In the wild, bearded dragons go through a process known as brumation. This is very similar to the process that mammals go through during the colder winter months, hibernation. You might call this the reptilian version.
However, in captivity, the bearded dragon may not undergo this process since their natural instinct has been somewhat removed. But that is not to say that it is impossible for your pet to enter brumation. The question that plagues owners is whether they should wake their bearded dragon from brumation.
In short, your bearded dragon should be left brumating if he goes through the process in captivity; he will not come to any harm. In contrast, those beardies that are under one year old might struggle to make it through brumation and you should consult your vet about the possibility of waking him.
In this article, we are going to be looking at what happens to your bearded dragon as he goes through brumation and whether you need to be concerned and ultimately, wake him up.
What Is Brumation And Why Do They Do It?
Brumation, in very simple terms, is a process that many reptiles go through as a way of ‘avoiding’ the colder months during winter. At this time of year, food supplies may be lower and the animal might struggle to survive; so what do they do? They ‘sleep’ through it.
However, contrary to popular belief, when a bearded dragon is brumating, she won’t simply nod off and wake up months later. Instead, these amazing creatures will significantly slow down all of their body functions including their metabolism so that they do not need to eat, or drink, anywhere near as much as usual.
During brumation, a beardie will move a lot less than normal and in some cases, when they are very lethergic, you could be forgiven for thinking that they were no longer alive.
Quite often, a bearded dragon that is brumating will bury themselves under the soil as this not only protects them but also gives them a way to access underground moisture without having to venture off in search of hydration.
Do Captive Beared Dragons Brumate?
You might not be wrong to assume that, when kept in captivity, bearded dragons do not brumate. This is true, to an extent; captive lizards may not necessarily brumate in the same way that wild animals do and this is largely because they have no way to differentiate between seasons.
Furthermore, some captive dragons might have the urge to brumate but push this to one side since their food supply is never limited.
That being said, it is not unheard of for captive bearded dragons to go through brumation, not by a long shot. So as an owner, it pays to be aware that should you ever find your pet looking unusually still and not wanting to eat as much, they might be giving in to their natural instinct.
Should I Wake My Bearded Dragon From Brumation?
In a nutshell – no; you should not wake your bearded dragon from brumation. He is doing something that is as natural as mating or eating and it would be counterproductive to wake your pet as he does this.
However, if your young bearded dragon starts brumating, there could be a cause for concern. Let’s look at this in a little more detail.
If your adult beardie has entered brumation, attempting to wake him or her could mean that the period of brumation is extended; think of it as interrupted your sleep at night – if you were to be woken several times, you would like sleep longer the next morning. So, provided that he is healthy, you should leave your pet to do what comes naturally.
Bearded dragons normally begin to brumate when they are around 12 months old, however, it has been noted that some animals will enter brumation before this but this could be potentially harmful.
The reason for this is that the fat reserves and overall body energy of a younger bearded dragon may not be sufficient for her to get through brumation unscathed.
There have been reports of dragons as young as six months going through the process but if you notice that your baby beardie is brumating, the best thing to do is to consult your vet.
A vet will be able to take a look at the animal and determine whether her overall health is enough for her to safely brumate. In most cases, your vet will advise you to leave the dragon alone but monitor them closely for signs that they are struggling with the process, at which point, the situation can be reassessed.
How To Stop Brumation
As we have mentioned, it is better to leave your bearded dragon alone as she brumates, and in most cases, this will cause no harm to the animal; after around three months, you will notice that your pet springs back to life, completely unharmed.
There are slight changes to the care that you will give to your dragon while brumation takes place and we have written a more in-depth guide on this.
However, if for some reason you must rouse your bearded dragon from brumation, it is essential to do this with the backing of a vet.
Many owners will gradually raise the temperature of the tank and this can mimic the onset of spring, therefore, bringing the animal out of brumation.
Furthermore, some owners will gently wake their bearded dragon once a week during brumation to offer food and a bath; this should be done with care and don’t be concerned if your pet refuses almost all of their food.
A bearded dragon, in the wild, will go through a process called brumation which is much the same a the hibernation process of mammals. These animals have a natural urge to brumate and when kept in captivity, may still do this.
If you notice that your pet is brumating, the best thing to do is to allow her to go through it. The only time that you should consider waking your bearded dragon from brumation is if they are under one year old. But this should always be done with caution, never forced and under the watchful of of a vet.