Brumation is like hibernation, but the Beardie's body doesn't completely shut down. Brumation is largely a result of temperature and light changes when the days get shorter and nights get longer. In captivity, you may keep your Beardie's enclosure fairly consistent as far as temperatures and lights go, and his activity levels may stay the same. However, your Beardie's internal clock might just tell him it's time to brumate, regardless of what you do.

Generally, brumation occurs in the fall or winter. Your Beardie will likely become less active and eat less, or stop eating all together. If your beardie decides to brumate, he may sleep for weeks or months at a time or he may just be lethargic for a while. Also, a brumating dragon may dig under his substrate, hide under something, or just lay around his tank. I continue to provide veggies and occasional mealworms, crickets, or silkworms just in case they want to snack. That's another reason to provide a basking spot, so need to be able to digest food if they decide to eat. Even without eating, a healthy Beardie shouldn't lose much weight while brumating, unless ill or infected with parasites.

There are many theories on what to do when and if your Beardie decides to brumate. Some owners think that forcing brumation by lowering temperatures and light to simulate winter is the way to go while others try to hinder it. Personally, I feel it is best to let your bearded dragon do whatever comes naturally.

If you think your Beardie is about to brumate or is brumating, make sure he is healthy. Have a vet perform a fecal exam to check for parasites. If the dragon is healthy, he will likely brumate for extended periods without any problems. Continue to offer food and water, but don't force it. Continue to offer a basking site in case he wants to bask. If your Beardie decides to eat something he will need the heat for digestion. Monitor your Beardie's weight and check for dehydration during brumation. If you lightly pinch the skin on the back of your Beardie and it goes right back down, your beardie is probably not dehydrated. On the other hand, if the pinched skin stays in place for a few moments and slowly goes back into place, your beardie needs water. Surprisingly, most dragons won't lose much weight or become dehydrated even after brumating for a few months. If you are concerned about dehydration, give your dragon a warm soak once a week.

Also, see our page on Dehydration for more info.

Above all, use common sense. If your dragon begins to lose a noticeable amount of weight, develops smelly/runny stools, or has dark circles under his eyes, consult a vet immediately, as these are often signs of dehydration, parasites, and illness.

This information should be used only as a reference tool and should not be used in place of vet assistance. My views and opinions are the result of hours of dedicated research. But remember, I am not a professional. If you have a sick beardie and don't know what to do, don't play God, take him to the vet immediately.
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