Questions for Bruce:
Can I Hold My Bearded Dragon During Brumation?
Amber from Mentor, Ohio, asked:
“I am pretty sure that my bearded dragon is brumating. He’s moving around less during the day, spending more time in the dark and cool place at the back of his enclosure, and is less interested in food. Should I leave him alone, or is it OK to pick him up?”
Thanks for your question, Amber! Whenever discussing brumation, I always start by recommending that bearded dragon owners discuss their pet’s symptoms with a veterinarian. This can help to confirm your pet’s symptoms are consistent with brumation and not indicative of a potential illness. We simply want the best for you and your pet!
Also remember that a bearded dragon in brumation won’t necessarily sleep all day. Just as you are describing, he may move around less, spend more time burrowed in his substrate, and spend less time basking. It’s normal for him not to be that interested in food, and, as a result, he may also have more infrequent bowel movements.
Now, to answer your question! Generally, it is OK to pick up your bearded dragon while he’s in brumation. For example, some bearded dragon owners choose to help their pet through the brumation period by giving him a relaxing bath. While this is not necessary, it can help with producing a bowel movement. However, keep in mind that your goal in handling your pet should not be to “wake him up” while he’s brumating. This is a natural period of dormancy that will end when he’s ready: Brumation can last anywhere from one month to several months.
In the meantime, we recommend focusing on keeping his enclosure clean, keeping a clean and fresh water source available to him at all times, and making sure the tank temperature is adjusted to be colder and darker. When he wakes up, he’ll likely resume his normal behavior—eating, basking, and sleeping—and you can return his enclosure to normal conditions.
If you have other questions about bearded dragon brumation, we’re happy to help. Please feel free to reach out to our team at any time.