Courtney

Bearded Dragons

During extremely cold weather, bearded dragons will enter into a dormant state. It does not occur commonly in captive bearded dragons as the temperature in their enclosure stays consistent, but it is a necessary survival process for wild bearded dragons. Brumation is a safe process that your bearded dragon will naturally know how to enter into.

Brumation is essentially a dormant sleep-like state that bearded dragons enter into when the temperature becomes colder and food becomes more scarce. It allows their bodies to conserve their energy and survive the harsher months. They will, however, wake up on warmer days and move sluggishly.

Bearded dragons are wonderful pets to have and are relatively low maintenance. They do not require constant care and require even less attention as they enter into brumation. You’ll notice they are brumating if they begin to move more slowly, burrow into safe and warm space, and require less food, among other signs. Brumation is safe, but it is best to understand how the process works and what to look out for in your bearded dragon.

What Is Brumation?

Simply put, brumation is similar to hibernation. During the winter months, reptiles will find a cozy spot to brumate in, in order to regulate their temperature and survive the harsher weather.  Brumation is a low-energy state that is an essential survival tactic for bearded dragons to make it through extremely cold weather.

Bearded dragons will require less water and food during this period, but it is still essential that they have access to fresh water, and it is recommended for you to soak them in water during their brumation period. They will regularly wake up to drink water.

There is a theory that discusses whether brumation may lengthen the lives of wild reptiles; however, there is not much evidence to prove this.

Brumation can be triggered in captivity by gradually reducing temperatures in your bearded dragon’s enclosure over a few weeks and is not harmful if done properly. However, it is best to seek advice from your vet before attempting to do this.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Brumate?

Brumation is a survival tactic that reptiles rely on to survive in the wild and harsh environments.  Our cold-blooded friends use their environment to regulate their internal temperature.

During the winter, they need to find a way to regulate their internal temperature as their external environment reaches extreme lows. It can be quite startling for pet owners when their beloved bearded dragons are suddenly not moving or moving very slowly.

How Can I Help My Bearded Dragon Enter Into Brumation?

It is vital that you first discuss brumation with a trusted vet. If your bearded dragon has parasites or underlying illnesses, brumation may be dangerous for them to enter into as their lack of activity could lead to illnesses being overlooked.  It is important to ensure that they are in good health.

It is best that you try to disturb them as little as possible during this time; however, it is suggested that you try and offer them water. You could also soak them in lukewarm water every 1-2 weeks in order to prevent dehydration.

You should provide a cozy shelter for them to rest in if they do not already have one within their enclosure. Bearded dragons like to burrow, find crevices in rocks, find hollow logs, or perhaps even provide an artificial cave for them to brumate in.

They will seek out an insulated and safe environment during this period. Substrate is an easy product to fill your bearded dragon’s enclosure with to give them a warm place to burrow into.

By slowly decreasing the temperature in their enclosure to mimic the natural temperatures around in their environments, you will be encouraging them to enter brumation. It is vital that this is done slowly over a period of weeks.

As this is a natural process, your bearded dragon won’t require plenty of assistance and should not be disturbed much during this time. You should just keep an eye on them to ensure that they are healthy and not dehydrated.

How Do I Know If My Bearded Dragon Is In Brumation?

Bearded dragons, as with other reptiles, will enter into a dormant state during the winter months if the temperature around them decreases. You will know that your bearded dragon is preparing to enter into brumation if they are less interested in food.

They may begin to rest for longer periods and be moving more slowly and sluggishly. Bearded dragons will also begin to build a nest or comfortable area to rest in by building or seeking out a dark, insulated, and safe place.

What Are The Dangers Of Brumation?

If your bearded dragon has underlying illnesses or has parasites, brumation may be dangerous for them. As they become more inactive, it may be more difficult to pinpoint that they are sick. You should also be wary to ensure that your bearded dragon does not enter into brumation with a full belly.

As they will be sleeping for an extended period of time, the food that is in their digestive system may not properly be digested and lead to rotting food in their stomachs. This can be life-threatening.

However, brumation is a natural process and is perfectly safe for a healthy bearded dragon to enter into. Seek the advice of a trusted vet first to ensure that your bearded dragon is able to enter into brumation safely, and they will also provide you with tips to encourage them or how to avoid brumation.

Is Brumation Necessary In Captivity?

It is not necessary for your pet bearded dragon to brumate as their temperatures should be regulated within their enclosure, as well as their light cycles do not drastically change. However, in some cases, they enter into brumation anyway as their body clocks take over, and they pick up on changes in the outside world.

Don’t be too concerned if your bearded dragon is acting a little bit differently and moving slower than usual. You can avoid brumation by ensuring that feedings and the temperature in your bearded dragon’s enclosure remain constant, but this is not always guaranteed.

Other tips to deter your bearded dragon from entering into brumation is to keep their feeding regime constant and keep interacting with them.

Brumation May Be Unavoidable

In some cases, your cold-blooded friends might enter into brumation even if you have tried to avoid it. They are still receptive to the outside world and may have picked up subtle cues from the environment that it is time for them to brumate.

You will notice that they may become less interested in food and will find a safe and insulated place to rest over the colder months. They may become less interested in you and won’t be as responsive to stimuli.

It is best to not disturb them during this time and let nature take its course. If you are concerned that there is something wrong with your bearded dragon, you can gently place them on their backs, and they should make a sleepy attempt to correct themselves.

If you’d like to try to encourage your bearded dragon to enter into brumation, you can do so by lowering the temperature of their enclosure gradually over a few weeks as well as dimming the lights to mimic winter day-night cycles in colder climates.

The Difference Between Brumation And Hibernation?

Both hibernation and brumation occur naturally and follow a similar process. The main differences are that brumation occurs in reptiles, while hibernation occurs in mammals. Hibernation is a permanent sleep-like state where mammals do not eat, drink water, move or defecate at all.

While in brumation, reptiles are in a dormant state and not a fully sleep-like state – they will, therefore, move on warmer winter days to get water. Your bearded dragon’s movements will just be a lot slower and sluggish.

Both processes are vital for the survival of these animals as the weather changes and food becomes more scarce. These processes are to ensure that reptiles and mammals conserve as much energy as possible until spring, when food will become more available.

It is also theorized that brumation and hibernation encourage reproductive behaviors in the spring – however, reptile pet owners have found very little difference in their pets whether they enter into a brumated state or not.

Conclusion

Brumation is an essential survival tactic that reptiles have adapted to in colder and harsher environments. It is a similar state to hibernation; however, brumation is a dormant state that reptiles enter into to regulate their internal body temperatures and conserve energy. On warmer days, you may notice your bearded dragon slowly moving to get water or food.

Brumation is only potentially dangerous if your bearded dragon already has underlying illnesses or parasites.

It is an interesting process to observe, and it is easy to encourage your pet bearded dragon to enter into. You may notice that your bearded dragon is preparing to enter into brumation if they have begun to slow down, eat less and find a safe and dark place to rest within.

If you would like to avoid brumation, you should keep the temperature constant within your bearded dragon’s enclosure and avoid exposure to the outside environment. However, brumation is a safe process, and your bearded dragon won’t require much assistance. You should provide fresh water in their enclosure as usual, and further, it is suggested that you soak them in warm water every one to two weeks to avoid dehydration.