Bearded dragons are fascinating reptiles known for their unique behaviors and adaptations. One such behavior is brumation, a period of dormancy similar to hibernation. In this article, we will explore what brumation is, why bearded dragons go through this process, how to recognize the signs, and how to care for your dragon during this time. By understanding brumation and providing proper care, you can ensure the well-being of your beloved bearded dragon.

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1. What is Brumation?

Brumation is a natural process that occurs in many reptiles, including bearded dragons. It is a period of dormancy where the dragon's metabolic rate slows down, and they become less active. Unlike hibernation, brumation is not triggered by cold temperatures but rather by changes in light and temperature cycles.

2. Why Do Bearded Dragons Brumate?

Bearded dragons brumate as a response to the changing seasons. In the wild, they experience a decrease in daylight hours and cooler temperatures during winter. Brumation allows them to conserve energy and survive during periods of scarce food and unfavorable conditions.

3. Recognizing the Signs of Brumation

It is important to be able to recognize the signs of brumation to ensure the health and safety of your bearded dragon. Common signs include decreased appetite, reduced activity levels, weight loss, and changes in behavior. It is crucial to differentiate brumation from illness, so monitoring your dragon's behavior and consulting a reptile veterinarian is recommended.

4. Preparing for Brumation

Before the brumation period begins, there are a few steps you can take to prepare your bearded dragon:

Ensure your dragon is in good health: Schedule a check-up with a reptile veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.
Monitor weight and body condition: It's important for your dragon to have sufficient fat reserves before entering brumation. A healthy weight ensures they have enough energy to sustain them during this dormant phase.
Adjust lighting and temperature: Start gradually reducing the light and temperature hours in your dragon's habitat to mimic the natural seasonal changes.

5. Adjusting the Habitat

Creating the right brumation environment is crucial for your bearded dragon's well-being. Here are some considerations:

Provide a suitable brumation spot: Create a separate area with a cozy hiding place, such as a reptile cave or a snug log, where your dragon can rest undisturbed.
Remove potential hazards: Check the habitat for any sharp objects or loose substrates that could pose a risk during brumation.
Ensure proper ventilation: Maintain adequate airflow to prevent the buildup of humidity, which can lead to respiratory problems.

6. Maintaining Optimal Temperature

Although bearded dragons become less active during brumation, maintaining optimal temperatures is still important. Follow these guidelines:

Provide a temperature gradient: Set up a temperature gradient in the habitat, with a warm basking area (around 95°F/35°C) and a cooler zone (around 75°F/24°C).
Use a thermostat: Use a reliable thermostat to regulate the temperatures and prevent any fluctuations that could be harmful to your dragon.
7. Adjusting the Lighting Schedule
Lighting plays a crucial role in a bearded dragon's brumation cycle. Here's what you need to know:

Decrease light hours gradually: Start reducing the photoperiod by an hour or two each week until reaching 8-10 hours of light per day.
Provide a UVB source: Even during brumation, your dragon needs access to UVB light for proper calcium metabolism. Ensure the UVB bulb is fresh and within the recommended distance.

8. Adjusting the Feeding Routine

Bearded dragons have reduced appetite during brumation, but they still require occasional feeding. Consider the following:

Offer light meals: Provide small, easily digestible meals every 1-2 weeks to keep your dragon's digestive system active without causing stress.
Use gut-loaded insects: Dust insects with a calcium supplement before feeding them to ensure your dragon receives essential nutrients.

9. Hydration During Brumation

While bearded dragons can survive without water during brumation, it's essential to maintain hydration. Follow these tips:

Provide a shallow water dish: Place a shallow dish with fresh water in the habitat. Monitor water levels to ensure cleanliness.
Offer occasional misting: Mist your dragon lightly with water once or twice a week to provide additional hydration.

10. Monitoring Your Dragon's Health

Regular monitoring of your bearded dragon's health is vital during brumation. Take the following measures:

Weigh your dragon: Weigh your dragon weekly to track any significant weight loss or gain.
Observe physical appearance: Check for any signs of illness, such as skin abnormalities, discharge from the mouth or nose, or changes in feces.
Consult a veterinarian: If you notice any concerning symptoms or have questions about your dragon's health, consult a reptile veterinarian.
11. Handling Your Dragon During Brumation
It is generally advised not to handle your bearded dragon during brumation unless necessary. Disturbing them can cause stress and disrupt their dormancy. If you need to handle your dragon, do so gently and with minimal disturbance.

12. Ending the Brumation Period

As the winter season comes to an end, your bearded dragon will naturally emerge from brumation. Follow these steps:

Gradually increase light hours: Start extending the photoperiod by an hour or two each week until returning to the regular lighting schedule.
Gradually increase temperatures: Slowly raise the temperatures in the habitat to normal levels over a period of a few weeks.
Offer regular meals: Once your dragon is fully active, resume regular feeding schedules and monitor their appetite and behavior closely.


Q1: How long does brumation typically last for bearded dragons?
Brumation duration can vary, but it usually lasts for several weeks to a few months.

Q2: Is it normal for bearded dragons to lose weight during brumation?
Yes, weight loss is normal during brumation due to decreased activity and reduced appetite.

Q3: Should I wake up my bearded dragon during brumation to check on them?
It's best to avoid unnecessary disturbances during brumation. Monitor them without waking them up unless you notice anyunusual or concerning signs.

Q4: Can bearded dragons brumate at any age?
Yes, bearded dragons of all ages can go through brumation, although younger dragons may have shorter or less intense brumation periods.

Q5: What should I do if my bearded dragon doesn't wake up from brumation?
If your dragon doesn't wake up from brumation within a reasonable time frame or shows signs of illness, consult a reptile veterinarian for a thorough examination.


Brumation is a natural and important process for bearded dragons. By understanding the signs and providing appropriate care, you can ensure the well-being of your reptile companion during this dormant phase. Remember to monitor their health, adjust their habitat and lighting, and provide occasional meals and hydration. If you have any concerns, don't hesitate to seek advice from a reptile veterinarian. By following these guidelines, you can support your bearded dragon through a healthy and successful brumation period.