Bearded Dragon Brumation

Is your bearded dragon acting weird? Is he acting tired? Is he refusing food? Maybe he’s preparing to bromate. Bearded dragon brumation is a very natural process and every bearded dragon undergoes it. As a new pet dragon owner, you may become scared of what your dragon is doing.

To know everything about bearded dragon brumation, read this article so that you can help your bearded dragon undergo this process easily. This article will deal with the following questions:

Brumation is a hibernation-like state, a natural process that reptiles undergo to conserve energy. This state is adopted by some ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals during winter like bearded dragons, Chinese water dragons, etc.

As the temperature drops, ectotherms start to find a spot to hide from winters where they can feel warm and safe, usually underground or in rock crevices. During brumation, activity level, body temperature, heart rate, and respiration rate of ectotherms will be reduced, which is quite similar to hibernating endotherms (Warm Blooded Animals).

Bearded dragon brumation is a natural process that many bearded dragons undergo to keep themselves safe and warm during winter. During this process, your pet dragon’s heart rate drops, its digestion system shuts down and he appears to be in a deep sleep like a baby.

Bearded Dragons are cold-blooded reptiles or ectotherms, which means they can’t keep their body warm, instead, they need an external source of heat to regulate body temperature. While in the desert, winders are too cold, and bearded dragons undergo brumation to fight the winters. They go underground or in a tress to bromate.

If your bearded dragon is under 1 year (baby bearded dragon), or he’s losing weight dramatically, or he’s ill, but still bromating, you need to call the vet.

Although bearded dragon brumation resembles hibernation, but it is a different thing. The key difference between brumation and hibernation is that during hibernation, mammals consume their body fat to keep them alive, they don’t eat or drink. Whereas in brumation, cold-blooded reptiles like bearded dragons also won’t eat or defecate, but wake up often briefly to drink water.

In domestic settings, there are chances that bearded dragons will undergo brumation and there are also chances that they will not experience the brumation process. You cannot be certain of it. Anyway, it is related to cold temperatures, and in domestic settings, there is very little chance that bearded dragons will feel the cold temperature.

In the wild, bearded dragons may undergo brumation every year during winters when the temperature is too cold. But in domestic settings, the case is different. They may not go brumation or may go brumation every year, or after each year, etc. It varies for every dragon according to his captivity.

The common bearded dragon brumation patterns in captivity are: 

  • Once a year, during winter.
  • Once a year, during Australia’s winter.
  • Every other year, or every few years, predictably or unpredictably.
  • Only once in a bearded dragon’s lifetime
  • No brumation at all.

In captivity, the brumation pattern for each bearded dragon is different. You cannot define a general rule for all bearded dragons. You need to watch for brumation signs in bearded dragons and let nature do the rest.

So, how to know that a bearded dragon is undergoing brumation? The common signs of bearded dragon brumation are as follows:

  • Earlier bedtime, increased sleep, and lethargic behavior.
  • Loss of appetite or complete refusal of meal.
  • Frequent burrowing or hiding.
  • Fewer bowel movements.
  • Disinterest in the owner or other people.
  • Don’t like the handling.

Usually, you can notice the signs of brumation in the late fall or just before winter (October, November). For some bearded dragons, the time of brumation is the Australian winter which starts around June. The time of brumation depends upon your pet dragon.

Brumation and illness signs are similar. To be on the safe side, you need to call your vet when you notice these signs and make sure that your pet dragon is really bromating and not ill.

The first thing you want to do after noticing the signs is to call your vet and to be sure that it’s brumation or some illness. If it’s some illness, get medical attention from the vet. If it’s brumation, then what can you do to help your pet bearded dragon before, during, and after brumation?

  • You need to make changes in your bearded dragon’s tank. Change the heating and lighting according to Australian desert winter conditions. In short, make it cooler. To achieve this, turn off the UV light and basking bulb. Set the daytime temperature to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and the nighttime temperature to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Give him a belly massage and hydrate him to make sure that he’ll have a bowel movement before going to full brumation. This will prevent food from rotting in the bearded dragon’s belly.
  • To be on the safe side, you can also get his fecal test to make sure it’s not parasites. Parasites and brumation have similar symptoms.
  • While preparing for brumation, bearded dragons gradually stop eating. So, don’t force-feed your pet dragon. 
  • You can offer water but again don’t force your bearded dragon to drink it. 
  • Once your dragon is in full brumation, give him space and don’t disturb his sleep. Handling in this condition can cause a panic attack in your dragon which can even lead to a heart attack.
  • Your dragon might wake up for water. You need to change drinking water daily in the bearded dragon’s tank.
  • Bearded dragons like to hide themselves in brumation, so provide him a hideaway to sleep in. This can be a cave or a blackout hut.
  • You need to take notes of your bearded dragon routine. You may note down things like when the brumation began, how long does brumation lasts, and any behavior your dragon exhibits during brumation, such as drinking water or wandering around in the tank.  
  • Now you can gradually set the heating and lighting to normal.
  • Offer a little food to your bearded dragon. At this stage, calcium-rich and easy-to-digest greens are recommended diet. Once his regular appetite comes back, you can give him regular food.
  • Always keep water in the tank to keep your bearded dragon hydrated.

Bearded dragon brumation naturally occurs in cold temperatures and your bearded dragon wants an underground or deep in a tree sight for brumation where he can feel safe.

In captivity, you can help your bearded dragon by providing a blackout hut in their tank.

In the wild, brumation is a natural survival activity that bearded dragons adapt to save themselves from winters. So, in a specific area, where temperature drops, all bearded dragons will be bromating. Brumation lasts till the winter ends, i.e. three to four months.

When you talk about pet dragons in captivity, the bearded dragon brumation period becomes a trick question as bearded dragons don’t need to undergo brumation. So, each bearded dragon will show different behavior. Some pet bearded dragons can bromate for a few weeks and some can bromate for months. You can say that in captivity, the brumation period depends upon the bearded dragon’s biological clock.

To be on the safe side, you can take the natural four-month period as a standard. If your bearded dragon brumation period lasts more than four months, you need to call the vet and seek advice. You can also keep an eye on your dragon to make sure that he’s breathing and he’s fine, just don’t wake him up.

If you are observing your bearded dragon first time undergoing brumation, you may get confused. You may think that your bearded dragon might be dying or he’s dead. So, whether your dragon is bromating or he’s dead?

If your pet dragon goes into brumation in a healthy state, you need not worry. Low-berating is quite normal in bearded dragon brumation. You can check your bearded dragon periodically that he is still breathing. But don’t disturb his sleep as it can give him panic attacks which can even result in deadly heart failure.

Bearded dragon brumation is a normal process for your pet dragon. In normal cases, you don’t need to disturb their biological clock and let them bromate.

But there are some special cases in which you need to take advice from your vet and he might suggest you prevent bearded dragon brumation. In these special cases, brumation can kill your bearded dragon.

The special cases in which you want to prevent bearded dragon brumation are as under:

Baby bearded dragons don’t brumate in their natural environment and in the wild. Brumation is a lengthy process in which your bearded dragon doesn’t eat anything. They spend months without food in deep sleep which results in a lack of nutrition. Whereas baby bearded dragons are at a growing age and they need plenty of food, nutrition, and calcium. If they go brumate, the lack of nutrition can be very harmful to their growth and overall well-being. So, if you observe bearded dragon brumation signs in your baby bearded dragon, you need to call the vet and he’ll recommend ways to stop or delay bearded dragon brumation.

If your bearded dragon is showing signs of brumation in the warm season, other than winters, then you need to evaluate the situation.

The common case is bearded dragons undergoing brumation because it’s winter in the Australian Desert and their biological clock is forcing them to brumate. If that is the case, you need not to worry. Remember that, Australian winter Australian winter starts around June.

But if it’s not winter in your area and not the Australian winter, you need to call your vet. This unscheduled brumation is a sign that something else is going on with your bearded dragon.

To be on the safe side, you need to take your bearded dragon to the vet if you notice the following symptoms in your bearded dragon:

  • Any abnormal behavior.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Skin discolorations or wrinkly skin.
  • Difficulty moving.
  • Swollen jaw or limbs.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Lethargy.
  • Refusal to eat.
  • Overall weakness.

Some of the above signs can be signs of brumation or illness. Instead of worrying at home, you can take your bearded dragon to the vet to get him specialized medical attention.

It’s pretty easy to tell that your bearded dragon brumation is over. Your bearded dragon will wake and do the following:

  • He starts staring wide-eyed back at you.
  • He may come out of his hiding spot.
  • He’ll be crawling around his terrarium in search of food.

Either way, it’s very easy to point out a dragon who is sleepy and just wants water or who is awake and wants food.

Remember that, your bearded dragon needs several days to get back on his normal diet and normal routine. Till that time, you need to feed him easy-to-digest greens.

Bearded dragon brumation is stressful for new dragon owners but it’s a normal and natural process and your bearded dragon can easily pass it. So, you need not to worry.

If you have questions, feel free to Contact Us.

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