Ask a Vet

How Do Bearded Dragons Stay Warm At Night? Do They Need Extra Warmth?

Photo of author
Updated on

Any lizard lovers out there will know that lizards are cold-blooded creatures and need sufficient sunlight and heat to function properly.

Some forms of reptiles struggle to regulate their body heat and will often need some help to stay alive and comfortable.

Bearded dragons sleeping under a tree

However, bearded dragons might be different.

At night, lots of these reptiles will take precautions to ensure that they stay warm. Otherwise, they could become cold and very uncomfortable.

Do lizard owners need to take extra precautions to ensure their scaly friend is sleeping soundly, or is it best to let them get on with regulating their sleep?

Follow the rest of our guide to find out what the best course of action is.

What Is A Bearded Dragon?

If you’re unfamiliar with bearded dragons, this might all seem confusing.

So, before we delve into the benefits of letting your bearded dragon go to bed at night without needing any extra warmth, we should explain exactly what this little critter is.

The best way to understand something is to research it!

Bearded dragons are one of many species of lizard known as Agamidae (or ‘Agamas’).

These animals can grow up to 1 m long, although most only reach around 75 cm.

They come from Australia and New Guinea, where they live in tropical rainforests and swamps.

They are quite common across the globe but are found predominantly in these two countries because they can adapt to climates where temperatures drop below freezing during the winter months.

They are classified as arboreal lizards, which means they spend much of their time high up in trees and shrubs.

As well as being agile climbers, bearded dragons also have excellent vision, hearing, and sense of smell – making them highly intelligent reptiles.

What Is Regulating Body Heat?

When we think about our lizard friends, we tend to picture them basking in the sun.

But although they enjoy basking, they are still fairly cool-blooded creatures.

To keep themselves warm at night when the sun isn’t shining, bearded dragons use a process called thermoregulation.

This involves a creature’s ability to control its temperature by altering how much heat it generates internally.

The best way for a reptile to do this is through shivering, which causes muscles throughout the body to contract and release energy.

The animal creates tiny blood vessels when this happens, allowing heat to travel to those areas.

If this process proves too difficult, they can also produce sweat glands to remove excess moisture and toxins from the skin.

Thermoregulation – A Brief Insight Into How It Works

Small bearded dragon enjoying the light

One of the main differences between reptiles and mammals is that they don’t generally generate enough internal heat to naturally maintain their body temperature.

Instead, they rely on external sources of heat to keep them warm.

And when the environment becomes cold, reptiles will take certain measures to try and avoid becoming dangerously chilled.

For example, if a bearded dragon loses its ability to regulate its body temperature, it may start to lose muscle strength and eventually die.

Therefore, just like humans, reptiles can suffer from hypothermia if they aren’t kept safe and warm.

On top of this, there are other dangers faced by reptiles, such as overheating or overheating combined with dehydration.

If they become dehydrated, they could even die from heatstroke.

So What Does All Of This Mean For Your Loved One?

In short, bearded dragons need to be kept warm at night to survive.

If they fail to do so, they could easily succumb to a host of health problems, including:

  • Skin irritation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver damage
  • Heart disease

Bearded Dragons In The Wild

Of course, not all bearded dragons live in captivity.

Some wild populations inhabit temperate regions of Australia and New Zealand, where temperatures rarely dip below freezing during the colder seasons.

However, they do need a way of keeping warm at night.

But while some bearded dragons live away from human influence, others prefer to stay close to us.

Some people choose to keep them as pets, whereas others simply appreciate their presence.

Either way, you should always make sure your bearded dragon has somewhere comfortable to sleep at night.

What Bearded Dragons Need At Night

To ensure they have everything they need at night, you must provide them with some kind of enclosure.

They won’t be able to properly regulate their body temperature without adequate space to move around freely.

You should also give them access to water, food, and shelter.

Since many reptiles require high humidity levels, you should also consider adding plants or moss to their habitat for comfort.

While these basic needs are important, you shouldn’t stop here. To help your bearded dragon thrive, you should also regularly monitor its activity level.

If they seem lethargic, you might want to check what they’re eating. Another thing worth considering is whether they need additional lighting.

On top of this, you also need to make sure that you have some sort of temperature gauge somewhere in the enclosure, so you know the temperature that your lizard is living in.

Having as much control over their home is important to keep them alive and happy.

What Temperatures Are Best For A Bearded Dragon?

Bearded dragon lying on wood

When it comes to temperature, most experts recommend that bearded dragons should be kept at temperatures between 65°F and 85°F (18-29°C).

The higher the temperature, the better the chances of survival, within reason.

But if you’re in doubt, then the best thing to do is to contact your local vet and make sure you get professional advice on the best course of action.

However, research suggests that a daytime temperature of 70°F (21°C) seems to work best for bearded dragons.

So if you think your lizard looks chilly, you could raise the temperature slightly.

Alternatively, you could use an infrared thermometer to see what temperature your reptile is experiencing at any given time.

Options For Heating At Night

Heat Rocks

These can be used by themselves or inside larger enclosures. Simply place them in a corner and leave them there overnight.

Their heat will slowly dissipate throughout the day.

Heated Reptile Beds

You can buy heated reptile beds online or visit your nearest pet store. These usually come complete with heating pads.

Place one next to your bearded dragon’s enclosure and let it run overnight.

Infrared Bulbs

If you don’t like the idea of using heat rocks or heated beds, then you could try placing a battery-operated bulb near the end of your bearded dragon’s enclosure.

This will create enough heat to keep him comfortable.

Other Ways To Keep Your Bearded Dragon Warm At Night

There are lots of other ways that you can keep your bearded dragon warm at night. One option is to build a small log cabin for them to climb into.

You could even add a heater to the bottom of the box, which would trap the warmth close to your bearded dragon.

Another option is to put a blanket over the cage at night. You could also cover it with insulation foam and place a fan underneath to circulate air.

While these options may sound extensive, they all work in creating a comfortable home for your bearded dragon.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, making sure your bearded dragon is warm at night is very important.

By using different methods like heating pads, warm rocks, and even infrared bulbs, you can have complete control over the comfortability and the warmth of your reptile.

However, you need to make sure that you do everything within reason.

If you take too many measures to ensure that your lizard stays warm, then it might become too warm.

Trusting your bearded dragon to regulate its heat is half of the job. You just need to make sure that you monitor their behavior and their health to keep them healthy and happy.

If you can do this, then you’re in a good position.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does A Bearded Dragon Need Heat At Night?

Yes, they need heat at night.

They need the right amount of heat and not too much heat, so make sure you know what temperatures work best and try to keep control over them.

How Long Should My Bearded Dragons Heat Lamp Be On For?

The lamp needs to stay on for about 12 hours per day, but you might find that some days it’s more

Can You Leave A Bearded Dragons Heat Lamp On At Night?

No, this isn’t advisable. It’s too easy to accidentally turn up the heat too high, causing harm to your bearded dragon.

Other methods work just as well and will make sure your lizard doesn’t feel too warm at night.

After all, when you’re asleep, you can’t watch your bearded dragon yourself.

Photo of author
About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.