Very similar to the way that mammals hibernate, bearded dragons tend to have a period where they won’t eat, drink or move much. This period is called brumation, and is often accompanied with burying itself underground and lots of sleep.
Though, this might scare you a bit to start, it’s important to realize that even though beardies in captivity have the resources they need to keep them healthy all year around, they’ll likely still brumate because it is an instinctual habit.
In the wild when the temperatures begin to drop, the foods that beardies normally eat become scarce. In order to ensure survival, they have developed the ability to slow their metabolism because of the lack of food, and also since the sun helps them break down food into nutrients. Because of winter’s shorter days, less sunlight and cooler temperatures, bearded dragons cannot digest.
Also, another notable winter problem for dragons is their inability to stay hydrated. Most beardies will not drink from standing water, so the majority of the H2O they ingest comes from lapping dew from plants. Once cold weather arrives, dew becomes frost and leaves little residue for beardies to take in.
Another reason why bearded dragon brumation happens is to allow a dragon’s body to take a timeout before mating season. Resting during the winter allows hormone levels to peak, and this results in a greater number of successful matings during spring. You’ll notice that once your dragon has awakened (males) they’ll displace head bobbing and blackened beards. Conversely, our little ladyloves will probably just be restless.
Strange Brumation Habits
You also may notice that your dragon may brumate at times during the year that seem strange, but this is also no cause for concern. Taking into account that bearded dragons are native to Australia, and that the Southern Hemisphere’s seasons are the direct opposite of the Western Hemisphere, you can understand why no time is really an odd time for this behavior. Brumation habits are based solely on a bearded dragon’s biological clock.
How You Can Help
Because this time is a bit of a strain on your pet’s health, you can help make sure that they stay in peak condition during brumation.
Visit The Vet
Seeing the vet once a year is important to overall health before brumation begins.
It’s important to make sure they’re also hydrated and that temperatures in your enclosure are correct. Sometimes handling your reptilian pal during slumber is encouraged so that they get the proper amount of water. This could mean soaking them for 20-30 minutes once a week. Watch closely if your bearded bestie is still asleep during baths.
Belly rubs and warm baths encourage defecation, which is important before their rest so that food in their stomachs don’t rot or cause infection.
Provide your pet someplace to hide. These additions to the enclosure can be anything from larger rocks to shelters, but they should be big enough to cover your pet’s body, allowing them to feel safe and secure.