Are Iguanas Nocturnal? The Answer May Surprise You

are iguanas nocturnal

For those considering an iguana as a pet, understanding their habits is crucial if proper care is to be assumed. Many people falsely believe iguanas are nocturnal animals which sleep during the day and become active at night, but this is a common misconception.

Iguanas are not nocturnal. In fact, they are diurnal, meaning they sleep at night and are active during the day. As cold-blooded animals, their activity level is directly impacted by the temperature, which is why they are extremely dependent on sunlight to survive.

But how much do these incredible creatures actually sleep, and what is the ideal environment to promote a healthy sleep/wake cycle?

I’ve answered all the top questions in this post to ensure your lizard is happy, healthy, and well-rested!

Are Iguanas Nocturnal?

Iguanas are nocturnal creatures, also commonly referred to as diurnal. These beautiful lizards are active during the day and rest at night.

Since iguanas are cold-blooded and can’t produce their own body heat, it makes more sense for them to be active during the day.

Wild iguanas will get ready for a night’s rest as the temperature drops in the evenings and the sun begins to set.

As the temperatures cool, their bodies slow down to conserve energy, and they become lethargic, moving less than they normally would in warmer temperatures,

Similar to humans, iguanas become more relaxed and find it easier to fall asleep when their heart rate slows down.

On the contrary, iguanas find it difficult to sleep during the day because higher temperatures increase their heart rate.

Since iguanas are very sensitive to light and temperature, replicating day and night in their enclosures is absolutely vital, as it will regulate their circadian rhythm and ensure a long healthy life in the long run.

Always turn off all UV lights at night, so that your scaly friend can experience the same light and dark cycles as the outdoors. Placing plenty of vegetation where they can comfortably rest on is also helpful.

How Long Do Iguanas Sleep?

Iguanas’ sleeping patterns are more complex than many people realize.

They are polyphasic, meaning they experience multiple stages of sleep and wakefulness (specifically four stages) including active wakefulness, quiet wakefulness, quiet sleep, and active sleep.

When passing from wakefulness to quiet sleep, cerebral activity decreases.

Muscular activity occurs in wakefulness, reduces or is completely gone in quiet sleep, and can once again be seen in active sleep.

Quiet sleep fills the predominate amount of their sleeping cycle, intermingled with episodes of active sleep.

In a nutshell, an iguana typically sleeps around twelve hours per night, but can vary depending on environmental conditions such as temperature.

What Time do Iguanas Usually Go to Sleep

Although the time varies with each iguana, they typically go to sleep around 10:00 pm and wake around 8:00 am.

To ensure your iguana maintains a healthy sleep cycle and receives the full 12 hours of sleep necessary for optimal health, it’s a common best practice to automate the powering on and off on all of the enclosure’s lights with a timer.

What is The Proper Nighttime Cage Temperature For Iguanas?

Since iguanas are cold-blooded and cannot regulate their own body temperature, keeping their cage at the proper temperature twenty-four hours a day is crucial.

For your lizard to sleep comfortably, set the temperature within the enclosure between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with temperature gradients throughout, allowing them to choose either warmer or cooler areas to their liking.

You can achieve these gradients by adding an overhead heating light on one end of the cage.

Do Iguanas Need Naps?

Iguanas don’t typically nap during the day. They instead spend the daylight hours awake and engage in either quiet or active sleep cycles at night.

However, they do participate in periods of quiet wakefulness throughout the day, which may mimic nap-like behavior.

Various factors determine how long an iguana will rest in this quiet wakefulness state, including:

  • the amount of light in their cage
  • temperatur
  • time since their last meal

Do Iguanas Eat At Night?

Iguanas do not eat at night. They only eat during the day. Owners should feed both hatchlings and young iguanas multiple times during the day to ensure they receive the proper nutrients to maintain their growth rate.

Once they are older and have reached an approximate length of two feet, they can be fed once a day.

When iguanas reach adulthood, every other day feedings are acceptable, but it’s important to note that every iguana is different and may require more or less food.


Phillip is the proud founder of Scaly Pets, a website dedicated to educating reptile pet owners. As a former owner of various reptiles, Phillip not only brings well researched topics to the table, but also years of personal experience. Now, he's sharing his passion with the rest of the world.

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