Bearded Dragon Brumation – Signs and How to Care

When our bearded dragons start slowing down, start looking really lazy, start sleeping a lot, we as owners can become extremely worried. We worry if something’s wrong with our bearded dragon. Do they have parasites? Do they have impaction? What the heck is going on with our bearded dragon? He’s not acting right?

These are some of the questions we ask ourselves. Well, I want to eat some of your minds because there is something completely natural called brumation in bearded dragons. We’ll talk about brumation in bearded dragon right here in this article.

Bearded Dragon Brumation

In a nutshell, brumation is to reptiles as hibernation is to mammals. Brumation is a naturally occurring cycle that a lot of bearded dragons can go through. During the brumation period, a bearded dragon may not eat, drink, defecate, or move for several weeks. They may also bury themselves underground or go to the darkest and coolest part of their enclosure.

Bearded dragons may brumate at any time throughout the year, but they will mostly brumate during the winter or fall in response to the change in lighting or temperatures.

Bearded Dragon Brumation Behavior

Each bearded dragon may behave differently during the brumation stage. Some bearded dragons will sleep during the whole brumation period without waking up, and some will take long naps off and on. During the brumation period, a bearded dragon will likely to stop eating and drinking water. It may also bury itself underground and not move for several weeks.

Do All bearded dragons Brumate?

From understanding brumation by researching it, it looks like most bearded dragons typically don’t go into this state called brumation when they’re under a year old. But it is something that a lot of bearded dragons can actually go through. Both males and females bearded dragons can go into brumation with males usually emerging from their deep sleep before the females.

Why Does a Bearded Dragon Brumate?

Brumation is an innate behavior of bearded dragons. Therefore, their body tells them to do it. Brumation is completely natural and 100% safe for your bearded dragon. In the wild, bearded dragon brumates in order to avoid cold temperature and lack of water and food.

In captivity, even though their temperature and food supply may stay constant throughout the year, their biological clock may take over and tell their bodies to brumate for a while.

Bearded Dragon Brumation How Long Does It Last

Bearded dragon brumation period may vary based on the bearded dragon. Some bearded dragons may brumate only for a week while for some the brumation period may last for several months.

A bearded dragon shouldn’t be disturbed during the brumation period. Waking your bearded dragon during the brumation period can cause the brumation cycle to increase. For example, waking your bearded dragon every week for food or bathing can extend a 1-month brumation period to up to 3 months.

Bearded Dragon Brumation Weight Loss

During the brumation period, the bearded dragon will stop eating and drinking which is perfectly okay and natural. Your bearded dragon should not lose any weight even without drinking and eating anything during the brumation period. If it does lose weight, then it probably has parasites. A check up at the vet prior to brumation wouldn’t be a bad idea to make sure your beardie has no parasites.

Bearded Dragon Brumation Or Dead

During the brumation period, your bearded dragon will stop eating, drinking and won’t move for days. This might make you think whether your bearded dragon is bromating or is he/she dead. If your beardie is just limp and unresponsive, it could simply be brumating. But If it is stiff — as a board, doesn’t move at all — he’s definitely gone.

There are a number of ways to tell if a bearded dragon has passed away or brumating. There’s usually a huge difference in anything living or dead. If your beardie is dead, it will lose its color and body will get rigger. For example, if your bearded dragon’s normal color is gray, it will become white when it passes away. The top of their eyes may also drop down. Also Look for gaping mouth, sunken eyes, odd coloration, fluid seeping from orifices.

One other way to get a fair indication whether your bearded dragon is dead or bromating is to turn him/her on his back for a second (no longer). If he’s okay, he will struggle to right himself.

If your bearded dragon is healthy, it should reach the average lifespan of bearded dragons which is about 6 to 10 years.

Bearded Dragon Brumation Signs / Symptoms

How you can tell if your bearded dragons are going into hibernation slash brumation which is the special reptile name for it. The first sign of brumation is that your bearded dragon will become very lazy. They will stop chasing crickets or any other insects you put in the tank. They will also stop eating prior to going into brumation. They do so because they want to empty their stomachs and the bladders, so they don’t wake up to go to the toilet et cetera during the brumation period.

Other bearded dragon brumation symptoms include:

  • Laziness
  • Tiredness
  • Looking kind of sick
  • Not moving at all
  • Kind of looking cold
  • Stuck in one place and not moving at all
  • Not eating anything
  • Not drinking at all
  • Not interacting at all

How to Care for Bearded Dragon During Brumation

If you see those signs just mentioned above and it’s winter or fall, take your bearded dragon for a checkup to make sure its parasite-free. Parasites can kill your bearded dragon during the brumation period.

Don’t offer food to your bearded dragon at least a week prior to brumation. Every dragon ‘ssystem is different. The majority of them probably poop twice a week, but it could be different for each dragon. Make sure it has a big dump before brumation and don’t feed it otherwise. Because if you do feed it and it doesn’t end up pooping that food, it is just going to stay in your bearded dragon stomach, and it’s just going to sit there while it bromates. So, just be careful with that because it can actually cause digestive problems in the future.

Bearded dragons in brumation don’t want to be disturbed at all. Waking them up during the brumation period can actually increase the brumation duration. If you don’t want an extended brumation period, do not touch, play, distract or even just go near your bearded dragon when it’s in brumation.

During the brumation, make sure you check up on them every couple of days just in case anything does happen. Consult a vet immediately if your bearded dragon loses a noticeable weight or develops smelly stools during the brumation as these are often signs of illness or parasites.

Many people don’t like their beardies going into brumation, so they try to prevent it by manually adjusting the cage temperature or lighting. However, we don’t recommend anything that will force or prevent brumation.

Some bearded dragon owner will also turn off the lights and will stop offering food to their beirdies during brumation. However, we recommend keeping the cage lights on and continue keeping fresh food in the cage in case your dragon want to eat some and want to bask a little. But you should not force feed them. Just let them decide.

9 thoughts on “Bearded Dragon Brumation – Signs and How to Care”

    • It is natural for any age dragon to brumate.
      The reason keepers like to keep them out of brumation in their first winter is to just give them a kick start in life.
      Also mentioned some hatchies may not be 100% and may not make it through the winter if left to brumate.
      So what we can do to help them through is to bump all temps up and light/heat hours and even add some night heating.
      This can be achieved by using a 100w MVB or a normal 100w basking though will not give you the warmer ambient temps that a MVB would during the day.
      Unless your using a more enclosed tank ?. 80w Phillips flood lights pump out good temps though no UVB.
      At night you can also place a heat mat under the tank or run a Ceramic heat emitter (CHE)

      Reply
    • During brumation, bearded dragons stop eating and their heart and respiratory rates slow significantly, as does their digestion.

      Reply
    • If your beardie is just limp and unresponsive, it could simply be brumating. But If it is stiff — as a board, doesn’t move at all — he’s definitely gone. If your beardie is dead, it will lose its color and its body will get rigger. Hope he/she is not dead.

      Reply

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