Bearded dragons, known for their striking appearance and charming personalities, are captivating reptiles that require specific care to thrive. One intriguing aspect of their behavior is brumation, a natural hibernation-like state observed in many reptiles, including bearded dragons. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore when bearded dragons go into brumation, the signs to watch for, how to prepare, and the care they need during this period.
What is Brumation?
Brumation is a period of inactivity or reduced activity observed in reptiles during colder months. Similar to hibernation in mammals, brumation allows bearded dragons to conserve energy and survive harsh conditions. Instead of sleeping continuously, bearded dragons become less active, reduce their metabolic rate, and enter a state of dormancy.
When Does Brumation Occur?
Brumation in bearded dragons typically occurs during the winter months when temperatures drop. However, the timing can vary depending on various factors, including geographic location, diet, age, and overall health. On average, bearded dragons may start showing signs of brumation from late fall to early winter.
Signs of Brumation
Bearded dragons display several behavioral and physical signs when entering brumation. It’s crucial to be aware of these signs to differentiate between brumation and illness. Common signs include:
Reduced Appetite: Bearded dragons may gradually lose interest in food and eat significantly less or even stop eating altogether.
Decreased Activity: They become less active and spend more time basking or resting.
Altered Sleep Patterns: Bearded dragons may sleep for extended periods or exhibit irregular sleep patterns.
Changes in Coloration: Their skin color may become duller or darker during brumation.
Weight Loss: It is normal for bearded dragons to lose some weight during this period due to reduced food intake.
How Long Does Brumation Last?
The duration of brumation can vary among individual bearded dragons. Some may enter brumation for a few weeks, while others can stay dormant for several months. Typically, brumation lasts between 4 to 10 weeks. It’s important to note that the duration can be influenced by factors such as age, health, and environmental conditions.
Preparing for Brumation
Before your bearded dragon enters brumation, there are a few important steps you should take to ensure their well-being:
Health Check: Schedule a vet visit to ensure your bearded dragon is in good health and ready for brumation.
Gradually Adjust Temperature: Lower the temperature in the enclosure by a few degrees each day until it reaches the appropriate brumation temperature, usually around 65°F (18°C).
Reduce Lighting: Decrease the amount of light in the enclosure gradually. Mimic natural lighting changes to signal the approaching winter season.
Hydration and Weight Management: Ensure your bearded dragon is well-hydrated and has a healthy body weight before brumation. Offer frequent bathing and monitor their weight to avoid any complications during the dormant period.
Care During Brumation
While bearded dragons are in brumation, their care requirements differ from their regular routine:
Minimal Handling: During brumation, bearded dragons prefer minimal disturbance. Avoid unnecessary handling to allow them to conserve energy and rest undisturbed.
Monitoring: Regularly check on your bearded dragon to ensure they are breathing normally and have no signs of distress. However, refrain from disturbing them unless absolutely necessary.
Temperature and Lighting: Maintain a stable temperature and lighting conditions in the enclosure to provide a comfortable environment for the dormant bearded dragon. A low-wattage heat source may be necessary to prevent temperatures from dropping too low.
Hydration: Although bearded dragons reduce their water intake during brumation, it’s crucial to ensure they stay hydrated. Provide a shallow water dish for them to drink from if needed.
Q: Is brumation the same as hibernation? A: Brumation and hibernation are similar in purpose but differ in physiological processes. While hibernation occurs in mammals, brumation is specific to reptiles and involves reduced activity and metabolic rates.
Q: Can I wake up my bearded dragon from brumation? A: It is generally recommended to let the bearded dragon complete its brumation naturally. Waking them abruptly can cause stress and disrupt their natural cycles.
Q: What if my bearded dragon doesn’t go into brumation? A: Not all bearded dragons enter brumation, especially younger ones or those in warmer climates. If your dragon doesn’t exhibit signs of brumation, consult with a reptile veterinarian for guidance.
Understanding when bearded dragons go into brumation is crucial for their overall health and well-being. By recognizing the signs, preparing appropriately, and providing the necessary care during this dormant period, you can ensure a smooth and safe brumation experience for your bearded dragon. Remember to consult with a reptile veterinarian for personalized advice and guidance throughout the process.