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The Right Time To Turn Off Your Chameleon’s Light

do chameleons need light at night

Should you keep the lights in your chameleon’s tank on 24/7? Or is it beneficial for them to turn off the lights at night? Lighting is important to the health of your chameleon as it also plays a role in their sleep cycle. Mimicking the light in the wild should also be done in captivity.

The right time to turn off your chameleon’s light is around 6 – 10 pm, which is usually the time that the sun sets. The lights should be off for 12 hours and should be turned on right around the time that the sun starts to rise at 6 am.

In this article, we will discuss why it is important to turn off the lights in the enclosure of your chameleon. We will also provide a lighting schedule in order to mimic the lighting in the wild. Keep on reading to find out more!

When Is The Best Time To Turn Off Your Chameleon’s Light?

Chameleons are diurnal reptiles which means that they are active during the day and they sleep at night. Most chameleons benefit from a 12-hour day and 12-hour night cycle.

Therefore, it is essential to turn off the lights of the enclosure at night. In this study, it was observed that chameleons can sleep peacefully in total darkness.

It was further examined that disturbances during their sleep that stem from stimuli such as light or noise are more stressful to them compared to disturbances that lead to stress during the day.

How many hours of light do chameleons need?
At night, many chameleons turn pale as they conserve energy by not pigmenting their skin.

Sleep disturbances are also the reason why chameleons stay awake during the night, even with the lights off.

The best time to turn off your chameleon’s light is just around the time the sun sets, which for most countries is around 6:00-6:30 pm.

If you are not sure what time the sun sets in your country, you can check the specific time here.

The lights should be off for 12 hours, and you should also adjust the lighting schedule based on the season.

During winter, the nights are longer, so it is vital to make lighting adjustments that are not based on the sunset but on the hours of light exposure.

Chameleon Lighting Schedule

Here is our suggested lighting schedule for your chameleon.


Daytime (6 am- 6 pm)Nighttime (6 pm-6 am)
UVB LightOnOff
Basking LightOnOff
Make sure to check what time the sun usually sets in your area to adjust the specific times.


Daytime (6 am-5 pm)Nighttime (5 pm-6 am)
UVB LightOnOff
Basking LightOnOff
It is best to check when the sun goes down in your area during winter. Also, take into account daylight savings time.

For the most part, during winter, you can increase the nighttime by around one to two hours. This is because most chameleons originated from countries that are near the equator.

Thus, they are generally used to a 12-hour day and night cycle, even during colder seasons.

The adjustment is brought about by the matching of the conditions inside the enclosure and the ambient lighting and temperatures in your area.

Should I Turn The Heat Lamp Off At Night For My Chameleon?

Do chameleons need darkness at night?

Yes, you should also turn the heat lamp off at night. This applies to heat lamps that emit visible light and those that emit only heat.

The reason behind this is that even though you have a heat lamp that does not emit visible light, it still makes use of infrared radiation to produce heat.

In the case of chameleons, as stated in this study, they have such excellent sight that visual cues almost always dictate how their other senses work.

Therefore, they can still see the infrared radiation coming from a heat lamp that has no visible light. So using this type of heat lamp is just like leaving the lights on at night.

Will My Chameleon Get Cold At Night?

We mentioned that heat lamps should also be turned off at nighttime as the infrared radiation also disrupts the sleep of your chameleon, but will its enclosure become too cold?

You do not have to worry that the enclosure will become too cold during the night with the heat lamps off. This is because chameleons also benefit from the drop in temperature at night.

The cold temperature signals their body that it is time to sleep.

Further, the drop in temperature also helps them to regulate their metabolism. Both the lack of light and the drop in temperature contributes to the sleep quality of your chameleon.

For most chameleons, a gradual temperature drop to 60-65 °F at night will be beneficial. However, if it goes down to 50 °F, the tank is considered to be too cold.

On the other hand, if you live in an area where it gets cold immediately, or the enclosure is in a space where it is naturally cold, then you need to take precautions so as not to underheat your chameleon’s tank.

A lot of experienced chameleon owners suggest that it is better to heat the actual room where the enclosure is located compared to using a heat lamp that will disrupt the sleep of your chameleon.

You can simply do so by using a room heater.

Make sure that the heater is not placed near the enclosure of your chameleon so that if its eyes detect infrared radiation, it will still be far away and thus, it is not too intense for your chameleon to focus on.

Can Chameleons Only Sleep With The Lights Off?

Do chameleon lights stay on all the time?

Yes, your chameleon can only sleep with the lights off. In fact, their sleep quality will be excellent in total darkness.

Some owners who have baby chameleons even go the extra mile to cover the entire enclosure with a cloth and close the lights of the room and the adjacent corridor to achieve total darkness.

Based on their experience, baby chameleons grow healthier in this way as they get better sleep.

In the wild, chameleons already have pitch darkness, but even in that type of darkness, they still tend to sleep in places hidden by leaves.

This makes them feel secure against potential predators and the additional cover of the leaves ensures undisturbed sleep.

Chameleons need 12 hours of sleep at night to function normally during the day.

Can I Use A Blue Light At Night For My Chameleon?

You should not use blue, red, or green lights at night. Even though these lights are advertised as ones that do not disturb the sleep of your chameleon at night, your chameleon will still see the light and will prevent it from getting any sleep.

These lights may be beneficial to you as a viewing light, especially as you want to see your chameleon at night, but please refrain from installing these in the enclosure.

If you want to view your chameleon in its full glory, reserve your viewing during the day when they are active.

It is also good to note that if you want to see your chameleon sleeping at night, it is not a good idea to turn on the lights of the enclosure for a while or use a flashlight to find it.

When chameleons are disturbed in the middle of their sleep, it is likely that they will refrain from sleeping for the rest of the night.

Tip For Maintaining The Lighting Schedule

when should I turn off the lights in my chameleon tank?

Our lives tend to be busy that it is understandable that there are instances where we might forget to switch on and off the lights of our chameleon tanks.

Therefore, it is best to use a timer switch so that the lights will automatically turn on and off at designated times.

This one is a good time switch that has different modes and an LCD display so that it is easier to input the varying times.

Final Thoughts

Do not be afraid to turn off the lights of the enclosure of your chameleon at night.

If you give them proper light and heat for 12 hours during the day, your chameleon will let the gradual drop in temperature lull it to sleep. With absolute darkness, your chameleon will be more than ready to tackle another day!

Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team
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