Bearded dragons are among the most adorable and common pets in most households. Like most lizards and reptiles, bearded dragons do not brumate but hibernate.
The process of hibernation-like in reptiles in cold-blooded animals is called brumation. It is a period of dormancy they use to survive, especially during colder months for survival purposes.
The hibernation-like process in bearded dragons is an essential aspect of their life. This hibernation-like process is a natural behavior, and it may affect beardies whether they are in the wild or bred in your home.
What is the difference between hibernation and brumation?
Hibernation and brumation mean the same thing, and they may be used interchangeably. However, brumation is a natural behavior related to cold-blooded animals such as reptiles, while hibernation is related to warm-blooded animals like mammals.
In their natural habitat, bearded dragons through the brumation process between June and August, when it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Bearded dragons go through the hibernation-like process (brumation) until the temperatures rise again.
Beardies go through the hibernation-like process since they cannot regulate their body temperatures internally, and therefore, they use external sources to cool or heat their body. You may see bearded dragons sunbathing during cold days and seeking shade during hot days.
Prior to brumation, you will realize that your bearded friend eats a lot of food. They do this to build up a nutritional reserve that they will use during brumation.
During the hibernation process in warm-blooded animals like mammals, it is not easy for the animal to wake up from deep sleep, unlike in brumation in cold-blooded animals where the animal can wake up easily.
Bearded dragons may wake up during the brumation process even if winter is not finished when their internal temperature raises.
Therefore, you may see beardies out of their dens in their natural habitat when they feel sufficiently warm
Symptoms and Common Signs
Your bearded friend may show hibernation-like signs, especially when their tanks or enclosures temperature is decreased. You may see the following: –
- Eating less. During this process, your bearded dragon may have decreased appetite. They use stored fats to survive during the brumation process. At times your bearded dragon may not even poop due to lack of eating. • Sleeping more. This will help your bearded friend reduce the amount of energy they use. • Spending more time in a hide.
• Staying out of the basking spot.
• Staying out of direct light.
• Moving slower than usual.
However, it would be best if you were very keen since certain brumation signs may be a sign of health problems.
You should check your beardies’ weight during brumation since they should lose 50 grams or less. An adult bearded dragon should weigh between 300 to 500 grams when healthy.
If you realize that they have lost more than 50 grams, they look thin and malnourished; then it is a significant health concern. You should consult your vet or check for parasites.
Bearded Dragon Brumation Age
The specific age for bearded dragon brumation is not certain. However, most beardies brumate between the ages of 10 to 24 months.
Since not all beardies are the same, some beardies take long and may brumate after two years. Bearded dragons under the age of nine months are young, and therefore they should not brumate/ hibernate.
How Long Does brumation Last?
This process of dormancy in bearded dragons is mainly based on seasonal cycles. Bearded dragons brumate between 1 to 3 months from early June till September in their natural habitat.
In captivity, beardies may not brumate as per the Australian seasonal patterns, and therefore they may go through the dormancy process depending on their enclosure, tank, or personal conditions.
When they are brumating, you will see your beardie sleeping, and they may rarely come out of their enclosure or tank. Brumation is not a partial process.
What To Do during brumation
Beardies do not need much care during brumation. However, you can do the following: –
- You should turn off all the beardies enclosure lighting and heating when you see them slowing down, avoiding their basking spot, and spending time hiding.
- A week after they stop eating, you should reduce the lighting and heating time from 14 hours until they are completely off.
- It would be best if you did not turn on your beardies tank lighting or heating when you realize it is becoming cold since the brumation process involves sleeping in cold weather in their natural habitat.
- You should ensure your beardie has clean, fresh water every time, whether they drink.
- You can offer your bearded friend food when you see them out of their hiding during brumation. They may eat the food or not since they may be hungry or not. If they eat, you should turn on the lights and heat to help your beardie in the digestion process.
- You should ensure your beardies enclosure is clean at all times. However, you should not bathe them.
What Happens After Your Bearded Dragon Wakes?
Your bearded dragon will come out of brumation and act as nothing happened, and so should you. Once you see them out of their hiding, you should start their regular feeding, lighting, and heating schedule just like before brumation. Their diet should be the same as before.
How To Wake Up a Bearded Dragon from Brumation
It would be best if you never tried waking up your bearded friend during brumation by increasing the temperature in their enclosure. It would be best to let them wake up naturally and make the brumation process as healthy as possible. If you do not want your bearded dragon to brumate, you should ensure the tank does not have winter-like conditions, just like in their natural habitat.
Hibernation is the dormancy period for warm-blooded animals, while brumation is for cold-blooded animals like reptiles. Since bearded dragons are reptiles, you will see them sleeping for extended periods, and the process may take one to three months before ending.
You may see various signs and symptoms such as less eating, less movement, less pooping, and many more. With the above symptoms, you do not need to worry about your bearded friend since they will become entertaining and active once the process is over.
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