UK Bearded Dragons:

Bearded Dragon Lighting

Bearded Dragon viv or vivarium lighting is a careful mis between supplying heat and light. Light can be provided by using flourescent tubes run via a uv starter unit which fires up the tubes to give off light in the form of uva or UV -A which stands for ultra violet light and also the tubes give off UVb or UV-B ultra violet B light which produced the energy needed for the dragons to produce the formation of vitamin d3 which helps with teh production of calcium and phosperous needed to establish healthy bone growth. The lack of vitamin d3 production amounts to bearded dragons suffering from a the onset of metabolic bone disorder.The are many forms of lighting available for use in a reptile viv or vivarium these being the 18, 20, 24, 30, 36 or 48 inch flourescent uv tubes which range in the % of uvb they omit and the best for bearded dragons are either the 5%, 8% or new 10% tubes such as repti-sun, repti-glo tubes etc. There are also low energy light bulb which are compact in design and give off 100w of light for 22w of power.

Bearded Dragon Lighting

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 utilise 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-vapour 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-vapour 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. 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-Vapour

Mercury-vapour 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 colouring out their high colour morph dragons using mercury-vapour 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-vapour might be worth checking into. 

Bearded Dragon Photoperiod

In their natural habitat, bearded dragons are exposed to periods of day and night. This is referred to as a photoperiod.

Bearded dragon 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 some retail stores such as Tesco.

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.
There are some great articles at anapsid.org on this subject, be sure to check them out.

In Closing

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 colouring.

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

UVB Light Fixture and Bulbs

The UVB light fixture and light are going to provide your bearded dragon with UVB rays. There are more and more reports coming out concerning the importance of using 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 any diy store. 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 any diy store. I like to build my own cages, and I attach the fixtures to the inside of the cage. I use diy store fixtures, because I find the price difference for a pet store light fixture can sometimes be double and triple what I pay. 

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. 

In Closing

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 colouring. These are just a few of the benefits that can come with using UVB light.

Bearded Dragon Lighting Options

There are different bearded dragon lighting options out on the market today. Which ones are best for you, your dragons enclosure and your dragon will vary on your situation.

The mainstay bearded dragon lighting options that you are going to need are lights for heat and lights for UV-B. Which types of lights you use for either will be up to you. I am going to focus on UV-B producing lights on this page. If you want information on heating lights check out my page on

Which brand or manufacturer is the best is solely personal opinion. I have my favourites, but don't let me make up your mind. Most lighting products on the market today will all do their jobs adequately.

I am going to focus on UV-B producing lights on this page. If you want more information on heating lights, check out my page on bearded dragon heating options.

UV-B Light Fixtures

Any of these fixtures will serve you well. They are a nice addition to any cage. I like to use plain florescent fixtures that you find at retail stores such as Walmart. They are a cheaper option if you need to save some money.

Florescent Lights

These fluorescent light tubes are pretty much the mainstay of the reptile trade. There are other products out there, but these ones seem to be the most commonly used. They provide UV-B rays without adding additional heat to your cage.

I like to use these bulbs in my cages. They work well in cages that are too huge. The Reptisun 10.0 bulb has made these an even better option. I use the Reptisun 10.0 tubes in my cages and getting good results. Even though this bulb has a reach of 20", it is still a good idea to provide a place where your dragon can get fairly close to it.

The other bulbs shown are good in their own right. They might not emit as much UV-B as the 10.0 bulb, but they do quite well if your dragon gets close enough to it. For my money though, I like either Zoomeds Reptisun tubes or Exo-Terras ReptiGlow lights.

Compact Florescent Lights

These bulbs are just a smaller version of the fluorescent tubes. These are relatively new. I have never tried these myself, but they seem like they would be just as good as the tubes. Though, with their smaller size there will be a smaller area where UV-B rays will be directed. I am not sure about that, just speculating. They seem like a very viable option to me.

Mercury - Vapour Lights

These light bulbs seem to produce the most beneficial light rays than any other out on the market. They seem like a really good product. I have heard of dragon breeders and owner getting wonderful results using these bulbs.

Besides the beneficial UV-B and UV-A rays that mercury vapour lights produce, they also produce heat.

The only setback for these might be that they are better suited for larger cages. Depending on the size of cage you are going to use and how well ventilated it is will determine if you want to use one of these. I have heard of these bulbs being used in a smaller cage setting and really overcooking the occupants of the enclosure.

In a smaller sized cage (48" x 20" x 20") these bulbs might produce too much heat. I'm not sure if you can use a dimmer switch with these or not. If you could, it would be easy to control the heat given off. I am not sure if you can use a dimmer with them though.

If you do have a bigger cage, however, these probably are the best lights to use.

Sunlight Exposure

The best possible source of UV-B rays. If you live in an area where you can provide 15-30 minutes of exposure to direct sunlight, you don't really need to provide a UV-B source.

If you can't provide this all year round, you still might be able to get them exposure in the warm summer months. Make sure, though, that the outdoor temperatures are right for your dragon. With this, you are still going to need a UV-B source for when your dragon can't get sun exposure

In Closing

There are different bearded dragon lighting options out on the market to choose from. What ever UV-B source you choose, make sure that it helps your dragon thrive.

While there is still some differences of opinion on providing UV-B light, I think their are benefits to using one. This is just my opinion and, as with anything else on my site, you can take it with a grain of salt.



Copyright 2006 UK Bearded Dragons
All Rights Reserved