Cozy beard dragons: picking the best lighting & UVB bulbs
Note: This post is thanks to the helpful insight of my friend Josh. Having kept his scaly pal for 9 years already, he has some tips on picking the best lighting for a bearded dragon.
As many other living creatures (including us!), bearded dragons need a good source of light to stay healthy. Imagine if someone shut off the sun for me and you!
Unfortunately, some people think that any source of UVB light can work just fine. That’s really not the case, especially with coil bulbs – I advise you to steer clear from them.
My personal recommendation for best UVB bulb for your bearded dragon would be the Reptisun 10.0, a fluorescent tube light.
No surprise here: it’s been a staple for quite a few years among reptile owners. The drawback is that it’s not a heat source, so you need a separate bulb for that.
Some prefer mercury vapor bulbs for bearded dragons due to their longer lifespan. In this case, grab something like this high quality vapor bulb.
This type also doubles up as a heat source.
You really want to make sure you’ve got a light that emits a good combination of UVB + UVA rays.
What’s the difference?
UVB are the beautiful sunrays that supply you with D3 (and make you tanned.) We, and bearded dragons, love them in moderate doses. A good UVB source = a happy and healthy dragon friend due to proper D3 and calcium metabolization.
UVA light has a longer wavelength (400-320nm compared to UVB’s 320-290nm.) This equals to higher radiation energy.
If you don’t mix it with UVB or there’s too much UVA, it can be straight out dangerous for your pet. At the same time, UVA is responsible for keeping your bearded dragon’s appettite and general mood stimulation.
Both of the choices I’m presenting to you are good, balanced sources of light for your scaly pal. That said, I’m more of a fan of ReptiSun 10.0.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at both choices.
Preface: always monitor your bearded dragon’s behavior to see whether it enjoys its living environment. That includes the lightning setup you have! Also, always check your manufacturer’s tips on how to use their products optimally!
1. Best UVB bulb for bearded dragon:
ReptiSun’s 10.0 UVB
Note: Pick a proper size in line with how bulky your terrarium is. I’ll review the 25W, T8 36-inch version of the ReptiSun 10.0 here.
ReptiSun belongs to the fluorescent tube bulb type of bearded dragon lighting. It’s produced in Germany, so you get that certified quality of operation. It also mixes 10% UVB with 30% UVA which is a very balanced source of light.
There’s a few catches to using this type of bearded dragon bulbs.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you will change these somewhat frequently. By “frequently” I mean every 6 months or so. Even the German quality can’t stop the process of the light getting weaker with time. It’s just how these things work.
Also, ReptiSun’s bearded dragon UVB light has to be placed closer to your pet. But here’s the great thing with this model:
With other lamps (ReptiSun 5.0 among them), you have to place the bulb quite close (7″ to 12″.)
This model boasts an up to 20″ (51 cm) as per manufacturer details. As long as it’s within this range, your bearded dragon will get its healthy dose of proper light.
That said, I’d still move it a little bit closer. Experiment with distance and check which is the most enjoyable setup for your bearded dragon. I prefer having it at around 12″, but play around with its location.
Please keep in mind that this bearded dragon UVB light doesn’t generate heat. You will need to find another source of proper warmth for your pet!
2. Best mercury vapor bulb for bearded dragon:
Evergreen Pet Supplies’s bulb
The thing with mercury vapor bulbs are that they also provide heat, aside from them generating UVA + UVB rays. In other words, you get a 2 in 1 package deal, despite them running a little bit pricier than fluorescent tubes.
That said, you’ll see a lot of discussions around whether these are the optimal choice. Personally, I’m not a huge fan, but I know other bearded dragon owners who are very satisfied.
I know it’s not ZooMed or something, but EverGreen Pet Supplies’ bulb is what a few other owners loved. Besides, the brand’s been around for 20 years. That’s quite a bit of history.
The self-ballasted mercury vapor light mixes UVA and UVB perfectly. It’s a 100 watt bulb, so that’s quite stronger than ReptiSun’s tube. Be careful with positioning when installing it, depending on the size of your terrarium.
Usually, this type of bulbs last for a bit longer – an year or so is their expected lifetime in case they aren’t defective. With this UVB light’s durable ceramic socket you have one more reason for lighting longevity.
You might want to place this at least some 16″+ from your bearded dragon.
Once again, test different distances, but as this is a stronger bearded dragon lighting, don’t shove it too close to your pet.
How long should I keep the UV light on for my bearded dragon?
I don’t recommend running your UVB bulb for beardies all the time. It can endanger their health.
A common rule is the 50/50 approach. You leave the bearded dragon lighting on for around 12 hours, and for the other 12 hours you switch it off.
This ensures a proper balance that resembles your beardie’s natural habitat. It’ll get the UV rays it needs and the rest from the sun it craves too.
Can I use standard lightning bulbs?
Please don’t do that.
You’ll ruin your bearded dragon’s health in no time. The lighting sources we humans use starkly differ from what our scaly pals need.
I know UVB fluorescent bearded dragon bulbs might look similar to the normal fluorescent lights, but there’s a big gap between the effect they have on beardies.
Stick to the specific bearded dragon lighting so that your pet is healthy and happy.