Bearded dragons have specific lighting requirements in order to remain healthy and vibrant. The most important lighting requirements for a bearded dragon is the ultraviolet lighting received from the sun.
UVB rays emitted from the sun are crucial for synthesis of vitamin D3 in the skin. Vitamin D3 is need for the metabolism of calcium. Both of these are essential for bone growth and strength, and for preventing Metabolic Bone Disease.
UVA rays are believed to help stimulate bearded dragons, causing them to eat better, maintain higher activity levels, and even promote breeding. UVA rays are detected by the third eye (or parietal eye) which can stimulate hormone production and release.
Using Light Bulbs To Replicate The Sun
Since captive raised bearded dragons are mainly kept indoors, these important ultraviolet rays must be replicated to ensure a healthy pet.
The most common method of duplicating the sun’s rays is by using a full-spectrum light bulb. These bulbs are primarily fluorescent bulbs specially designed for captive raised lizards.
In recent years, compact fluorescent lights (CFL) have been developed for lizards that help to save space and improve energy efficiency.
Bearded dragons should be exposed to a full-spectrum lighting at least eight to ten hours per day to ensure adequate exposure to UVA and UVB rays. The best method is to leave the light on for up to fourteen hours in the spring and summer and for up to ten hours per day during the fall and winter.
Lighting Placement and Positioning
Most manufacturers require the bulb to be within twelve to eighteen inches from the lizard. Consult the manufacturers recommendations to achieve proper placement.
The full-spectrum light bulbs should also be replaced often. These bulbs lose their effectiveness after a few months of use. The rule is to replace the full-spectrum bulbs after six months. Again, check the manufacturers recommendations.
Some Lighting Precautions
There are a few precautions to take when supply sufficient lighting to your bearded dragon. Bearded dragons can be taken outdoors, under warm conditions, so it may receive some natural sunlight.
Never place the enclosure near a window where sunlight can enter it. The glass from home windows and from glass enclosures filters out UVB and UVA rays, so your bearded dragon will not gain any effects from the sunlight.
The sunlight can also heat the enclosure to points that can be unsafe for your pet. Think of a car with the windows rolled up in the summer. That is what can happen to your bearded dragon’s home if the sun peers in.
One other precaution is to make sure the lighting fixtures are not near anything flammable. You don’t want to come home one day to a burned-down home and a dead bearded dragon.