Understanding Bearded Dragon Brumation: A Comprehensive Guide
Bearded dragon owners often come across the term "brumation," but what exactly is it? While brumation and hibernation share similarities, they are not the same thing. Brumation is a lighter form of sleep, during which a bearded dragon may occasionally wake up, move around, eat, drink, or eliminate waste before returning to rest. Every dragon is different, and some may sleep through the entire brumation period, while others may wake up more frequently.
In the wild, bearded dragons enter brumation when food becomes scarce, and temperatures drop. However, in captivity, where these conditions can be controlled, brumation is not necessary. Despite this, many dragons still go through brumation due to their natural instincts or external factors such as low tank temperatures or insufficient food.
Brumation can last from several days to six months, though such lengthy durations are rare. The duration of brumation depends on the dragon's husbandry (lighting, heat, etc.) and its individual characteristics.
As a bearded dragon owner, it is essential to understand that brumation is a natural process. Even in captivity, dragons can sense the seasons, although to a lesser extent than in the wild. Brumation is more likely to occur during colder months. However, if your dragon seems to enter brumation during warmer periods, check the temperatures in its enclosure:
- Basking spot temp: 100°F - 110°F (surface temp)
- Hot side temp: 90°F - 95°F (ambient temp)
- Cold side temp: 80°F - 85°F (ambient temp)
If your bearded dragon is experiencing brumation for the first time, ensure it undergoes a wellness check and fecal exam by a licensed vet. Dragons under nine months old are less likely to enter brumation since they have not yet established a proper cycle. Signs of brumation include sluggishness, increased sleep, decreased appetite, and irritability. Since these signs can resemble symptoms of illnesses, it's crucial to consult a vet if you're unsure about your pet's brumation cycle.
During brumation, dragons should not lose significant weight or become dehydrated. Maintain their regular lighting schedule and provide a hide for them to escape light when needed. Check on your dragon regularly, and offer food and water once a week, but remember to be patient and minimize disturbances, as this can be a stressful time for both you and your pet.