Did you know that bearded dragons are from the deserts of Australia? That means they’re made to withstand the heat and bright lights. But like all reptiles, they’re cold blooded and depend on external sources to keep their warmth.
Perhaps the most crucial factor in habitat setup is getting the lighting and temperature just right. Without a UVB lighting system in an enclosure, a beardie will slow down their metabolism and be at risk for MBD, or Metabolic Bone Disorder.
Now I want to mention that heating and lighting are two different things when it comes to bearded dragon care. Just because you installed a bright lighting system doesn’t mean they’re basking in the right temperature necessary to sustain a healthy living.
When you pick out your lighting system, make sure you’re not using a regular light bulb. Bearded dragons need UVB light (ultraviolet light) in order to produce Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is absolutely crucial; otherwise they won’t be able to metabolize the nutrients from digested food.
Installing a UVB lighting system for your habitat is simple to do if you know what to do. First, you want to make sure the light shines from the top to bottom and not scattered through the side of the glass. To do this, just hang the lighting system overhead. You want as little UV rays to escape the terrarium as possible. Keep in mind that the further away the lights are, the less UV rays your dragons will be absorbing. Although you might not be able to tell, the effectiveness of the UVB lamps will deteriorate over time. Make sure you replace them throughout the years.
Allow your bearded dragon to bask in UVB for a couple hours in the morning, which will prepare them for their first meal of the day. If possible, let them bask in natural sunlight in a controlled and safe environment from time to time.
Keeping the right temperature for your dragon is just as important as providing them bright UV rays to bask in. Below I have provided a chart to break down the recommended temperatures along with age.
There should be two sides to a terrarium, one for basking and another that is slightly cooler. Your bearded dragon will sometimes need to “cool down” by going to a less heated area. Make sure to keep two thermometers in the cage to measure the temperature of both sides.
There are many options you can go with for heating. Again, do your research on pros and cons of each. However, I will recommend using incandescent light bulbs to produce heat. These are by far the most common and popular within the reptile community because they’re affordable and effective. Obviously, the higher the wattage of the light bulb, the more heat they’ll produce.
You see, setting up a bearded dragon’s habitat is not rocket science. It’s fairly simply to do if you know what to do. Always check your equipment to see if things are functioning properly. And, if you have any more questions regarding setup, feel free to ask a question using our contact form or by leaving a comment in the section below.