Are Bearded Dragons Nocturnal Or Diurnal? Their Sleep Behavior Explained

Written by Janet F. Murray
Published: October 20, 2022
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Bearded dragons are fascinating little reptiles that make good pets. They love basking in the sun and are active after sleeping eight to 12 hours daily. In the colder months, bearded dragons sleep up to 14 hours and may enter a state of brumation. So are bearded dragons nocturnal or diurnal? This article explores bearded dragons’ sleeping behavior and sleeping patterns.

The Sleep Behavior Of Diurnal Bearded Dragons

pet bearded dragon

Bearded dragons

are diurnal and sleep up to 12 hours daily.

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People often ask if bearded dragons are nocturnal or diurnal. These reptiles are diurnal, so they are active during the day and sleep at night, similar to humans. If you have a bearded pet dragon, it will be awake during the day and rest when you do. In the wild, bearded dragons are active when the sun is out and go to sleep when it sets. Bearded dragons sleep for eight to 12 hours each day. During the winter, bearded dragons can sleep up to 14 hours daily.

These charming little reptiles have two short sleep cycles: rapid eye movement sleep and slow wave sleep. Younger dragons have more muscle twitches while sleeping than adult dragons. Unlike reptiles such as snakes, these reptiles sleep with their eyes closed.

Bearded Dragons Have Strange Sleeping Habits

Bearded dragons are known to be unusual sleepers. These reptiles often sleep on their stomachs and in many different positions. People have even seen these creatures sleeping upright in the wild, often against trees and stems. Captive bearded dragons also take naps while balancing themselves against the walls of their enclosure or the objects inside their living space.

Because of their circadian rhythms, some bearded dragons change color while sleeping. They often switch to a lighter shade when this happens. Bearded dragons also burrow themselves under the sand when they sleep. They may do this to escape bright light or avoid a more dominant bearded dragon in their surroundings or enclosure.

Some bearded dragons enter a period called brumation. Brumation is a form of hibernation when bearded dragons, and other reptiles, sleep for extended periods. This period can last a few days up to a few months and usually occurs during the late fall and winter months.

Bearded dragons typically enter brumation when nighttime temperatures are between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They will also enter a state of brumation during the day when temperatures are 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. When bearded dragons enter deep sleep, like brumation, they slow their metabolic and respiratory rate. Their breathing will rapidly slow down, and they may seem dead.

The Bearded Dragon’s Diurnal Behavior

Bearded dragons wake up at sunrise or shortly after that. The time they wake up is affected by environmental and physical factors. Bearded dragons are cold-blooded, which means that their surroundings’ temperature affects their daily activities and waking time.

They will wake later if it is cold. Mammals shiver to create heat when cold, but bearded dragons cannot do this. Instead, a bearded dragon turns a darker color. They do so to absorb more energy from sunlight to warm themselves. Bearded dragons are also sluggish if it is cold in the mornings.

Once these reptiles awake, they immediately head for a warm area. This warm area is typically a place in the sunlight in the wild or their basking area in captivity. If you have a bearded pet dragon, you can create a basking area by placing a warm lamp or heating pad in an area of its enclosure. They will flatten themselves against the basking area to absorb as much sunlight or heat as possible.

Bearded dragons also prefer resting on darker rocks which absorb more heat. These tiny dragons then lie on these rocks to enjoy their warmth. After the bearded dragon has been basking, its skin color will lighten. Only then will it start its diurnal activities. If the bearded dragon is hungry, it will begin to hunt. But, if they are not hungry or have already eaten, they will continue basking for the rest of the day.

The Bearded Dragon’s Nocturnal Behavior

bearded dragon climbing up log in enclosure

Bearded dragons enter a state of hibernation known as brumation.

©Shinedawn/Shutterstock.com

Bearded dragons sleep on their stomachs or in various weird positions at night. Wild bearded dragons nap in trees and often sleep vertically. They prefer to sleep in trees, which are usually out of reach of predators like snakes. In captivity, these reptiles doze almost anywhere. Sometimes you will see them sleeping vertically against the walls of their enclosures or with their faces pressed into a corner.

Pet Owners Should Simulate Day And Night In The Enclosure

As bearded dragons are diurnal, their light settings should mimic day and night. This simulation can be challenging in a home as pet owners will switch on lights in the evenings. This brightness can negatively affect your bearded dragon and interfere with its circadian rhythm. It is best to place your pet dragon’s enclosure in a separate room and install lights with a timer. This timer will ensure a strict light schedule that mimics day and night to ensure a happy and healthy bearded dragon.

Pet owners should remember to adjust the lighting timer in the summer and winter months to mimic the length of light experienced during the different days. This attention to detail will also allow your reptile to enter brumation during the fall and winter.

Some owners are under the misconception that they should leave the heat lamp or heating pad on throughout the day and night. This belief is false, as this practice doesn’t mimic the bearded dragon’s natural habitat. The temperature drops in the wild, so you must switch off the heat lamp or pad at night. Leaving it on will make the enclosure too warm and uncomfortable. Overheating will affect their circadian rhythm and potentially cause health-related issues.

Nocturnal vs. Diurnal: What’s The Difference?

Navigate to Nocturnal vs. Diurnal: What’s The Difference? for further information about the nocturnal and diurnal phenomenon in various living creatures.

Up Next – All About Bearded Dragons

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Ken Griffiths


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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with more than eight years of content creation experience. My content writing covers diverse genres, and I have a business degree. I am also the proud author of my memoir, My Sub-Lyme Life. This work details the effects of living with undiagnosed infections like rickettsia (like Lyme). By sharing this story, I wish to give others hope and courage in overcoming their life challenges. In my downtime, I value spending time with friends and family.

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Sources
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  2. PLOS, Available here: https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.2005982