Lighting What is the Best UVB Light for My Bearded Dragon?

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Bearded dragons hail from the arid and semi-arid regions of Australia and prefer to bask in the open sun. They receive plenty of natural sunlight in their environment, and will not thrive in captivity without high quality, tube-style UVB bulbs. Having the proper amount of UVB helps beardies make Vitamin D3 and absorb calcium from food, which is essential for them to stay healthy.

The best UVB bulbs for bearded dragons are Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 UVB T5 HO (high output) and Arcadia 12 % UVB T5 HO (high output). Reptisun 10.0 UVB T8 and Arcadia 12 % UVB T8 are also acceptable light bulbs. Be sure to mount T8 bulbs inside your beardie's terrarium. Screen-topped reptile tanks block out 30 % or more of UVB rays emitted by the bulb. Since the output produced by T8 bulbs is not nearly as strong as T5 bulbs, your beardie may receive insufficient UVB exposure.
 
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We only recommend Reptisun and Arcadia brands because other brands emit shorter, more intense wavelengths that can cause health problems for your beardie. Only tube-style fluorescent bulbs are acceptable for bearded dragons. Please do not use coil/compact fluorescent UVB bulbs that may be included in various reptile terrarium kits that you may find in the pet store. These will not produce adequate UVB, and may cause your beardie to develop serious illnesses such as metabolic bone disease. Beardies that do not get proper UVB exposure are frequently lethargic and refuse to eat.

When deciding between T5 and T8 bulbs, consider that while T5 bulbs are more expensive, they only need to be replaced about once every 12 months. On the other hand, T8 bulbs should be replaced every 6 months. Please remember to buy a terrarium hood (UVB light fixture) with a good reflector to maximize UVB output.

Another option for providing UVB is a mercury vapor bulb (MVB). It provides both UVB and serves as a heat lamp for your basking area. Mercury vapor bulbs are not the best choice for beginners and may be too powerful to use in smaller bearded dragon tanks.
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