Your little bearded dragon will have to go through a brumation phase every year during winter—did you know that?
Brumation is a form of hibernation that many reptiles, amphibians, and insects experience. In this phase, they reduce their regular activities, such as hunting, leaping, eating, pooping, and playing.
If you don’t know the signs of brumation, you may end up hurting your beardie. However, if you are aware of them, you can prepare properly and get your dragon through it safely and smoothly.
In this article, we’ve gathered seven telltale signs of brumation in your bearded dragon.
What Is Brumation in a Bearded Dragon?
Being ectotherms, bearded dragons aren’t capable of regulating their own body heat. The external environment determines their bodily changes. Hence, when a dragon senses a drop in the temperature, it starts limiting its physical activities.
Since sunlight fuels animals like bearded dragons, wintery weather will slow down their functions. So to save their energy, dragons will cut their regular movements. Usually, they will dig holes in the soil or under trees to wait out their dormancy.
This limited physical activity is linked directly to a dragon’s biological system. Their metabolism significantly reduces, the digestive system stops, and their heart rate drops to a minimum. You may find it shocking seeing your pet bearded dragon sleep for hours, and you might even mistake it for being dead.
Continue to read more on the bearded dragon’s brumation as we’re going to cover brumation signs, the preparation you should take, duration, etc.
7 Signs of Brumation in a Bearded Dragon You Probably Didn’t Know
Now that you know what brumation essentially means, it’s time to learn the typical signs your bearded dragon may show while brumating. It’s important to know the signs so you know how to handle them.
Understanding the signs can help you take the necessary steps beforehand to protect your dragon’s health.
Here are seven signs you can identify as brumation in your bearded dragon:
Your Dragon Is Sleeping More than Usual
We’ve stated earlier that your bearded dragon will be lost in its sleep for hours beyond normal. Brumation slows down its heart rate, making your dragon confined to slower and weaker movements. Then it will instinctively reduce its movement to sleeping to save its remaining energy.
Make sure not to disturb it during its sleep. Keep household noises away from its ears.
Oversleeping may cause undesired problems as well. If you’re bathing your dragon, hold it properly so it doesn’t fall on its head due to drowsiness.
Its Appetite Is Significantly Curbed
With oversleeping during brumation comes the problem of irregular diet. In this period, dragons eat almost nothing, maybe just a few morsels per week. Brumation automatically cuts down the dragon’s appetite.
You may give it vegetables or worms, but it won’t bother with them. At best, it might take a few bites and then leave the rest untouched for days.
Don’t push your beardie to have full meals as this might jeopardize its health and internal system. As long as it’s eating something and excreting the food it ate, it is fine.
It’s Pooping Less
It’s natural that your dragon won’t poop much due to eating so much less during brumation. Small meals will end up in small droppings. And if it eats a slightly larger meal once a week, the amount of excretion will be comparatively larger.
You should be concerned if your bearded dragon isn’t pooping at all after meals. As its metabolism and digestion are at their lowest capacities during brumation, the food content inside may end up rotting. This will lead to gut complications and ill health.
Nudge and push your dragon slightly so it moves its limbs and muscles. Moreover, some rubbing on its belly might help too. This motion may improve the pooping process.
It’s Hiding or Burrowing
When the environment gets colder, especially when the temperature drops below 60 degrees F, your bearded dragon will want to go into hiding. A dragon needs to reserve its remaining body heat to survive.
Dragons in the wild usually hide in burrows or under trees. But at home, your beardie will usually take shelter under a bed, sofa, or another warm place. You’ll hardly see it coming out of its shelter.
It Avoids Basking
Brumation also makes your dragon refrain from direct contact with the sunlight. Bearded dragons have their brumating days worked out by limiting daylight.
Since days are longer in summer, dragons will try to cool down their bodies by avoiding basking in any light source. Naturally, they’ll prefer cool, dark places over bright rooms.
Hence, you will see much less of your little buddy until the brumation period ends.
It’s Not Paying Attention to You
Don’t feel ignored, but you’ll find your bearded dragon scarcely noticing you these days. It will hardly respond to your movement or voice.
When it’s focusing more on preserving its energy than walking or playing, its meditative state is understandable. It’s definitely resting to protect itself.
So make sure you keep caring for your dragon buddy, even if it’s not noticing your efforts. After all, it’s just a matter of time.
Your Beardie’s Become Fussy about Touch
Either you’ll need to bathe your dragon or feed it its regular diet. In any of these cases, you’ll have to touch and hold your dragon, no matter how delicately. But your brumating dragon may fuss about being touched.
It’s a natural sign since it’s trying to adjust to the external environmental change. Most dragons will try to stay away from light, water, and human touch.
This doesn’t mean you won’t bathe it or hold it to protect it from danger. You can bathe your brumating dragon 2-3 times per week to maintain proper hygiene and good health.
How to Prepare for Your Pet Bearded Dragon’s Brumation
We’ve gone through the signs of your dragon’s brumation. Now we’ll learn about some ways to care for your scaly friend during this delicate time. Studying and learning those signs should prepare you to take the necessary measures.
To make your dragon’s brumation period easy, make sure of the following things:
- Keep the lighting in your dragon’s room on for a maximum of 8-10 hours.
- When you’re noticing the initial signs, note your dragon’s weight. Check it regularly so it doesn’t lose too much weight in the brumation process.
- Turn off your UVB lights or keep it away from them once you find your dragon entering brumation. Direct contact with this light will reduce its metabolism significantly, leading to various complications.
- Don’t let the dragon’s enclosure’s temperature get below 65 degrees F, or else it might shiver to death or become extremely sick.
- As more days pass, reduce the daylight hours in your dragon’s room. This will help it cool down.
Make sure you take these preparations before and during the brumation period to assist your bearded dragon. It’s also necessary that you ensure these comforts for your pet dragon while you’re away for a while.
How Long Brumation Lasts in Bearded Dragons
A question may arise in your mind about the duration of a bearded dragon’s brumation process. After all, you don’t wish your dragon buddy to remain physically dormant for ages.
Well, it may vary in different species.
No dragon owner can say for sure how long their pet dragon will brumate. Some dragons brumate only once in their lifetimes. However, others can brumate once in a year, several times in intervals, etc. It’s hard to predict, so you need to be there with your pet beardie for many years to know its brumation pattern.
Nonetheless, domesticated dragons may brumate for up to four months at a time, some even going up to 7-9 months.
However, you should consult the vet to check on your dragon’s current condition to know whether its stupor is normal or not.
Should You Wake Your Pet Beardie from Brumation?
You should know that you can wake your bearded dragon from its sleep during brumation. However, waking it must be justified with necessary things like bathing, tummy massage, feeding, etc. Other than these, disrupting your dragon’s brumation process isn’t wise since it’s a natural, healthy process.
Apart from these tasks, you shouldn’t wake your brumating dragon by increasing the lights in its enclosure. Many owners make this mistake, which worsens a dragon’s health by not allowing it to complete the brumation as required.
Your dragon should wake up on its own from the process. If you think it’s taking longer to wake up, talk to your vet and explain the situation.
So now you know the typical signs of brumation in a bearded dragon, and you won’t be alarmed to see your dragon move into this process naturally. Besides, you can make necessary preparations so its health isn’t compromised while doing so.
Make sure your dragon isn’t deprived of hydration and enough food. Even though its metabolism will be slow at this point, feeding it to keep its digestion and excretion normal is crucial.
And ensure optimum light in your dragon’s enclosure, so it doesn’t disrupt its brumation state.