See You Later, Alligator
Brumation and what to know.
You've heard about Hibernation, but have you heard about Brumation or Aestivation? Brumation is a state of sluggishness, dormant, or torpor exhibited by reptiles (some more often than others) during winter or extended periods of low temperature. This subterranean torpor is not a true hibernation, but a cold-blooded version of slowing down.
Aestivation on the other hand, (from Latin: aestas, summer, but also spelled estivation in American English) is a state of animal dormancy, similar to hibernation, although taking place in summer rather than winter.
The following is a guide on what to do if your reptile starts brumating, signs, and how to go back to normal once finished.
Brumation is completely safe as it is normal for Reptiles to do so in the wild.
Brumation will last a few weeks. At least. But more often than not a good three months plus. Once again, not every Bearded Dragon will brumate.
Even though Reptiles especially Bearded Dragons are prone to Brumating sooner or later (or even never), there's really no way to prevent it. But when your Reptiles start to feel a change in temperature, they'll start to Brumate, so make sure to always have your heating in check.
Signs of Brumation:
- Loss of appetite and lethargy.
- An atypical aversion to being handled.
- Refusing to bask and poop.
- Sleeping on the cool side of their vivarium, even during the day.
- Burying themselves.
- Difficulty being woken up.
It is very important to go to the vet to get a check up if you see the symptoms mentioned above, because these are similar to that of an illness.
Even if you see your Reptiles starting to Brumate, there are actions that must be taken in order for them to come out of Brumation as healthy as when they started.
Steps to be taken during Brumation:
- Aforementioned, schedule a check up with you very to insure your babies are okay.
- Offer less and less food, to the point of nothing being offered in the final week or so. And one of the main reasons for keeping the heat on at this point, is to ensure they had a poo.
- Reduce basking hours (for a diurnal reptile) or lower temperatures by installing a lower wattage bulb. But still keep a heating pad so your Reptiles can poop.
- Anything left in the stomach can rot inside them. This could cause many serious problems. So make sure to bathe once in a while rubbing their belly.
- They instinctively know the trouble a stomach full of food can cause them. So, follow their lead here.
- Once a dragon has had its poo in those final days of the temperature reducing routine, turn off the basking bulb, and UV, and leave them to sleep. Simple as that really.
- Check on them daily.
- Water can be offered. In fact, once a week. Please make sure you support the head. They are often still very sleepy, but you will find often they may drink a fair amount, even in this sleeping state.
Bearded Dragons while sleeping:
We now have knowledge that hormonal changes take place while sleeping. Cooler temperatures have an effect on sperm production in our male dragons; and warmer conditions aid female ovulation on waking. So it serves, not only as a survival aid but also as vital aid for optimal reproduction conditions.
Coming out of Brumation:
- One day when you check on them, you will find them up and about, looking at you. Or you will hear them moving around.
- At this point, bathe them for a drink stimulation opportunity, and turn everything back on again (heat & UV). You can do it in a gradual process. Kind of reverse what you did on shut-down.
- So as they, and you resume the routine in which they are used to, all will be back to normal in no time.
- Although they may not eat during the first couple of waking days, when they do, they will want to eat everything. But don't let them gouge out. Greens and hydration should of course be offered, too.
- As mentioned, not every reptile will brumate. There is nothing wrong with your dragon if they have not yet gone through the process. It may well happen the next time around.
Although this may be new and a difficult time for you, always know you're not alone. So if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us via email, social media, over the phone, and in person!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!
In a while, Crocodile!