Brumation is a state that most cold-blooded animals, including bearded dragons, will need to adopt at a certain point in their lives.
A lot of first-time owners would freak out while experiencing this process and might think that something wrong is happening to their beardie.
However, it’s a completely natural phenomenon that bearded dragons, as well as other reptiles, have been doing for millions of years.
During the brumation process, your bearded dragon will enter a hibernation-like state where it slows down its movements and rests for long periods of time. It’ll also seek insulated spots, such as burrows and caves for shelter and comfort.
If you want to know more about bearded dragon brumation, you’re in the right place! In this article, we’ll provide you with a guide on what you should know and do about brumation, so you can help your beardie through this period. So without further ado, let’s dive in!
Why Do Bearded Dragons and Other Reptile Brumate?
Cold-blooded reptiles, such as bearded dragons, can’t increase their body temperature when the weather cools down, so they struggle to keep their warmth during these months.
Brumating is a survival tactic that makes the bearded dragons able to get through the cold months.
As the temperatures drop, sources of food become scarce, so they tend to hide away and move less to consume less energy.
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It’s like a natural “battery saving mode” that they enter, even if they’re in captivity. It also encourages reproduction, where the process primes both males and female beardies to reproduce right after the brumation cycles end.
In fact, lizard breeders rely on cycles of brumation to help their lizards mate and reproduce successfully.
At What Age Do Bearded Dragons Do It?
A lot of experienced bearded dragon and exotic vets will say that beardies would brumate after they’re 10 to 12 months or older.
While they’re technically right, there’s something that you should know. Brumation is an instinct that’s embedded deep in the bearded dragon’s DNA.
In fact, they can do it at just about any age no matter how young they are provided that they’re:
- Exposed to the causative factors, such as survival in cold temperatures and reproduction.
- Have enough reserves in their fat and nutrition pads that they store in their body to get by this period.
Since juvenile bearded dragons are yet to have enough nutritional reserve for brumation, they rarely experience brumation under 10 months.
The best way to make sure that your bearded dragon is able to enter brumation is by taking it to the vet for checking.
How Long Does Brumation Last?
Typically brumation lasts depending on a lot of factors, so it’s hard to predict how long your bearded dragon will last in brumation.
However, brumation usually lasts anywhere between a few weeks all the way up to 4 months, depending on the external environment. However, bearded dragons are highly unpredictable when it comes to brumation.
Signs That Your Bearded Dragon is Brumating
You can easily tell that your beardie is brumating if they’re:
- Lose their appetite
- Sleep a lot more and earlier than usual
- Hiding and sheltering more often in dark places
- Rarely pooping
How to Care for Your Bearded Dragon While Brumating
One thing you should know about brumating is that you can help your bearded dragon through this time. Here’s how to care for your bearded dragon while it’s brumating.
Lighting & Heating
If you use a UV lamp to provide your bearded dragon with heat, you should tune down the light during the brumation period to simulate the burrow conditions in the wild.
So if you’re giving them 10 to 12 hours of light and warmth daily, you may reduce it to 2 to 3 hours gradually right to the point where there’s no light or heating on at all.
Offering your bearded dragon less to no food during the brumation period is part of the process.
During bearded dragon brumation, the digestive system is partially shut down, so you shouldn’t stuff their bellies with food anyway and let them use their natural reserves instead.
Providing water during brumation is okay and recommended. However, you shouldn’t force your beardie to drink using a feeding syringe.
Instead, just keep the water around and they’ll drink whenever they have the need for it.
The best thing during brumation is to leave your bearded dragon to do its thing in peace.
Handling them every now and then for bathing and feeding is okay but it’s generally preferred to leave them in peace through the rest of the time because they’ll most likely be nesting or burrowing in for shelter for comfort.
Holding them means that they’ll have to readjust, which is a disturbing process and can even cause them health problems.
One thing that a lot of experts recommend is to give your bearded dragon occasional baths during the brumation period.
These baths help them regain and improve their bowel movement, which is a good measure to take if they stop eating altogether and lose too much weight during brumation.
They’re also good alternatives for supplying them with water, as they can sometimes drink some water.
Remember that they’ll sluggish, so they’ll have to support their head to prevent them from drowning.
Tips for Bearded Dragon Brumation
Now that you know more about bearded dragon brumation, it’s time for some quick tips for an easier process:
- They’ll prefer nesting and digging burrows, so get them a dark spot for hiding
- Your beardie should lose so much weight during the process, so if they dramatically lose weight, check a vet that specializes in reptiles immediately.
- Always do a fecal and parasite test for your bearded dragon if it shows signs of brumation to eliminate the possibility of it being ill.
- Offer as little food as possible because it can rot in their stomach at that time.
- If you’re planning to breed your bearded dragons, the best chance for you is right after their brumation period ends
With that said, you now have a better idea about bearded dragon brumation as well as everything you need to do in order to supply them with care.
Make sure to check with your vet if your beardie is too young to brumate or seems lethargic during this period.