Bearded dragon brumation explained

What is brumation?

Brumation is a term used for the hibernation-like state that cold blooded animals such as bearded dragons adopt during winter.

When a beardie brumates it slows down and movement is limited during cold weather. They may also become sluggish and will be less interested in eating. The reptile will seek an insulated spot to rest for long periods of time. Burrows, planterscaves and natural decor can make excellent hibernating dens and so if you don’t already have a cosy hiding spot for your reptile to seek shelter and comfort, it is worth investing in a den of some sort to help.

Signs that your beardie is brumating include:

  • Spending less time in the basking area and instead retreating to cooler areas of the enclosure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeping for longer periods of time
  • Seeking dark places to hide or digging to make a nesting spot.
This behaviour may concern you at first and you may think that your beardie is ill. This is unlikely but if your beardie is losing weight dramatically or is lethargic or less than 10 months old, we’d recommend seeing a vet who specialises in reptiles just to be on the safe side.

How long will my reptile brumate for?

Reptile brumation depends on a number of factors and so it is difficult to predict an exact amount of time that your reptile will hide away for. The species of the reptile of course plays a large part in how long they spend hibernating. When kept as a pet, reptiles brumate for a different period of time than they do in the wild, but other variants such as age, gender, natural conditions and geographical origin play a role too. In extreme cases reptiles may enter brumation in late autumn and will emerge in spring as temperatures rise and the days begin to get longer.  Most bearded dragons don’t start brumating until they are at least 10 months to one year old. Reptiles can be extremely unpredictable when it comes to brumation. Some years they may hibernate to the extreme, other years they might slow down a little and other years you may find it difficult to pinpoint significant changes in their behaviour at all.

Why do reptiles brumate?

As cold-blooded animals, reptiles are unable to increase their body temperature and so their temperature reflects that of their surroundings. This is bad because it means that they struggle to keep warm when it is cold and they can’t cool down when it is hot.

Brumation serves as a survival tactic when behavioural instincts take over to ensure that the beardie survives the winter months. In the wild, as temperatures drop and food becomes scarce beardies tend to start to prepare early by hiding away and using up less energy. They do of course do this when in captivity though too.

Should my beardie lose weight when brumating?

Beardies shouldn’t drastically lose weight when brumating. They may lose a little since they eat a lot less than normal but since they are fairly inactive too this tends to balance out so that weight isn’t lost.

So what do I need to do?

More often than not it is best to just leave your beardie to it and let them rest. If they stop eating altogether it can help to give them a bath to encourage bowel movement and hydration. You can also reduce the amount of heat and UV that you currently provide. Say for example you offer 10-12 hours hours of UV and heat currently, you could reduce this by turning it off two hours or so earlier for a few days to help your reptile to adjust to natural lighting and temperatures that we’re used to in the winter.

You can then continue to reduce the light and heat gradually over the coming days and weeks until you completely turn it off. This is not compulsory though but rather a matter of choice and something you can tailor to suit your beardie’s behaviour.

Although there are no set rules for caring for your beardie during brumation, one rule to live by during this period is to try and disturb them as little as possible.


Comments

  • Avatar Yujin Posted 22/09/2018 at 1:00 am | Permalink | Reply

    My bearded dragon under him it’s cold. Is that normal plz answer

  • Avatar Mandy Posted 20/10/2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My bear die is in brumation. However, she feels very cold. Her heat lamp is on from about 12 noon until 6 pm. Should she feel so cold?

  • Avatar Daisy Posted 10/02/2020 at 6:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My bearded doesnt seem interested in crickets anymore, I put a few and they jump all around, so I now just feed him meal worms, which he liked alot but with these he also is very slow to grab them,. I cut small pieces of fruit, and vegetables and he doesnt eat them I am so worried because he needs more than meal worms, should I force feed him.

  • Avatar DIANA SATELE Posted 02/03/2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My beardie has dug herself in and is brumating. She has been in there for about a week. But she is not quite 10 months (9 mos). You mention to give them a bath, but should I be digging her out to do this? She has from time to time come out for veggies that i leave in her bowl.

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