Sleeping Time Habits for Bearded Dragons

By Jacob Reis

Bearded dragons are prized pets for both their ease of care and wide range of entertaining behaviors, including arm-waving, threat poses and strange sleeping postures. Understanding when and how your pet sleeps is an important part of caring for him.

Nocturnal vs. Diurnal

Many reptiles are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night and sleep during the day. The bearded dragon is an exception to this rule. They are diurnal -- they feed and roam during the day, preferring to sleep at night, like you. When caring for bearded dragons, you need to ensure their nights are dark, so they can sleep. Avoid using the red incandescent light bulbs that manufacturers make for reptile enclosures at night; these can distract your reptile and prevent her from sleeping. Instead, go with an under-tank heating mat for the nighttime source of heat that your pet needs.

Brumation in Winter

Reptiles don't technically hibernate like some mammals. Instead, they go into a period of reduced activity during the winter called brumation in which they sleep a lot, eat very little and wait out the cold. Pet owners who wish to breed their bearded dragons may induce brumation by reducing the temperature of the dragon's tank during certain times of year, which can make egg cycles line up with mating seasons. If your bearded dragon is sleeping a lot, especially outside of his normal sleeping time, check the temperature inside the habitat; he may be brumating.

If your bearded dragon seems lethargic and overly sleepy and you're sure his habitat's temperature is correct, contact your veterinarian. Your dragon may be sick.

Sleeping Habits

Bearded dragons dig in their sand a lot. This helps them regulate their temperature by covering or uncovering themselves, the same way you do with your blanket. Many bearded dragons dig and cover themselves with sand before they sleep. They are known to fall asleep in awkward positions as well, including on their backs while lying on their basking rocks. If your dragon is accustomed to your touch, you may pick her up and hold her while she is sleeping. Instead of trying to run away from you, she may actually snuggle up against your warmth and continue sleeping.