Bearded Dragon: Stats & Facts

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Secondary heat source: A secondary heat source creates more heat in specific areas of the cage to provide a temperature gradient. To best supply this gradient, the secondary heat source should cover only 25-30% of the surface of the enclosure. For adults, the secondary heat source could be a 30-75 watt incandescent bulb in a ceramic base, securely mounted where the animal can not touch it. There are also special 'basking lights' available. Either type of light should shine down on a particular basking area from outside the cage. The temperature under the light in the area in which the Bearded Dragon would be basking should be 95-100°F. Hatchlings housed in smaller aquariums will require lights of lower wattage, or the aquarium temperature may become too warm very quickly. DO NOT USE HOT ROCKS AS HEAT SOURCES.

Light

Visible white light: In addition to heat, incandescent bulbs also provide visible white light. A combination of fluorescent and incandescent light fixtures can be used to provide visible light to all areas of the enclosure.

Ultraviolet light: In addition to heat and white light, Bearded Dragons must have access to natural sunlight for good health. This is because they need a certain spectrum of ultraviolet (UV) light called UVB. UVB is necessary for the Bearded Dragon to make Vitamin D. No artificial light is as good as sun in providing UVB, so when the outside temperature on a sunny day is over 70°F, place your Bearded Dragon outside in a secure screen or wire cage with a locking door. Provide some shade and a hiding place within the enclosure. UV rays do not penetrate window glass so Bearded Dragons placed in a sunny window are not receiving UV light.

If a Bearded Dragon does not have access to bright sunlight, special black lights are used to provide the UVB light. These black lights for reptiles are NOT the black light tubes used for lighting fluorescent minerals, posters, and psychedelic paraphernalia (often called BLB lights). Fish/aquarium and plant 'grow' lights, either incandescent or fluorescent, do NOT produce UVB. You need a black light, which emits light in the 290-320 nanometer range. Lights producing only UVB, and lights, which produce a combination of UVB and white lights are available. ZooMed's reptile or iguana lights, and Durotest's Vita-Lite are two good products. These UVB light sources should be replaced every 6 months.

Remember that UV light cannot penetrate glass, so when overhead UVB light sources are used, the top of the enclosure must be a wire mesh that is not too fine. It is recommended that the UVB light source should be less than 18 inches from where the Bearded Dragon spends most of its time; 10-12 inches is optimal.

The areas illuminated by the incandescent basking light and the UV light should overlap. If the Bearded Dragon spends almost all his time basking under the incandescent light, and the UV light is at the other end of the cage, he is not going to receive any benefit from it.

Glass cages, even those with a screen top, should NEVER be used when providing access to natural sunlight. Glass cages will trap heat and can cause fatally high temperatures.

Second to the sun, the best light source is a combination of visible light from fluorescent or incandescent lights, and UVB light from special reptile black lights or combination lights.

Water and Humidity

Although Bearded Dragons receive most of their water requirement from the food they eat, fresh drinking water should be available at all times in a shallow bowl that cannot be tipped over. Proper humidity is necessary for proper shedding. Especially during the winter months when the humidity is low, mist the Bearded Dragon with water several times a week. Some Bearded Dragons appear to enjoy soaking in a tub of water. Be sure the Bearded Dragon is able to get in and out of the container easily. You will need to clean the container and replace the water regularly, since the dragon may urinate or defecate in the water. In fact, water usually stimulates them to eliminate, so immersing them in water is a part of the treatment for constipation.

Hygiene

The cage and food and water bowls should be cleaned routinely with a 1:10 dilution of household bleach. Rinse the items well after cleaning. Bearded Dragons can harbor the bacteria Salmonella. Be sure to wash your hands after handling the Bearded Dragon or its cage.

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