What You Need to Know About Bearded Dragon Brumation
Understanding the Signs of Brumation vs. Illness
Many new bearded dragon owners are well prepared for their pet: They select the proper enclosure, set it up with optimal lighting and humidity, and order nutritious feeder insects. But there is one thing that bearded dragon owners often do not anticipate: the possibility of their dragon going through brumation.
What is brumation?
Think of brumation like hibernation. In the wild, bearded dragons typically brumate every winter. At that time of year, their food sources are limited and sunlight dwindles, so it makes sense for them to slow down and use less energy. Even in captivity, a bearded dragon’s natural instinct to brumate remains, and it is not unusual for an adult bearded dragon to enter brumation.
What are the signs of brumation?
Keep watch for the following signs of brumation:
- Not very interested in food
- No basking
- Staying in the cooler and darker areas of his enclosure
- Spending more time burrowed in the substrate
- Infrequent bowel movements
How can I tell if my bearded dragon is sick or just in brumation?
Remember that all signs of brumation will have to do with your dragon’s behavior. While brumating, dragons usually maintain their weight and do not suffer from any declined health. If your dragon is exhibiting any of the following physical symptoms, he is likely experiencing an illness rather than going through brumation:
- Weight loss
- Change in body color
- Change in beard color
It is also important to note that a bearded dragon in brumation will not stop moving completely or be asleep constantly. His movements may just be slower and more infrequent. If you are worried your dragon is “playing dead” and rarely moving, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Does brumation hurt my bearded dragon?
It is perfectly natural for your dragon to go through brumation. He will not suffer while brumating, and following the brumation period, he will gradually return to his normal behaviors.
How can I help my bearded dragon through brumation?
It is generally not recommended to “wake up” your dragon during brumation. Unless you have concerns about your dragon’s physical health, we suggest supporting your dragon through the process. Here are a few ideas:
- Keep your dragon’s enclosure clean.
- Keep fresh water in the enclosure at all times, even if he isn’t drinking it.
- Keep providing fresh insects and food, despite his reduced appetite.
- Give your dragon a bath. A relaxing bath is a great opportunity for him to hydrate and can also help him produce a bowel movement.
- Temporarily reduce the light and heat in his enclosure.
Do you believe your bearded dragon is going through brumation? Let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We’re happy to offer advice and support.