Is this some mythical winged creature, rocking a beard like Merlin? What else would you picture mentally when you hear. “Bearded Dragon Brumation?” The truth is you’re probably here because you’re going through your first “Bearded Dragon Brumation” as you read this article.
But, whether you’re an experienced or novice Beardie caretaker. This article will help you through your Brumation process.
What does Bearded Dragon Brumation mean?
In a gist, brumation is to reptiles, what hibernation is to mammals. There are some key differences though. Some are their oxygen requirements, how active they are, and what they metabolize for energy. They have their similarities and differences, but that’s another article for another time.
Brumation can start as early as 10 months in a bearded dragon’s life. Side note, you might want to be cautious if your bearded dragon begins brumation before 12 months. They need plenty of food their first year, and an early brumation cycle would interfere with that.
If you have any doubts or concerns, please follow up with your vet. Bearded dragon’s brumation cycle can happen every year or every few years. It can last from a few weeks to a few months. Every bearded dragon brumates differently. Especially if they’re living in a closed environment.
Their bodies aren’t trying to survive a harsh cold winter. They aren’t roughin’ it trying to make it with a lack of food and water. All these factors have to be taken into consideration when trying to figure out why and how frequently they brumate.
Some people believe that bearded dragons can notice the seasons change. This can be a trigger for the bearded dragon, and it can induce the brumation process. Others also believe that, if your house is too cold this can also trigger a beardie into brumation.
Whether or not these beliefs are true or the necessity for a bearded dragon’s brumation might no longer be there. The fact is, it’s in their DNA. You wouldn’t question a dog on why it barks or a bird on why it flies. It’s just what they do, it’s who they are.
Expert Tip: A big part of the brumation process for our bearded dragon friends is finding a good hiding spot.
Their favorite hides and seek spot depends heavily on their habitat. Whether they’re surrounded by trees and shrubs or rocks and boulders, desert-like conditions. So don’t be surprised if your little friend is trying to hide from you.
Common Signs of Brumation
If this isn’t your first rodeo or if you do plenty of research. You might’ve noticed, illness and death look pretty darn similar to the brumation process. For one, they clock out. They start to get lazy and also lose their appetite. You might start to think they’re on a new diet plan their friends told them about.
Or they’re trying to lose a few pounds before the holidays. Maybe they partied too hard and that’s why they’re so tired. These are perfectly normal, logical thoughts. After a while though, it becomes a cause for concern. Then our mind becomes flooded with fear. But have no fear, brumation is most likely here.
A few signs of death are stiffness, paleness, and no response to a stimulus. If your beardie isn’t either of these and is also young, you probably shouldn’t worry. When in doubt check it out. Go to the vet if death is a concern. Also if the illness is a concern. Look out for any non-similar symptoms.
Symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, secretion, discoloration, etc. These symptoms are most likely due to an illness.
During the days leading up to the brumation, you should notice a loss of appetite. This is due to the fact that their metabolism is slowing down. Getting ready for the long period of not ingesting food. You might be used to seeing your beardie demolish a handful of insects. Now your little buddy is only eating fractions.
Also, less bowel movement comes with less food intake.
If in the wild, don’t be surprised to see little worms and other insects throwing parties. No, they aren’t celebrating the holidays. The celebration is due to the fact that they aren’t being eaten.
Along with the longer sleep schedule, you might notice different sleeping habits. You might think, “Why doesn’t my little friend sleep in the open anymore?”. Well, our bearded dragon friend is probably looking for a good hiding spot. Also, he doesn’t dig the lights too much around this time.
So our beardie is also attracted to the darkness right now. You might start to second guess yourself. Asking whether you have a dragon or a turtle? I mean they move so slow during this time, they may as well be turtles. That’s just them getting ready for a long period of inactivity.
It’s all a buildup for the big moment. So just a quick recap. Some of the signs are more sleeping, less eating, slower movement, less bowel movement, and a newfound interest in hiding and seeking.
How long does it last?
Well, that’s a good question. There isn’t a straight answer. How long does each brumation process last? How frequent each brumation cycle is. When a bearded dragon’s last brumation is. All these factors are dependent upon your beardie.
In the wild, brumation is a necessity for survival. Brumation typically begins during a bearded dragon’s region’s winter months. During this time food becomes scarce for every creature. Brumation is a solution to that problem. Since winter only lasts 3 months, a wild beardie will be in brumation for that long.
They’ll repeat this process every year around the same time. They’ll keep doing this until death. Not out of choice, but a necessity.
But wait! There’s more! Your beardie isn’t wild, you say. Your beardie isn’t like that anymore? He’s had an epiphany and has changed his wild ways. That’s great, but they can’t fight this feeling. Brumation is a natural process in the life of a bearded dragon. They didn’t make it this far, millions of years, to just not brumate.
Like I’ve said before, brumation is a part of their DNA. There’s a 99.9% chance they’re going to brumate, whether they’re wild or not. We can’t deny the fact though, that a domesticated bearded dragon’s brumation environment is different. We’re aware of this and they are also.
This is why many of them brumate at different periods of time. Their brumation maybe for different lengths of time. Some say their bearded dragon goes into brumation for longer than 3 months. It has also been said that some beardies brumate every year or every few years.
Expert Tip: The truth is, brumation isn’t a life or death situation for our domesticated friends anymore. So how long it lasts really depends on your beardie.
What to do?
What can you do while your bearded dragon is in brumation? Well, you can catch up on some Z’s yourself. Or binge-watch some Netflix. Why don’t you try showing your other pet some attention also? Dang, it’s always beardie this or beardie that.
In the wild, bearded dragons will have periods of activity during brumation. A lot of times it’s to rehydrate. They’ll look for a good place to go into brumation that has some sort of water source. If your beardie is active one moment, during brumation, offer it some water.
If it refuses each offer, after a few times, you might begin to worry. One thing you can try is giving it a little water bath. Bearded dragons can rehydrate from the moisture on their skin. So don’t let dehydration become a problem or concern. Take the necessary steps to ensure your bearded friend is hydrated.
You might have noticed they aren’t eating as much. That has a lot to do with how they are programmed. During brumation, bearded dragons use stored energy to survive. This is a survival tactic since most of the insects they eat are either dead or hibernating themselves.
But your beardie knows that you’re there for them. That your just a dependable person. So food might not be on their list of worries. One thing you can also do is offer them food. It’s best to offer some during periods of activity. If they decide they aren’t hungry, remove the food and try again later with a fresh batch.
Another good Samaritan trait is creating the conditions for brumation. Brumation is a naturally occurring process for a bearded dragon. Just like sleep for any other living thing, especially humans. We usually like to sleep in cozy, comfortable, and dim conditions.
A bearded dragon in the wild will look for a dark and cool area to go into brumation. If you could somewhat replicate those conditions, your beardie would be forever thankful. One more thing you can do for your bearded dragon in brumation. Keep up with their home.
Just because your bearded friend isn’t as active anymore, doesn’t mean the germs surrounding them aren’t. You should frequently clean their home, especially if you notice it becoming dirty. Monitor their weight, to ensure they aren’t ill or have parasites. You can also do a fecal test prior to brumation, to ensure that they’re healthy.
So just a quick recap:
- Offer food
- Set the mood right (create the brumating conditions)
- Keep their home clean
Can I wake up my bearded dragon during brumation?
The best thing to do is let your bearded dragon finish the brumation process. So don’t think you’re slick, trying to raise the temperature and turn on the lights. This will provide a trigger to bring them out of brumation.
But it isn’t recommended if you’re waking them just to wake them. Think about it, the average human needs about 6-8 hours of sleep. Any less than that throws us off and messes with our mood, physical abilities, performance, and overall energy. The same goes for a bearded dragon not ready to come out of brumation.
The brumation process is a sort of reset for bearded dragons. It resets their hormone levels. Wild bearded dragons will breed after brumation because of this. Don’t be surprised if your bearded friend is a little more active after brumation. Another benefit is a digestive reset.
Just like fasting has its benefits for humans. The long period of not ingesting food helps reset a beardie’s digestive system. It also allows for a biological clock reset. These are some of the reasons why you wouldn’t want to wake your bearded dragon from brumation.
There are some reasons though, on why you would want to wake them. Such as a notice in rapid weight loss. Or a pale-looking bearded dragon. Basically any sign of illness or parasite like we’ve covered earlier. Contact your vet for instruction on whether or not you should wake them.
If so, set the conditions for coming out of brumation. Such as warmer climate, more lighting, UV basking, a little bath, etc.
In short yes, you can wake your bearded dragon during brumation. But you should really avoid it if possible.
Expert Tip: A health concern should be the main reason why you’d wake them. But if you take the proper steps to do a health check-up prior to brumation, early waking can be avoided.
Can I hold my bearded dragon during brumation?
Just like we mentioned in the previous section. You want to try and avoid bringing your bearded dragon out of brumation unnaturally. So little to no holding is recommended.
Maybe you want to give their home a good cleaning. A good cleaning will result in you having to move your little friend around. The best thing you can do is clean all around them, trying very hard not to disturb our sleepy friend. Once you’re done, move them to the new clean area.
Clean up the old area they were in, and now you’ve avoided carrying them for a long period of time. Another reason you might need to hold them or clean them is that they had an accident. Usually in the wild, the bearded dragon creature avoids eating during brumation.
This, of course, results in no bowel movements. Before brumation, a bearded dragon will completely empty out its bowels. But your beardie isn’t in the wild, now are they? Nope, so you might have been giving them food here and there. This will result in them eventually going numero dos. or as we say in English, number 2.
If this happens then you will have to clean them and their area to avoid any disease. But I miss my beardie, you might say. You might begin to feel lonely in these cold winter months. You might start to reflect on the warm summer fun you and your little friend had just a few months ago.
Do not be alarmed, these are all-natural feelings. But you have to put your bearded brother or sister before yourself. There are plenty of things you can do, to spend quality time, with them during this time of inactivity. Like, read them a story, or this article. Maybe do a little research, and step your game up as a bearded dragon caretaker.
Maybe you can pick up on some hours at work since they don’t need as much care and attention during this time. Once they’re awake you can ball till you fall with all the money you’ve accumulated.
I hope some of these ideas help you avoid the urge of holding your adorable friend. Also if you have to, please remember to handle them carefully. Similar to holding a sleeping baby.
Here we are at the end of our journey. We discussed a few topics.
- What does bearded dragon brumation mean?
- Common signs of brumation
- How long does it last?
- What to do?
- Can I wake up my bearded dragon during brumation?
- Can I hold my bearded dragon during brumation?
I hope this article was enlightening, entertaining, and answered any questions you may have had about the brumation process. Just remember that brumation is a naturally occurring event in a bearded dragon’s life. If your beardie starts showing the signs of brumation, help and not hinder these signs.
They know, instinctively what their body needs. The best thing you can do as a loving, caretaker has supported these needs. Also, stay hungry on learning how to care for and understand your beardie. There’s always something to learn on this journey. You and your bearded dragon’s future self will thank you for it.
If you have any serious concerns and questions, remember to always contact your vet. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I wish you and your bearded friend all the luck.