Owning a bearded dragons comes with a range of considerations. They are reptiles from warm and arid areas like deserts, woodlands, savannas and scrublands after all. But do they hibernate? I spent some time researching the common question faced by new and prospective owners. I will be sharing all that I could find here today.
So, do bearded dragons hibernate? Bearded dragons do not hibernate, although they do enter a state known as brumation. During brumation, a bearded dragon will generally become much more lethargic; sleeping more, refusing food, being more reserved, hiding and pooping less. Brumation can occur at any time during a bearded dragons life, even when kept in captivity, although it is more likely during colder months. This change of state will typically last between 2 weeks – 4 months.
The signs of brumation can be worrying; besides, they dramatically slow down and their behavior changes considerably.
As an owner, its imperative to understand this state and condition. You need to ensure you are doing all you can to look after you beardie during this important time.
Let us now take a closer look at brumation. We will be looking at precisely what it is and how bearded dragons typically behave during this time.
As such, we will be discussing some of the signs and symptoms to watch out for.
We will also be looking at whether this condition is bad or dangerous, so you know how to react if and when the time comes.
So, if you are a current beardie owner or keen to take one in, be sure to keep on reading to find out all you need to know!
- 1 What Is Brumation?
- 2 Brumation Vs Hibernation
- 3 What Do Bearded Dragons Do During Brumation?
- 4 When Do Bearded Dragons Brumate?
- 5 How Long Does Bearded Dragon Brumation Last?
- 6 Can I Wake My Bearded Dragon Up From Brumation?
- 7 How To Care For Your Bearded Dragon During Brumation
- 8 Is Brumation Bad For Bearded Dragons?
- 9 Finally
- 10 Related Questions
What Is Brumation?
Brumation is a state and condition that many reptiles go through during the winter or during extended periods of low temperature.
During this time, a reptile is considerably less active and more lethargic.
Its a survival mechanism, in which a reptile will go into to preserve energy and to ensure that they can overcome the environmental challenges and conditions that they face.
When we consider that bearded dragons are native to Australia and warm climates, it comes as no surprise to learn that they can enter this dormant like state.
Brumation Vs Hibernation
While it is considered a hibernation-like state, brumation is not hibernation by definition. There are distinct differences between the two, even if they do seem quite similar.
Hibernation is where a warm blooded mammal will slow their heart rate, body temperature and metabolism to save energy and survive cold periods without the need to eat.
Some animals will slow down and be a lot less active during hibernation, whereas others will enter a deep sleep and not wake until the temperature changes.
Brumation on the other hand, is the state that cold blooded animals use to conserve energy. This does not involve deep sleep, and periods of movement and eating does still occur (albeit at a reduced frequency).
So, at a high level:
- Hibernation; condition for warm blooded mammals,
- Brumation; condition for cold blooded reptiles.
Either way, the end goal is the same. To survive colder conditions.
What Do Bearded Dragons Do During Brumation?
Bearded dragons do not do much at all during brumation. In fact, its a period of general inactivity.
Instead, you are likely to notice a change in their behavior and general day to day habits, throughout the time they are in this condition.
Thankfully, a bearded dragon will show clear signs and symptoms that they are either entering, or are in a state of brumation.
The ones to look out for include:
First and foremost, a bearded dragon will be much less active than normal. This is likely to begin in the days leading up to brumation and continue throughout the state.
You’ll likely notice a lot less movement around the enclosure, and a preference to move towards the cooler areas. Basking typically reduces.
If basking is completely non-existent, then it does make sense to consult with your vet. You want to rule out any sickness or illness which brumation can sometimes be mistaken for.
Nevertheless, if you can confirm they are in brumation, you should let your bearded dragon experience this condition and interfere with them minimally.
You will likely notice that they sleep a lot more and for longer periods of time.
A bearded dragon will also be a lot less enthusiastic compared to their usual selves.
They are likely to be a lot more reserved and less interested whenever you come by to visit.
Touching and handling us unlikely to go down well, and should not be attempted.
Loss of Appetite
Part of brumation is a natural drop in metabolism. As such, your bearded dragon will not be looking to eat as much.
While they still will eat a small amount, it will not be the same as what you usually feed and expect.
Force feeding is not recommended; instead you should look to leave out food as normal.
Seeking Out Darkness
Along with attempting to find cooler spots, a bearded dragon in brumation is likely to seek out darkness.
This could be specific hiding spots, or digging to make a nesting spot.
Part of eating less and having a lower metabolism also means that your bearded dragon is likely to defecate less.
Some pooping is still to be expected but at a much lower frequency and amount.
When Do Bearded Dragons Brumate?
Bearded dragons can brumate at any time; although they are most likely to begin brumating when the seasons change or temperatures drop.
So, if your bearded dragon does enter brumation, it is likely to be within the Fall or Winter.
It can also happen at any age of a beardies life; despite some myths circulating that it cannot happen to babies or those under one year of age.
What Month Do Bearded Dragons Brumate?
The month that your bearded dragon brumates will depend on the hemisphere in which you live in.
- If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, brumation is most likely to occur around the March or April time. Although it has been known for beardies to brumate as last as August or September.
- If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, brumation is most likely to occur around the months of September through to March.
Either way, bearded dragons are native to Australia, so are hard-wired to the Southern Hemisphere.
So, its always good to remember that the seasons run opposite there to the United States and Europe.
How Long Does Bearded Dragon Brumation Last?
Brumation typically lasts for a period of 2 weeks to 4 months. Although the full length of time will depend on different contexts.
Can I Wake My Bearded Dragon Up From Brumation?
You should not attempt to wake up a bearded dragon while they are in brumation. Equally, it does not come advised to attempt to speed up the process or bring your beardie out of this condition.
In fact, experts have even cited that trying to bring a beardie out of brumation early can actually extend the brumation time further!
Ultimately, brumation is an entirely natural process and state for bearded dragons, driven over years of evolution. Its an innate survival extinct and mechanism.
Your bearded dragon may enter this state; but it does so for a reason.
Thus, once the process begins there is little you can do. You should instead just be there to support your bearded dragon and give them time to overcome this period of inactivity.
This generally means not attempting to alter the temperature inside the enclosure. Any sudden changes will be immensely stressful for them.
Consider, it takes them days to prepare for this condition, so any sudden changes in temperature can be dangerous as they need to reverse this state the other way.
One thing to note is that bearded dragons may wake up naturally during brumation from time to time. They may get up, be more active one day, before going back to a more reserved state.
How To Care For Your Bearded Dragon During Brumation
If your bearded dragon enters brumation, then it will require a slight change to their care. This will support your lizard throughout the process.
Let us now look at each of the recommended steps to take:
Contact Your Vet
You should start by contacting your vet, and preferably, getting a stool sample/test done. This way, you can ensure that your pet is not suffering with either parasites or illness.
You can confirm that they are in fact, entering brumation.
Reduce Enclosure Temps
Over the course of a couple of weeks, it comes advised to reduce the temperature of the enclosure.
You should do so to the point in where little to no heating is being provided at all.
One approach is to install a lower watt bulb, that provides lower temperatures naturally.
Secondly, you will want to reduce the amount of food you offer. Some owners even get to the point in where hardly any food is being provided at all.
Essentially, you want to ensure that no food is sitting in the stomach of your beardie, which can rot due to their lower metabolisms during this time.
Interestingly, this is partly why a bearded dragons appetite naturally reduces; they instinctively know not to eat.
Turn Off Basking Bulb/UV
Following a final successful poop, and the transition to lower temps, you should look to turn off the basking bulb/UV and allow your beardie to sleep.
Heat and UV is primarily used by a bearded dragon to produce energy and support digestion, so turning it off has no harmful affects and can be quit useful. Considering they are relatively still and eat little during this time.
The idea is that you are trying to replicate the conditions your beardie would have, if still living in the wild.
Cover The Enclosure
Next, it is advised to cover the enclosure to ensure it is as dark as possible for them and they can sleep accordingly.
Is Brumation Bad For Bearded Dragons?
Brumation is not typically bad for bearded dragons, even if they are being kept as pets in captivity.
Instead, it does mean a different level of care, and you should expect a period that is somewhat different to normal.
That being said, it is generally not something you need to worry about; it is of course an innate and natural process.
However, there is one main caveat.
Very young baby bearded dragons, under the year of age of 6 months, are more susceptible to long-term complications if they are to enter brumation for any significant period of time.
It can impact their growth, size and even cause health conditions later in life.
Thankfully, baby bearded dragons do not usually enter this state. But, if they were to, contacting your vet does come advised.
They will be able to support you and advise on how to proceed.
Equally, one other thing to mention which we have briefly touched upon earlier, is that ill health can often be confused with brumation.
If you suspect that your beardie, of any age, is not at their optimal best, then contacting your vet is always advised.
Bearded dragons do not hibernate, but they do go through a period known as brumation.
While there are many similarities, it is in fact classified and considered a different state and condition.
Nevertheless, as a bearded dragon owner, it is imperative that you fully understand the signs that brumation is starting, and how to care for your beardie during this time.
Chances are it will happen at some point during their lives and your care. Although at the same time, it may not happen altogether.
Either way is fine and does not generally indicate a problem.
What can be a problem mind you is mistaking your beardie is in brumation, when they are actually sick and unwell.
So, monitoring and consulting with a vet is always advised.
At the end of the day, as with many aspects of bearded dragon ownership; this is something to definitely research and prepare for as much as you can.
Doing so when the condition comes on, could very well be too late!
Bearded dragons do typically continue to poop during brumation, but they will likely poop a lot less. This will be both in amount and in frequency. This is completely normal and to be expected as they will be eating a lot less and their metabolism will be lower.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.