Chameleons are diurnal reptiles who need to be exposed to light during the day, and we know that exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation is of utmost importance to keep chameleons in good health and prevent some diseases. But what about keeping normal lights and UVB lights on at night? Can you keep them on to help maintain the enclosure’s heat at night?
You do not need to leave any type of lights on at night for your chameleon. In fact, doing so may greatly disturb your pet’s sleep. If you are worried about how to keep the temperature up during the night, you can use a room heater or cover the enclosure with a piece of fabric.
In this article, we will tell you about the importance of turning off all lights at night and will give you a few tips on how to prevent your chameleon from getting too cold at night. We will also discuss the appropriate nighttime temperature ranges for the most common species of chameleons kept as pets. So, keep reading on!
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Do Chameleons Need Light At Night?
Chameleons are diurnal reptiles, meaning they stay active for most of the day and sleep at night.
In the wild, chameleons sleep in total darkness. The only source of light being the moon and some stars. And even then, they usually hide in between the foliage and leaves of trees at night. Therefore, no sliver of light can usually reach them.
Although chameleons do need to be exposed to light during the day, if you expose them to light sources at night, they won’t be able to sleep and their sleep schedule will be interrupted.
This includes exposure to lights of any type and from any distance. Even the light coming from the normal lightbulbs in the room where the enclosure is located can bother them.
Furthermore, chameleons can see shades of infrared and ultraviolet light that humans cannot, even in total darkness, so any source of light, as insignificant as it seems, may bother them.
Some chameleon owners even go the extra mile and turn off not only every light in the enclosure and room, but also even in the corridor next to the room where the enclosure is located.
That way they can make sure no extra light is bothering their pet.
So, the bottom line is: never leave a light on at night for your chameleon if you want your pet to be comfortable and get a good night’s sleep.
Tip: If you would like to learn more about this, read our article on the best time to turn the lights off in your chameleon tank!
What About Using Blue, Green, or Red Lights At Night?
The recommendation about not using lights at night includes all colors of light, including white, blue, green, red, etc.
Although there is evidence that some colors of light may help humans sleep better, this is not true for chameleons.
As we said before, chameleons are more susceptible to light than humans and can see some light waves that humans are not able to.
This means that any type and color of light may disturb your pet’s sleep, and once a chameleon gets woken up, it probably won’t be able to go back to sleep for the rest of the night.
Do Chameleons Need UVB Light Exposure At Night?
Ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation is imperative for your chameleon’s health and adequate development.
Chameleons who do not receive adequate amounts of UVB are prone to develop several serious health problems related to insufficient levels of vitamin D and calcium, such as metabolic bone disease (MBD), which can ultimately lead to the reptile’s death if left untreated.
However, exposure to UVB lights must only happen during the day, for approximately 13 hours during the summer season, and 10 hours during the winter season.
All UVB and UVA-emitting lights must be turned off at night. Your pet’s sleep is going to become interrupted if you leave the lights on during the night.
Chameleon Light Schedule
To provide proper lighting for your chameleon, you need to adjust the lighting schedule based on the weather season.
The best time to turn on the lights of the enclosure is when the sun rises, at around 6:30 am. And the best time to turn off the lights in the enclosure is just around the time the sun sets, which is usually at approximately 6:30 pm.
Since nights are longer during the winter, adjust the light schedule accordingly to the required hours of light exposure, which is of at least 10 hours during this season.
If you are struggling to keep up with the lighting schedule, or if you want to make sure never forgetting turning on or off the lights in the enclosure, you can get an automatic light switch timer.
After a while, you will notice your chameleon will start getting ready to sleep at the same time each night just around the time the lights go off, and will start waking up on schedule just before the lights get turned on.
Do Chameleons Need Heat At Night?
In the wild, chameleons normally experience a temperature drop during the night. Therefore, that natural environment should be replicated for chameleons in captivity.
However, not all chameleon species can benefit from the same temperature drop at night. Let us take a deeper look into what chameleons need during the night:
Should I Leave The Heat Lamp On At Night?
Heat lamps make use of infrared radiation to produce heat. Thanks to their impressive sight, chameleons can see the infrared radiation emitting from a heat lamp, even when you cannot see any visible light.
So, it does not matter if you have a heat lamp that emits visible light or one that emits only heat. Your chameleon will be bothered if you leave any heat lamp on at night because, for them, it will be like having lights on all night.
Because of this, and since, as stated before, chameleons need a drop in temperature during the night, you must always turn your pet’s heat lamp off at night.
What Temperature Should It Be At Night For A Chameleon?
Different species of chameleons may need different temperature settings for the day and night. This happens because chameleons can come from different climates depending on their species.
In any case, a drop in temperature at night slows the chameleon’s metabolism and encourages sleep.
Here is a list of the appropriate temperature ranges for the most common species of chameleons kept as pets:
Veiled chameleon (Chameleo calyptratus)
Veiled chameleons, also called Yemen chameleons, originated from the Arabian peninsula, specifically from the warm climates of Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
These reptiles are accustomed to tropical and semi-arid climates. Therefore, they are able to withstand slightly higher temperatures than other chameleon species.
During the day, veiled chameleons need an ambient temperature of 71 °F to 78 °F (22 °C to 26 °C). And, the best nighttime temperature for veiled chameleons ranges from 64 °F to 77 °F (18 °C to 25 °C).
Tip: Need more info on veiled chameleons? Read our veiled chameleon care guide!
Panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis)
Panther chameleons come from a tropical island called Madagascar, where the climate is mostly warm and humid.
During the day, panther chameleons need an ambient temperature of 73 °F to 82 °F (23 °C to 28 °C). And, during the night, these chameleons prefer a temperature that ranges from 62 °F to 77 °F (17 °C to 25 °C).
Wanna learn more about panther chameleons? Here is our panther chameleon care guide!
Jackson’s chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii)
Jackson’s chameleons, also known as three-horned chameleons, are native to south-central Kenya, and northern Tanzania, both located in East Africa.
In their natural habitat, these chameleons live on cool, humid, mountain slopes with heavy rainfall throughout the year. Therefore, they prefer cooler temperatures than other chameleon species.
Jackson’s chameleons prefer a daytime temperature ranging from 68 °F to 75 °F (20 °C to 24 °C) and they thrive with night temperatures that range from 53 °F to 64 °F (12 °C to 18 °C).
Bearded pygmy chameleon (Rieppeleon brevicaudatus)
These chameleons live in the lowland forest across Tanzania and Kenya, in East Africa.
The best daytime temperature for bearded pygmy chameleons is from 59 °F to 77 °F (15 °C to 25 °C), and during the night, the best temperature for these chameleons ranges from 59 °F to 71 °F (15 °C to 22 °C).
Here is a summary of the adequate night temperature range for each chameleon species:
|Veiled chameleon||64 to 77 °F (18 to 25 °C)|
|Panther chameleon||62 to 77 °F (17 to 25 °C)|
|Jackson’s chameleon||53 to 64 °F (12 to 18 °C)|
|Bearded pygmy chameleon||59 to 71 °F (15 to 22 °C)|
How To Keep Chameleons Warm At Night
We established that all light sources and heat lamps should be kept off at night because this is beneficial for the sleep quality of your chameleon. But, how do you keep your pet warm at night if you live in a cold area?
Most of the time, your pet won’t need a heater or any other heating element at night because they can tolerate and actually prefer lower temperatures.
But, if the temperatures are too low where you live, then you are going to have to figure out a way to keep the temperature of your pet’s enclosure at a comfortable range.
A study revealed that even though chameleons can survive and maintain normal functions for a couple of days in an environment that is colder than it should be for them to be comfortable, they still experience muscle weakness when the temperature drops too much.
Even more, if a chameleon gets constantly exposed to low temperatures for prolonged periods of time, it will inevitably die.
So, what can you do to maintain adequate temperatures if you can’t keep a heater on at night in your chameleon’s enclosure? Here are a few options you can consider:
Heat The Whole Room
You can’t get a ceramic heat emitter or a heat lamp to put into your chameleon’s enclosure, but you can surely get a space heater for the whole room where the enclosure is located.
A space heater will increase the temperature of the entire room, which in turn will help achieve an appropriate temperature range inside the enclosure.
You just need to make sure to place the heater away from the enclosure where your chameleon can’t see the light coming from it, so your pet’s sleep won’t be interrupted.
Besides this, putting the heater too close to the enclosure may increase the temperature too much. So, the further away you put it from the enclosure the better.
It may take a few attempts to finally know the proper distance at which you should place the heater and the temperature settings that work best to heat up the room, but you can use a thermometer to help you keep track of the temperature inside the enclosure.
Cover The Enclosure
Some chameleon owners just prefer to cover the whole enclosure at night by throwing a clean piece of fabric over it. Just like bird owners do during the night.
Covering the enclosure ensures no outside light bothers your pet, while it also helps retain the temperature of the enclosure so it doesn’t get too low at night.
Either way, you should always control the temperature inside the enclosure using a thermometer.
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