Bearded dragons have sleep patterns which are mainly dictated by lighting and heating. But in some cases, your bearded dragon might act strange and sleep all day.
Why is my bearded dragon sleeping? Bearded dragons may be sleeping all day due to many reasons. Some of which are:
- bearded dragons brumation signs
- cold tank
- wrong lighting setup sickness
- possible parasite
Your Bearded Dragon is Starting Brumation
If your bearded dragon is over a 12-18 months of age, then it could be starting to brumate. Brumation is a natural process when bearded dragons tend to lower their activity significantly to survive colder winter months.
Please note that brumation is completely normal. You shouldn’t try to stop your bearded dragon from brumating unless it’s sick. Your bearded dragon is likely to start brumating in winter (often from November). But, they can also do in June to around mid-end September.
During brumation, your bearded dragon might either not wake up at all for weeks, or wake up and be sluggish and slow. You don’t need to feed your bearded dragon during brumation. This is because the food inside of it will rot (as it’s not basking).
During brumation, bearded dragons have the temperatures of around 80 F (26.6 Celsius) in the warm spot and 70 F (21 Celsius) on the cooler spot. Keep the lights on, but reduce to around 9-10 hours a day. However, it is best to use a timer like this so that you don’t need to turn lights on/off manually every day.
Your bearded dragon will try to empty its bowels fully before starting brumation. So if your dragon is pooping normally but not eating much, it could indicate brumation.
Another sign that your bearded dragon is brumating and not sick is that it should look alert when it opens its eyes. It should lose hardly any weight if at all during brumation.
The Bearded Dragon Brumation Signs
The first and important sign of brumation is a radical change in behavior. That includes:
- Frequent hiding
- More naps and “sleepy look”
- Sluggish movement
- Poor appetite
Bearded dragons that are ready to brumate ought to
- have clean and elastic skin
- have clear eyes
- appear healthy
- have no gaping mouth or
- other signs of infections.
However, if your bearded dragon is trying to brumate out of season (in the summer), or it is under a year old. It is very likely that it is sick and that its behavior only appears to mimic brumation.
Bearded Dragon’s Tank is Cold
If your bearded dragon’s tank is too cold, it won’t be able to
- digest food,
- maintain healthy gut flora and
- be resistant to infections.
Over time, low tank temperatures will lead to sickness, lethargy and other complications.
Therefore, low temperatures will primarily affect digestion. Because of it, your bearded dragon won’t be eating much or at all and will develop constipation.
Likewise, indigestion and no eating will lead to low energy levels and weight loss.
Ideal temperatures for a bearded dragon’s tank are 92-110 degrees Fahrenheit (33-43 Celsius) on the hot side, and 75-85 F (23.8-29) on the cool side.
Please note that stick on or analog thermometers can be very inaccurate. The temperature in the tank must be different in a hot and cool spot, to create a gradient.
Even the temperature at a basking spot will be different right on the floor and higher in the same spot.
For heating, you can use
- halogen flood lamps
- white basking bulbs
- ceramic heat emitting lights and
- mercury vapor (bigger tanks). You can even use household lights if you are tight on budget. Avoid colored bulbs.
To get accurate temperature readings, please have a digital thermometer with a probe like this, and put it in a basking spot. Also, have one thermometer in a cool spot.
And on top of that, an infrared handheld thermometer like this will greatly help measure temperature in a specific spot in the tank.
Wrong Lighting Setup
Having the wrong lighting in the tank might cause your bearded dragon to sleep all day due to complications. Apart from the tank is cold, UVB bulb might not be a suitable one.
If it’s too weak, it can cause lack of vitamin D3 and then calcium in your bearded dragon. This can then lead to a Metabolic Bone disease. If it’s too strong, your bearded dragon will avoid the basking spot and won’t get enough UVB light as well.
Choose a tube UVB light
Please choose a tube UVB light that will run the tank, and will cover around 50-70% of the tank’s length. Place it 6-8 inches (15-20.3cm) from you bearded dragon. You have to put it in a tube hood and have basking light near as well. Best UVB light is 10.0-12.0 High Output (HO) tube, such as this Reptisun UVB light.
Please avoid using coiled bulbs as they can cause issues and can be too powerful. Use compacts only if your tank is smaller than 25 gallons and you are waiting to upgrade to a bigger one.
Also, make sure that the light is on for 12-14 hours a day normally. Otherwise, it can trick your bearded dragon into thinking that it is winter, and can cause brumation. The best thing is to have a timer like this that will automate the light switching.
Do not use any lighting at night, turn everything off. If temperatures tend to drop very low (lower than 65 F (18.3 Celsius)), then you can place a ceramic heat emitter bulb like this, only for heat. And make sure it’s connected to a thermostat, to control the temperatures.
Please don’t use colored bulbs as it will disturb your dragon’s sleep as they can see the colors. An under tank heater wouldn’t be the best option, as your dragon can overheat easily.
Your Bearded Dragon is Sick
The symptoms here will be very similar to start of brumation. However, if your bearded dragon is losing weight, has soft or crooked bones, sunken eyes, does not open your bearded dragon’s eyes when you hold it, then, your bearded dragon is probably sick.
A big sign would also be if your bearded dragon is still a baby and is showing these symptoms. This is because babies under 10-12 months should not be brumating. If your baby bearded dragon is always sleeping, it is either new, stressed or sick.
In this case, please take your bearded dragon to an experienced vet. Someone, who can tell you for sure whether your bearded dragon is sick or brumating.
This might require few tests. But if the symptoms are severe, you will be able to tell that there’s something wrong with your dragon.
Almost all bearded dragons get stressed after the relocation. It can take your bearded dragon from around a week to a few weeks to get used to its new home.
During the first few weeks, your bearded dragon won’t be very active. It is likely to hide more, not eat or bask regularly and be afraid of its surroundings. After you bring your bearded dragon home, make sure to have a full fecal test done. This is so you know that your dragon is fully healthy.
Bearded Dragon Undergoing Stress
Your bearded dragon can become stressed due to a lot of reasons. These can be for example cage mates and bullying. Or, crickets that hide in the tank and bite your dragon when they get hungry.
This can also be high or low temperatures, wrong lighting as discussed above, loud noises, bright light, lack of hides and accessories, small tank and more. All of these factors might cause stress. Infections and illnesses also cause lethargy and sleeping more than usual.
And if stress goes on for a long time, it will affect a bearded dragon’s immune system. As a result, your bearded dragon might get sick, eat and bask less and hence move less and sleep more.
Another possible reason why a bearded dragon acts lazy or lethargic is parasites. Parasites could be sucking the energy from your dragon and causing serious health issues.
A very good sign of possible parasites is very runny, extremely smelly poop, that doesn’t possess solid white urates. Urates are the white clump you usually find on one end of the stool. The stool should be a bit solid (hold itself together well), be dark brown or green in color, and have a solid white urate.
Parasites commonly found in bearded dragons generally mostly come from tainted food sources or very dirty living conditions. Of course, runny stool could also be a sign of diarrhea or even poor diet.
If parasites are suspected you will need to take a stool sample to a veterinarian for analysis.
See a Veterinarian
A bearded dragon sleep all day for many reasons. Thus, it’s always good to have a conversation with your veterinarian about the causes of possible lethargic or lazy behavior that make your bearded dragon sleep all day.
As we mentioned, if the behavior lasts for just a few days, it could just be a lazy streak, but if other factors are found and sleepiness persists it could be a sign of a serious health condition. Which needs the attention of a qualified reptile veterinarian.