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Bearded Dragon Lighting and HeatingBearded dragon lighting and heating

There are many options available on the market for bearded dragon lighting and heating however despite claims of manufacturer’s, not all are suitable. Others in the pet trade also jump into the mix with recommendations that can only be biased to the products they sell. Since the lighting and heating can become quite expensive and the pet industry has almost no regulation over it, it is vital to understand what you are buying before handing over the money. Never assume someone trying to sell you something in the pet trade has your pets best intentions at heart, they won’t be paying the vet bills.

Bearded dragon lighting and heating setups will be far more flexible for the seasons, and perhaps even on the power bill, if it is adaptable for different wattage. For example, a 60 watt ceramic heat emitter may produce enough heat for summer months where as in winter 100 watt may be required. To ensure you have flexibility, purchase a high wattage lamp fitting. The bulb can always be a lower wattage than the fitting, but it can never be higher.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]

Heat Sources for the Bearded Dragons Habitat

Heating is required both during the day and at night. During the day sufficient levels of heat may be gained if a Mercury Vapor UVB and UVA basking light are used together.

A ceramic heat emitter (CHE) on a thermostat is ideal for use during the day and night. Placed on a thermostat the CHE can be maintain the environment at a reasonably consistent temperature. The thermostat will cut the CHE out once the right level of heat has been attained and turn it back on when the temperature cools from the desired range.

CHEs are reasonably cheap therefore keeping spares, and preferably in a range of different wattage, will ensure coverage when one ceases to work anymore. These bulbs are generally pretty hardy and do not need replacing until they cease to work. By having a small range of different wattage’s available, increasing or decreasing the level of heat throughout the season changes becomes easier and ensures there are spares when one fails.

Heat can also be provided by red and black lights. Red lights are likely to cause disturbance to sleep and should not be used. If there is some reason that it is absolutely necessary to provide light at night (certainly not for the bearded dragons benefit) then use a black light.

See Setting up heating and lighting for temperature guidance. Temperatures as low as 65 Fahrenheit or 18 Celsius at night are simply dangerous to captive bearded dragons. Experiencing such temperatures with an overload of parasites or disruption to digestion can be fatal. Living in captivity is not the same as living in the wild where these animals have the means to protect themselves with natural elements. They may burrow or climb into trees where they can achieve significant differences in temperature dependent on the height of the tree, alternatively they may die. The natural environment can only be partially replicated in captivity and therefore comparing exposure to extreme environmental elements in the wild has limited use.

Basking and UVA Lighting

UVA lighting is the same light that we humans have in home lamp fittings. However for bearded dragon lighting specially purchased basking bulbs are used, not household bulbs. The level of UVA provided impacts the bearded dragons behavior in its environment. Low levels of UVA or poorly placed UVA will likely slow activity down and could impact other behaviors such as eating.

UVA basking bulbs provide an additional heat source, set alongside a mercury vapor UVB bulb the two may provide sufficient heat for the daytime in summer. The UVA lighting is left on for the same time as UVB bulbs.

When selecting basking bulbs consider the intensity of light. It should not emit a clear white light but not so bright that it may irritate the eyes when being looked at.

Environment Temperatures

Summer Day Time Gradient (Temperature)setting summer day temperatures

The temperatures provided during the day for the basking are around 38°c (100°f) to 40°c (104°f). The cool area can be anywhere above 20°c (68°f) to 24°c (75.2°f). This range of temperatures between the basking and cool areas is called the temperature gradient. Small enclosures will not provide a good gradient range.

Setting summer night temperaturesSummer Night Time Ambient Temperature

A single temperature is offered at night time, this is referred to as an ambient temperature. The night time temperature should be significantly lower than daytime and can be as low as around 20°c (68°f).

The young, ill or parasite infected bearded dragons should not be kept at low temperatures. Maintain temperatures above 24°c (75.2°f) and consult your vet for temperatures appropriate for the situation.

Brumation Temperatures

Where a large enclosure has been provided with a good thermal gradient range the temperature of the environment does not necessarily need to be brought down anymore since the cool side can be kept constantly cooler than a small 4 foot enclosure, i.e. the temperature at the cool end may be kept at a constant 16-18°c. For small enclosures the temperatures can be brought down to 20°c (early 70°f) or so on the cool end for the duration of brumation. There is some flexibility on the temperature, however if it is too cool then there are greater risks during brumation, especially if a health check with the vet has not been attended prior to winter, and too high then brumation may not occur and if it does it is likely to be broken rest.

Real UVB for Bearded Dragons

UVB lights can never truly match the real thing, the sun. Real sunshine is the best thing you can provide your bearded dragon with, even if it is only for a few half hour stints in a week. UVB cannot penetrate glass, plastic or solid objects. A bearded dragon basking at a window is not receiving UVB, simply heat and light. If a window is the only means to provide UVB then open it (if it has flywire) and allow what light can come in to do so.

Since for most the outdoors offers a lot more freedom in terms of space, large enclosures can be provided outdoors. Adding climbing accessories, rocks and hiding areas will make for a more stimulating environment and protection when feeling threatened. After all it only takes a bird to fly over to feel threatened.