Bearded Dragon Brumation: What To Do, Signs & Waking Up


As the seasons change and temperatures drop, many bearded dragon owners notice a change in their pet’s behavior. Bearded dragons, like many reptiles, are known to go through a period of brumation. In this article, we will discuss what brumation is, why bearded dragons enter this state, signs to look out for, and how to properly care for your dragon during brumation.

Understanding Bearded Dragon Brumation

What is Brumation?

Brumation is a state of dormancy that some reptiles, including bearded dragons, enter during the colder months. It is often compared to hibernation in mammals but differs in some significant ways. During brumation, a bearded dragon’s metabolism slows down, and their body temperature drops to conserve energy.

Bearded dragons are native to the arid regions of Australia, where they experience a wide range of temperatures throughout the year. In the wild, they are adapted to brumate as a way to survive when temperatures drop and food and water sources become scarce. During this period, they will reduce their activity levels, stop eating and drinking, and find a cool, dark place to hide until conditions improve.

It’s important to note that not all bearded dragons will brumate, and some may only enter a partial brumation. Factors such as age, health, and environmental conditions can all play a role in whether or not a bearded dragon will brumate.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Brumate?

As mentioned earlier, bearded dragons brumate as a way to conserve energy and survive when conditions are unfavorable. In the wild, they may experience droughts, food shortages, and extreme temperatures, all of which can trigger brumation.

For pet bearded dragons, brumation may also occur due to changes in their environment or diet. For example, if their enclosure temperature drops below their preferred range or if they are not receiving enough food or water, they may enter a brumation-like state.

It’s important to monitor your bearded dragon’s behavior and health during brumation to ensure they are not experiencing any issues. If you notice any concerning symptoms, such as weight loss or lethargy, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian.

The Difference Between Brumation and Hibernation

While similar, brumation and hibernation differ in a few ways. Hibernation is a state of deep sleep that involves a significant drop in heart rate, breathing, and body temperature. Animals that hibernate will often spend the entire winter in a state of torpor, waking up only occasionally to drink water or move around.

Brumation, on the other hand, is a period of reduced activity and metabolism, but a bearded dragon’s heart rate and breathing remain relatively consistent. Additionally, while some reptiles may enter deep brumation, it is less common than a deep hibernation.

It’s also worth noting that not all reptiles brumate. Some, such as snakes, may enter a state of torpor but do not exhibit the same level of dormancy as bearded dragons.

Overall, understanding brumation is an important part of caring for a bearded dragon. By providing a suitable environment and monitoring their behavior, you can help ensure your pet stays healthy and happy throughout the year.

Signs Your Bearded Dragon is Preparing for Brumation

Before entering brumation, a bearded dragon will exhibit specific behaviors and physical changes. These include:

Changes in Appetite

A bearded dragon that is beginning to prepare for brumation will gradually reduce its food intake. If you notice that your dragon is no longer showing an interest in food, it may be a sign that it’s getting ready to enter this state.

It’s important to note that a bearded dragon’s diet will naturally change throughout the year, and it’s not uncommon for them to eat less during the winter months. However, if your dragon’s appetite drops dramatically and they stop eating altogether, it’s likely a sign of brumation preparation.

Increased Sleepiness and Inactivity

During brumation, bearded dragons spend most of their time sleeping and resting. If you notice that your dragon is becoming increasingly sleepy or inactive, it could be a sign that it is preparing for brumation.

It’s important to provide your bearded dragon with a warm and comfortable place to rest during this time. You can also offer them a shallow dish of water to drink from, as they may not have the energy to move around their enclosure as much as usual.

Seeking a Cool, Dark Place to Hide

Bearded dragons preparing for brumation will start to seek out places in their enclosure that are cool and dark. This behavior is an indication that they are trying to find a place to hibernate.

You can create a hiding spot for your dragon by placing a hide box or other dark, enclosed space in their enclosure. This will provide them with a safe and secure place to rest during brumation.

Changes in Coloration

Bearded dragons may become paler in color or have darker markings as they get ready to enter brumation. These changes in coloration signify that the reptile is undergoing a physiological change in preparation for dormancy.

It’s also important to note that changes in coloration can be a sign of other health issues, so it’s important to monitor your dragon closely and seek veterinary care if you notice any concerning changes.

Overall, it’s important to provide your bearded dragon with the proper care and environment during brumation. By monitoring their behavior and making adjustments to their enclosure as needed, you can ensure that your dragon stays healthy and safe during this natural process.

How to Prepare for Your Bearded Dragon’s Brumation

Creating a Proper Brumation Environment

Before your bearded dragon enters brumation, you will need to create a suitable environment. This means providing a place for your reptile to hunker down and hibernate. It’s essential to choose a location that is away from any bright lights or loud noises and that remains cool throughout the brumation period. A basement, garage, or spare room can be an ideal location for your bearded dragon to brumate.

When setting up the brumation environment, make sure to provide proper ventilation to prevent the build-up of stale air. A lack of air circulation can lead to respiratory issues, which can be life-threatening for your bearded dragon. Consider using a fan or opening a window to ensure proper ventilation.

It’s also crucial to provide a suitable substrate for your bearded dragon to burrow into during brumation. A substrate like newspaper or paper towels can be ideal as they are easy to clean and won’t cause any impaction issues if ingested.

Adjusting Temperature and Lighting

During brumation, bearded dragons require a lower temperature and less lighting than usual. Reduce the amount of heat and light exposure in their enclosure gradually until the temperature is between 55F to 65F degrees. This decrease in temperature will not only help your dragon conserve energy, but it will also signal their bodies to prepare for brumation.

It’s essential to monitor the temperature in the brumation environment regularly. Use a thermometer to ensure that the temperature remains within the appropriate range. If the temperature drops too low, your bearded dragon may not brumate correctly, and if it gets too high, it can cause your bearded dragon to wake up prematurely.

Providing a Safe and Comfortable Hide

Bearded Dragons require a safe, secure place to hibernate. Offer a suitable hide that allows your reptile to burrow underneath and feel safe and secure. The hidebox should be large enough for your bearded dragon to fit comfortably inside, but not so large that it loses heat quickly.

When choosing a hidebox, consider using a plastic container with a lid. Cut a hole in the side of the container and place it in the brumation environment. This will provide your bearded dragon with a safe and secure place to hide, and the lid will help retain heat.

Monitoring Your Bearded Dragon’s Health

It’s essential to monitor your bearded dragon’s health while they are brumating. Check in on them daily and note any changes in appetite, weight, or behavior. Keep track of these observations in a journal to keep a record of any potential health issues.

During brumation, your bearded dragon may lose weight, which is normal. However, if you notice a significant drop in weight or a loss of appetite, it’s essential to seek veterinary care immediately. Other signs of potential health issues include labored breathing, lethargy, and abnormal behavior.

In conclusion, preparing for your bearded dragon’s brumation requires careful planning and attention to detail. By creating a suitable environment, adjusting temperature and lighting, providing a safe and comfortable hide, and monitoring your bearded dragon’s health, you can ensure that your reptile stays healthy and happy throughout the brumation period.

Caring for Your Bearded Dragon During Brumation

Bearded dragons are fascinating creatures that go through a process called brumation during the colder months of the year. This is a natural process where they slow down their metabolism and become less active. While brumation is a normal and healthy process for bearded dragons, it’s essential to take care of them during this time to ensure they remain healthy and happy.

Ensuring Proper Hydration

While your bearded dragon may not be eating or drinking during brumation, it’s still essential to ensure they are getting enough hydration. Offer your dragon a shallow dish of water at room temperature and be sure to refresh it daily. You can also mist your dragon’s enclosure to provide additional hydration.

When to Offer Food

Once your bearded dragon enters brumation, they will stop eating. It’s essential not to offer any food during this time, as it could cause digestive issues. After the brumation period ends, gradually start offering food again and monitor your dragon’s response. It’s important to offer small, easy-to-digest meals at first, such as crickets or mealworms.

Regular Health Checks

It’s crucial to conduct regular health checks throughout the brumation period. Checking your dragon’s weight weekly will ensure they are not losing too much weight or becoming dehydrated. Additionally, monitoring their behavior and making notes of any changes will help you identify potential issues early on. If you notice any concerning changes, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in reptile care.

Keeping a Brumation Journal

Keeping a brumation journal can be helpful in tracking your bearded dragon’s health and behavior. This journal should include daily observations of your pet’s weight, food and water intake, and behavior. It’s crucial to note any changes in behavior or physical appearance as earlier intervention can prevent potential health issues. Additionally, keeping a journal can help you identify patterns in your dragon’s brumation cycle and make adjustments as needed.

Overall, taking care of your bearded dragon during brumation requires patience and attention to detail. By ensuring proper hydration, avoiding offering food, conducting regular health checks, and keeping a brumation journal, you can help your dragon stay healthy and happy throughout the winter months.

Waking Up Your Bearded Dragon After Brumation

Signs Your Bearded Dragon is Ready to Wake Up

As the weather begins to warm up, and temperatures in your bearded dragon’s enclosure start to rise, your reptile will likely start waking up from brumation. Signs that your dragon is ready to wake up include increased activity, eyes opening, and lighter coloration.

It’s important to note that each bearded dragon is unique, and some may wake up from brumation earlier or later than others. It’s also important to avoid disturbing your bearded dragon too much during this time, as they may still be adjusting to being awake again.

Gradually Adjusting Temperature and Lighting

Once your bearded dragon starts showing signs of waking up, it’s time to start gradually adjusting the temperature and lighting in their enclosure. This adjustment replicates the changing seasons and signals to your reptile that it’s time to start becoming more active.

It’s important to do this gradually to avoid stressing out your bearded dragon. Start by increasing the temperature by a few degrees each day until it reaches the optimal temperature for your dragon’s species. You can also gradually increase the amount of light exposure by adding a few more hours of light each day until you reach the desired amount.

Reintroducing Food and Water

After your bearded dragon wakes up from brumation, it is essential to offer small amounts of food and water gradually. Doing so will prevent digestive issues, and your dragon will need time to adjust to eating regularly again.

Start by offering small amounts of fresh water and a few small pieces of food, such as crickets or mealworms. Gradually increase the amount and variety of food over the next few days until your bearded dragon is eating a regular diet again.

Monitoring Your Bearded Dragon’s Post-Brumation Health

It’s crucial to keep a close eye on your bearded dragon’s health after they wake up from brumation. Check their weight weekly to ensure they are gaining weight regularly and track their activity levels. If you notice any changes in their behavior or physical appearance, contact your veterinarian immediately.

It’s also important to provide your bearded dragon with a clean and comfortable enclosure during this time. Clean their enclosure regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria and other harmful substances. You can also provide your dragon with a variety of hiding spots and climbing surfaces to keep them active and engaged.

With proper care and attention, your bearded dragon will quickly adjust to being awake again and will be happy and healthy for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bearded Dragon Brumation

What is Brumation?

Brumation is a natural process that occurs in bearded dragons during the colder months. It is similar to hibernation in other animals and is a way for reptiles to conserve energy and prepare for the warmer months ahead.

How Do I Prepare My Bearded Dragon for Brumation?

Before your bearded dragon enters brumation, it’s essential to ensure that they are in good health. Take your pet to the veterinarian for a check-up and make sure that they are at a healthy weight. It’s also essential to provide your bearded dragon with a suitable enclosure for brumation. This enclosure should be cool, dark, and quiet to mimic their natural environment.

What Should I Do During My Bearded Dragon’s Brumation?

During your bearded dragon’s brumation, it’s important to monitor them closely. Check on them regularly to ensure that they are breathing normally and that their body weight is stable. It’s also essential to provide your bearded dragon with fresh water and a shallow dish to soak in. However, do not offer food during this time as your pet will not eat.

How Do I End My Bearded Dragon’s Brumation?

As the weather begins to warm up, your bearded dragon will naturally come out of brumation. However, if you are concerned about your pet’s health or if they have been in brumation for an extended period, you can gently warm up their enclosure to encourage them to wake up. Offer your bearded dragon fresh water and a small amount of food to help them regain their strength.

What Should I Do After My Bearded Dragon’s Brumation?

After your bearded dragon’s brumation, it’s essential to slowly reintroduce them to their regular diet. Start with small amounts of food and gradually increase the portion size over several days. It’s also essential to monitor your bearded dragon’s behavior and physical appearance for any signs of illness or health concerns.

By understanding the natural process of brumation and properly caring for your bearded dragon during this time, you can ensure that your pet stays healthy and happy. If you have any concerns about your bearded dragon’s health, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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