LIGHTING AND HEATING
Lighting and heating are very important to your dragon. Your dragon’s health and well-being depend on good lighting and enough heat. A dragon needs 14 hours of light each day.
- ZooMed’s ReptiSun 10.0 UVB straight fluorescent tube and a separate basking heat bulb.
- Required temps by age, basking spot area:
- Hatchling to six months, 115 to 120 degrees
- Six months to one year, 110 to 115 degrees
- One year and older, 100 to 110 degrees
- Cool side area for all ages should be around 80 degrees
- Cool side area for all ages should be around 80 degrees
We recommend our Carolina Custom Cages’ Reptile T5HO 22″ Fixture & Reflector with Basking Light Assembly; a compact 22″ T5HO (high output) fluorescent fixture and efficient halogen basking light. This all-in-one fixture can be easily mounted under the habitat’s top screen for greatest effectiveness. This is your best option. I have found that my dragons (even the older ones) are more active, their appetite is stronger and they seem happier under the T5HO lighting assembly.
Natural Sunlight Outdoors
This is the best for your dragon, even if you can only provide a small amount it helps. Your dragon needs UVB rays to process its food. I use 40 gallon plastic tubs which can be purchased at your local discount store for about $14 each. They are high enough your dragon can’t climb out so you don’t have to get a cover for it. Unless you have other animals around that may wish your dragon for dinner. I place a single layer of paper towels on the bottom of the tub. Try to position the tub so there is a shaded area for your dragon to cool as well as a sunny area for basking, If you don’t have a safe place like that, then use the lid the tub comes with, place it sideways over 1/4 -1/2 of the tub to create shade. I personally take all of my dragons outside 3 to 4 times a week to bask in their tubs on my back deck. I place them out from either 10am to 1pm or from 3 pm until 6 or 7pm. I try to avoid the hottest part of the day as I have found they get very restless during that time and seem to enjoy mornings and late afternoons better, relaxing and basking in the sun.
I always mist the dragons with water while they are basking; about once an hour to help them stay hydrated in the heat. You’ll find they will often open their mouths and flick out their tongues to drink during misting.
Enclosure Lighting and Heating
Your dragon has to have UVB rays to produce vitamin D-3. You’ll also need to use supplements containing D-3 and that is covered in the Supplements and Diet section. However, nothing fully replaces your dragon being able to naturally produce what it needs.
There are two ways to light and heat your dragon’s home. I use both ways depending on the home and what the dragon responds to best. I tried a lot of different things to begin with until I found what works best for me and my dragons. I suggest you research to find what you are satisfied with.
Florescent tube bulbs and heat bulbs or emitters
Florescent bulbs produce just UVB light and not heat, so using these means you’ll also have to have a heat source. The florescent bulb should run at least two thirds the length of your enclosure; the heat source needs to be at one end or the other. Your dragon needs a basking spot as well as an area to cool down. We recommend Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0 tubes for UVB.
ReptiSun bulbs now come in two types; the T8 which we were using for years and the T5HO which is what we are using now. The T5HO is a superior bulb as proven by the testing that we have been doing over the last few months. They provide a greater amount of UVB and hold acceptable levels longer than the older T8 bulbs.
We feel that mounting your fixture under the screen is much more efficient since you don’t have the loss of going through the screen mesh which can be 25 to 30%. We have produced a fixture that is lightweight, streamlined and easy to mount under the screen. This fixture is available with a combined basking light so that you are able to provide heat and UVB with just one fixture. These fixtures are available on our Products for Sale page.
You’ll need to change T8 tubes every 4 months as they noticeably degrade after 3 months and become of no benefit to your dragon for the UVB it needs. We find that with our T5HO fixture we are getting a useful life of at least 7 to 8 months because it is starting at such a superior output to begin with and the electronic ballast improves the length of time before degradation begins.
You’ll need a surface temp thermometer to help you keep the enclosure temperatures regulated. We offer two styles on or Products for Sale page. Young dragons need a slightly higher temperature in their basking spot than adults. Young dragons need the temperature in the basking area to be 110-120 degrees and adults need 105-110 degrees. The other end for their cool area needs to be 80-85 degrees.
Dragons need to be able to get close to the UVB light, between 6″ to 8″ if using a T8 tube and 10″ to 14″ if using a T5HO tube. The ways to achieve this are explained in the Cage Accessories section. Make sure that the dragon cannot touch the basking bulb. Dragons don’t process sensation like humans, so if most of their body is comfortable and one spot is being burned they are not aware of this. So it is your job to protect them from harm. Be sure you have enough basking spots for each dragon if more than one is housed in the enclosure. Otherwise someone may get left out and not receive what they need.
If your enclosure’s basking spot is not hot enough with the heat bulb, you may need to add another heat source. Heat emitters work well. Putting your lights on timers is the best. We offer the one that we found to be the best on our Products for Sale page. I started by turning mine on and off every day and night, but sometimes life gets busy and you miss the time you scheduled. Your dragon needs a routine. So for the price of a timer, it makes your life easier and your dragon’s life happier. I change my lighting times with the seasons to keep the dragons routine in sync with the natural passing of the year. I keep my lights set to come on at 7am each morning. In the summer my lights are set to go off at 9 pm this gives the dragon 14 hours of light and coincides with the sunrise and sunset.
I keep dragons that are under a year old at 14 hours of light a day during the entire year. Adults’ lighting time changes with the fall season for brumation.
As fall season comes around October I begin to slowly move the off time back as the days get shorter. I change the time each week so the dragons have time to adjust to each change. I’ll go from 9pm to 8pm then a week later go from 8pm to 7pm and so on until I get to 5pm. This reverses the daylight and dark hours just as it does naturally between summer and winter. Come November they’ll have 10 hours of daylight and 14 hours of dark. This will also help your dragon brumate which is an important cycle for your dragon after it turns a year old; especially if you plan to breed. Brumation is covered in its own section, so read that for more information on the subject. In December, I start to reverse the lighting back towards summer time. As you do, your dragon will begin to be more active as they would in their natural habitat.
I can’t express strongly enough how important lighting and heat are to your dragon. Your dragon can’t function properly and be healthy without the proper heat and light. So if you have any questions please ask.