Discuss substrates, lighting, heating, enclosure building ideas, share enclosure photos, and talk about any other enclosure-related topics.
I've been told I should make this, so here it goes LOL.
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.
Well, that should answer some of the basic questions.
Last edited by Jess on Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:55 pm, edited 6 times in total.
Nice post Jess!
If possible, can explain the reasoning behind the cool side bulb? I'm assuming you are referring to an additional lamp to increase the overall light intensity....for this, you'll probably be using a household "daylight" fluorescent coil (not the UV kind). Perhaps mention the ideal color temperature for this type of bulb (5000kelvin to 6500k).
Also, I've included a little clarification about the differences between UVA, UVB, and visible light. Some of the info you already had, but once I start typing I don't stop :p.
UVA comprises the upper end of the UV spectrum, and is not visible light (to humans anyways). UVA is 320nm to 400nm, visual light starts around 400nm and continues till about 730nm. UVA is typically emitted by most fluorescent and bright white halogen lights, and as such special "UVA" lights are not necessary. UVA is more or less harmless to reptiles, so the worry of excessive exposure is nill. UVA exposure is beneficial in that is increases appetite and activity levels much like bright visible light will...in reality, the two are correlated. A bright viv with lots of lighting will also be one with good levels of UVA. In nature, UVA is the most common UV radiation, and it plays a critical role in the lives of most reptiles.
UVB is a shorter wavelength then UVA, and exists between 280nm and 320nm. The "ideal" wavelength of UVB is 295-297nm, as this is the ideal wavelength for Vit D3 production. The production of Vit d3 is why UVB lighting is so critical. D3 aids in calcium absorption, among other things. Without sufficient Vit d3, a reptile will be unable to absorb calcium and will be at risk for developing Metabolic Bone Disease.
UVB light has a much higher energy level then UVA, and it is this energy that damages DNA; because of this, UVB lighting must be implemented properly, as excessive exposure can lead to skin and eye issues. Additionally, light bulbs that emit short wavelength UVB (~280nm) are potentially dangerous, which is why using a quality light with a proven track record is so critical. As Jess mentioned, the only proven bulbs on the market for use with Bearded Dragons are the Reptisun 10.0, and the Arcadia D3+ 12%. While other bulbs may indeed work, the reliability and safety of most competing manufacturers have been called into question on too many occasions to recommend their use.
You may hear the term UVC thrown around. UVC (100nm to 280nm) is a shorter wavelength then UVB, and as such contains MUCH more energy per photon. UVC is incredibly dangerous, and is used as a surface sterilizer by many industries. Any bulb emitting UVC should not be used. Very few reptile specific bulbs, if any, emit short wavelength UVC. If they do, they are not only a danger to your dragon, but to you too. In nature, the ozone layer blocks virtually all UVC entering the atmosphere...this is because UVC radiation is extremely hostile to all forms of life. I'm unaware of any specific bulbs shown to emit large quantities of UVC, though I have heard that Compact/coil "UV" bulbs are the worst offenders, in addition to the Zilla series T5 bulbs.
Anyways, I've posted this picture in the past. Figured it would also be relevant here. Once again, great post Jess!
I suck at speling!
Aww, thanks so much guys! I'm glad it's helpful. I'm hoping for a sticky!
I'll add the cool side stuff in a sec. I'll add a little more info on the UVA/UVB/UVC, but I'm trying to keep it rather simple, so if they want more info they can scroll down to your post BadCon.
Jess don't add too much stuff like that one person did. For newbies its better to have simple things up like you do. That one post is just so long and says things that newbies probably won't even understand. So trust me. Just keep it simple like you have it!!!
I added a little more to the UVA/UVB section, that explains why some lights are "bad". Is it still understandable? I tried to keep it fairly short, LOL.
Better now? I moved the "dangerous" lights part to the UVB section instead and took out the UVC part.
Post looks great Jess.
As for the other poster who's a bit intimidated with my previous writings...yes, it can be a lot to take in. However, owning reptiles isn't as simple as 1,2,3. If you really want to insure the health of your animals, its a good idea to learn as much as you possibly can. Understanding the reasoning behind why we do the things we do will really make it easy for you to take care of your animals and perhaps in the future take on more complicated herps.
Being armed with a good understanding of all things beardy will also enable you to give advice to others. Its one thing to regurgitate the standard practices and recommendations, its entirely another to really understand why some choices aren't the best ones.
I suck at speling!
Very good summary Jess, and great photo.
My only comment is a very unimportant one, but I'd suggest folks buy the best quality under-the-counter fixture they can afford, for their fluorescent tube. Ideally, get one with an electronic ballast rather than the very cheap magnetic ones. Tests have shown that the UVB output is better, and the tube lasts longer, if a good quality fixture is used; and a good fixture should last a lifetime.
In the UK we use aquarium "controllers" with cables holding the tube with end-caps, eg. the Arcadia range. These make it very easy to hang the tube where you want it, but strangely, the USA stores don't seem to sell them.
You can keep a ZooMed Reptisun 10.0 tube on a good ballast for a full year; the UVB hardly drops at all between 6 and 12 months.
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