Your beardie is not eating, is not moving or running around, and is sleeping all the time. What’s wrong? What is happening? Is your baby sick? What do you do? Do you take them to the vet?
Your bearded dragon could be brumating. Brumation is your bearded dragon’s version of hibernation. Experiencing it for the first time is stressful. Taking the proper steps will ensure the health of your bearded dragon.
What is Brumation for Bearded Dragons?
Brumation is the reptile version of hibernation. During the cold months, their activity drastically decreases. They stop eating and sleep for long periods of time. They seek places to hide.
What to Look For? Signs of Brumation in Bearded Dragons
Brumation can happen in an instant. One day everything is normal and the next day they are like a different dragon. The signs that your beardie is going to start their brumation include.
- Loss Of Appetite
- Not Wanting To Be Handled
- Not Basking
- Burying Themselves
- Difficulty Being Woken Up
- Sleeping More
- Hiding In The Shade
- Not Wanting Your Attention
- Doesn’t Poop
How to Tell If a Bearded Dragon Is Sick or in Brumation?
The signs from brumation are like signs of a sick dragon. How do you tell the difference? If you see any of the following you could have a sick bearded dragon.
- Depleted Fat Pads
- Mucus in Their Mouth
- Rotting Tail
- Scale Discoloration
- Loss of Mobility like Dragging Back Legs
- Doesn’t Poop While Still Eating. They should be having bowel movements every 1 or 2 days.
- Frequent Black Bearding
- Sunken Eyes
- Smelly Diarrhea
- Pale Gums
If your bearded dragon has any of these signs these are not signs of brumation. Take them to a vet as soon as possible.
How Long Does Brumation Last?
It depends. Every dragon is different. It could last a few weeks up to four months. There have even been cases where owners had their dragons in brumation for 6 months. It depends on the dragon and its conditions.
What Time Of The Year Does Brumation Happen?
It depends on where you live. If you live in the northern hemisphere, like the US or the UK, brumation takes place from September to March. In the southern hemisphere, like Australia, brumation begins around March to September.
These are the most typical times. We have read that some beardies start brumating during the colder months of the year. This is regardless of where you live.
When Age Does Brumating Start?
Bearded dragons start brumation when they are 1 year old. Some have started as young as 10 months old. Baby bearded dragons younger than 10 months old do not brumate. This is because they are so young they don’t have the fat reserves to go through the process.
How to Care for a Bearded Dragon in Brumation?
So you think your bearded dragon is going to brumate. Here are the steps you should take.
Take your beardie to a herp vet. Herp veterinarians are different from other veterinarians in that they specifically sought out additional training to learn far more about reptile and amphibian medicine than is covered in the usual veterinary school curriculum. Herp vets have specialized knowledge to know about brumation. Make sure to ask them to check for parasites and bring in a poop sample. Parasites during brumation can be fatal to a bearded dragon.
Make sure that your bearded dragon has a place to hide or a dark place to go to. If you have not purchased a hide for your beardie this would be a good time to invest in one. Make sure the hide is on the cool side of the tank.
It is normal for bearded dragons not to eat at all during brumation. Eating during brumation can be harmful. Sleeping for long periods of time causes food not to digest. As a result, food will rot in their stomach causing major complications and can even be fatal.
If you want to make food available, make sure that you are tracking their bowel movements. Make sure that they poop out what they eat. Never force your bearded dragon to eat during brumation.
Provide water in a bowl so they have access to it. You could wake your bearded dragon once a week to bathe them. But it is best to wait until brumation is over so you don’t interrupt the process.
Weight your beardie before they go into brumation. This will be your baseline weight. During brumation, your bearded dragon should not be losing a lot of weight. If they lose more than 10% of their body weight this is a sign of trouble. Weight your bearded dragon every week. Make sure that they are not losing a significant amount of weight. If you noticed a huge drop, take them to the vet immediately.
You should limit your handling during brumation. This is the hardest part for owners. You need to let your bearded dragon rest and go through the process. You need to do what is best from them, even if it means less cuddle time for you.
What To Do After Brumation?
You will want to bathe your bearded dragon after brumation.
Provide food once they have warmed up. They might not eat right away. It will take your bearded dragon a few days to readjust and get back to their normal selves. This is normal. It is like when you wake up a bit groggy in the mornings.
Some owners have noticed that their bearded dragons are more aggressive after brumation. This is normal. After brumation is the breeding season. This is the cause of sudden aggression. It will go away as time goes on.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Reptiles Go Through Brumation?
In the wild, during winter the temperature gets colder There are fewer insects and plants to eat. Brumation is a survival tactic. By brumating bearded dragons reserve their energy. They don’t have to eat. They can wait until the warmer months when their food supply comes back in the spring and summer months.
Why Do Bearded Dragons In Captivity Have To Go Through Brumation?
You control the lighting and temperature in the tank. You make sure your beardie doesn’t have to worry about food. Why does your bearded dragon have to go through brumation? This is because brumation is a hard-wired instinct. It is part of nature.
Can You Stop Brumation From Happening?
This is a natural instinct of bearded dragons. There isn’t much you can do. Some owners hear that their friend’s bearded dragon doesn’t go into brumation. They want to find a way to do that for their own dragon.
This is because each dragon is different and some dragons don’t go into brumation. If yours does, it is best to let it happen.
What is the Difference Between Brumation and Hibernation?
There is one key difference between brumation and hibernation. Reptiles and amphibians don’t go into a “full sleep” like bears and other warm-blooded animals. They go into a state where they are semi-aware of the things around them. They still move around but sleep more and are very lethargic.