Have you experienced the frustration of repeatedly needing to change the light bulbs in your bearded dragon’s tank? Just when you think, “Okay good, that should last a while…” then you hear a ‘pop!’ and there goes another bulb! It becomes costly as you have to keep getting new ones and by now you’ve probably had enough. Maybe it’s time to find the solution to what’s really going on and then you won’t need to buy so many light bulbs.
So, why does my bearded dragon’s light keep burning out? The reasons for this could be many and varied, including jarring or movement, overheating, shorting, touching with the hand, fittings and types of bulbs. It’s important to know what lighting your dragon needs, get the right bulbs, and place them correctly, with the help of some accessories.
This article will discuss each of the possible causes of burned out lights as well as a closer look at the kind of lighting bearded dragons need, different types of bulbs, the correct placement of lights, and two helpful lighting accessories.
Possible Causes of Burned Out Lights
Jarring or Movement
Light bulbs are very sensitive, delicate items which need to be handled with the utmost care. Even a slight jolt on the way home from the store, or as you unpack your vehicle, may indeed compromise the longevity of your light.
Similarly, once it is installed in your beardie’s enclosure, if you keep moving the lid or causing any kind of jarring, this could also result in your bulb burning out in a short space of time.
Sometimes a bulb can become too hot due to voltage fluctuations or wattage limitation. Also being inside an enclosed structure like the lid of your bearded dragon terrarium can cause the bulb to overheat. You may need to get a bulb with a lower wattage, and make sure that your voltage is correct. This is particularly true if you have light fixtures with a low voltage.
A short circuit can have various causes such as defective wiring or problems with a cord plug or light socket. Check your cords, wires and sockets carefully if you are having trouble with bulbs burning out in your bearded dragon tank.
Touching With the Hand
Apparently, according to some sources, the natural oils occurring on the human hand can cause light bulbs to burn out before their time if they are touched too much. To be on the safe side, rather use a paper towel or gloves when handling the light bulbs in your bearded dragon’s cage.
If your fittings are loosely connected it could cause intermittent voltage going to the bulb, which would make it wear out sooner than necessary. Unless you are handy with electrics, you may need a professional electrician to check your fittings and wiring.
Types of Bulbs
Let’s face it, sometimes you just get a bad batch, or an inferior make of bulbs. If this is the case, you may need to consider returning them or switch to a different brand.
Lighting Needed by Bearded Dragons
As bearded dragons originated in the sun-scorched deserts of the Australian outback, they thrive on UVA and UVB radiation from the sun. So it’s important to try and re-create this kind of heat and light in your beardie’s terrarium in order to make it feel like home.
You will need a heat and UVA Lamp which is the basking light, as well as a UVB light and a Ceramic Heat Emitter if your nights are cold.
UVA and Basking Light
UVA radiation is important for your bearded dragon as it helps keep it stimulated and eating with a healthy appetite. UVA is the visible light and is also the basking light which warms the area where your beardie will spend many happy hours soaking up the warmth.
In fact this light should be on for 12-14 hours during the day, and off for 12-14 hours during the night. A bright white light is best for bearded dragons. This is usually available as a normal clear glass household bulb.
UVB radiation helps your beardie to metabolize calcium and Vitamin D3. This is very important in preventing deadly Metabolic Bone Disease, which can result from a calcium deficiency. The UVB requirements of bearded dragons is higher than that of most other pet lizards, so be sure to use a UVB light that is giving off a sufficient dose of UVB to keep your pet healthy.
Ceramic Heat Emitter
The night time temperature of your bearded dragon’s habitat should not drop lower than 65°F (18,3°C). In order to maintain this ambience, you may need a ceramic heat emitter and of course be sure to have a good thermometer so you can accurately measure the temperature in your beardie’s enclosure.
Different Types of Bulbs
There are many different bulbs available on the market, so it’s important to find the ones that work best for your bearded dragon and help to keep the terrarium at the right temperature, with the right amount of light. Here are some of the options you might like to consider:
These bulbs have a good UVB output, and work especially well when combined with a UVA basking bulb. Due to the nature of its tubular shape, the florescent bulb will stretch across most of the tank, distributing the light evenly.
Make sure that you get the correct size for your tank – at least 80% of the length of the terrarium. Fluorescent bulbs should be replaced more or less every six months to ensure the best output of radiation. If your bulb is burning out in less than 6 months, try checking some of the factors mentioned above.
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
The compact or coiled fluorescent bulbs are used by some bearded dragon owners due to the fact that they consume less power while providing the necessary radiation. However, there have been some cases where reptile pets have been harmed, suffering from eye burn and even blindness. It is also reported that some compact fluorescent bulbs stop producing UVB after one or two months.
Mercury Vapor Bulbs
These bulbs tend to be a bit more pricey than fluorescent bulbs, but this is offset by their longevity as they only need to be replaced after a year. Mercury Vapor bulbs provide both UVA and UVB rays as well as heat.
Unlike the fluorescent bulb, though, they only cover a small area of the enclosure. This means that your beardie needs to be directly under the bulb to get any of the beneficial radiation.
Another option you might like to consider is Halogen floods. These make great basking lights as they give off a good amount of heat and a wide spectrum of light.
Correct Placement of Lights
Once you’ve chosen the kinds of bulbs that will work best for your particular set up, it’s important that you place the lights correctly in your bearded dragon enclosure. The lights need to be the right distance away from your beardie in order for it to receive the best radiation.
Fluorescent tubes should be mounted about 6 – 12 inches away from your beardie. Mercury vapour bulbs work best in large enclosures and should be about 20 inches from the floor. Lighting bulbs should not be placed above glass as this will block the UV rays which your bearded dragon needs to receive. It is better to use a screen cover rather than glass.
Always be sure to take careful note of the manufacturer’s directions for the particular brand of bulb that you have chosen.
Two useful accessories when it comes to your bearded dragon’s lighting are timers, and dimmers.
This can save you a lot of time and arithmetic as you try to remember how many hours of light your beardie has or hasn’t had each day. Just set the timer and it will be taken care of.
Dimmers can be attached to the heat light to control the amount of heat and light output, allowing you to use one wattage all year round rather than changing bulbs every time the seasons and weather changes.
If you have been struggling with bulbs blowing frequently in your bearded dragon’s enclosure, maybe it’s time to reassess your lighting set up and see where the fault may lie. Perhaps you need to handle the bulbs with kid gloves, check there is no overheating or shorting, make sure you have the right fittings, or change your bulb supplier.
See what kind of light your bearded dragon needs, what types of bulbs are available, how they should be placed correctly in the cage, and two lighting accessories you could use.
As you systematically eliminate possible causes of burned out lights, you are sure to find the best and most effective way to keep your beardie happily basking in the warm white light without having to change bulbs unduly.