Bearded Dragon Complete Lighting, Heating and Humidity Guide

If you are a new bearded dragon keeper or you have bought a new tank for your affectionate bearded dragon, you need to check the lighting, heating, and humidity arrangements. Lighting and heating are necessary for the bearded dragon’s well-being because they are cold-blooded exotic reptiles, which means they don’t produce their body heat. They rely on external heat to maintain their body temperature.

In the wild, bearded dragons spend their time in the desert. They get essential UVB light and heat directly from the sun. But in captivity, you have to provide the essential lighting and heating to your bearded dragon, or else, he’ll face some severe medical issues which can even cause the death of your beloved bearded dragon.

Lighting and heating arrangements are important because they help your bearded dragon digest the meal, get nutrients from food, and maintain their body temperature.

Setting up your bearded dragon tank is important as well as fun for you. Lighting and heating arrangements are actually very easy and simple. All it takes is just a little homework and your bearded dragon tank will be perfectly ready for him.

This article will help you to understand:


  • What type of blub you can use for lighting?
  • What is a good lighting setup for a bearded dragon’s tank?
  • What is the appropriate lighting setup for a basking Spot in a bearded dragon’s tank?
  • What is the bearded dragon lighting schedule?
  • What is the lighting schedule of the bearded dragon in Brumation?
  • Do bearded dragons need nightlights?
  • Is red light bad for bearded dragons?
  • Can I use a regular bulb for a basking light?
  • Do you turn off UVB in the bearded dragon tank at night?

Temperature and Humidity:

  • What are the proper temperature and humidity levels for a bearded dragon tank setup?
  • What are tank and basking spot temperatures?
  • What should be the humidity level of the bearded dragon tank?
  • Accessories to make a basking spot in a bearded dragon tank?
  • Do bearded dragons need heat at night?
  • What happens if bearded dragons get too cold?

So, to know it all, you need to read it all.

To know about the complete bearded dragon tank setup, read, “The Art of Dragon Domiciles: A Comprehensive Guide to Bearded Dragon Tank Setup“.

Before going into details, you should know what lighting your bearded dragon will actually need.

In any bearded tank, the following are necessary:

  • Heat Lamp or basking bulb.
  • UVB Bulb to provide UVB.
  • Ceramic Heat Emitter or “CHE” for necessary heat, especially if it gets colder than 65 degrees Fahrenheit in your home at night.

Selecting the right UVB lighting can be tricky. You need to consider the obstructions and distance to select the right strength of UVB (UVI or UV index) light.

For example: For a 48x24x24-inch bearded tank enclosure, you’ll need a 22-inch Arcadia Dragon 14% blub which is placed on the warm side of the tank.

Consider following guidelines for the lighting of the basking spot.

  • If UVB is mounted over mesh: the basking area should be 7-11” below the UVB lamp.
  • If UVB is mounted under mesh: the basking area should be 12-18” below the UVB lamp

Remember that, these recommendations are approximations. For best results, i.e. UVI of 4.0-6.0 value, use a “Solar-meter 6.5 UV index meter” to measure UVI.

For better health, especially mental health, a bright light in the bearded dragon’s tank is recommended to create an effect of sunlight. Bright light with a color temperature of 6000-7000K is recommended for this purpose. Combined with UVB light, a heating lamp, and bright light, it’s like the sun in the tank which is also according to their natural environment. Dragons will a natural lighting environment in their tank are more active and healthy.

Remember that, full-spectrum and UVB lights are different. You will need both of the lights in the tank.

Remember that, always select use bulb that emits WHITE light only. No colors. Colored lights can cause mental distress in bearded dragons.

The lighting schedule in the tank should be according to the natural lighting schedule of the bearded dragon’s natural habitat which is the desert of Australia.

In the desert, it’s 14 hours of the day and 10 hours of night in summer. Whereas 10 hours of the day and 14 hours of night in winter.

You need to adjust the lighting schedule of the bearded dragon according to the above-given guidelines. For the in-between period, a gradual adjustment is recommended. Remember that, light and heat are good for the bearded dragon’s digestive system. You can turn your bearded dragon’s lights on about an hour before feeding time. After feeding, again leave the lights on for an hour. This will help them to digest the meal more effectively.

In case your bearded dragon is brumating, the lighting schedule is different from the normal lighting schedule. In brumation, bearded dragons tend to sleep a lot. They don’t eat and their heartbeat also drops. They only wake up to drink water. In this situation, you have to help your dragon by increasing his dark hours so that he can sleep well.

The recommended lights on time is only 8 hours in brumation.

Black/ blue/ red or any color of light is not recommended for your bearded dragon at night.

In the wild, bearded dragons spend their night in complete darkness, only the light of the moon or stars is available. So, in the tank, for better sleep for bearded dragons, no light is necessary. If the natural light of stars or moon is available beside the window, it is good, otherwise, no need to install a light in the tank for nighttime.

Installing any light in the tank for nighttime can mess with their natural environment as well as with their day/night rhythm.

If the temperature drops from 65 degrees Fahrenheit, you can install a ceramic heat emitter as it does not provide any visible light.

Yes, Red Lights are Bad for your Bearded Dragon.

You know that bearded dragons can see the red light. Many new bearded dragon owners think that they can’t see the red light, but in reality, they can. The red light washes everything with a red hue, making it difficult to perceive depth for the bearded dragon. This can lead to mental distress or other mental or eye issues.

If you are considering for heat only, then you can a regular bulb which emits white light. The regular bulb doesn’t provide the UVB that is necessary for bearded dragons.

So, although you can use a regular bulb, it is not recommended.

Yes, you should turn off the UVB and heat lamp at night.

Bearded dragons don’t need heat UAB or UVB at night, so you need to turn off all these. Leaving them on will disturb the natural sleep cycle of your bearded dragon.

Bearded Dragons are cold-blooded exotic reptiles which means that their body don’t produce their heat. They rely on external sources to regulate heat in their body. So, when bearded dragons feel cold, they move to warm areas, typically under the sun and when they feel warm, they move to colder areas, typically in hideouts or in shadows.

In captivity, you also need to provide those areas which have different temperatures within their tank. For this purpose, you need to provide them higher temperature at the basking spot and a lower temperature in the complete tank excluding the basking spot.

For guidelines, remember the following:

  • Basking spot temperature: 105-110°F (40-46°C) 
  • Tank temperature (excluding basking spot): 70-85°F (21-29°C) 

Usually, a 100w PAR38 halogen flood bulb in a 24-inch tall tank does the job and achieves the required heat level.

However, if you are living in a cold/ hot area and notice that bearded dragons are not getting proper heat, you can increase or decrease the heat by changing the bulb with appropriate power.

The smart approach is to buy a lamp dimmer to change the heat level so you don’t have to change the bulb each season.

Like the basking spot light, you also need to measure the basking spot temperature, for this use an infrared thermometer or temperature gun. You can also use a digital probe thermometer which will passively measure the basking spot temperature. For this, place the probe on the basking spot and measure the temperature.

Besides the basking spot, you need to monitor the overall tank’s temperature as well. For this, many types of reptile tank thermometers are available and you can install any in the tank.

If you don’t know your bearded dragon’s age, this table will help you to estimate it:

The recommended humidity level in the tank is 30-60%, as measured by a digital probe hygrometer with the probe placed on the ground on the cool side of the enclosure. Constant higher humidity levels can make your bearded dragon sick and cause many health issues. 

You can provide the following:

  • Caves
  • Hideouts top
  • Reptile bridges
  • Climbable rocks
  • Branches with a place to sit on
  • Ledges
  • Hammocks

Preferably, select the basking spot made of a material that also gets warm. Usually, a basking spot made of rock serves the purpose.  Underbelly heat is necessary and also improves the digestive system of bearded dragons. The selection of rock for basking spots is also according to their natural environment as they bask on rocks in the wild.

In the wild, bearded dragons don’t have any access to heat at night in the coldness of the desert. So, why provide them heat in captivity? Providing heat at night is against their natural environment and for the best tank setup, on each point, you need to think about their natural environment. If anything you are providing against their natural needs, and it’s not good for them.

Actually, the absence of heat at night has some benefits for bearded dragons. The absence of heat at night can:

  • Strengthen the bearded dragon’s immune system.
  • Encourage bearded dragons to bask in the day.
  • Keeps heat circulation according to their natural environment.

You must install a ceramic heat emitter for the night only if the temperature drops from 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Proper heating is necessary for the bearded dragon’s well-being. In the absence of heat, their immune system will collapse, they will face calcium deficiency which can result in metabolic bone disease, they can go brumation, etc.

If the lighting or heating setup is not good in a bearded dragon’s tank, your bearded will face many serious health issues.

Initially, you will observe a decrease in diet and lethargic behavior in them, this is due to poor metabolism and poor digestive system caused by inappropriate heating arrangements. As a result of this, your bearded dragon will be unable to absorb the nutrients and calcium in their diet and will face calcium deficiency which can lead to Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).

Heating and lighting arrangements are very important for the overall well-being of your bearded dragon. These arrangements also don’t require some professional expertise, you can easily do these at home. So, to keep your bearded dragons healthy, follow the guidelines discussed in this article. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

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