Like all animals, beardies sense the change of seasons through their biological clock . Therefore, even when in captivity, they sense the onset of winter and then prepare to overwinter.
What does this imply? Do they have to hibernate? You will find the answers to these question in the following.
Understanding bearded dragon Hibernation
To begin with, it is important to know that the beardie is a cold- blooded animal . As such, it happens to hibernate during the winter season. This is a phase also called hibernation or brumation.
It generally lasts 2 months, but it is possible to stop it after one or two weeks, when the animal is not able to hold on.
Moreover, the beardie can itself decide to come out of hibernation before the end. It all depends on its physical form and living conditions.
For those who have never witnessed hibernation in their bearded dragon, know that it is quite similar to what you see in other animals that also hibernate.
Indeed, during this period, the body temperature of the animal decreases. It is close to room temperature, which means that it is almost “cool”.
This leads to a reduction in his heart rate, as well as a slowing down of his metabolism. The animal also finds itself in an almost permanent state of drowsiness. In other words, when it hibernates, the beardie spends its time sleeping.
How does beardie behave in winter?
Most of the time, the beardie is a rather active animal. It is also rather greedy, especially when subjected to a diet adapted to its specific needs.
However, this attitude can change when he senses winter approaching. Its activity is reduced considerably.
For some, the change begins as early as the end of September, while for others, nothing is noticed until the end of October.
Anyway, shortly before winter, the bearded dragon changes its behavior. It starts scratching the windows of his terrarium, as if trying to escape.
It can also start digging, occasionally at first, sometimes devoting all of its days to it. It can seek to dig a “cave” in the sand of the terrarium, and land there to begin its hibernation.
It stays there all day and all night, and spends all its time sleeping. Furthermore, it hardly eats any more or at all.
Recommended reading: How do you calm an aggressive bearded dragon?
Why does beardie have to hibernate?
In the bearded dragon, hibernation is certainly an important event, but not at all mandatory.
Moreover, for young beardies less than a year old (i.e. juvenile bearded dragon), the period of brumation can lead to stunted growth and death.
You must therefore be careful to interrupt this stage if you consider that your pet is too young to survive it.
On the other hand, for an adult beardies, this event will allow the reptile to purge itself and regain energy from the start of spring. It’s a kind of drastic diet, which allows him to eliminate his excess fat . The only time hibernation becomes mandatory is when breeding.
How to help your bearded dragon to live well the hibernation period?
Like any reptile, the beardie benefits from hibernation. So if your animal is of hibernation age, you must respect its need. You can even help it to spend this period in the best conditions. To do this, you must first review its diet.
Indeed, about a month before winter, begin to increase its food rations . You must feed it well, and offer it all the nutrients it will need to build up enough reserves.
So serve it more insects, and reduce the vegetables somewhat. Also slightly increase the amount of vitamins and calcium it consumes.
Read these articles to understand everything about bearded dragon diet.
Then, it will be necessary to ensure that it has a completely empty stomach before entering hibernation. Normally, when the animal prepares for this period, it gets rid of all its stools.
If your pet can’t do it alone, you can give it a hand with a 34° bath with Hépar water. 20 minutes in this calcium-rich solution will help it empty his bowel .
At the same time, the temperature and lighting inside the terrarium will have to be changed. You should gradually reduce the heat in the terrarium, until it reaches 25° in winter.
As far as lighting is concerned, you must achieve a total of 8 hours of lighting per day.
In these conditions your bearded dragon will begin to seek the best location, in most cases near the cold spot of its terrarium, to build a cave.
As soon as it goes into hibernation, keep the temperature between 18 and 20°, and the lighting time between 6 and 8 hours a day.
Thus, your pet will be able to take full advantage of its hibernation time to rest and get back in shape.
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