Do I Turn Off the Lights at Night for My Bearded Dragon?

Bearded dragons are some of the most likable reptile pets due to their docile nature and relatively low maintenance cost. Their only major requirement is having adequate heating to mimic their native Australian habitats.

However, having an electric heat source for your bearded dragon raises some questions that might confuse most first-time owners. This guide addresses all your concerns about when to leave the heat lamp on and when a bearded dragon needs heat, light, and sleeping patterns.

Do you leave a heat lamp on at night for a bearded dragon?

A characteristic of the Australian desert, which is the native bearded dragons’ environment, is that it gets cold, which suits them. In captivity, you should also lower the temperatures at night to about 65 degrees Fahrenheit to help them sleep and rest. Inadequate rest can put your bearded dragon at risk of health issues due to disrupting biological processes.

Without enough sleep, there’s limited growth and development, and this could cause skeletal issues and deformations. In other words, adequate sleep is essential for bearded dragons to thrive and have fulfilling lives.

As such, it’s vital that you turn off the lamps at night so that temperatures drop for better rest. Besides, heat lamps also emit light, disrupting the beardie’s sleeping patterns. In the wild, they move away from the basking spot to find a safe shelter for the night.

Leaving the temperatures on at night will make them feel as if they are exposed to predators and affect their rest. The cooler and darker the place, the better the comfort and sleep.

Still, you shouldn’t let the beardie freeze as this can lead to respiratory issues. That’s why you should look for other ways to keep them warm if you think it’s too cold. We will discuss them below.

How can I keep my bearded dragon warm at night?

For bearded dragons living in colder climates, it’s recommended you use a device to warm them. Fortunately, there are ways to make their environment warm without lighting it up.

Whichever option you choose, be sure to keep an eye on your bearded dragon’s temperature. Make sure the enclosure is cool enough for him when he wakes up in the morning, and if it gets too hot, adjust the temperature setting on the heating device.

Here are the top ways to keep your bearded dragon warm at night:

Ceramic heaters

One of the best ways to keep your bearded dragon warm at night is to install a ceramic heater. These heaters are very efficient and can help keep your bearded dragon warm without any lights.

The Ceramic Heat Emitter emits heat from a ceramic heating element. They come in a number of shapes and sizes and can be mounted on the wall or in a tank.

So make sure to pick one that is large enough to cover most of the cage but not too large or small that it becomes difficult to use.

To keep your bearded dragon warm at night, place a ceramic heater on the cool side of his enclosure and turn it up to medium or high.

The downside to these is that they tend to be more expensive than other types of heaters, and they may not be suitable for smaller dragons.

Heat Packs

The use of heat packs is a more cost-effective alternative way of keeping a  bearded dragon warm at night.

However, it’s imperative that you take precautions to prevent your dragon from coming into direct contact with the heat packs, as they can scald the beardie.

A heat pack, such as a rechargeable portable heat pad/pack (soft pink), does an excellent job of raising the temperature in the terrarium where the bearded dragon resides.

The ability of high-quality heat packs to continue to radiate heat for an extended period is one of the reasons why you should consider them.

Heating mats

Another way to keep your bearded dragon warm at night is to use a heating mat. Heating mats come in many shapes and sizes and can be easily attached to the cage using zip ties or Velcro.

Some heating mats also have built-in light fixtures, making it easy to see your bearded dragon at night. They can be set to either low or high temperatures, so you can choose how warm you want the enclosure to be.

Various types of heating mats can accommodate a variety of dragons. Check the specifications of the mat before purchasing so you know what size and shape it will need to be.

Also, make sure to read the instructions that come with your heat mat, so you know how best to use it.

Infrared bulbs

The Infrared Heater uses infrared radiation to heat up the air around it. Infrared radiation is not as visible to the human eye as traditional light, but it can penetrate the skin and heat up the animal’s environment.

This type of heater is small, easy to transport, and can be mounted on the floor or in a tank. They are also very affordable, making them a good choice for smaller dragons.

Heat rocks

Another option is to use a heated rock slab. A heated rock slab is a square piece of stone or concrete that has been preheated with an oven or stovetop.

You can place the slab in your bearded dragon’s enclosure so that the dragon can climb on them for warmth. Heated rocks can reach temperatures over 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so they’re warmer to keep the beardie warm all night long.

Heating cables

You can use a regular heating cable to heat your bearded dragon’s enclosure at night. This is a quick and easy solution that doesn’t require any special equipment or knowledge.

Simply plug the cables in a power outlet and run it under the enclosure and place a thermometer in the center of the enclosure.

Heating cables come in different lengths and output power ratings, so find the one that fits your needs best. Your dragon will be warm and cozy at night if the temperature remains relatively stable.

Hot water bottles

Hot water bottles wrapped in a towel can also be placed in the enclosure to keep your bearded dragon warm at night.

Wrapping with a towel prevents scalding as this can cause injury to the skin. Besides, towels conserve heat much longer.

However, this is a short-term way to keep them warm and non-dependable. You also need to keep replacing water when it becomes cold.

Heat Pads

Other people who keep reptiles as pets use heating pads to keep their enclosures at a comfortable temperature. Using these heat pads has a number of benefits, including:

  • They are resilient and can withstand high temperatures
  • It has the ability to directly heat and warm the beardies’ bellies to support digestion
  • it is possible to create an ambient temperature within the setup

The fact that heat pads don’t get excessively hot is one of the many benefits of using them. Therefore, even if your bearded dragon comes into direct contact with it, there is no cause for concern.

Heat Tapes

Another option is the use of heat tapes. They are very similar to radiant heat pads but are thinner, more flexible, and can be molded to fit into the corners of the bearded dragon tank you have set up.

Heat tapes are the go-to option for people looking for an additional source of heat for the basking spot in the tank.

This is due to the fact that the amount of heat it generates isn’t exceptionally high, but it works well as an additional source of heat, and it can also keep your dragon warm in case of sudden power loss.

However, since it is equipped with wires and cables, avoid placing it in a location where your bearded dragon could come into direct contact with it. This is because it has the potential to electrocute them.

Other ways to keep your bearded dragon warm at night

Heated Car

This is not recommended for everyday use but might work once in a while or when you find yourself outside in colder weather.

Heat the car to about 75 degrees Fahrenheit before placing your bearded dragon inside. You should check your beardie regularly, though.

Swaddle in a blanket and have it close to your body

Imagine that there is a temporary lack of power, and the light bulb suddenly burns out at night. A different scenario is when there’s no access to a heat lamp.

In such scenarios, it should not be too difficult for you to prevent your reptile lizard from becoming cold and ill.

Anything above 65 degrees Fahrenheit is considered safe for these lizards. However, anything that falls below that requires your assistance.

You can use a blanket or pillowcase to keep your dragon warm.  It is not in anyone’s best interest for your animal companion to remain in temperatures that are consistently below average because it poses a health risk.

Wrap your little friend as gently as possible in a blanket or a pillowcase, and keep it close to your body. Keep a close eye on the lizard to ensure it does not suffocate.

In the event that there’s a blackout, covering the terrarium with a blanket will also prove to be beneficial.

The blanket minimizes heat loss and entry of cold, thus maintaining the temperatures much longer. Always check the temperature with a thermometer to make sure it’s at the right level.

What kind of lights do bearded dragons use?

UVB light is recommended as a necessity for bearded dragons because it allows their body to synthesize Vitamin D3. A deficiency of this nutrient can lead to illnesses such as Metabolic Bone Disease.

Well, some owners do offer dietary supplements of this vitamin, but studies have shown that lizards that are exposed to UVB light have a higher plasma concentration of Vitamin D.

That said, the most popular options for bearded dragons include:

Light-only UVB bulbs

The light-only UVB bulbs are preferred because they are designed to be used in conjunction with a separate heat source (such as a heat lamp or heat mat).

To protect your pet’s skin and eyes from damage caused by UV light, choose one that isn’t very bright. The best choice would be a light bulb with a UVB intensity that ranges from 2% to 5%.

Combination bulbs

This type of bulb is excellent if you want to make a comfortable basking area because it emits both light and heat.

While leopard geckos spend much of their time sleeping, it’s important to mimic their natural environment in the vivarium by providing a warm, sunny spot for basking.

The basking light bulb should have at least 100 to 150 watts of power, and You should turn off the separate heat source at the same time.

Ambient Room Light

If the vivarium is placed in a brightly lit room, the pet can adjust its internal clock to the local day/night cycle without any additional lighting.

After all, it’s what they do in the wild. Place the vivarium in partial shade. Still, it should be in the shade for most of the day, but it should get some direct sunlight in the morning and evening when the gecko is most active.

Don’t switch it on after dark if you want to go with an ambient room light. It may sound harsh for some owners, but most lizards will do well. We do not recommend it.

Bearded dragon lighting tips

When designing your vivarium lighting, it’s essential to consider more than just the timing of turning the lights off. A few tips for creating the perfect lighting for your lizard include:

Position the bulb just about the vivarium – the light should be coming from the top and not the sides, as this can disturb and damage the eyes of the pet.

Match the bulb power to the tank size – you should aim to offer similar lighting conditions to that of the wild. Do not choose too much light as this can be detrimental to the pet’s eye and general health.

Set the light at an ideal distance – ideally, beardies like it when the light is placed outside the tank, not inside. The distance should be about 6 inches above the pet.

If you have a 3D setup and branches and rocks, the light should be at about 6 inches about the tank’s highest point.

Do bearded dragons need dark at night?

Yes, bearded dragons need light at night for proper sleep. They cannot sleep well even if there’s some light entering their enclosure from the tv.

However, if your bearded dragon sleeps in a dark enclosure, it will likely sleep much better and be less restless overall.

Many owners report that their dragons are more relaxed when they keep them in complete darkness at night.

Can bearded dragons sleep with lights on?

At night, bearded dragons do not require exposure to any UVA or UVB light sources. As a result of this, make sure that their heat lamp and UVB light are both turned off when night falls.

Leaving these lights on will trick your bearded dragon into thinking it’s still the middle of the day, which will drastically throw off their typical sleeping pattern.

However, a word of advice: after feeding them at night, make sure that their lights are left on for at least an hour so that they can completely digest the meal.

Should I turn my gecko’s heat lamp off at night?

The answer to whether or not to turn off the heat in your gecko’s enclosure at night is dependent on your setup. However, it’s essential to keep two spots in the enclosure where one end is cooler than the other.

During the night, the enclosure should be cooler than what they need during the daytime (30 degrees). If you find that your gecko is frequently hiding under hides and rocks, it’s probably an indication that the enclosure is too cold.

For this, you should provide more basking time, including a few more hours at night.

You might use a heat lamp at night to offer some warmth, but it’s not needed in most cases. It is highly recommended that you use a heat lamp to heat the tank at night, mainly if you live in an area that experiences colder seasons most of the year.

If I turned off the light at night, wouldn’t my gecko get too cold?

Probably, but the solution is simple here. You can use other heat sources to keep the gecko warm. These include ceramic heaters, heat mats, heat packs, hand warmers, etc.

Regardless of the heat source, it is crucial to keep in mind that you should regulate the amount of heat in accordance with the day-night cycle produced by the light.

When setting up the enclosure, ensure the basking area has a temperature of 28 – 30 degrees Celsius during the day and 24-26 degrees at night. Regardless of the setting, ensure temperatures never go below 18 degrees when lights are off.

How long do I keep the heat lamp on for my leopard gecko?

About 10 to 12 hours is recommended to provide them with the warmth they need. The lamp needs to be positioned on one side of the enclosure so that the gecko can escape to the opposite side of the cage if the temperature gets too high.

It is recommended that the temperature directly beneath the heat lamp be set at 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. In the event that they become overheated, leopard geckos require a hiding spot in which they can retreat to cool off.

Is it OK to leave a heat lamp on overnight?

The heating system and arrangement of your bearded dragon’s enclosure are significant factors. It’s recommended to turn it off overnight if under-tank heat mats, ceramic heaters, hot rocks, or something similar is keeping the tank at a warm temperature.

There is a lot of research to suggest that lowering the temperature at night can be highly useful with a wide variety of reptiles, especially if you intend to breed.

Naturally, how much you allow the temperature to drop depends on the adaptation of the pet. For bearded dragons, roughly 5 degrees C may suffice as desert temperatures drop dramatically at night.

However, it’s more challenging to turn off if the heat lamp is the sole source of heat in the tank.

Therefore, you may want to consider modifying your setup such that you can control the ambient temperature with other heat sources that do not emit light.

The best way you can control the light and heat in the terrarium is by investing in a high-quality thermostat to automatically maintain different conditions for the day and night times, so it becomes as near-natural. You should also add a timer to the lighting arrangement to control the length of lighting.

Do bearded dragons sleep at night?

While some people believe that bearded dragons do not sleep at all, the majority of experts agree that these lizards do take a break from their active lifestyle to rest.

Bearded dragons will spend around 12 hours a day asleep, but they will vary in how long they spend in different stages of slumber.

Young dragons will usually fall asleep after around an hour of soaking up sunlight, while older dragons may take longer to drift off.

Do I turn off the lights at night for my bearded dragon?

Bearded dragons are diurnal, meaning they spend most of their days active and sleep during the night. As such, UVB lights should stay on during the day and turn off at night. In fact, it would do them a world of good to sleep in a dark place because it allows them to sleep more peacefully.

Some owners might find it daunting to switch off the lights every night, which is why you need a timer to automate this. The dark environment allows them to maintain the circadian rhythm, allowing optimum hormonal release.

How do I keep my terrarium warm at night?

  1. Use a heating pad – A heating pad is the easiest way to keep your terrarium warm at night. Just place it on the bottom of the terrarium and let it heat up. You can also use a heating pad in combination with a light bulb to create a warm atmosphere in your terrarium.
  2. Use a light bulb – If you don’t have a heating pad or a light bulb, you can use a low-wattage light bulb to create warmth in your terrarium. Turn the light off when you’re not using it and leave the light on low to keep the temperature inside the terrarium warm.
  3. Use ceramic heaters – These heaters are energy-efficient and will use very little electricity, making them an excellent choice for those who are concerned about their energy bill. Ceramic heaters also have a long lifespan, so you will not have to replace them often.
  4. Use hand warmers – Simply place a hand warmer in the terrarium and let it warm up the air around it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you leave a heat lamp on at night for a bearded dragon?

Bearded dragons require cooler temperatures during the night in order to sleep and rest well; therefore, you should turn off heat lamps at night. Unless your home is experiencing temperatures below 70 degrees F, in which case you should use a variable heat source to maintain the night temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees F.

What happens if I leave my bearded dragon’s light on all night?

Leaving the lights on all night can affect the beardie in many ways. For one, their circadian rhythm will be affected, meaning their schedule will be off the loop. Being light-sensitive, they won’t get enough sleep.

Also, they may not feel secure when they sleep under the light. If you find yourself forgetting to switch off the lights at night, it’s recommended to have a timer that switches them off automatically.

When should I turn off bearded dragon lights?

You should switch off a bearded dragon’s lights around 6 PM to 8 PM, depending on when your entire home goes to sleep. This allows the bearded dragon to sleep early and spend at least 8 to 12 hours asleep each night.

How can I keep my bearded dragon warm at night?

You can keep your bearded dragon warm at night by installing a ceramic heat bulb, adding heat mats, and insulating the tank. You should also keep the room in which the tank is kept at around 70 to 75 degrees F using a regular heater.

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