Bearded Dragon Brumation (Caring For Your Pet The Right Way)

Bearded dragons are fascinating creatures who have the ability to survive harsh winter conditions by entering a state of dormancy called brumation.

However, captive bearded dragons have an artificial environment allowing their owners to control their temperature, which means brumation can be delayed or prevented. 

In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about bearded dragon brumation, including;

  • What is brumation
  • Why they brumate
  • Signs of brumation
  • How to care for them during this time
  • What to do when they wake up

Understanding Bearded Dragon Brumation

What Is Brumation?

Brumation is a state of dormancy similar to hibernation, which is common among most cold-blooded animals during winter.

During this time, Bearded Dragons tend to become less active, eat less, and sleep more. Brumation is a way for these reptiles to conserve energy, regulate their metabolism, and prepare for the breeding season.

It’s possible to delay or prevent brumation in captive beardies because we control the temperatures within their environment, which I’ll discuss later in this article.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Brumate?

Bearded Dragons brumate because of their inability to regulate their internal body temperature, so they use external heat sources to warm up or seek shade to cool down. Because of this, when winter arrives, it’s hard for them to survive as there is little to no warmth. 

Bearded Dragon brumation tends to be triggered by two factors, such as;

Temperature:

Bearded Dragons require a specific temperature range to maintain their metabolism. During the winter months, temperatures naturally drop, which can trigger brumation.

Photoperiod:

The length of daylight hours also plays a role in Bearded Dragon’s brumation. As daylight hours decrease during the winter months, it can trigger brumation.

Signs of Brumation

During the brumation process, there are four characteristics you may notice in your pet.

These include;

  • Reduced appetite: Your Bearded Dragon may eat less or stop eating altogether during brumation. They’ll use their fat stores to keep their bodies satiated throughout the process.
  • Lethargy: Bearded Dragons tend to become less active during brumation, preferring to sleep or rest most of the time. They’ll likely spend most of their time in their hide spot instead of the usual spot under the basking bulb.
  • Decreased body temperature: The body temperature of Bearded Dragons drops during brumation.
  • Darkening of skin color: Bearded Dragons may darken in color during brumation, which is thought to be a response to the decreased light levels during the winter months.

What Age Does Brumation Start?

The age of brumation widely varies, typically the age range for the brumation process to begin is between 10-24 months. However, some beardies will start a little earlier, some will start significantly later, and some may not even brumate at all. This makes it hard to predict when or if your beardie will brumate.

Due to the constant environment, they’re housed in, brumation is down to the individual Bearded Dragon.

Baby Bearded Dragons, on the other hand, should not brumate at all. They’re too young and not at a healthy size to handle brumation. I recommend contacting your veterinarian in the first year of owning your beardie for advice on preventing your young beardie from brumating.

How Long Is The Brumation Process?

Brumation typically will last around 3 months, depending on where you live, the timing of your Bearded Dragons brumation may differ. 

This is because usually they’ll brumate during the Australian winter months, however as your beardie is in a controlled environment they could start the process during the winter months of where you live or it could begin depending on the conditions of the tank.

What To Do When Brumation Starts

While brumation is a natural process, it’s essential to ensure your Bearded Dragon is healthy and prepared for it. 

Here are some tips to help your pet through brumation;

Monitor Their Weight

Weigh your Bearded Dragon regularly during Brumation to ensure they’re not losing too much weight. If they’re losing weight rapidly, consult with a veterinarian. Bearded Dragons can lose a significant amount of weight during Brumation, so it’s essential to keep an eye on their weight to ensure they are healthy.

You’ll need to accurately monitor your Bearded Dragon’s growth rate to ensure they’re in the healthy ranges. Signs of a healthy adult beardie are between 300-515 grams. 

Provide A Suitable Environment

Ensure your Bearded Dragon has a suitable environment to go through brumation, including a cool and dark area to rest.

Lower temperatures within the enclosure by turning off the basking light and any other heat sources. During brumation, your Bearded Dragons temperature will be able to go as low as 60°F.

Gradually decrease the length of time the UVB lighting is on throughout the day, after a week of brumation, I recommend decreasing the lighting by 1-2 hours a day until the light is off completely.

Provide Food And Water

Although your beardie will have a reduced appetite, you’ll still need to provide fresh food and water as usual. They may not eat or drink it but when they’re ready they will.

Never force-feed your pet, place the food and water dishes in the enclosure and if it’s still there later in the day you can remove it.

If your Bearded Dragon has eaten food, you’ll need to turn the heating and lighting back on and check the humidity within the enclosure to ensure they’re able to digest the food properly.

What To Do When Brumation Ends

Once your beardie wakes up, they’ll expect their life to be the exact same as when they went to sleep. You’ll need to return to the normal schedules you had for cleaning, feeding, heating, and lighting.

If your beardie has had dramatic weight loss through brumation, seek veterinarian advice immediately. Although this is unlikely if they went into the brumation process healthy, it’s still not impossible.

Should I Wake My Bearded Dragon?

No, is the short answer. You should never wake a Bearded Dragon who has started the brumation process. 

If you have concerns regarding your beardie brumating, I recommend contacting your vet for expert advice on how to care for a brumating Bearded Dragon.

Preventing Bearded Dragon Brumation

Due to brumation being a naturally occurring process, it is best to avoid prevention. However, sometimes your vet will advise preventing brumation.

This is because, if a Bearded Dragon is sick, malnourished, and under one year in age brumation can kill them.

I recommend if you have a suspicion your Bearded Dragon is starting to brumate, you should contact your vet immediately for expert advice.

Summary

Brumation is a state of dormancy in cold-blooded animals during winter. Bearded Dragons tend to become less active, eat less, and sleep more during brumation to conserve energy and regulate metabolism. 

Signs of brumation include;

  • Reduced appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Darkening of skin color

Brumation typically lasts around three months and it’s important to ensure your Bearded Dragon is healthy and prepared for it. 

You’ll need to monitor the weight of your pet, provide a suitable environment, and provide food and water during brumation. 

Once brumation ends, return to the normal schedules for feeding, heating, and lighting.