All experienced bearded dragon owners know that their reptile friends require a heat lamp during the day, but they may find themselves wondering if it is necessary to keep it on at night as well. After all, in the wild a bearded dragon is subjected to warmer days and cooler nights, so it makes sense to mimic that for your pet.
So, do bearded dragons need heat at night? Probably not. Unless you live in an area where your house gets chilly in the evenings (below sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit) it is not necessary to provide your dragon with heat. Remember, because his terrarium has been heated throughout the day, his cage will hold some heat on its own as well.
There are many factors to consider when determining what your bearded dragon’s requires at night, such as your dragon’s habitat and preferences. Let’s dissect his nighttime climate needs a bit further.
Bearded Dragons in the Wild
To fully understand a bearded dragon’s needs, you must first have some knowledge regarding where they come from. This will help you provide them with a similar environment in your home.
Bearded dragons originate from the dry, desert-like regions of Australia. They are ectotherms — also known as cold-blooded animals.
Reptiles, including bearded dragons, depend on their surrounding environmental temperature to regulate the temperature of their own bodies.
To stay warm, dragons bask for a good portion of each day, often enjoying the sun from a perfect perch, such as a large rock or tree trunk.
They tend to move in and out of the sun to control their body temperatures, but they prefer their basking spot to be between ninety-five and one hundred and ten degrees.
At night, bearded dragons prefer to move away from their basking spot and find some type of shelter so that they can sleep safely.
Because the desert cools off considerably each night, dragons become used to sleeping in temperatures around seventy degrees, sometimes even a bit cooler.
While cooler temperatures at night are normal to a bearded dragon, it is very important to make sure that your pet dragon does not get too cold while he is asleep. This is dangerous for any bearded dragon and can make him quite ill.
The temperature in your bearded dragon’s cage should be monitored at all times with one or more thermostats to avoid any significant, harmful dips in temperature. There are even thermostats that connect to your smartphone that can alert you via an app to any concerning temperature changes.
Ideally, your dragon’s nighttime habitat temperature should hover between seventy and seventy-five degrees.
If you live in an environment in which it gets very cold at night, you may find your bearded dragon’s cage dipping below sixty-five degrees occasionally.
In this case, you will need to look at some other options for your bearded dragon come nightfall, as the bright lights of his normal daytime heat lamp are very likely to disrupt his sleeping patterns.
Nighttime Heating Options
- Ceramic Heat Emitters – These give off a good amount of infrared heat, but they do not emit any light that may disturb your bearded dragon. Ceramic heat emitters are also fairly inexpensive and very long-lasting. Most dragon owners consider these to be the best nighttime heat solution.
- Infrared Bulbs – These nighttime bulbs usually have a lower wattage than normal bulbs. They are used to supply a bit of heat while giving off very little light. The black bulbs provide a dim purplish glow, while red bulbs emit a soft red glow that bearded dragons cannot see. They are cheaper than ceramic bulbs, but they also last a fraction of the time.
- Heating Mats – These are flat pads that stick to the bottom, side, or even the top of a habitat. These can be used to provide extra heat from outside the cage. Remember, a heating mat may cause a fire when placed against a cage made of wood or other flammable material. These are usually recommended for bearded dragon enclosures made of glass, but they have been known to crack the glass if they get too hot, so make sure to get one with settings you can control.
- Heat Rocks – These are widely sold and may seem like a great idea for extra heating. However, most lizards can generally only gauge how hot they are getting if the heat is given from above as the sun would naturally do. Your bearded dragon may sit on the rock for an extended period of time and not realize just how hot the surface really is, causing severe burns on your bearded dragon’s belly. These are NOT recommended for a bearded dragon.
- Heating Cables – These are flexible, insulated cables that emit heat when they are plugged in. The cables can be placed in the enclosure in large loops or tight coils. They can also be attached to the outside of the cage using electrical tape. Because heat cables are resistant to water, they are a smart choice for a bearded dragon’s high-humidity enclosure.
- Read this article if you want to know which heat bulbs and emitters we recommend!
Night and Day
So how long does a dragon’s day and night need to last to maintain a bearded dragon’s health and prevent metabolic bone disease? It varies from season to season.
- During the summer months, you should give your bearded dragon at least fourteen hours of daytime UV exposure and eight to ten hours of nighttime.
- During the winter months, you need to decrease his UV daylight exposure to ten to twelve hours and allow him a longer twelve to fourteen hours of nighttime.
If your bearded dragon gets way too cold at night, he will shut down and become very hard to wake up. If this happens, it is imperative that you warm him up immediately.
Make sure his cage is warmed to a toasty one hundred and ten degrees, and then give him a warm bath in a fifty-fifty ratio of warm water to plain Pedialyte. This mixture will be absorbed through his vent area and help him warm up in a safe way. Take care not to overheat the mixture.
After he has soaked for twenty to thirty minutes, dry him thoroughly and place him in his basking area. This should help him recover quickly, but you will want to talk to your trusted vet to be sure your bearded dragon is out of danger if you notice any unusual behavior.
Can I sleep with my bearded dragon? While some owners do admit to letting their dragons sleep in dog beds next to their bed or even under their covers each night, it is not recommended. Even if your dragon stays nice and warm, co-sleeping can lead to your dragon’s injury or death if you unknowingly roll over on him while you sleep. It is better for him to rest in his own space.
How long can a bearded dragon live without heat? A bearded dragon can live without heat for a short window of time. If your heating element goes out, he will most likely be okay for twenty-four hours, so replace it quickly. If you are unable to provide heat after that, you run a good chance of damaging his health or even killing him.