Is infrared light OK for bearded dragons?

Infrared light is a type of invisible light that is produced by devices that use light bulbs or bulbs or heat lamps such as heat lamps for reptiles. Infrared light is used by reptiles in a variety of ways to help them survive in their environment, some of which include thermoregulation and hunting prey.

Recently, an article was published on a popular blog discussing whether or not bearded dragons can be exposed to infrared light. This information could be helpful for some of you who are unsure if their bearded dragon would enjoy basking under this type of light source.

Is infrared light OK for bearded dragons? Yes, infrared light is OK for bearded dragons, but it can’t replace the more natural light from the sun, especially if you have a very young beardie. Infrared light is on the low-end of the spectrum (hence the name, which means “without light”), which means that it is absorbed by the skin, and doesn’t produce any heat. So, for bearded dragons, it isn’t a good choice for basking or heating. It can be used as a part of a bearded dragon lighting system, though.

Light is associated with heat in the bearded dragon. If you use infrared light to heat your bearded dragon throughout the day, it may aggravate its basking tendency. The second reason I don’t suggest infrared lamps is that they penetrate the skin. It was discovered that it may even burn the tissue of a bearded dragon.

What does infrared light do for bearded dragons?

As bearded dragons grow in size, they will need to increase their intake of food to maintain optimal weight. There are a number of factors that can impact appetite and weight including age, sex, environment, health, and activity.
A common way to provide supplemental heat for a bearded dragon is using infrared lighting.

Infrared light is considered “near-infrared” because it falls on the near side of the spectrum but not close enough to be visible light which we classify as red or blue. Infrared light is a part of the high-energy light that is emitted by the sun which helps to sustain life on our planet.

Infrared light helps bearded dragons to absorb more calcium than they would otherwise be able to obtain from their diet. Since calcium is vital for healthy bone growth and development, infrared helps ensure the bearded dragon is receiving an optimal amount of calcium and can help to reduce the chance of metabolic bone disease (MBD).

Infrared light helps to metabolize fat while retaining muscle mass in the body. This is a common problem with captive animals that have the tendency to become overweight which leads to health issues such as heart disease and arthritis.

However, If you use an infrared bulb for heating during the day, this can irritate your bearded dragon´s basking behavior. A bearded dragon should be able to regulate its own temperature between basking and sleeping.
Infrared light can have some drawbacks, too.

Some bearded dragons can get very stressed or ill from this type of light. Using infrared lighting too often can lead to stress and illness, so be cautious. Depending on the type of log you use for your reptile, it may actually heat up the log itself and burn your bearded dragon. This symptom is known as “thermoptic necrosis.

Thermoptic necrosis occurs when temperatures in the basking area get too high, causing a thermal gradient inside the skull, which can lead to brain swelling and damage.

In conclusion, it is probably wise to avoid exposing your beardie to any unnatural lights that you’re not sure about – in case it can cause any sort of health problem. Below are a few of the most common types of lights and why you should avoid exposing them to your bearded dragon.

LEDs – Some bearded dragons can be sensitive to LED bulbs (especially white LEDs which are much brighter than many other colors) especially those that contain blue. If you’ve been researching LED lighting for your bearded dragon, you may have found that many brands use light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and the color of these LEDs might also be important.

Incandescent bulbs – We cannot ignore incandescent light bulbs that are frequently used in bearded dragon cages. One of the biggest dangers with these types of lights is that they may cause eye damage, lack of pigmentation, and in severe cases, blindness (especially for darker dragons), thus I would recommend avoiding these types of lights.

Incandescent lamps and bulbs – The unfortunate truth is that most Incandescent lamps (both incandescent and halogen) contain some traces of mercury and should be avoided at all costs. These types of bulbs should always be disposed of in a safe way.

Fluorescent Light – Although these types of lights are probably the safest to use, they are typically not recommended for bearded dragons due to the fact that they don’t provide anywhere near the levels of heat required or needed for a bearded dragon to properly function.

Light Emitting Diodes (LED) – [Blue-colored LEDs are very bad for your bearded dragon and should never be used. They could cause serious eye damage and should be avoided at all costs]

Infrared Bulbs – These are typically safe to use, but you should be aware that they can cause problems in some bearded dragons. It’s best to look for a bulb with infrared as opposed to an LED with infrared. These have been shown to cause some heating issues, and again, it’s probably best to avoid using them regardless of the color of the light.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a dermatologist or an expert in the field of reptile medicine. The information presented here is for informational purposes only and I highly recommend seeking out your local vet or your pet store’s veterinarian for any specific health problems you may have with your bearded dragon.



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