The importance of UVB lighting for a captive bearded dragon is paramount. The bearded dragons in the wild enjoy most of their time basking in the sunlight; this fulfills their need for Vitamin D3 naturally. However, in captivity, the owners need to take care of the lighting and warmth. Therefore, it’s best to have UVB lights installed in the enclosure before bringing your bearded dragon home.
As an owner, you must set up the cage for the beardie in the closest imitation of nature to help your bearded dragon thrive for a better life. As these reptiles need light as a basic need, you must find out the best in the market to help your beardie feel comfortable in the enclosure.
Unfortunately, choosing the best one becomes a little tricky as several products in the market claim to provide the best UVB lighting.
This article will help you understand UVB and UVA lighting and their importance for the bearded dragon. Furthermore, it’ll take you through some best UVB lights that your beardie would love the most.
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Do dragons need UVA or UVB?
Bearded dragons need both of these radiations, as in the wild, bearded dragons bask under the sun, which emits both UVA and UVB light; so, these two must be provided in captivity too. Moreover, UVA radiations can be transmitted through any ordinary light bulb, whereas, for UVB lighting, a particular UVB bulb is required.
You need to set up specific UVB lighting to fulfill the needs of UVB radiations.
What is the difference between UVA and UVB bulbs?
The UVA light can be obtained from any ordinary light bulb; the light rays have longer rays, whereas UVB lighting is a short-range light. Regular lights can also be considered as UVA lights, which provide light and heat.
The UVB lights emit shorter radiation that your bearded dragon uses to get vitamin D3 and absorb calcium. Therefore, while setting up the enclosure for the bearded dragon, you must ensure the availability of both of these lights.
The importance of UVB light for bearded dragons
If you’re a newbie, then you might want to know the importance of UVB light for the bearded dragon. This light helps your bearded dragon produce Vitamin D3, which is very important for calcium absorption in its body. Calcium is an essential nutrient for better bone health, and calcium deficiency can cause metabolic bone disease, which can be fatal for your bearded dragon.
UVB lights need a particular UVB lighting source, unlike the UVA lights that any light bulb can produce. Therefore, it’s essential to use the most efficient UVB light to provide proper lighting to your beardie; inconsistent lighting can raise health issues in the bearded dragon.
How many hours of UVB do bearded dragons need?
The hours may differ from one season to another. For example, the UVB light must be on for 10-12 hours from mid-morning to mid-evening in warmer seasons, such as spring and summer. In contrast, you may only turn the UVB light on for 8-10 hours in the colder season.
You can adjust the UVB lighting inside the enclosure for your bearded dragon to imitate the best natural setup for the well-being of your bearded dragon.
What to look for in lights for bearded dragons?
Choosing the right lighting setup might sometimes get tricky, as there are specific lighting requirements for the bearded dragons you need to consider while buying a lighting setup. The following key points will help you decide and get the best lighting setup for your bearded dragon.
Type of Lighting
A mercury vapor bulb is recommended for your bearded dragon at it provides the whole spectrum of light, including the UVA, UVB rays, and heat for your beardie’s basking. Other than this, the compact fluorescent and halide are also considerable options to provide the right type of lighting to your beardie.
Check whether the light you’re buying produces heat or not. If it does, you know where to use it in the tank. However, if the light doesn’t produce heat, you must get a heating lamp along with the light to adjust the temperature.
Spectrum and intensity
As mentioned earlier, the bearded dragons get both UVA and UVB radiations when they are in the wild, so they need these radiations in captivity too. Both of these lights are required for beardie’s health. So you must choose a lighting setup that produces both of these radiations to help your bearded dragon regulate its body functions.
Choosing the right fixture for the light bulb is essential, too, as different bulbs may require other fixtures according to their construction. You can screw some bulbs directly into standard fixtures, whereas others require special fixtures.
The best UVB bulbs for bearded dragons (Fluorescent only)
After knowing the importance of UVB lights and how to identify a good lighting setup, we’ll now discuss some best UVB light bulbs for your beardie. Not every light in the market is safer for your bearded dragon. You must want to look at the credibility of the producer and the reviews before opting for one.
Below is a list of our top pick fluorescent UVB bulbs for your bearded dragon. Since these bulbs are fluorescent, you must bear in mind that they will only provide UVB light to the beardie, and you still need a heating lamp to adjust the heat in the tank.
1: Repti-Sun 10.0 UVB (Fluorescent Light)
Repti sun 10.0 UVB is the most trusted and reputable light for bearded dragons in the market so far. They provide UVB lighting efficiently and can last for about 6-12 months on average. Changing the light every six months will ensure the optimal level of UVB for your bearded dragon’s well-being. You can even use this UVB light if you’re a newbie and with a tank size of 40 gallons.
Repti-Sun 10.0 UVB fixture
This light has several fixtures to go with, saving you the trouble to hunt for some specific fixture type. Following is the list of fixtures that you can use with this lighting.
Under-cabinet light fixture. This one is great for the Repti-Sun 10.0 UVB and isn’t a burden on the pocket because of the economical price.
Zoo Med Fixture is the one specifically designed for the Repti-Sun 10.0
Sunblaster Fixture: This is also an affordable option for fixing your Repti-Sun
2: Zilla UVB Fluorescent Bulb 18 Inch
This Zilla UVB Fluorescent Bulb is also an excellent option for providing UVB lighting to your bearded dragon. However, it is more effective to provide adequate UVB light when used in a small tank.
Zilla UVB Fluorescent Bulb Fixture
You can use the under cabinet light fixture for Zilla UVB Fluorescent light, as this pairs with this light blub tightly.
Exo-Terra Repti-Glo 10.0
The Exo-Terra Repti-Glo 10.0 desert compact fluorescent bulb is also an affordable fluorescent bulb for providing UVB light to your bearded dragon.
Best Mercury Vapor bulbs for bearded dragons
The mercury vapor bulbs provide UVA and UVB light for your bearded dragon, completing all the reptiles’ requirements, making these lights an “all in one” type of light. They are more robust than Fluorescent lights and long-lasting too.
Some best Mercury vapor bulbs have been listed down for you.
1: Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb
Mega-ray mercury vapor bulb is one of the best options out there for providing UVB and UVA light to your bearded dragon. It offers 160 watts of light, and its packaging keeps it safe during delivery. It’s costly compared to other bulbs in the market; however, the features that it provides are worth the price.
There is a 100 watts version of this bulb, too, just if you’re reluctant to use the bulb with a light stronger than 100 watts. Furthermore, this 100 watts version is just perfect for the smaller cages for bearded dragons.
Mega-ray mercury vapor bulb fixture
Following is a list of recommended and positively reviewed fixtures for the Mega-ray mercury vapor bulb.
Repti Zoo 8.5 inch dome Reptile lamp fixture is one of the recommended fixtures for bulbs above 200 watts and diameter less than or equal to 6.2
Repti zoo 8.5 reptile lamp fixture is also a recommended fixture, which is more affordable and works for the mercury vapor bulb with a power of 160 watts or less.
1: Evergreen pet supplies 100 watt Mercury vapor bulb
This one from the Evergreen pet supplies is one of the best mercury vapor bulbs out there and is guaranteed to work on arrival. It is more affordable than the mega-ray, and its dual-threat life covers the requirement of UVB and UVA at the same time. You can use this bulb in a variety of bearded dragon cages, and it can be mounted easily.
Evergreen pet supplies 100 watt Mercury vapor bulb fixture
The fixture that you can use with this light bulb is Fluker’s Repta clamp lamp with a switch of size 8.5 inches.
UVB High-intensity Self-Ballasted Light for bearded dragons by TEKIZOO
This TEKIZOO UVB light provides UVB and UVA light to your bearded dragon by covering all the tank base. This light can be used with various tanks, reducing the stress to be adjusted with the correct type of terrarium.
How to know whether to use a Repti-Sun 5.0 or 10.0 for your bearded dragon
The bulb’s intensity depends directly on the size of the tank; a bigger tank will require more light compared to the smaller one. You can use Repti-Sun 5.0 for a tank with size 20 gallons; whereas, the 40 gallons tank requires a Repti-sun 10.0 bulb.
Repti-sun 5.0 is unsuitable for bigger tanks and adult bearded dragons, as they require a bigger living space, where this light won’t work.
How to mount a UVB light for a bearded dragon?
It’s recommended to use a Fluorescent light bulb for your bearded dragon if you’re a beginner, as it will prevent your beardie from having any incidents of burning. If you’re using a regular UVB light, then you must mount it inside the enclosure, as the glass will filter out the UVB radiations. You must mount the regular Fluorescent bulb around 6-10 inches away from the basking spot of the bearded dragon.
In the case of a mercury vapor bulb, you must mount it away from the beardie as its light is way too intense compared to the fluorescent bulbs. You can hang the mercury bulbs above the lid of the terrarium to adjust the heat and lighting.
How long do UVB bulbs last?
The longevity of the UVB bulb can depend on the quality, hours of usage, and state of the wiring. Furthermore, in the case of the fluorescent bulbs, it’s recommended to change them after every six months to ensure optimal UVB lighting for your beardie.
The Mercury vapor bulbs can last longer than the fluorescent bulbs. You can use one for 12-24 months for the optimal UVB and UVA lighting.
Can a bearded dragon get too much of UVB?
Excess of anything can be harmful to the body of any living being. Similarly, too much lighting can have adverse effects on the beardie in terms of health. If you see your bearded dragon closing his eyes in the basking light, then you must look out for the light intensity as it must have gotten too much for the bearded dragon.
If you have set temperature gradients and have a hiding spot in the enclosure, your beardie can help himself to regulate his body temperature. Otherwise, the intensity of UVB will burn your beardie, which is why you should choose a quality UVB light for your bearded dragon.
Do bearded dragons need UVB light at night?
The answer is no; the bearded dragons do not need UVB lighting at night. You have provided them enough during the daytime, and now at night, it’s their time to cool down and rest. However, you must not turn off the UVB lights right after mealtime, as this will make it difficult for your beardie to digest its food.
Turn on lights an hour before their morning mealtime and do not turn them off until an hour after their last meal. This will help them to digest and stimulate their appetite.
What should my bearded dragon’s UVB wattage be?
The wattage is the intensity of the UVB bulb, which can be specified by how close or far you’re placing the UVB light. It also depends on whether you’re using a reflector hood for mounting and a mesh screen between your beardie and the UVB light.
This can be explained as a 160-watt bulb placed 24 inches away from the beardie is no different from a 100-watt bulb placed 12 inches away. So, the intensity depends on the location of UVB light in the enclosure.
Are coil UVB bulbs bad for bearded dragons?
Yes, these bulbs are bad for bearded dragons because the intensity of these bulbs is too high, and they might end up burning or damaging the eyes of your bearded dragon.
After knowing the best recommendations and importance of UVB lights, there are a few more things that you must consider while you’re planning to add UVB lights to the enclosure.
Create a schedule of UVB light for your bearded dragon
The average time for bearded dragons to be in UVB light is 12-14 hours per day, while at night, the beardie does not need light. However, you must ensure not to turn the UVB lights off right after a meal as that can disturb the digestion of the bearded dragon.
Figure out the ideal wattage
There are a few options of wattage when you’re getting a UVB light for your bearded dragon. However, the wattage is managed by the place where you’re fixing your UVB bulb. It also depends on the objects between the bulb and beardie and the use of reflectors.
Set up the light properly
The placement of light in the enclosure greatly influences the intensity of UVB light for your bearded dragon. If you’re using a fluorescent bulb, you may place it 6-10 inches away from the bearded dragon to provide the right amount of UVB. In the case of a mercury bulb, you may put it outside the enclosure for optimal UVB lighting.
The optimal use of UVB light is influenced by the frequency of replacement of the bulb. A regular Fluorescent bulb should be replaced after every six months; whereas, the mercury vapor bulbs can be used for up to 12-24 months.
It’s important to change the bulbs after the aforementioned time, as their efficiency and output might get affected after this span of time.
Why should you stay away from coil UVB lights
These bulbs are too strong for your bearded dragon and might end up damaging their eyes if used consistently. Furthermore, their output is quite inconsistent too, which results in health complications in the bearded dragon.
Time to wrap up
Now that you know about different UVB bulb recommendations and their importance in the life of a captive bearded dragon, you would be able to choose one according to the age of your beardie and the size of his tank. However, you must make sure to adjust the timings of UVB lighting to avoid burning or hurting your bearded dragon.
In addition to this, you must know where to place the bulb in the enclosure according to its intensity and the time to replace it after some months, as mentioned in the article for optimal use of UVB
Finally, don’t rush while deciding on the right UVB light. Take your time to sit back and think for the best option to ensure the health and well-being of your bearded dragon.