Any bearded dragon owner will know that basking is a very important behaviour for your bearded dragon to be exhibiting. As an ectotherm, they rely on external sources of heat to thermoregulate their bodies.
Basking in an indoor enclosure requires an intense heat source in the form of a heat lamp. But can you leave a bearded dragons heat lamp on at night?
In this post, we will take a close look at if it’s a good idea to keep your bearded dragon’s heat lamp on all night? Or if you should turn it off while they sleep?
So, can you leave a bearded dragons heat lamp on all night? You should not leave a bearded dragons heat lamp on overnight. Basking naturally occurs under the sun in daylight hours. Leaving the heat lamp on overnight will maintain a high temperature in the enclosure throughout the night and not allow the bearded dragon to rest adequately.
Read On to Find Out…
Can You Leave a Bearded Dragons Heat Lamp On At Night? (More Info)
Bearded dragons are a species that have adapted over time to perfectly suit their natural environment in Australia.
Caring for a bearded dragon in a captive scenario revolves around emulating the natural setting in which they thrive.
The nuances of this will depend on your own location in the world and the climate in which you live.
Part of this is providing a heat source to replicate the high temperatures at which bearded dragons bask.
Basking is vital for your dragon’s health as it contributes to their thermoregulation and thus all their bodily functions.
In the wild environment of Australia bearded dragons rely on the sun to be their heat source and find an open area to soak up the rays.
Although the sunlight hours are long, there is still night time hours at which bearded dragons, like many animals, will rest.
This rest is important for many reasons. Resting periods will support the growth, development, digestion, reproduction and nearly all other biological processes.
If not able to rest completely you may find your bearded dragon will be at risk of significant health issues due to disrupting these processes.
Undigested food can cause compaction, constipation and prolapse. Unsupported growth and development could result in skeletal issue and deformations. Sleep and rest are important for all animals to have active, healthy and fulfilling lives.
For this reason, it is very important to turn off heat lamps at night so the temperature can drop to nighttime levels to facilitate rest.
Often, heat lamps are also light-emitting. It is important to provide darkness for as not to disrupt the bearded dragon’s sleep pattern.
Wild bearded dragons will move away from open basking spots to find shelter to stay safe overnight.
If the light remains on and the temperature high overnight the bearded dragon will continue to feel as it is exposed to predators and limit the ability to rest. The cooler, dark periods can bring a feeling of comfort and safety.
Reptile owners who live in a cold climate often have a common concern that the temperatures will drop too low overnight and put their animal at risk.
It can be tempting to leave the heat lamp on for this reason but there are many other ways to monitor and maintain temperatures over cold nights which will be discussed further below.
Before that, we will discuss how many hours of heat we should be providing and the lighting cycles that will help your bearded dragon thrive.
How Long Should My Bearded Dragons Heat Lamp Be On For?
The hours in which your heat lamp should be on varies throughout the year.
Although we try to maintain a constant comfortable temperature in our own homes throughout the whole year, you should be aiming to create a sense of changing seasons in your bearded dragon’s enclosure.
So, how long should my bearded dragon’s heat lamp be on? The hours of your heat lamp should allow for varying levels of exposure depending on the season.
- Spring – 12 hours
- Summer – 14 hours
- Autumn – 12 hours
- Winter – 10 hours
We’ve also created a full guide that covers how much sleep your beardie really needs here…
The basking zone should be kept at around 95-100°F. You can monitor this with a thermometer placed on the basking spot or else a temperature gun can help you identify exact temperatures in different areas of the enclosure.
A gradient of temperature should be available within the enclosure so the bearded dragon can have a choice of where it wishes to be. During the day hours, the ambient temperature should be 75-80°F.
Here’s a table that shares the recommended temperatures for bearded dragons…
Bearded Dragon Tank Temperature Guide
|Bearded Dragon Temperature Guide|
|Basking Area 95°-100°F|
|Cool Spot 75°-80°F|
With the basking lamp kept at one end, the temperature will decrease the further away from the lamp the dragon gets and a cool zone should be provided for the animal to cool off if it decides to.
Creating these “microclimates” within the enclosure will give your bearded dragon agency to make choices of movement that allow it to display a wide range of natural behaviours and promote overall positive welfare for your animal and one happy dragon!
The most important part of reptile husbandry is monitoring. It is vital to use thermometers to ensure that all lamps are working adequately and the temperatures stay in the required zones.
Recording the temperature every day will provide evidence for when lamps need replacing or the timers need adjusting to managing temperatures through the year.
We always recommend using a digital handheld thermometer to double-check all temperatures in the tank.
Here’s the digital thermometer we recommend…
- Great for Monitoring Basking Areas, Thermal Gradients, Incubation, and Hibernation Temperatures.
- Temperature measurement Range -28° to 230°F (-33° to 110°C)
Last update on 2021-07-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What Lighting Cycle Should I Use For My Bearded Dragon?
Alongside the temperatures, your bearded dragon is going to be taking cues from the amount of light it receives. Again, replicating a natural photoperiod is ideal.
So, what lighting cycle should I use for my bearded dragon? During the warmer months (spring and summer) you should provide 14-16 hours of daylight and UV exposure and during cooler months (autumn and winter) approximately 10-12 hours.
This may seem like it is going to require a lot of time and commitment from you to care for reptiles and manage their light and temperatures but once you have an understanding of what is required you can automate your system so that heat lamps, lighting and UV lamps manage themselves.
To do this, hook up all your equipment to timers and set the desired hours. This way you only have to change the timer when you are moving from season to season.
The changing of photoperiods and daylight hours are one of the biggest cues a majority of animals, including wild bearded dragons, will use to use to function.
For bearded dragons the daylight hours will have an effect on breeding and reproduction and a varying photoperiod will allow them to either produce healthy sperm or fully develop ova.
Even if you are not looking to breed, these biological functions and hormone fluctuates will still benefit the overall health of the animal.
Recommended Reading: Bearded Dragon Basking – All You Need to Know!
What Temperatures Do Bearded Dragons Need at Night?
As a desert species bearded dragons are used to and thrive in high temperatures.
But when nighttime rolls around in the Australian deserts the temperature can drop dramatically. Bearded dragons are adapted to these lower night time temperature and use this time to hide away to rest and recoup.
These temperatures should be emulated at night in your enclosure at around 70-75°F.
If you, like wild bearded dragons, like in a very hot climate you may be concerned that the ambient temperatures at night may sit too high for your bearded dragon.
There are various ways you can cool down the enclosure and your dragon. Your tank should have sufficient airflow with vents so warm air doesn’t sit around too long.
You can encourage good airflow with fans and/or air conditioning units in the room the enclosure is kept.
You can also utilize a misting spray to cool the enclosure or your dragon directly. Misting should be done in the early hours of the morning or near the end of the evening.
If you mist too heavily during the heat lamp hours the humidity of the enclosure should be raised too high and for a desert species, this is not ideal.
Although we want to create a natural dip in temperatures we also do not want to create a cold environment that will shock your reptile and potentially cause significant health issues. The temperature overnight should not drop below 65°F.
Of course, warm nights are not the norm across the globe. More often than not the night can bring around some pretty cold temperatures!
So if we are not to keep the heat lamp on overnight how are we going to keep our bearded dragons warm enough?
How Can I Keep My Bearded Dragon Warm At Night?
When designing your bearded dragon’s enclosure keep in mind the climate where you live. If you know that the temperature in your home is going to fall well below 65°F you need to account for this.
So, how can I keep my bearded dragon warm at night? You can keep your breaded dragon warm through cold nights by utilizing tank insulation, heat mats and ceramic bulbs. It is best to keep the room in which the enclosure is kept at an appropriate level by use of regular heaters.
Proper insulation of the tank can hold in the heat from the day, many glass enclosures are sufficient to achieve this.
Consider the placement of the tank, keeping it near a drafty door or window might not be ideal but perhaps a cozy corner near a heat source.
The use of a heat mat may also provide warmth during colder nights. It is not recommended to place heat mats on the ground in enclosures (nor use heated rocks) as often bearded dragons do not feel the full extent of heat when it is exposed to their bellies.
This makes sense as their main heat source is the sun above, they possess more heat sensing nerve endings on their dorsal side and less so on their ventral side. If they use heat sources from below they are at great risk of overheating or even burning themselves.
If it still remains too cold in the enclosure the use of non-light emitting bulbs might be essential.
Ceramic heat bulbs fill this niche by providing warmth without emitting sleep-disrupting light. It’s important this lamp be a lot lower in temperature than the usual basking lamp as still to provide a cooler night temperature.
The ceramic heat emitter we suggest you use if you need one is the Exo Terra 40W that we have shared below…
- Innovative design, 99% heat efficiency
- Emits a natural \"sun-like\" infrared heat
Last update on 2021-07-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
To find out if you are providing the correct temperatures overnight you should monitor and record the temperatures through the night for a few weeks before your bearded dragon moves in.
You can do this with various equipment which will take temperatures overnight, including a thermometer that will take both a minimum and maximum temperature so you can see just how low it gets as you sleep.
If these are not available to you, you can also wake up throughout the night to take the temperature manually.
Have you ever wondered how long bearded dragons can go without heat? Here’s an easy to follow guide that shares all you need to know…
How Can I Automate My Bearded Dragons Lighting?
The easiest way to automate your bearded dragons lighting both during the day and night is by using timers.
You can program a timer to set a specific time you want the light to come on and off each day and then automate the whole process.
This saves a whole lot of hassle and establishes your beardie with a healthy circadian rhythm as they will be waking and sleeping at the same time each day.
We have recently written a detailed post that shares the 9 best timers for bearded dragons…
In the post, we cover our top choice, runner up and budget buy options.
However, if you want to know what our number 1 timer for bearded dragons is then it’s the ‘Zilla Power Center’.
We love this timer as it has 8 outlets, 4 of them are constant and the other 4 are timed.
This means that you can have 2 day time times outlets and 2 nighttime timed outlets with 4 constant outlets to use on other appliances if you need to.
All in all, this timer has everything you need to sully automate your beardies lighting setup and is head and shoulders above the options in our opinion.
You can check out the latest price of the Zilla Power Center over at amazon below…
- 24/7 Digital Timer allows for daily programming with on/off outlets as well as constant power outlets
- 8 Total outlets - 4 daytime/nighttime alternating outlets and 4 constant power outlets
Last update on 2021-07-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
As a bearded dragon owner, it’s vital to understand how often you...
If your bearded dragon appears cold then it can be worrying as an...
Impaction is the leading cause of death in captive bearded dragons....