Lighting & Accessories
Having the correct amount of heating and lighting is essential for Bearded Dragons and making sure you set up the tank with the correct lights in place will ensure your Dragon is both happy and healthy.
You can also make life a lot easier for yourself with some great little accessories that will save you lots of time and also enable you to have all your temperatures and timings on autopilot.
Here’s a shortlist of the heating and lighting equipment I recommend for your Bearded Dragon
- UVB Bulb – This One On Amazon
- UVB Bulb Fixing – This One On Amazon
- Basking lamp – Local Hardware Store
- Ceramic Heat Emitter – This One On Amazon
- Digital Thermometer – This One On Amazon
- Thermostat – This One On Amazon
- Timer – This One On Amazon
Read on to learn more about each of these items, why they are important and also why I recommend these specific options.
The UVB Bulb
UVB lighting is so important to Bearded Dragons. UVB stands for ‘ultraviolet-B’ and it’s essential that your Bearded Dragon gets exposure to this type of light every day.
In the wild, a Bearded Dragon would get UVB rays from the sun but in captivity, they need an artificial light source to provide the UVB rays.
If your Dragon doesn’t get the correct UVB exposure then they can suffer from lots of different health conditions such as metabolic bone disease.
UVB light also provides your Dragon with vitamin D3 which helps them to absorb calcium.
All in all, the UVB bulb is absolutely essential for your Bearded Dragons health and for this reason I would always recommend investing in one that is of the highest quality.
The UVB bulb I recommend you invest in is the Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 UVB Bulb. You will notice that there are 2 different sizes of this UVB light. The first is the T8 and the second is the T5, I would always recommend you pick up the T5 as this has a much higher UVB output (You can check the latest price here on Amazon)
This means that you can actually place the bulb within 12”-18” of your Bearded Dragon and they’ll still be able to get the required exposure they require. The added flexibility this bulb gives you is well worth the extra few dollars in investment.
This Zoo Med bulb is the best on the market in my opinion and when it comes to something as important as UVB lighting it’s worth getting the best.
Please note – something that’s often overlooked with UVB bulbs is that after a while the UVB rays lose their power even if the bulb looks as bright to the human eye.
When this happens your Dragon simply won’t be getting the UVB exposure it needs and their health will be at risk.
To stop this from happening you need to replace the bulbs after a certain time frame. If you purchase the T8 version then you should really replace it after 6 months and if you purchase the T5 version then you should think about replacing it after 6-12 months.
The UVB Bulb Fixing
Once you have your UVB light sorted out and ready to go, the next thing you are going to need is a bulb fixing to power the bulb.
There are lots of options out there and to be honest, most of them aren’t ideal.
Honestly, don’t underestimate how important a good UVB fixing is. I’ve seen all sorts of strange setups and creations where people drill holes all over the tank to try and attach the UVB bulb.
With a good UVB fixing life will be much easier and you also get some added benefits as It also has a reflector that will give you a higher UVB output so for me it’s a no brainer especially when it means I don’t have to try and start drilling holes in the tank to try and attach my UVB light.
The Basking Lamp
The basking lamp is also one of the most important elements of your Bearded Dragons tank. In the wild, your Dragon would spend a lot of the day basking on a rock under the hot sun.
They don’t do this just because they’re lazy but because it’s a vital part of their survival.
A Bearded Dragon is cold blooded so it can’t survive unless it’s exposed to the right temperatures on a daily basis. Everyday tasks such as digesting food would become difficult if not impossible without exposure to the correct temperatures.
In captivity, the job of the basking lamp is to replace the heat of the sun and provide your Bearded Dragon with all important temperature it needs.
Unlike the UVB bulb, you can actually pick up a basking bulb from a hardware store and it will work just fine. You don’t need to go out and spend lots of money on the basking bulb despite what other people and store owners will tell you.
All you need is a regular halogen bulb at around 90 watts (depending on the size of your tank) from a hardware store and you’re good to go.
Ceramic Heat Emitter
Ceramic heat emitters are essential pieces of equipment but only under certain circumstances. Your decision to purchase a heat emitter will totally depend on the temperature of your home at night.
Bearded Dragons need a temperature of around 70°-75° at night to replicate the temperature they would experience in the wild and enable them to get a good nights sleep.
If the temperature drops below this to around 65° or less then you really should consider purchasing a ceramic heat emitter for the health of your Bearded Dragon.
Ceramic heat emitters are much better than a basking lamp for night use because they produce a low amount of heat that is needed without producing any light that will keep your Dragon awake.
It’s always better to go with a high-quality trusted brand such as Exo Terra because the last thing you want to happen is to purchase a cheap bulb and in the middle of the night it stops working, then when you wake up in the morning you realise your Dragon has been subject to low temperatures al night.
Using a thermometer is something that I highly recommend as it will vastly improve the accuracy of the temperature in the tank.
If you don’t use a thermometer then you are basically guessing or even hoping the temperature is correct in all areas of the tank and that’s a recipe for disaster.
Using an old fashioned dial thermometer that you stick on the side of the tank isn’t recommended either as they are highly inaccurate and they only give you a reading for the small area of the tank where they are placed.
What I recommend doing is purchasing a digital contactless thermometer so you can check specific areas of the tank and see exactly what the temperature is including the cool spot.
The best one I’ve found for the price and the one I recommend is the Zoo Med ReptiTemp Digital Infrared Thermometer. You can spend an absolute fortune of a contactless thermometer and ultimately that’s up to you but as long as it’s digital and it allows you to check the temps in all areas of the tank then you don’t have to go crazy with the price and that’s why I think the Reptitemp is the best all-around option.
Using a thermostat is extremely important for maintaining the correct temperature in the tank.
Thermostats regulate the temperature in the tank by controlling the basking lamp. There are 2 ways they can do this, the first is by switching the basking lamp off when the temperature gets too hot and then turning it back on again when the temperature drops below the required level.
I don’t recommend you use a thermostat like this because the temperatures will become irregular to some degree and the basking lamp could be constantly switching off and back on again all day.
The alternative is to use a dimmer thermostat. This works in a slightly different way because instead of turning the basking lamp off when it gets too hot it will simply dim the heat down to the required temperature and then increase the heat once it drops below the required temperature to keep a more consistent temperature.
I strongly recommend you use the second option as dimmers are the only way to go really and in my opinion, the Hagen Exo Terra Reptile Dimming Thermostat is the best option when you consider the price and the quality.
There are both cheaper and more expensive options out there but this dimmer thermostat has everything you need at a reasonable price.
I used this thermostat myself for a while now and it does exactly what you need it to do and hasn’t let me down yet.
Using a timer can actually be one of the most important pieces of kit you invest in for your Bearded Dragon.
Imagine having to be home every night at a certain time in order to turn the lights and basking lamp off in the tank and then the same again in the morning.
This would soon feel like you were on house arrest just to keep the lighting and heat consistent in your Bearded Dragon tank.
Thankfully you can use a timer and automate the whole process. This will allow you to create a time in the day (morning) when the heat and light come on and also another time in the day where they go off (night)
There are lots of options for timers and honestly, they all do pretty much the same job but I would certainly go with a digital one as they are inexpensive and you just get a more professional experience with the digital settings.
This 7 Day Heavy Duty Digital Programmable Timer doesn’t really cost anything at all considering the job it does and it’s my number one choice (See It Here on Amazon) although like I said before don’t get too hung up about it because as long as you go for a digital one you should be fine so feel free to look around for what suits you best.
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