Being desert animals, Bearded dragon bask almost all day in the hot sun. The sun not only supplies their temperature requirements but emits ultraviolet rays. Because pet Bearded dragons are generally not kept outside in the desert sun, artificial ultraviolet lighting needs to be supplied.
Also, see why Bearded dragons need UV lighting for more information. Natural ultraviolet rays are blocked out by walls and even windows. There are two options when it comes to supplying pet Bearded dragons with adequate UV:
- Through artificial UV lighting
- Through natural, unfiltered sunlight (usually by placing them outside)
When compared with artificial ultraviolet, natural ultraviolet lighting via sunshine is always better. Even if artificial UV lighting is used, Bearded dragons must still be allowed natural, non-filtered sunlight for one to two hours per day.
Artificial UV lighting
Artificial ultraviolet light will be commonly used within enclosures. For this, a full spectrum reptile or, more specifically, Bearded dragon UV light should be installed. These lights are commercially available from specialized pet shops and are available in either fluorescent tubes, mercury vapor floodlights, or spotlights. The intensity of these UV lights, indicated on the packaging, should be 8% or higher. Most commercial Bearded dragon UV lights will mainly emit UVB with little quantities of UVA.
UV lighting should be mounted no more than 30 cm / 12 ” above the main basking area. Closer is better, but not too close as to cause thermal wounds. Generally, UV lighting should be replaced every six months (depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation). All lights (including basking/heating lights) should be on for about fourteen hours per day. An electrical timer can be used for this purpose.
Natural natural sunlight
As mentioned earlier, it is still recommended that a Bearded dragon is exposed to natural UV, even if ‘adequate’ artificial UV lighting is used. Natural sunshine will expose a Bearded dragon to both UVA and UVB rays. Any natural exposure is better than nothing, but more UV is better.