If you keep any species of beardies, you know that they sometimes go to sleep and don’t wake up for weeks or months. This is nothing to worry about. However, if you are confused about what to expect during a brumation period, Here are some things you need to know.
The average bearded dragon will brumate between the age of 8 months to one year. But there are cases where 6-month-olds have gone into brumation and still went through their cycle without any problems.
Now we will talk about what brumation is, how long it lasts and what exactly it does to a bearded dragon. We will examine the possibility of stopping it, and just how long it should last.
What is brumation?
Brumation in bearded dragon species is much like hibernation for mammals. In this period, your bearded dragon will go through a period of dormancy and reduced activity. This period of brumation can last between a few weeks to a few or several months.
Why does it happen?
The reason bearded dragons go into brumation is very simple. Bearded dragons go into brumation because it is a survival skill that they have developed over the centuries. It is a natural process that helps them survive and reproduce.
How does brumation help with survival?
During the colder months, there are fewer insects around. The plants that bearded dragons normally eat are scarce too. Therefore, in order to survive the freezing cold and food shortage, bearded dragons shut down their bodies and go into a sleep where they don’t need food or temperature till the warm weather and food returns.
How brumation helps with reproduction.
Brumation is linked to the mating process of bearded dragons. This is because the inactive bodies of the bearded dragons continue to perform one function for sure. This is the function of reproduction. The male’s sperm count increases and the females ovulate too. One of the first activities that bearded dragons perform after brumation is to look for a mate.
How Long will my dragon be asleep?
The answer to this question depends on whether the dragon is in captivity or in the wild. Generally, captive beardies brumate for as short as a few weeks. However, there are cases of brumation that lasted for six months.
Captive bearded dragons live in a stable environment. With a constant supply of food and stable temperatures. Because of this, they won’t follow the same brumation cycle as their relatives in the wild. This means that they go into brumation at any time. In the wild, bearded dragons go through the whole winter in brumation.
Can You Stop a bearded dragon from brumating?
There is little that you can do to stop brumation when it starts. Sometimes, handling and forced activity can make them delay brumation. But generally, brumation will continue no matter what. All you can do is help them get ready for the long months.
You can shorten the period of brumation by slowly increasing the temperature inside their tank. The question is: Why would you even want to? Why not relax and let them do what they are meant to do?
Why bearded dragons may go into brumation in summer.
The thing is, bearded dragons in the wild brumate during winter. But since you have brought them into your home, and created a very stable environment for them, there are two reasons they would brumate in summer.
The first of those reasons is; the bearded dragons are native to the southern hemisphere. Australia to be precise. The south and the northern hemisphere have exactly opposite seasons. When it is summer in America, it is winter in Australia. Now it is only expected that the bearded dragon has evolved to go into brumation at that time of the year (I.e Australian winter). Thus, even though it is summer in your home country, the bearded dragon will go into brumation at that time because it is winter in their country of origin.
There is another reason for a beardy’s strange brumation timing. It is the fact that food, weather, and everything else around them is so stable.
Reason for going into brumation
The normal response of a bearded dragon to such absolute stability would be to not go into brumation at all. But it is in their instinct. They know that everything is stable and perfect. But because it is in their DNA to brumate, they will find a time and just go right ahead and brumate irrespective of the season.
How do I know when my bearded dragon is about to go into brumation?
Well, there are a few signs that could tip you off when your dragon is about to go to sleep. Now you can mistake signs of sickness for signs of an onset of brumation. It is very important that you take your dragon to a vet just to be sure.
If you have had your dragon for as long as eight months to one year, you will definitely notice when his behavior changes. Here are a few things that might stand out to you.
1. Your bearded dragon is eating less
The earth tilts away from the sun during winter. Because of this, there is a shortage of UV light and heat that is important for digestion. If they eat during this period, they can get constipated. This is because they can’t get nutrients out of their food. This could be painful or they could even die. Because of this, they most likely will not eat when they are about to go into brumation. Even if they are in captivity. They are following their instinct remember? While some may not eat at all, some may continue to pick at their food. So basically… make food and water available and let them decide if they want it or not.
2. They might become irritable and averse to handling.
They may get agitated very easily and in some cases, they may bite. The solution for this is simple. Reduce the amount of time you spend handling them. Give them their space and just let them be.
3. Reduced activity and odd sleeping habits
Another thing to look out for is reduced activity and odd sleeping habits. During this period, the bearded dragon will spend a lot of time sleeping in the coolest place it can find. This is because it is trying to its lower body temperature so as to mimic the winter period. Now because they are not eating well, they are not pooping well either. There’s no need to be alarmed. Your beardie just slowed down his metabolism. But if your beardie has been eating well and for some reason isn’t pooping, it can be impacted… please take him to a vet right away.
What to do to help your beard is have a healthy brumation?
Brumation can be good or bad. It really depends on how prepared your dragon is. The difference between a dragon that falls terribly sick or even does, and one who goes on to have a healthy life until the next brumation is care. The health your dragon goes into brumation in will mostly determine if they will be healthy when they come out. Here are a few tips to help your beardies prepare for a good healthy brumation.
1. Get him checked
Take your beardie to the vet when he is about to go into brumation. This is good because you could be wrong. The dragon might be sick. And like I said earlier, the signs of sickness can be similar to the signs of early onset of brumation. So in order to rule out sickness… you need to get the dragon checked.
Another reason to get them checked is that even if the dragon is going into brumation for real, it needs to be tested for parasites. If your beardie goes into brumation with parasites in him, he most likely will lose a lot of weight and fall sick. Maybe even die. It is therefore important to have him checked to prevent this.
2. Get a cave
Prepare a dark spot for them where they can brumate. They need a quiet dark place for their brumation. A dark place will help them feel secure and comfortable.
3. Keep water available
Bearded dragons often come out of brumation with their skin wrinkly and dehydrated. Because of this, keep a fresh bowl of water at their disposal. If you can’t tell if your beardie is dehydrated, perform this simple test in him; Pinch his skin lightly and watch to see if it snaps back immediately. If it does, then your dragon is hydrated and safe. If it stays in the pinched state, then the dragon needs some water
How to care for your brumating beardie
Again… brumating beardies in the wild care for themselves by taking all precaution before they go into brumation. However, your beardie is in captivity so you will need to care for her by yourself. Here are a few ways to keep them in to shape during brumation.
1: Light and heat
If your dragon was in the wild, she would dig into the ground and stay there while covering it to protect herself from predators. Reduce the light in their enclosure slowly over a couple of weeks.
You can keep the lights on so long as it only stays on for about five or six hours and a maximum of nine hours daily. If you choose to have a light on in there, provide a cave for them to sleep in if they want away from the light.
Temperature levels are perfect at 70°F (21°C) during the day (in the cool spot) and 60°F (15°C) during the night.
Water is very important to them during his period. in order to prevent or treat dehydration, place your dragon into a warm bath once per week for 10-15 minutes, keep it no deeper than 1-2 inches so that they don’t drown.
You will have to keep an eye out for them as it is very easy for them to sleep off right there in the bath. Their head should be raised out of the water to prevent them from inhaling water as this could cause drowning or pneumonia.