The lizards are out and about, scurrying around your house as you sleep. What do they do all night? This is a question that has been asked for centuries.
Due to their cold-blooded nature, they don’t like cold temperatures, which is exactly what happens at night. This is especially interesting in places like deserts, where at night, the temperatures drop to freezing.
If it’s too cold, lizards lose their ability to move. They literally freeze in place and can’t move their muscles anymore until the temperatures rise back up. Hardly a desirable defense mechanism.
Lizards stay in their holes and “hibernate” during this time, so they aren’t exposed to the cold weather.
For this reason, they tend to stay in their “nest” during the night hours and go outside in the mornings when it’s warm. This is why you’ll see them first thing in the morning sunbathing on rocks or logs that have been warmed up by sunlight from earlier hours of daylight.
There have been many theories about where these creatures go when we’re not watching them.
In this article, we are going to see what lizards do at night. Most of them sleep, and we will see where. Others are active at night, and we will see what they do (mostly hunt).
Cold Night times: Lizards Activity
Lizards can’t regulate their own body temperature, and can’t survive cold temperatures. Therefore, it is vital for them to go into hibernation during cold nights, and stay in their nests/holes until the temperature gets better.
Hibernation is exactly what it sounds like: a long sleep where an animal doesn’t eat or do much of anything else for days on end while wintering over — just waiting out the cold temperatures.
In the case of lizards, they stay in their holes. In a desert biome, this is especially important because the night is too cold for them. They’d freeze to death.
Lizards don’t like being exposed to extremely cold temperatures, so when the sun goes down and it gets cold, they stay in their holes until morning.
Lizards’ bodies are extremely efficient at water retention. They store water in their tail and fat reserves, so they can live without food for weeks. But if lizards stay out too long at night during cold weather, the lack of calories will kill them before winter is over.
Lizards spend most of their time sleeping in holes, such as under rocks and logs during the night. You often see them fleeing towards holes in walls around your house.
Lizard Sleep: Where and How
First, we have to make a distinction between diurnal and nocturnal lizards.
Nocturnal lizards are active at night. They sleep during the daytime and hunt for food at night.
On the other hand, diurnal ones like iguanas for example will bask under warm sunlight all day long (and most of the evening).
Night activity in lizards is mostly influenced by external temperature. It varies according to their species and habitat.
Diurnal Lizards Sleep at Night
Diurnal lizards will most likely sleep in the same place they spend their days. They prefer to bask under sunlight or flee into shadows when it’s too hot outside, so keep an eye out for them during these times.
They usually rest on rocks and logs close to a water source but where there is some protection from predators (they can be eaten by many predators when they sleep, from birds to cats).
Diurnal lizards will also rest in a tree or in your home. They need a place that is warm and has some sun exposure for basking during the day. At night, you might see them looking for food around your house or yard because their body temperature is lower than during the day.
Lizards get a lot of energy from sun exposure which helps them out with finding food and staying warm. They sleep in a hole or under an overhanging branch that blocks the sun to regulate their body temperature, which is vital for them since they cannot survive cold temperatures.
Editor’s note: Common diurnal lizards include iguanas and collared lizards. There aren’t many differences between each species’ diurnal patterns.
Nocturnal Lizards are Active at Night
Nocturnal lizards are active at night. They sleep during the day time and play around in your home when you go to bed.
They usually spend the daytime hiding between leaves, under rocks, logs, or burrows where they have some protection from predators (they can be eaten by many predators when they sleep). Nocturnal lizards in the wild often sleep horizontally on leaves. Plants with leaves offer the perfect protection from predator, because lizards can easily hide themselves between them.
Nocturnal lizards will sleep in a hole or inside the wall of your house because they prefer places that offer them protection from predators but have access to water and food sources as well. They need a place with some sun exposure for basking during the day, so you’ll probably see them looking for food around your house.
At night, you might notice lizards in dark corners of the room or near lights because their body temperature is lower than during the day. They get a lot of energy from sun exposure which helps them out with finding food and staying warm.
Editor’s note: Geckos are the most common group of nocturnal lizards. They usually sleep in a sheltered place, whether it is your house or the outside. They usually spend their days sleeping on rocks and trees near where they live.
How the Environment Influences the Lizards’ Sleeping Place
Lizard shelters vary based on the biome they live in.
- Desert lizards burrow themselves underground. Alternatively, the desert is full of holes and crevices where lizards can seek shelter to protect themselves from the desert nights’ freezing temperatures, as well as predators. Lizard burrows also provide protection against water loss through evaporation, which helps them stay alive during winter months when there isn’t a lot of food or moisture in their environment.
- Tropical lizards also seek shelter to protect themselves from the sun and predators. Tropical rainforests, for example, are full of leaves that lizards can hide under during daytime or night time. They’ll also hide inside tree trunks when they can. All of these provide them excellent protection from predators, mostly because tropical lizards are amazing at disguising themselves among the foliage.
- Temperate lizards like iguanas will seek shelter in your house because there is no other place where they can get warmth (from both heaters inside) and sunlight. Alternatively, they can burrow themselves underground or find rest inside trees.
There aren’t many differences between the lizards’ shelters in different climates. As long as the place protects them from the cold and predators, it’s fine for them.
The Characteristics of a Perfect Lizard Sleeping Place
Lizards are highly adaptable animals. They’ll find shelter almost anywhere. The simple fact that they can burrow underground means they’ll survive in most places, provided the ground doesn’t freeze.
Examples of typical lizard shelters are rocks, trees, and foliage. Lizards look for places to sleep where they get plenty of sunlight during the day so they can bask and increase their body temperature…and because it’s easier to hunt when you’re warm. They don’t move much once they find their perfect sleeping place.
Houses are also a great place to hang out for lizards. If you live in a cold place, your house is probably surrounded by lizards. Don’t worry, they are harmless. In fact, they help us by getting rid of pests like cockroaches and mosquitoes.
Lizards’ night activity depends mostly on their sleep cycle. Diurnal lizards who are active during the day will spend the night sleeping in a sheltered place. Conversely, nocturnal lizards are out and hunting at night, and sleep during the day.
What matters the most is where they sleep. Lizards are always looking for a place that keeps them away from prying eyes, as they can’t defend themselves while they are sleeping. Plus, they need a place where the temperature doesn’t drop too much. Since they are cold-blooded creatures, they can’t regulate their own body temperature.
This means that, when it gets too cold, their muscles will literally freeze, losing the ability to move. That’s not a situation they want to find themselves in, as they’ll become an easy prey for just about any bird or other reptile looking for a feast.