Article published January, 2014
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A Basic Setup
Here is a basic lighting setup for a beardie. The cage in this picture is a 40 gallon breeder, but the same goes for larger and smaller cages as well.
( * = Optional )
Which UVB light should I use?
The best UVB light is a ReptiSun 10.0 fluorescent tube (Or Arcardia 12% in the UK). Compact or coil bulbs do not emit the proper amount of UVB light for a bearded dragon, and should not be used. Other brands, such as the Zilla Desert Series and ReptiGlo have been known to cause eye problems and other health issues with bearded dragons, and should be avoided. The reason that some UVB lights (Zilla, ReptiGlo, coils/compacts, ect.) are considered dangerous is because the wavelength of UVB that they emit is shorter and more intense than the wavelength of the "safe" lights (ReptiSun, Arcadia).
UVB lights should be replaced every 6 months.
**Note: Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, so you shouldn't throw away your used ReptiSuns. Take them to a facility that will dispose of them for you. Some hardware stores such as Home Depot may take your used bulbs for you.
Is there a difference between UVB and UVA?
Yes, UVB rays are a shorter wavelength than UVA rays. UVB rays are from the sun, and they are what cause you to tan. Beardies need UVB rays to process D3 and calcium. UVA comes from any light bulb that produces visual light. So when purchasing a UVB bulb, make sure it says that it emits UVB, not just UVA!
How should I mount my UVB light?
Screen filters out UVB light, so the best way to do it is to mount the light inside of your cage. You can easily do this by purchasing an under-the-counter fluorescent fixture ($9 at Walmart) and 3M command hooks. Just stick the hooks on the back wall of your cage, and hang the light fixture from them.
How many watts should my basking light be?
Since there are a number of things that can affect the temperature in the cage, such as the size of the cage, how well insulated it is, how far away the basking light is, the room temperature of your house, ect. there isn't one light bulb that will work for everyone. For my 40 gallon, I used flood and halogen bulbs there were between 50-65 watts. In my wooden 4x2x2, I use flood lights that are between 30-45 watts. Keep in mind that flood lights, spot lights, and halogen bulbs will be hotter than a regular light bulb because they are more focused in one spot. Wooden cages will also be more insulated and hold more heat than glass cages, so they may need less watts to maintain a good temperature.
Do I need a light on the cool side?
Technically you don't, but it can be helpful. I used a regular house light in mine for some extra heat during the winter, and during the summer I use a coiled "energy saver" light bulb to add some visual light. Otherwise the cool side tends to be rather dark. Since visual light/UVA helps stimulate a beardie's appetite and encourages them to be more active, having more bright lights is never a bad thing!
How should I position my UVB light?
The UVB light should be preferably with in 6-10" of the basking spot, so your beardie can absorb the optimum amount of UVB. The UVB light should also be positioned along side the basking light, for two reasons: So your bearded dragon can absorb UVB while they are basking, and because having a bright white light next to the UVB light helps to protect their eyes from any damage the UVB rays might cause.
How should I heat my cage at night?
Additional heating is only needed if the temps drop below 65*F. A ceramic heat emitter (CHE) is the best way to heat your cage at night, because it does not give off visual light that will disturb your beardie's sleep, and unlike an under tank heater, there is no possibility of it shorting out and burning them during the night.
How should I measure the temperature?
Digital thermometers and infrared temperature guns are the most accurate way to measure temperatures. Dial and stick on thermometers can be as much as 20*F off in wither direction. The Acurite digital indoor/outdoor thermometer (Walmart for $12) can be used by placing the probe on the basking spot, and placing the monitor on the opposite end of the cage to got the temperature readings of the hot and cool side of the cage.
What should my temperatures be?
The cool side should be between 75 - 85*F. For an adult, basking spots should be 95 - 105*F. Babies and juveniles like it a little hotter at 105 - 110*F.
If you have further questions, check out the original forum topic thread with over 35 pages worth of comments at the time of this article being published!