What UVB Bulb is Best for Beardies?

Informative — When setting up a bearded dragon enclosure, it can be easy to get caught up in the design and aesthetic of the setup. However, certain aspects of care are more important than others, and UVB is undoubtedly one of the most important. The sun emits an ultraviolet light that is essential for a bearded dragon's health. For enclosed beardies, UVB bulbs provide these nutrients. 

Because choosing the correct supplies can become quite complicated, we're here to provide you with a cut-and-dry answer (regarding the proper UVB for bearded dragons). In today's blog, we will examine why UVB coil bulbs are bad for bearded dragons, the best two UVB bulb choices for your dragon, and the use of mercury vapor bulbs for bearded dragons. 

Compact UVB Bulbs

A common and cheap solution to provide a bearded dragon with UVB is to install a standard fixture spiral UVB bulb, known as a CFL UVB (Compact Fluorescent Light Ultra-Violet Blue). 

These types of UVB bulbs aren't necessarily bad for reptiles. While these bulbs have been upgraded over the years, there are some drawbacks to a bulb like this. 

Here at Cliffhanger Reptiles, we've invested in advanced ultraviolet light-measuring technology. You can find the published results to our studies in the Documentation Center here on www.cliffhangerreptiles.com. We find that the UVB output on compact bulbs is slightly less than that of a larger fluorescent. These bulbs' lifespans are also significantly less in comparison. 

Furthermore, the bulb does not cover as much surface area in the enclosure. Typically, a CFL UVB only provides adequate lighting to the basking spot. A longer bulb will grant greater coverage. If you choose to use Compact UVBs, they should be replaced every 3-4 months. 

Full-Size Fluorescent Tube UVB

Many breeders would agree that fluorescent tube UVB bulbs guarantee greater output and greater coverage. Our data show the same trend. For optimal beardie growth and health, use one of these in your bearded dragon's lighting setup. 

The two common (and recommended) UVBs in the herpetoculture industry are the Zoo Med Repti Sun 10.0 and the Arcadia 14% Dragon UVB. You can find both of these below. For several years we used the Repti Sun 10.0 bulbs at Cliffhanger Reptiles. We assumed it was the only good option. 

However, when we found the Arcadia 14% Dragon UVB, we were astonished. This bulb has an impressive UVB output and seems to last almost twice as long as the alternatives.

Please note, the Arcadia bulbs are from the United Kingdom, so they use a T5 mount instead of a T8 mount. 

If you opt to go with the Arcadia set up, consider the following:

If you opt for the Repti Sun set up, consider this pairing:

Mercury Vapor

A mercury vapor bulb, or MVB, is a two-in-one heat and UVB source. MVBs have both pros and cons, so it is important to weigh your options carefully. Firstly, they save space and energy. This can come in handy. Additionally, they tend to have a high UV output and can last a long time! The flip side of this, however, is their construction. MVBs are very fragile and can break easily. Not only are they expensive, but they also have spikes in UV output. This means that they do not provide consistent UV levels. 

While MVBs can be great if used correctly, a separate heat bulb and fluorescent tube UVB will serve you better. We do, on occasion, use an MVB here at CR. For this reason, they are approved by us and can be purchased below. We recommend you replace this every 5-7 months. 

The Verdict 

Providing a bearded dragon with UVB and a good D3 supplementation is a must. At Cliffhanger Reptiles, we use the Arcadia 14% Dragon UVB. We found that tubular fluorescent bulbs outperform compact UVBs.