Does a bearded dragon need a night time heat source? The simple answer to that question is, it depends how warm your house is.
A reptile like a bearded dragon – which is native to the baking hot Aussie ‘bush’ – worships the sun during the day. But at night time when the temperature drops in the outback, the beardie likes a colder temperature.
You shouldn’t worry about your vivarium’s night temperature being colder than during the day, but you still mustn’t let it get too cold.
Shaune said: “Bearded dragons actually thrive on a colder temperature at night. This colder rest period allows them to be more active during the day.
“Don’t worry if your beardie feels cold to the touch first thing in the morning. They are cold blooded creatures and will warm up naturally throughout the day as they bask.”
If it’s too warm at night time, the reptile is likely to become ill so it’s important that you only increase the night temperature if the ambient temperature becomes too low.
So the rule for a bearded dragon’s night time temperature is that it can get cooler but not too cool, and to maintain the correct heat you have a number of options.
During the day a bearded dragon will like a temperature of around 95F (35C) but at night time, you only really need to worry if the temperature drops to around 65F (18C).
Shaune said: “If your house is cold of a night, especially if you live in a cottage for example, it may be too cold for your bearded dragon. If that temperature drops below 65F you need to keep the vivarium warmer.”
Ceramic heaters for a bearded dragon’s night time heat
A ceramic heater is the best solution for night time heating. Although more expensive than regular glass bulbs, ceramic heaters will last three times as long.
Shaune said: “Ceramic heaters emit a nice infra red heat but as they are non-light emitting bulbs they won’t disturb your reptiles at night time.
“In a bearded dragon vivarium you’ll have your basking bulb down one end so the reptile comes to associate heat with that end of the viv. So that’s where you want to put your night time bulb as well. Either put your night time bulb next to your basking bulb, or if you don’t want the extra wires, just unscrew your basking bulb and replace it of a night with your ceramic bulb.”
Thermostats for a bearded dragon’s night time heat
A ceramic heater should be used in conjunction with a Microclimate B2 thermostat so you can control the heat.
Night glow lamps for a bearded dragon’s night time heat
A cheaper alternative to the ceramic bulb is a nightglow lamp such as the Swell Nightglow Heat Spot Lamp.
But Shaune added: “It may seem cheaper to go with a nightglow lamp than a ceramic bulb, but a nightglow will not last as long and will also require a Microclimate B1 thermostat rather than the B2 which the ceramic heater requires.”
If you do decide to use your ceramic and basking bulb in the same socket, you should consider a magic eye thermostat which will detect when the lower temperature is needed.
Heat mats for a bearded dragon’s night time heat
A cheaper option to maintain a nice warm temperature is a heat mat. You shouldn’t put the heat mat beneath the substrate as the beardie may dig through the substrate and spend too long directly on the mat, instead you should try fixing the heat mat to the back wall of the vivarium.
As a final piece of advice Shaune said: “Always make sure you use a good thermometer. The Swell Bearded Dragon Advanced Kit includes a dial (analogue) thermometer but you can also upgrade to a digital thermometer if you want to get a more accurate reading.”
This piece is designed to help understand the night time need for bearded dragons, but a similar approach should be taken for chameleons, royal pythons, boas and crested geckos.
by Vinnie Lafferty