Bearded Dragons have many unique and fascinating behaviours, none more so than digging but when your Bearded Dragon starts digging at night it can leave you with a number of unanswered questions.
This is something that I’ve researched deeply as well as using my own experiences to give you the answers you are looking for.
So why do Bearded Dragons dig at night? Bearded Dragons can dig at night for a number of reasons but the most common reason is that they are trying to regulate their body temperature by digging a hole and covering themselves with substrate.
Read on to find out all 6 reasons why Bearded Dragons dig at night, and if digging at night can be unhealthy for your Bearded Dragon.
6 Reasons Bearded Dragons Dig at Night
Although regulating body temperature may be the most common reason for a Bearded Dragon to dig at night, there are also many more reasons why they feel the need to dig when the lights go out.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at regulating body temperature.
1# Regulating body Temperature
Your Bearded Dragon could actually be digging at night to regulate its body temperature if it’s both too hot or too cold.
Bearded Dragons instinctively know that if they dig down then the ground will be cooler so they will often try to scratch or dig in order to allow themselves the chance to regulate their body temperature if the temperature in the tank is too hot.
In contrast, Bearded Dragons are also smart enough to cover themselves with substrate if they are a little cool in order to keep themselves warm throughout the night.
This is kind of like making a make-shift blanket out of the substrate in the tank. Obviously, their ability to do this will depend on the substrate you use.
If you want you to know what substrate I highly recommend you use, then I share my ultimate choice in this post.
When your Dragon is digging at night to regulate its body temperature, it’s not always a major cause for concern. They may just be a little fussy and want to get themselves just right so they can have a good night’s sleep.
With that being said, you do want to check the temperatures in the tank so that you are sure you have done everything on your part to give them the optimal sleeping conditions.
You want to make sure that you have a temperature of 70°-75°F at night so that your Dragon can sleep comfortably. If your tank temperatures are inside these parameters then your Dragon is either a tiny bit fussy or they are digging for another reason.
Here’s a post that shares everything you need to know about tank temperatures as a Bearded Dragon owner and if you’re unsure about anything then this is a great post for you to check out.
2# Getting Comfy
This is another very common reason why Bearded Dragons dig at night. Every Bearded Dragon has its own personality and some are just funny sleepers.
It’s basically the same as when we humans fluff up the pillows before we finally settle down to sleep. Some Bearded Dragons will dig and scratch to make their bed just the way they want it.
If the digging goes on for a short period of time then you can assume that it’s probably just them ‘tucking themselves in’ to bed but if the digging goes on for a prolonged period then they are more than likely displaying this behaviour for another reason.
Bearded Dragons are known to dig at night or day if they are about to go into brumation.
Brumation is basically the reptile equivalent of hibernation and is something that most Bearded Dragon in captivity will experience at some stage in their life.
I’ve shared a post right here that tells you all you need to know about brumation as an owner.
When a Bearded Dragon is preparing for brumation they will often try and dig a hole so they have somewhere safe to sleep away from predators and that also allows them to regulate their body temperature.
Constant digging at night could be a sign that your Dragon is preparing themselves for brumation.
This is certainly nothing to worry about as it’s simply a natural behaviour and something they would do every year in the wild. Having a good quality substrate that allows them to dig is really important though, if you want my recommendation for a great substrate then check out the link in the ‘regulating body temperature section’.
4# Females Laying Eggs
Females are known to dig at night when they are trying to lay eggs. You might be thinking that this doesn’t concern you as your female isn’t pregnant but Bearded Dragon females can lay eggs if they are pregnant or not!
You will normally find that the female will scratch around in a very erratic manner almost like they are desperate.
This is very normal behaviour and not something you should try and stop.
Instead, you should try and help them to have a better egg-laying experience by providing them with a substrate that allows them to dig easily and replicates their natural habitat.
the substrate I recommend is excavator clay, this substrate allows your female to dig naturally and bury the eggs without damaging their claws of getting frustrated like they would if they were trying to dig on newspaper or reptile carpet for example.
Here I’ve written a post where I talk more in-depth about excavator clay so you can see if it’s a good fit for you and your female Bearded Dragon.
5# Feeling Exposed
Bearded Dragons can quite easily feel exposed at night time and this can lead them to dig in order to make a make-shift hide.
In the wild, Bearded Dragons would have to keep out of the clutches of predators so their natural instinct is for them to find somewhere safe to sleep and this usually (not always) means that they want to sleep in a hide or next to something that provides protection.
If you are seeing your Dragon digging at night it could be because they feel they are exposed and they need to make themselves somewhere to sleep safely.
If your Dragons tank is kitted out nicely with hides, tunnels and places for them to feel safe them this is far less likely to be the reason for them to dig at night.
Intimidation is a little bit like feeling exposed, except that intimidation can come from a number of different sources.
Let’s take a look at the main reason why your Bearded Dragon could dig at night if it’s feeling intimidated.
Another Bearded Dragon
Other Bearded Dragons in the house can cause intimidation. If you have 2 Dragons in the same room and one of them is digging every night then it could be a good idea to take the one out of the room to see if the digging stops.
Here’s a post that explains why it’s not a good idea to house 2 or more Bearded Dragons in the same tank
Other pets in the home such as cats and dogs and cause your Dragon to feel intimidated. Don’t forget that even though to me or you a big friendly dog is cute but to your Dragon they can easily be judged as a predator and then they can feel the need to dig and hide at night time to keep safe.
Toys & Small Objects
This may seem really odd but your Bearded Dragons can easily mistake a children’s toy or new ornament in the living room for a predator and this, in turn, can make them feel uncomfortable and feel intimidated.
They can then feel the need to dig a hole to keep themselves safe at night.
Change Of Scenery
A chance of scenery such as moving your Dragons tank to the other side of the room or adding new furniture in the room can all contribute to them feeling intimidated and wanting to dig at night.
Any strange sounds that your Bearded Dragon wouldn’t usually hear could spark a feeling of intimidation and make them want to dig. This could be something as load as fireworks or even a sudden downpour of heavy rain. Every Bearded Dragon will be different and while some won’t be bothered at all by most unknown sounds and movements others will feel instantly intimidated and stressed.
Is It Unhealthy For a Bearded Dragon to Dig At Night?
For the most part, it’s not unhealthy for a Bearded Dragon to dig at night. Usually, they will be trying to slightly adjust their body temperature to get the best night’s sleep and simply trying to get comfy.
Having said this, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of, the first is that you have the correct night time temperature in the tank of 70°-75°F.
The second thing to be aware of is that your Dragon isn’t scratching and digging all night long. Usually, if they are settling down or displaying some other behaviour they will settle after a few minutes but if they are constantly digging all night then there’s possibly something wrong and you should seek advice from a vet.
Another thing you need to be aware of is that if your Dragon is digging every night and you are using substrates that don’t allow them to perform this behaviour then it could damage their claws.
Again, you need to check out my recommendations in this post for the best substrates for allowing your Dragons to dig in a natural way.
One last thing to consider is that if your Dragon is feeling intimidated or exposed then they could start to feel stressed and that’s not good for their long term health.
While this isn’t common it’s something you should assess and if you think they are digging because they are intimidated then you need to take the steps of creating a better and more natural habitat for them to live in and feel safe in.
Here I share my recommendation for tank decor so you can give your Bearded Dragon a natural and great looking tank that they will love.
Do Bearded Dragons like to burrow? Yes, Bearded Dragons do like to burrow. This usually happens when they go into brumation so they feel safe from predators and they can regulate body temperature but they can also burrow in one-off occasions at night time.
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