Bearded Dragons are the most popular lizard to keep as a pet in the United States. They’re a unique and social animal with a devoted following of owners. Like humans, these lizards are diurnal, meaning they’re active during the day and sleep throughout most of the night. To keep your Beardie as happy as possible, here are some tips when you’re wondering how to care for a Bearded Dragon at night.
It’s important to note that you don’t really need to care for them at all during the night, this is in fact one of the biggest mistakes new owners make. However there are some important things you need to know and keep in mind for proper nighttime environments of Bearded Dragons.
How to care for a Bearded Dragon at Night – 6 tips
1. Turn off all white lights around their vivarium
Bearded Dragons, like humans, need plenty of shut-eye to feel their best. White lights absolutely should not be used at night as it can interfere with their sleeping patterns. It’s even best to turn off your own white lights if their terrarium is in your room.
However, their ultraviolet light is able to be kept on, just make sure that it maintains that purple glow as many ultraviolet heat lamps produce white light. For nighttime use, replace the usual daytime bulb with an Incandescent Heat Bulb.
2. Additional nighttime heat is a must
The Bearded Dragon is originally from the deserts of Australia, so it’s important to always provide extra heat sources. Many new owners make the mistake of turning off any of their daytime heat, but that could cause your Beardie to be cold in the middle of the night!
It’s recommended that owners get ceramic heat emitters or under-tank heat mats. It’s important to note that the under-tank heat mats do come with the risk of thermal burns for your scaly friend, so don’t leave it on for too long. Instead, leave it on until you go to bed and then leave only the ceramic heat emitter on.
3. Keep humidity high
The humidity level for Bearded Dragons should always be between 20-40%. A hygrometer is incredibly helpful when monitoring this as it can be difficult to tell without one. Especially at night, you should shoot for the higher range.
To ensure a higher humidity, make sure that the water dish is full and for the best and most consistent humidity, live plants are a must. If your humidity levels are consistently too low, consider buying a larger water dish.
4. Slightly lower the tank temperature
The heat within their natural habitat in Australia comes from the rocks retaining heat from the sun, but your Beardie will prefer the surrounding air to be slightly cooler.
During the day, the temperature should be maintained between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, it should be cooled to around 70-75 degrees. That may not be a big difference to you, but to your lizard it makes all the difference.
It’s recommended to keep thermometers on both ends of the terrarium. One where the external heat source is, and the other on the “cooler” side, or the one without their ceramic heater. Both ends should be in this 70-75 degree range.
5. Remove all uneaten food
This should be part of their nighttime routine every single night. This is also a good time to make sure you’re giving your Beardie the proper amount of food per day.
If it seems like every night you’re cleaning up the majority of their food from the day, maybe it’s time to switch up the type of food for them or add more variety (such as carrots – Bearded Dragons love their carrots).
On the flip side, if there’s no food left at the end of the day, maybe try adding a little bit more. Lizards feed in a fashion similar to cats where they’ll graze during the day whenever they’re hungry. It’s best to keep the bowl consistently full throughout the day before emptying it again at night.
6. “Gut load” their food for tomorrow
The biggest issue with feeder insects, such as crickets and mealworms, is that they don’t contain all the nutrients a Bearded Dragon needs on their own. This is why the Beardies need a varied diet of leafy greens and vegetables. However, another way to give them these nutrients is by gut loading your crickets.
Gut loading is simply feeding your feeder insects before giving them to your Bearded Dragon. By doing this, you’re greatly increasing the nutrient intake for your lizard. Both crickets and mealworms can be gut loaded.
To do this, just line a separate container with tropical fish food, moistened dry puppy food, instant baby food, or moistened commercial lizard pellets. There are also commercial gut load products available specifically for this purpose, such as the Mazuri Better Bug Diet and Flukers Complete Cricket Diet.
This can be performed at any time of the day, but many owners like to start it off when their Beardie is falling asleep and letting the insects gorge themselves all night before becoming food the next day. Anywhere between 12-48 hours is plenty of time for those feeder insects to ingest enough nutrients for your Beardie to have a long and happy life!
Bearded Dragons are mostly daytime animals, but that doesn’t mean your responsibilities stop at sundown! Regular tank maintenance is a must, and is best done at the end of the day. Cleaning up leftovers is an important part of keeping your Beardie’s tank healthy. This is also a great time to prepare their food for tomorrow by gut loading feeder insects at night.
Overall, treat your Beardie like you treat yourself and they can make a great pet. Having a bedtime routine is incredibly helpful to you and them, and will allow both of you to start your day with the right foot forward!