If it is the first time your bearded dragon has shown signs of brumation, you may feel alarmed. Don’t be! Today I’m going to share everything you need to know about bearded dragon brumation.
So, when does bearded dragon brumation start, is it more likely to happen in winter, and how often do bearded dragons brumate? We’ll answer these questions and more in this article!
What is Bearded Dragon Brumation?
Brumation is essentially hibernation in bearded dragons. It is a survival instinct to help them make it through the harsher, less abundant winter months. In captivity, not all bearded dragons will brumate, but it is possible.
In winter in the wild, less food is available. So, wild bearded dragons would typically slow down by going into brumation. They would usually make a nest or burrow and live off their accumulated bodily reserves until the warmer spring weather starts to arrive.
What Are the Signs of Brumation?
Your bearded dragon will show certain signs if he/she is going into brumation. These include:
- A decrease in appetite
- Refusing food
- Less production of faecal matter (as not eating as usual)
- Needing more sleep
- Going to sleep earlier in the day
- Avoiding the sun and preferring darker spaces
Your reptilian friend may lie so still that you wonder if they are in brumation or dead. Don’t worry — it’s most likely brumation.
However, remember that the signs mentioned above can also indicate other illnesses or even high loading of parasites in a dragon’s system. To be on the safe side, take your pet for a checkup with your veterinarian.
From What Age Does Bearded Dragon Brumation Occur?
Bearded dragons have been known to brumate at any age. It is an evolutionary adaptation which they’ve had for millions of years. A few years of domestication has not extinguished this behaviour.
Many believe bearded dragons younger than a year do not brumate. In reality, the process is related to development. A younger bearded dragon may not have the physical reserves to brumate successfully. If they do, however, brumation is certainly possible.
Can Brumation Occur In Summer?
Bearded dragon brumation in summer does happen. This typically occurs if your pet is still used to the natural rhythms of their original habitat in Australia. Where December means summer and June is summer.
How Long is Bearded Dragon Brumation and What Do I Need to Do?
The brumation period differs for every beardie. It can be for just over a few weeks, or for as long as four months.
To give your bearded dragon what they need to go through the process healthily, and for your peace of mind, there are a few things you should attend to. When you notice signs of brumation, you should:
- Get a faecal test done to check for parasites and other problems.
- If the faecal check is clear, start preparing for brumation. You can begin to reduce enclosure temperatures slowly during the next weeks until there is very little heating.
- Give your dragon less and less food, until you don’t give them anything in about the final week.
- At this last point, make sure there is still some heating on so that your dragon can defecate. If there is residual food matter in the stomach during brumation, it can rot in your pet’s gut and cause severe health issues.
- After defecation has happened, you can turn the UV and basking bulb off, so they can drift into sleep.
How Often Do Bearded Dragons Brumate?
Brumation happens typically just once a year in response to the onset of the colder winter weather. If your pet looks like they are going into brumation for the second time in a year, there may be something wrong. If this happens, definitely visit the vet.
What Happens During Brumation?
Every animal’s brumation will be slightly different, but here is a rundown of what you can usually expect:
- Your bearded dragon will likely sleep a lot and not be very active. They will wake up from time to time, sometimes even for an entire day, but will end up going back to sleep. Thus, they are pretty much in hibernation.
- They won’t eat much or at all. Being a reptile and not a mammal, your lizard does not need consistent feeding during this time. They can live off their reserves, unlike a human or a dog. You should offer them food about once a week during brumation.
- Don’t forget to provide a small water bowl for your bearded dragon during their brumation. This bowl should not be large enough for them to lie in. Remember to change it out for fresh water every couple of days.
Gradually, you’ll notice your dragon become active and more interested in their surroundings again. When you notice this awakening, it is best to give the dragon a bath, which will stimulate them to drink some water.
You can also turn heating and UV lighting back on for them. It is best to do this gradually, like a reversal of the shutdown process. If you, wish you can switch everything back to its normal levels immediately. The bearded dragon will survive. They may just hide for a few days, while they adjust to the light.
As brumation is natural for bearded dragons, your reptile will only lose a few grams of weight during this time. They will soon get back to regular eating habits.
How to Start Feeding Again After Brumation
Your dragon probably won’t want to eat much while they’re still waking up. However, be prepared for them to get ravenous soon. After a few days, they’ll want a lot of food! At the same time, take care to not overfeed your beardie.
You can give them some greens, as well as tinned bearded dragon food, although feeding them live insects is better. Your dragon will soon be back to their pre-brumation self!
Bearded Dragon Brumation – Simple Right?
As you can see, brumation is a regular seasonal activity for a bearded dragon. To learn more about these wonderful creatures, check out our other articles including this one about why your bearded dragon’s beard can turn black!
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