Bearded Dragons make terrific family pets as they readily give love, friendship and attention to anyone willing to spend time with them. A docile animal by nature, the bearded dragon is gentle, relatively small and happy with a respectable home in the family aquarium. They don’t require too much in the way of maintenance, but do need full spectrum lighting for up to 14 hours per day.
The Purpose of Lighting
Your bearded dragon relies on the light you provide him in a couple of different ways. First, because your pet is cold blooded, he relies on the heat from the right light to regulate his temperature. Basking lights provide heat as well as beneficial UVA rays. Remember, poor heating is a serious health concern and one of the leading causes of illness in bearded dragons. In nature, they rely on the sun, in your home, it’s your job to re-create its warmth.
The right lighting is also important for digestion. Bearded dragons of all ages-especially babies- need UVB fluorescent lighting for the metabolism of vitamin D3. The proper lighting is critical to prevent vitamin and calcium deficiencies.
Creating Natural Sunlight
Your bearded dragon relies on natural sunlight for maintaining proper health. A spectrum of ultraviolet light –both UVA and UVB is necessary for your pet to flourish. Plant grow lights are generally not sufficient since they do not produce UVB.
A good basking light produces heat and for this one, you can use full spectrum fluorescent plant lights or spot plant grow lights. Be careful when purchasing fluorescent bulbs, simply because they look the same, does not mean they are full spectrum. Make sure when you position the basking light, it is over one end of the cage only and reaches 100-110 degrees. The cooler side of the tank should stay around 75-80 degrees. Similar to plant light systems, you can regulate your lighting with a timer. Your lights should be on a cycle of 10-14 hours per day.
Finding the Perfect Lights
Knowing how important the right lights are to your bearded dragon, it’s critical to buy quality products. In most cases, you can find reptile designed lights that are fully capable of providing the essential UVB light important for health. As far as the rest of your lighting supplies, indoor plant lights are generally inexpensive and will work fine for providing heat and visible light for your pet to see. Remember to look for full spectrum fluorescents and never assume light will penetrate glass.