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Can Bearded Dragons See Red Light?

With bearded dragons being more popular than ever and the people thinking that bearded dragons couldn’t see red light for decades, we have noticed more and more people reaching out to ask if bearded dragons can see red light or not recently.

This is partly due to so many of the people new to keeping pet bearded dragons looking for advice on the lighting and heating lamps they should use for their vivariums but partly due to there being so much contradicting information out there.

Bearded dragons can see red light and actually have much better color based vision than was thought but the research that has proven this has only been published in the last couple of years.

This is why where is so much contradictory information out there about if bearded dragons can see red light or not as many people are still misinformed and old articles on the internet as well as many books were published prior to this new research.

With the discovery that bearded dragons can see red light, a number of potential issues have been raised if you do use red light with your pet bearded dragon so we wanted to publish this article to try and explain everything we can.

How Does Bearded Dragon Vision Work?

One thing that has come out of the recent research into the vision capabilities of bearded dragons is that in some respects, they actually have better vision than humans.

This is due to bearded dragons having four types of cone cells in their eyes that act as individual color receptors and although humans have more cone cells in general giving us better vision, bearded dragons have more types of cone cells allowing them to see things that we cant.

This makes bearded dragons tetrachromats allowing them to see UVA light as well as other types of light that is totally invisible to humans such as colors outside of the standard rainbow spectrum.

This means that some lighting and heating bulb types can add light to your bearded dragon’s vivarium that they can see but we can’t often making the bearded dragon keeper unaware that they may have accidentally added a potential risk to their pet.

Due to bearded dragon’s eyes being on the side of their head, it does have the disadvantage of a lack of real depth perception as well as often struggling to notice detail in good amounts of light never mind when red light is interfering with their vision.

Can Bearded Dragons See Red Light?

Bearded dragons can see red light both the red light that humans can see as well as UV red light too.

The common belief was that bearded dragons could not see either of these light types until recently and this is why there is so much contradictory information out there about using red lights with bearded dragons.

Even some poorly trained pet store staff can sometimes recommend that you use red lights for your pet bearded dragon’s vivarium still but current thinking is that this is wrong and actually presents a number of potential risks to your bearded dragon.

Downsides Of Red Lights For Bearded Dragons!

There are two main downsides of using red lights for bearded dragons as well as a number of smaller potential risks that may affect your bearded dragon depending on other factors.

The two main ones that you have to factor in when keeping a pet bearded dragon are:-

  • Vision Pallet Issues
  • Disturbed Sleep

Red Light Causes Vision Pallet Issues For Bearded Dragons!

Red light can totally rinse out your pet bearded dragon’s vision pallet making it difficult for your bearded dragon to navigate its vivarium and hunt correctly.

This is due to bearded dragons being able to see red light and it being able to rinse their vision pallet making it difficult for them to see anything in detail.

With smart lights being so popular these days, you can test this yourself by looking around your room for the dominant color in there and then setting your smart lights to that color.

You can also usually try red or blue on your smart lights too as it can mask many things from our vision with this being similar to how your bearded dragon sees with red light in its vivarium.

Red Light Disturbs Sleep For Bearded Dragons!

Although there is still research to be done, there is some early evidence that suggests that red light can cause issues with your pet bearded dragon being able to sleep correctly.

The dominant theory is that the red light disturbs your bearded dragon and causes it to wake up multiple times throughout the night preventing it from getting good sleep.

This can cause problems with your bearded dragon’s ability to health from injury, digest food, and to relax with all of this compounding as the lack of sleep goes on resulting in potentially serious issues.

There is a second theory that unlike many other animals that sleep under red light that can have a benefit to their Melatonin process while sleeping under the light, it can cause issues with a bearded dragons Melatonin process.

This means that what little sleep your pet bearded dragon is able to get is of low quality and offers minimal benefit to the animal due to the red light causing issues with its Melatonin process while sleeping.

As we said though, these are both early theories and there is more testing being done.

Alternatives To Red Lights For Bearded Dragons!

The vast majority of people agree that white light is the best option for a bearded dragon’s vivarium as it does not impair their vision in any way.

All of the large brands that produce vivarium accessories for bearded dragons have both lighting units and heating lamps that produce white light available with most of them being very budget friendly too.

This means that you can usually get a white light alternative to a red light for the same price of cheaper than you would pay for the red lighting unit.

There are some “day light” lighting units available for vivariums that can work well too but they usually cost way more than their standard white light alternative while offering minimal benefit over the white light unit.

Due to this, we usually recommend a white light over a “day light” bulb for the vast majority of people as well as that most people try to avoid using red light at all.

Why Do Some Pet Store Workers Say Bearded Dragons Cant See Red Light?

As we touched on earlier in the article, the new research showing that bearded dragons can see red light has only been published in the last couple of years with additional research on going at the time of writing.

This means that many pet store workers are going with the outdated information on red light and bearded dragons that they were initially taught.

We really don’t believe that the pet store worker is being malicious and intentionally trying to put your pet bearded dragon at risk but that they simply have outdated information.

A specialist reptile dealer will usually offer you much better information on a bearded dragon’s lighting requirements due to them usually being reptile keepers themselves that are heavily invested in the hobby.

The general pet store worker may not really care much about their job, have minimal training, and have to know a basic level of knowledge about a wide range of animals reducing their ability to specialize with or stay up to date with the latest information.