A hibernation-like state in the bearded dragon is called brumation, and it occurs naturally in many reptiles in the wild during the winter months. This brumation state is characterized by significant slowing down of the reptile’s metabolic functions, such as the digestion system, heart rate, and breathing. This seemingly lost time between Bearded dragons and their keepers often raises the question, What do I do when my bearded dragon is in brumation?
In this article, I’m going to give you a complete step-by-step guide to safely help your bearded dragon brumate and make sure that it stays safe and healthy during the process. So if you want to prepare your bearded dragon to brumate safely during the process, then read on…
What do bearded dragons do during brumation?
This brumation process is not the same as hibernation, though it does resemble it. Mammals don’t need to eat or drink during brumation and don’t wake up until hibernation is over. On the other hand, reptiles often need to wake up briefly to drink water.
Many domesticated reptiles, including bearded dragons, often brumate (i.e., hibernate), so you shouldn’t worry if your bearded dragon goes into this type of brumation. If your bearded dragon doesn’t brumate, don’t be concerned because sometimes, a few cases of domesticated bearded dragons don’t brumate.
Below are signs of a brumating bearded dragon;
- Sleeping much more than normal
- Being Sluggish and less interested in eating
- Digging for dark places to hide or looking for the perfect nesting site.
- Appreciating more time in the cooler areas of the enclosure and less time basking
How Often Does Bearded Dragon Brumation Occur?
Domesticated Bearded Dragons have varied and non-uniform brumation patterns instead of the wild dragons that typically brumate once a year during the winter.
Bearded dragons are different from each other, and their specific hibernation patterns are nearly impossible to predict. Dragon keepers need to only watch for signs of brumation and allow their dragons to go into brumation naturally without trying to manipulate a pattern.
Below are all standard brumation patterns, and your bearded dragon could belong in any;
- Once a year, during the coldest season of the year, just like their wild counterparts.
- Every few years or every other year, predictably or unpredictably.
- Once in a lifetime.
What to Do When Your Bearded Dragon Shows Signs of Brumation
How do you know if your bearded dragon is about to enter brumation? There are some signs that your dragon might be preparing for brumation. Look for these signs:
- Your lizard is hiding and often burrowing
- Your lizard has a loss of appetite and significantly fewer bowel movements.
- Your lizard’s temperature is dropping.
- Your lizard is more unresponsive to people’s presence.
If you notice any brumation signs in your dragon, even if it is off-season, always contact your veterinarian to ensure that this is indeed the beginning of brumation and that your dog isn’t ill.
Here are some of the preparations you can make to ensure your Bearded Dragon gets into brumation safely;
- Move the cage to a confined space to ensure heat is retained for a more extended period as the cold season approaches.
- Provide additional Bedding both for extra warmth and also offer burrowing content.
- Discontinue Feeding to ensure the gut is clear of heavily bowel involving foods. This will help reduce the chances of impaction to your dragon.
- Provide Clean And Replenish Bowls With Water
- Provide a belly massage to ensure your dragon completes bowel movements before going into full brumation. This is critical to ensure no food is left in the digestive system to rot during brumation.
- When your dragon goes into sleep mode, don’t touch him. This is not a time to be rough with him since it could cause significant panic or a heart attack. I am sure you don’t want this.
- It would be useful if you aimed for the optimal brumation conditions by turning off your dragons’ basking bulb and UV light, aiming for a daytime temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and a nighttime temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
When to Prevent or End bearded dragon brumation.
More often than not, your dragon should be able to go on brumation without any help from you. However, your vet will recommend you to prevent brumation in some situations. This is because brumation can cause a baby dragon, sick or malnourished dragon, to die.
Below is a list of circumstances that can warranty ending or prevention of brumation:
If your dragon is not receiving the proper nutrition, he can become lethargic and sluggish. You want to avoid this so that he does not proceed to a false brumation.
Dehydration before brumation starts:
Your dragon shouldn’t enter into brumation dehydrated. Dehydration causes your dragon’s skin to become loose and his appetite to decrease. So if you see any signs of dehydration in your dragon, give him water immediately.
Your dragon brumates during a warm season:
Sometimes, a dragon’s brumation in warm weather is normal. But sometimes, it’s a sign that something else is going on. If you’re worried about the dragon, make sure you get it checked out by a vet.
Confirmed Illness or medical condition:
If your bearded dragon is sick, call your vet immediately you suspect he may be preparing for brumation. Your vet will advise your next action.
How Long Does Bearded Dragons Brumation Last?
Brumation is a survival necessity in the wild. This means all bearded dragons in the same area would be brumating around the same time—during the cold months. However, brumation is not a necessary behavior in captivity, so it is different for each dragon. Some tamed dragons only brumate for a few weeks. Some brumate for months.
Wild and domesticated bearded dragons’ brumation duration varies greatly. While the wild dragons can brumate for three to four months, your domestic dragon could brumate for even under a month.
It should not be alarming if your dragon brumates for longer than a month. However, anything past four months must be reported to the vet for advice to ensure everything is okay.