Newbie bearded dragon owners are especially very curious about whether or not their beloved pets need light at night. Perhaps bearded dragons are nocturnal animals and they need light at night to prance around with all their might?
If that isn’t the case, then since heat is another essential element expected to be present in bearded dragon habitats – and heat would come from a source that also emits light, light at night is a given perhaps? Well, so many possibilities; this post aims to clear the air for good on all these fronts.
Do bearded dragons need light at night? Bearded dragons do NOT need light at night. On the contrary, it would do them a world of good to have a completely dark resting place at night where they can sleep (or at least rest) peacefully. And unless the room temperature drops significantly, bearded dragons do not need heat at night either.
In this post, we will explore the various situations which compel pet owners, especially new ones, to be unsure about the nightly light aspect. We will also be looking at the intertwining of heat and light in the context of bearded dragons, what matters and what doesn’t, and much more.
At the end of the post, you will have a very good idea of the nightly, “lightly” needs of bearded dragons – which you wouldn’t want to take lightly so make sure you read on till the very end!
Consider their Original Habitat
While considering the lighting needs of bearded dragons, it is essential to consider their original habitat; where they come from, viz. the vast, expansive Australian desert. This is a part of the Earth which receives sunshine for a major part of the day, often in the region of 12 to 14 hours or more.
Even when kept in a captive, homely environment, bearded dragons by their natural, evolutionary design expect similar lighting conditions. Therefore, during the day, it would be essential that you provide ample light to your beardie.
Natural light reaching your beardie’s habitat is quite likely to be insufficient, which is why you will have to supplement that with artificial light.
At night though, it is a different story altogether where bearded dragons really need their beauty sleep. In the absence of darkness, they will really not be able to sleep properly. Again, think of their natural habitat where it is pitch dark in the desert/woodlands.
Ultimately, in the captive environment where you have housed your beardie, lighting needs to mirror your beardie’s natural habitat and hence it needs to be dark at night too.
The ideal light inside the enclosure of your bearded dragon is one which is referred to as basking light. This is light which provides just the right amount of lighting during the day – when it is needed while switching off in the night, when it isn’t required.
As a proud bearded dragon owner, especially if you are new to the game, you would want to choose a light which switches through these lighting cycles seamlessly. Essentially, we would be looking at:
- About 12 to 14 hours during the day when the light would be on, and
- Another roughly 12 hours when it would be off.
As surprising as it may sound to you, many pet shops do not end up having the right kind of lights.
As we have observed, a basic bright white light source does the job perfectly in providing the right kind of lighting as required by your bearded dragon during the day.
Most common household bulbs manage to provide this lighting. Yes, you might have to adjust the wattage (or find a bulb with the desired wattage) which offers just the right temperature gradient.
Once that is done, you will be able to ensure that your beardie is comfortably lit during the day while being able to enjoy complete darkness at night.
Also, bear in mind that this light will provide your bearded dragon with sufficient heat (which it requires) during the day.
We know that this can be quite complicated, especially for beginners. That is why we have created a complete guide on setting up the right lighting for bearded dragons – product recommendations included. Read the beardie lighting guide here.
The Non-Requirement of Heat at Night
Related to the aspects we have touched upon above is the fact that bearded dragons really do not need much heat at night. Going back to its natural Australian habitat, bear in mind that the woodlands tend to get fairly cool at night, just as they happen to be quite warm during the day.
So from the perspective of their natural habitat, bearded dragons do just fine without light which is a heat source, during the night.
The only exception to this rule would be if it is really cold in and around its habitat. An instance could be when you house its enclosure in a basement which typically tends to be cold. Or you could be geographically located in a place which is rather cold.
Or it could simply be winter season wherein it is bitter cold all around.
Barring any of the above situations we have mentioned above, your bearded dragon is unlikely to require heat at night – and thus any need for light to be provided would be rendered all the more redundant.
Moreover, don’t forget that bearded dragons are coldblooded creatures. As night progresses and turns into day, they naturally turn warm. Excessive heat at night will only make them uncomfortable while a fairly cold environment (without being too cold) will work just fine for them.
Talking specifics in terms of temperature, we have noted that:
- During the day, bearded dragons are comfortable in an ambiance of 95°F or 35°C.
- At night, they would be fine if it is above 65°F or 18°C.
Anything below these latter figures might be a cause for concern – and some obvious intervention on your part to arrange mild heating which gets the temperature above these figures. Otherwise, you can simply rest assured with no concerns at all.
An ideal solution for such situations is to get a Ceramic Heat Emitter or CME which produces heat without producing light. That way, if it is really very cold, you could provide adequate warmth for your pet, without disturbing its sleep in the form of undue light.
Just ensure its wattage is ideal, to the extent that it does not end up providing excess heat beyond what is desirable.
If you need help with setting up and finding the right heat source for bearded dragons during the night, simply read our article on the best heat sources for bearded dragons. It shows you the best heat bulbs for basking, but also heat sources you need if it gets too cold in your reptile room during the night!
The Circadian Rhythm Connection
Remember how we humans are constantly reminded about our body clock?
With animals, things are really no different; they too have their circadian rhythm where they prefer to fritter around (or maybe even remain steadfast in case of some lazy beardies!) during the day and rest peacefully at night.
Night light, especially if it is too bright and invasive, ruins this entire cycle. Remember it is not just about sleep. The hormonal release is also a critical factor of circadian rhythms.
When hormones are not released at all (or not released when they should be), it causes undue imbalance and stress.
This will, of course, affect the overall wellbeing of your pet drastically.
For these reasons too, it is recommended that you maintain a dark environment for your pet at night since that allows it to maintain its circadian rhythm which in turn ensures optimal hormonal release.
Risks of Insufficient Lighting
With bearded dragons, lighting is definitely serious business. If you do not ensure ample lighting during the day, you could subject your beardie to mood swings. Over time, it may even develop what is referred to as Metabolic Bone Disease or MBD.
When your beardie suffers from MBD, it won’t eat as much as it should, which could, of course, lead to a whole host of complications that you would want to avoid at all costs.
If you are unsure about your bearded dragon´s lighting setup and you don´t know what MBD is OR if you are worried that your bearded dragon might suffer from MBD, you should read our article on MBD here.
It will explain everything to you and it will show you what you can do to help your bearded dragon.
As we have asserted throughout this post, bearded dragons do not need light at night. It only ends up disturbing their sleep which leads to other complications such as improper hormonal release among others.
In case the ambiance around your bearded dragon is really very cold – below the temperatures we mentioned, a suitable solution could be a Ceramic Heat Emitter which produces heat without any light.
Now that you have a clear perspective on the need for light at night among bearded dragons (or rather the clear need for a LACK of it!), you might also want to know:
Do bearded dragons need red light at night?
Bearded dragons simply do not need ANY light at night, red or otherwise. Like any other light, this red light will also end up disturbing their sleep. Remember that bearded dragons can see (and sense) extraneous lights, so you would do best to turn them off completely.
Should I cover my bearded dragon’s enclosure at night?
There is no need for it but you can cover your bearded dragon’s enclosure at night. Doing so will cut off external sources of light which may not be completely obvious to you; it may also help with optimal temperature management within the enclosure. Just remember to promptly take off the cover during the day!