As reptiles from very warm regions, bearded dragons place high demands on the climatic conditions of their terrarium.
Proper lighting is critical to bearded dragon health and quality of life.
As reptiles, bearded dragons belong to the cold-blooded animals. They cannot maintain their body temperature on their own and are dependent on their ambient temperature. Only when the temperatures are high enough does their metabolism run at full speed.
As soon as the temperatures drop, it will be shut down. Gradually, the activity of numerous enzymes is reduced, usually starting with the digestive enzymes, until the reptiles enter a dormant state. It is all the more important to make sure that the terrarium is warm enough.
On average, the temperature in a bearded dragon terrarium should be around 30°C during the day. In order to calculate this average, the temperatures are measured at several points in the terrarium and these values are added together. The sum is then divided by the number of measuring points.
At night the lighting is switched off. The temperatures should then be around 20°C, which roughly corresponds to the normal temperatures in living rooms.
There should be several temperature zones in a terrarium, because even in nature it is not always warm everywhere. In addition to a sunny spot with around 45°C (40-50°C), there must be zones with around 30°C as well as shady/cooler areas around 25°C.
In the best-case scenario, the correct use of the lamps creates natural temperature gradients, so that instead of sudden temperature changes, gentle transitions are created, i.e. a slow rise or fall between the zones.
The spectrum of UV rays is below that of light that is visible to us and are referred to as UVA, UVB or UVC depending on the wavelength. UVC rays are absorbed by the ozone layer and play no part in reptile lighting.
UVA and especially UVB are essential for bearded dragons. It used to be common practice to heat the sunbathing spot with a heat spot and occasionally switch on a UV lamp, such as the Osram Ultra Vitalux.
In the meantime, however, there are also good mixed lamps that both provide heat and cover the UV requirement.
UVA and color vision in bearded dragons
Bearded dragons do not only see the primary colors red, green and blue. They are tetrachromats and are able to see UVA radiation. Under UV radiation, colors and patterns are visible that we humans cannot see with our eyesight.
This is particularly important when it comes to food selection. However, it is also known that the coloring of other animals is different under UV, so that the UV light will also be involved in communication.
Without UVA, bearded dragons are UV-blind, which can certainly affect their well-being and behavior.
UVB radiation is vital for bearded dragon metabolism. It penetrates through the upper layers of the skin and converts provitamin D³ into previtamin D³. Under the influence of heat, it becomes vitamin D³, which plays a crucial role in bone metabolism.
The most common disease due to vitamin D³ deficiency is rickets .
While many other animals can compensate for a lack of UV radiation with a diet rich in vitamin D, this is not possible for bearded dragons.
Their natural food – plants and insects – contains very little vitamin D³, so most of their requirements must be synthesized from sunlight. Even the administration of vitamin D³ via the feed cannot replace UV radiation.
Again and again it happens that bearded dragons get too little UVB. The reason is either the ignorance of the owners about the UV requirements of their bearded dragon or a lamp that is too old.
Luminaires that emit UV should be changed about every 6 months because the UV output decreases more and more over time.
These deficient reptiles are lighter in color than others, sometimes calmer, eat less, may have fertility problems, and have less efficient immune systems.
They often flatten themselves out under the heat lamp and appear wider. In this way they try to enlarge their body surface and capture as much of the low UV radiation as possible.
In addition, these animals take in hardly any less calcium, for example in the form of ground cuttlebone, because the active calcium intake increases with UVB radiation.
However, too much UVB can be just as harmful and lead to skin damage. A typical sign of too much UVB is patchy blackening, not to be confused with the mood-dependent blackening of the beard.
It is therefore important not to go below the minimum distances to the animal recommended by the manufacturer.
Best Light For Bearded Dragon
Since it is very bright in the Australian steppe, it is hardly possible to illuminate the terrarium too much. On the contrary. Most bearded dragon terrariums are much too dark.
It is therefore necessary to install other light sources in addition to heat and UV lamps.
Metal Halide Lamps
Metal halide lamps can hardly be surpassed in terms of light intensity and are one of the best ways to simulate steppe-like lighting conditions in the terrarium.
With metal halide lamps, a distinction is made between HQI (quartz burner) and HCI (ceramic burner).
HQI lamps are a further development of the now banned mercury vapor lamp (HQL). HCI lamps offer higher luminosity and last longer, making them more suitable for bearded dragons than HQI lamps.
Lamps always have the disadvantage that they light up more or less selectively and there will always be shaded areas if the terrarium is furnished in a varied way.
Fluorescent tubes are used to reduce these and illuminate the terrarium as best as possible.
The differences between T8 and T5 tubes are relatively small, so there is no reason to switch from T8 tubes to T5 tubes just because of the manufacturer’s recommendation.
However, if a new purchase is pending, T5HE tubes are recommended. These are slightly brighter than T8 tubes and are also much more efficient and therefore more energy-efficient.
Our selection of the best lights for your bearded dragon:
- The Lucky Herp UVA + UVB Bright Light 80W
2. The Tekizoo Sun Lamp For Reptiles
3. Zilla T8 Fluorescent Bulb for Reptiles Habitat
Parietal Eye – Additional Light Vision In Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons have a third eye called the parietal eye. This sits on the forehead and is about the size of a skin flake. If you look closely, you can see them well because, in contrast to the other skin scales, they appear slightly transparent.
Even though the parietal eye has no eye muscles, eyelids, or an iris, it is a real eye. It is directly connected to the brain through a tiny gap in the skull bone. The processed stimuli – primarily light radiation – lead to a release of hormones, which influences the activity of the bearded dragon.
It is also assumed that the 3rd eye is also used to recognize predators that cast a shadow coming from above, as well as to distinguish between day and night. But it also plays a very important role in orientation, because bearded dragons orientate themselves more on sunlight than on landscape conditions. It is also assumed that they can use it to perceive magnetic fields.
Important: Lamps should always be operated with ceramic sockets. The luminous efficacy of fluorescent tubes can be increased with additional reflectors.
Red light lamps, heating mats, heating stones and the like should be avoided. Bearded dragons associate light with heat, and there is a risk of burns if the animals cannot “see” that heat.
Ballasts – protection against explosions
Ballasts are required for all gas discharge lamps. Gas discharge lamps differed from normal light bulbs, so they are not allowed to be plugged directly into a normal socket.
In the case of light bulbs, the electrical resistance is determined by the filament. With a fixed mains voltage, as is the case with normal sockets, the same amount of current always flows through.
Gas discharge lamps do not have a fixed resistance. Even if the voltage remains the same, their resistance drops in proportion to the current flowing more strongly. This chain reaction causes the lamps to eventually break or even explode.
Ballasts ensure that the current is limited so that these gas discharge lamps do not self-destruct as a result of drawing unlimited current.
LEDs in the terrarium?
LED lamps and tubes are now widely used in aquaristics. There are still no convincing LEDs for keeping reptiles.
The light spectrum of LED lamps is not optimal for bearded dragons because it is in a range that these animals can see. This means that bearded dragons do not perceive LEDs as white sunlight, but as colored. To prevent this, a technical effort would be necessary, which has not yet paid off.
The few manufacturers who have tried to bring alternatives onto the market have so far failed to impress with their products. Since the illuminants are composed of several small LEDs, there is a risk of unnatural shadows. Color rendering is also often too far removed from sunlight.
Timers And Dimmers
In nature there is dawn and dusk. It’s getting light in the morning and the temperatures are rising with the sunlight. In the evening it is the other way around, it slowly gets darker and cools down. Nobody switches the light on and off.
If you want to offer your bearded dragons natural conditions , you should work with timers and, if possible, with dimmers .
Why is lighting so important for bearded dragons?
In terraristics, it is common for terrariums to be equipped with elaborate lighting. This is particularly important for the survival of bearded dragons, because they are sun-loving desert animals.
Bearded dragons need adequate light to stay healthy. The normal lighting conditions in this country are in no way sufficient , which is why the bearded dragon terrarium must be equipped with professional lighting technology.
The bearded dragon can only get enough light and UV radiation with the right lighting in the terrarium . In addition, the right lighting can also provide warmth, which is also essential for the cold-blooded animals. Adequate keeping of bearded dragons is therefore hardly possible without suitable lighting.
How can adequate lighting be ensured in the bearded dragon terrarium?
The general lighting conditions at the location of the bearded dragon terrarium play a rather subordinate role, because there are worlds between these and the conditions in the natural habitat of the bearded dragon.
So it is up to the owner to reproduce the natural conditions as best as possible. High-quality lighting is an absolute must here and can be ensured by the following technology:
- metal halide emitters
- fluorescent tubes
- halogen spots
As a rule, the various light sources are combined with one another in order to achieve appropriate lighting throughout the terrarium. Not only should the supply of UV light be considered, but the number of bearded dragons , the size of the terrarium, the furnishings and the ambient temperature should also be taken into account.
What are the consequences of insufficient lighting in the bearded dragon terrarium?
Insufficient lighting in the bearded dragon terrarium is often not visible to humans, but can have serious consequences for the animals. Too much light is hardly possible, so the problems are more likely to be insufficient UV lighting or incorrect temperatures.
In an emergency, the animals become sluggish, seriously ill or even die. As desert animals they need light and cannot be kept without the right lighting. If a bearded dragon seems to be in poor health, you should not only consult a veterinarian, but also think about the lighting and check it carefully again.
- Are you supposed to clip a bearded dragon’s nails? - October 21, 2022
- What do you do when you first get a bearded dragon? - October 21, 2022
- What is the best vegetable for bearded dragons? - October 21, 2022