Proper lighting is an important component of your bearded dragon’s enclosure setup.
A good UVB white light is essential for giving your beardie a healthy dose of UV rays, which its body will convert to vitamin D3.
Without enough D3, a beardie will have difficulty metabolizing calcium and become more susceptible to metabolic bone disease.
But what about a blacklight? Is it safe for your bearded dragon?
The black lights used to make psychedelic posters and fluorescent rocks glow are unsafe to use in a bearded dragon enclosure. In addition to the fact they do not produce any UVB rays, which are important to your bearded dragon, evidence suggests a black light is harmful to a reptile’s eyes.
However, a special blacklight for heat is made just for reptiles, and they provide UVB light at a rate between 290 and 320 nanometers.
These special blacklight bulbs are not available at your local hardware store, and you will need to go to a pet store to find one.
Keep reading for more information on why UVB light is so important to bearded dragons, as well as where to place one in your beardie’s enclosure.
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Why Do Bearded Dragons Need UVB Light?
UVB lighting is essential for the proper metabolization of calcium in a beardie’s body.
When a bearded dragon soaks up some rays from a UVB light source, this light is converted into vitamin D3.
In turn, vitamin D3 aids in metabolizing calcium.
Without enough D3, a beardie would not be able to process calcium properly, which will lead to a calcium deficiency.
This disease has no cure and is very often fatal for a lizard.
Metabolic bone disease causes painful bone deformities which will never be corrected, and it causes a lot of suffering in reptiles.
Early signs of metabolic bone disease include:
- Lack of appetite
If nothing is done to stop the progression of the disease, these symptoms will become much worse.
These symptoms grow into seizures, crippling bone and jaw deformities, and even paralysis before ultimately leading to death.
The good news is, metabolic bone disease is easily preventable through diet and proper lighting.
Providing a good and consistent source of UVB light to your beardie during daylight hours means you won’t have to resort to using vitamin D3 powder supplements very often, if at all.
If you want to learn more about UVB read our post on how long can bearded dragons go without UVB.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Light at Night?
Bearded dragons are diurnal creatures, meaning they are active during the day and they sleep at night.
Leaving a light tube on at night in your beardie’s habitat is a bad idea.
Bearded dragons need a completely dark room to get a good night’s rest.
Leaving a UV light for beardie on for heat at night will also raise the enclosure’s temperature too much, making it difficult for your beardie to sleep.
Ideally, the visible light in your beardie’s enclosure should be on for at least 12 hours a day and off for the next 12.
The day and night cycle is important for maintaining your beardie’s natural circadian rhythm.
Just imagine how poor your sleep schedule would be if the sun rose and set at wildly different times every day.
To maintain a steady day and night cycle for your beardie, you will want to consider investing in a light timer.
A light timer allows you to set how many hours the light should be on and when it should be turned off.
Since it is an automated system, you never have to worry about forgetting to turn your beardie’s light off at night.
In addition to providing your beardie with the darkness it needs to sleep, you will also need to keep some sort of heater on in the enclosure at night to ensure the temperature does not fall below 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C).
You should use a heat mat or ceramic heat emitter to maintain the temperature in the enclosure at night.
Are Colorful Lights Bad for Bearded Dragons?
Researchers have proved bearded dragons can distinguish different brightnesses and colors of light.
Many new bearded dragon owners are misled to believe their pet needs to have some sort of red or blue light at night.
Some of these colorful lights even double as heat sources.
However, due to a bearded dragon’s acute vision, the ultraviolet light may appear much brighter to their eyes than they do ours.
All of this bright light interferes with a beardie’s circadian rhythm and causes it to not sleep well at night.
This lack of sleep at night may leave your bearded dragon acting lethargic during the day.
If your beardie starts acting sluggish during the day and you leave a light on in their enclosure all night, this is a clue your lizard is not sleeping well.
When your beardie’s eating habits falter, it is simply a matter of time before they develop an illness related to vitamin deficiency.
Do not use colorful lights in your beardie’s enclosure, especially at night.
We have a post on the use of red lights for bearded dragons if you would like to learn a bit more.
How Close Should the Basking Lamp Be to Your Bearded Dragon?
Basking lamps are excellent heat sources for bearded dragons, as they allow the lizard to warm up their body.
Aside from being comfortable, this warmth aids the bearded dragon with digestion.
This allows the light to be close enough to keep your bearded dragon warm but far enough away to be out of reach for your pet.
The basking lamp should be positioned over an elevated surface, such as a rock or small log. This creates a more appealing spot for your beardie to bask.
You will need to use a thermometer to determine how far above the tank to mount the lamp.
The ideal basking temperature ranges from 90-100° degrees Fahrenheit (38° C).
A heat gradient should be established in your beardie’s enclosure, with the temperature on the cooler end ranging anywhere from 75-85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C).
You may need to experiment with several different mounting heights for your basking lamp before figuring out the optimal placement, so keep this in mind before you finishing hanging or mounting the lamp.