The Ultimate Guide To Bearded Dragon Brumation
What Is Brumation?
Brumation is when a reptile goes into a dormant state due to weather changes – think of it as reptilian hibernation. During brumation, their metabolism slows, causing a reduction in their eating, drinking, and movement. Brumation can range from a few weeks to up to three months!
Why Do Beardies Go Into Brumation?
Brumation is a biological cycle that can happen depending on the changes in the weather.
In the wild, when the seasons change to cooler temperatures, they will hide in their burrows and lie dormant until it becomes warmer again. They might eat a little bit during the cycle but will quickly go back to being dormant. Their bodies have evolved to slow down their metabolism so they can survive the cooler months.
In captivity, bearded dragons might not need to go into brumation at all. Your bearded dragon will likely go into this dormant state occasionally.
If the temperatures are not warm enough in their terrarium, this can induce brumation. The typical temperature in a terrarium needs to be around 85-100 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if the temperature is consistently less than that, then their metabolisms could slow down and cause them to become less active.
Temperatures as low as 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day will send your bearded dragon into brumation.
Brumation can also be related to the mating season. A male coming out of brumation will be in optimal mating condition because their sperm count will be very high. Female bearded dragons will also be ready for mating as well after brumation.
Baby bearded dragons do not go into brumation before six months of age because they are too small to handle that amount of time without eating. It’s common to see bearded dragons begin their brumation cycles after about 1 year of age.
Signs Of Brumation
Knowing the signs of brumation will allow you to help prepare your bearded dragon. Brumation can be mistaken for death or illness sometimes. Here are some signs that your bearded dragon may be entering brumation soon:
- lack of appetite
- less movement
- hiding in their burrows
- drinking less
- using the bathroom less frequently
How To Prepare For Brumation
- Vet visits
Once you’ve started seeing the signs of brumation, consider taking your bearded dragon to the vet. They can give a quick wellness exam to ensure that your bearded dragon is in optimal health. The vet will check for parasites as well.
Parasites during brumation can be very dangerous because they will cause your bearded dragon to lose too much weight. During brumation, your bearded dragon will not be eating very much food and parasites will drastically deplete your bearded dragon of any stored nutrients they would need to survive.
- A long bath
Before your bearded dragon becomes too inactive, give them one last bath to help them stay hydrated. The bath will also help them have one last opportunity to use the bathroom.
- Nutritionally packed meal
Give your bearded dragon a decent sized meal that they can try to eat before hiding in their burrow. Make sure you’re dusting with calcium & a multivitamin supplement so your beardie has the vitamins & nutrients it needs!
What To Expect During Brumation
Every bearded dragon is different and will have longer cycles than others. A cycle could last from three weeks to several months. There will not be any reason to be too concerned if they had a great vet check and a healthy diet leading up to this brumation cycle. You can always move them or try to wake them for a moment to give yourself peace of mind. It is preferred that you let them sleep as much as possible though.
Their bodies will be very still and feel cool to the touch from not basking under their heat lamp. Their eyes will be shut most of the time because they will be sleeping. Even though they are in their burrows or under their hides, keep their UVB and heat lamps on. It is pretty common for bearded dragons to come out for a moment to take a small drink or bite of food before becoming dormant again.
During brumation, leave clean water available for your bearded dragon to drink. You can also have a small dish of food readily available as well.
Your bearded dragon could feel a little bit irritable because they are about to go into this long cycle. When this happens, it is best to handle them as little as possible to prevent unnecessary stress.
Do not expect your bearded dragon to be fully active after the cycle is over. It is typical behavior for a bearded dragon to still not show a whole lot of interest in food and water.
Since they won’t be fully active just yet, they will still be a little bit irritable to handling. Wait a few days to handle them again after they wake up. It can take up to a week for them to feel normal.
When You Should Be Concerned
Naturally, you are going to have some concerns when you notice that your bearded dragon is not very active or eating. Brumation can be confused with illness or death. Here are some signs that you should be concerned about:
- Significant weight loss
Very saggy skin or a deflated look is a sign of weight loss. During a brumation cycle, some minor weight loss is to be expected. However, if the weight loss is extreme and they look complete deflated, they could have parasites.
- Sunken eyes
Sunken eyelids are a sign of dehydration and illness. If their eyes look sunken before their brumation period, they need to see a vet right away. If you notice that they are looking sunken while they are asleep, it is important to try to hydrate them, even if that means interrupting their sleep.
- Frequent brumation
Bearded dragons should only be going into brumation a few times a year at the most. If it seems like they are in their den majority of the time or sleeping all day, there is an underlying issue. It is not normal for a bearded dragon to sleep for a whole week or two every single month.
With any of these signs present, you need to take your bearded dragon to the vet.
Do not go into panic mode if you see your bearded dragon half-buried in their cool den. Your little critter is just going through brumation and needs that deep sleep. It is okay to wake them up after a couple of days to bath them and help them defecate. They won’t want to eat for a while and will still need some water to soak in. You should not be concerned unless they look like they are losing a lot of weight and experiencing brumation more frequently than they should.
Learn about their cycle and understand what is normal for your beardie because every bearded dragon is different!