UVB rays.

I have found that providing my bearded dragons with UVB light has been very beneficial to their health. It also helps their appetite and coloring. These are just a few of the benefits that can come with using UVB light.

Lighting / Photoperiod Question and Answer

I am doing some research on Bearded Dragons because i am planning on getting one fairly soon. I was reading your lighting section and i have some questions for clarification.

1. When you say the bearded dragons need 12 hours light and 12 hours dark, does that mean you shut off all light sources, even the primary heat source or basking lamp? Or does that just mean the UVB light?

2. Also, im making a cage that is 20 inches tall, and i read that the UVB light should be within 6 inches of the Dragon, does that mean you should put a basking spot under the UVB tube too so it can be within 6 inches?


You can turn all of the light and heat sources off at night. If your house doesn’t get any colder than 65 degrees F (18 degrees C) than you don’t need a heat source on.

This cooling down actually benefits your dragon. In the wild it gets cold at night, especially in deserts.

If your home gets colder than 65 degrees F, than you may want to use a heat source to get the temperature just over 65 degrees F. You can use heat mats / pads, red heat lights ( the red light doesn’t disturb sleep ), or a ceramic heater.

Bearded dragons don’t actually need 12 hours of light and darkness all year round. Some dragon owners do this, but I usually go along with the light / dark cycle where I live. This is more a personal decision.

In the winter I have 10 hours of light and 14 hours of dark. In the summer I have 14 hours of light and 10 hours of dark. In the spring and fall I use the 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark.

Some dragon owners just the the 12 : 12 ratio because they can set their timer and forget about it. I also live further north and have shorter days in the winter and longer days in the summer.

For the UVB light question. Zoomed makes a UVB light that reaches 20″. The Reptisun 10.0 bulb has a further reach than previous bulbs and is highly recommended by me.

Before this bulb came out, the best reach a UVB light would get is about 12″.

Even with the better reaches, I still recommend using a basking spot that will let your dragon get closer to the UVB light. Is it needed? I’m not entirely sure, but it’s better to play on the safe side.

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