Why Are Red Bulbs Bad For My Bearded Dragon?

I was concerned about how to provide my bearded dragon with the heat it wants while protecting it from harmful ultraviolet rays.

And so a friend of mine recommended me to use red bulbs.

But here the kicker:

After some research, I found out that red bulbs are not as good as people say they are.

So why are red bulbs bad for your bearded dragon?

Well turns out that red bulbs do not protect your pet from UV rays and there are better options than red bulbs for keeping your pet well heated. Also, red bulbs are not good for your pet at night time as they do disturb your pet’s sleep.

I highly recommend checking out this really helpful video:

So what other options do you have to use instead of red bulbs?

Keep reading to know the answer:

The Problem With Red Bulbs

The reason why most reptile owners tend to use red bulbs to provide their pets with heat is because of the idea that reptiles cannot see the red spectrum of light.

So they use red bulbs so that their pets are not disturbed while sleeping and receive the warmth at the same time.

However, this is not true at all.

There are a few reasons why red bulbs are not as efficient as everybody thinks:

  • It is not proven by any study that red bulbs do not disturb your bearded dragon while it’s sleeping. In fact, researches show proof of the exact opposite. They say that reptiles can see colours and lights. This means that red light is useless in terms of providing heat without disturbing the sleep of your pet.
  • The pupils of your pet need to be contracted by the light so that the UV rays do not affect their eyes. But red light does not cause the pupils to contract enough to avoid damage to the eyes by the UV rays.
  • Any dark-coloured light, red or not, can disturb your pet’s sleep.
  • Red lights do not give off enough heat for a bearded dragon.

One more thing:

Not all of these reasons are true for every reptile as their eyes are different.

Alternatives To Red Bulbs


Before I tell you about the other options that you have instead of red bulbs, there is one more thing that you need to know.

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As you know that bearded dragons live in the desert, the temperature does decrease a bit at night time in deserts.

This means that your beardie does not need the same amount of heat during both day and night time. The temperature can be a bit low at night but not too cold.

To make it clear, just know that at day time, the temperature can be around 35°C. While at night it must not go below 18°C.

So first, I will tell you about the alternative to red bulbs that are best for the case of day and night time temperature:

Ceramic Heaters:

These heaters emit infra-red heat and do not emit light to disturb your pet’s sleep. You need to use these with a micro-climate thermostat so that you can control the heat for day and night.

Now, this product might be costly but know this that it lasts two times as much as any normal light-emitting glass bulb so ceramic heaters are more cost-effective.

Fluorescent Bulbs:

These are one of the sources that give invisible UV rays. Some special fluorescent bulbs give off both UVA and UVB rays in different quantities.

Bearded Dragons need 8-10 % of the UVB rays output and you will know the rating by looking at the packaging of the fluorescent bulbs.

But the problem is that you will need to replace these bulbs every now and then because these bulbs run out of UV rays even before the lights burn out. The period of replacing these is usually about every six months.

Mercury Vapor Bulbs:

This option might be better than the other two. It is slightly more expensive, but some advantages make it worth using:

  • Mercury vapour bulbs last longer than heat bulbs and fluorescent bulbs.
  • They provide both UVB and UVB rays. So they give off both heat and the necessary UV rays, making it a two-in-one package.
  • There are known cases of people noticing more energy and better appetite in their beardies with the use of mercury vapor bulbs.

Now there are some rumours of mercury vapour being dangerous for reptiles. So to prevent any dangerous UV rays, use proper shade and keep the bulb about 14 to 22 inches away from your pet.

Some Things to Keep In Mind

While using any of the three types of bulbs from above, you need to keep watch of a few things:

  • The position of the bulb is very important. There should be nothing between the bulbs and your pet so that the heat and UV rays are not blocked or absorbed.
  • Make sure that the fixtures of the bulbs can handle the heat wattage or else the fixtures might get melted.
  • Keep any type of thing that could melt (like plastic) away from the bulbs.
  • Use shades to lower the intensity of UV rays to prevent them from harming your beardie.

Related Questions

Do bearded dragons need infrared lights at night?

Your goal in this matter should be to keep your pet’s sleep from being disturbed by any lights. So there should be no lights on in the vivarium/tank of your pet at night. Heat bulbs work best in this case because they do not emit light.

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Can you leave a heat lamp turned on all night for a bearded dragon?

You can leave a heat lamp on all night. But remember that your pet does not need the same temperature at night. So use a thermostat with the heat lamp to lower the heat.

What temperature should my bearded dragon tank be at night?

At day, it can be around 35°C but at night it should be around 22-26°C. The temperature should not go as low as 18°C at night as it’s dangerous for your bearded dragon.

Are 120 degrees Fahrenheit too hot for a bearded dragon?

The ideal temperature of the basking area of your pet should be 90 to 115-degree Fahrenheit or 32 to 46-degree Celsius. But 120-degrees Fahrenheit might be too hot for your beardie. If it’s gaping with its mouth open, then it means that it’s too hot for them and you need to reduce the heat.

Do blankets keep bearded dragons warm?

The simple answer is no. Bearded dragons are used to the heat of the desert and trying to maintain that type of temperature at home with just a blanket is certainly not enough.


Now there are other things that you can try too like heat mats and halogen heat bulbs to maintain the heat for your bearded dragon.

But the ones I told you above would be the best ones to try if you want the best results.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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