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Bearded Dragon Brumation 

 Hydration is always the number one concern in keeping your Beardie healthy - especially during brumation.

 

Keeping Your Beardie Well Hydrated


I'd like to take the opportunity to say that each beardie is different in the manner of how and when they brumate...or whether they brumate at all!  Generally, if they are preparing to brumate, they will go off their food and their activity will slow until they remain dormant (usually in the cooler side of their vivarium) for periods of time. Some will become minimally active again before repeating the process while others will simply stay in their hide or in the cooler part of their viv for weeks or even months without eating or 'waking up'.  They will move their arms and legs around from time to time, much like we move around when we sleep, but for the most part they are 'asleep'.  Their breathing will slow considerably as well sometimes to the point where their owners fear that they have died!  In brumation, however, all bodily functions slow right down.  The important things are to:  1) allow your beardie to remain in the cooler portion of his viv and don't worry about heat or UVB lighting -- as long as his viv remains above 65 degrees F, he'll be fine; and 2) to ensure that your beardie remains hydrated during his brumation.

When Bearded Dragons go into brumation in the wild, it's common for them to burrow under things in their environment, or to bury themselves in moist soil to ensure they receive enough hydration to survive until the Spring.  Beardies have the ability to take in a certain amount of moisture throught their vent which is enough for them to happily exist while in a dormant state.  

However, when kept in captivity, it's not a good practice to add moist soil to their tanks or enclosures since doing so may raise the humidity within their living area to an unhealthy level which may result in an Upper Respiratory Infection. Therefore, regardless of whether your Bearded Dragon brumates within a 'hide' or whether she chooses to burrow under whatever sort of substrate is on the bottom of her vivarium, she's not going to be able to absorb the amount of moisture she needs in order to remain healthy and well hydrated until she awakens.

Because of this, it's up to you to make sure she takes in enough fluids to survive, and remain healthy, during brumation.

The easiest and most effective way to do this is to remove him from his tank once every one to two weeks and give him a 20-30 minute soak in warm water.  Personally, I clean and rinse my kitchen sink well and use it as the bath.  You may choose to get a basin from the dollar store or to use one of those large Kritter Keepers with the brightly colored lids that you can get from the pet store.   Fill the bottom with an inch or two of warm water, place him in it and be sure to remain close enough to watch and supervise him while he’s in the water. 

It is important to note that, when you first remove your beardie from her viv, she may or may not wake up for you.  If she does and is holding her head up and supporting herself with her front legs, great!.  If not, you can still give her her soak but you must remain close by to ensure her head and nostrils remain above the water.  If she breathes in water, she could aspirate the water or even drown (Aspiration means that a small amount of water has entered the lung which can cause respiratory infections and even death.)  She’s depending solely on you to keep her safe.

You only need an inch or two of water in the container for a good soaking.  Make sure the water is covering the vent area completely.  If he remains asleep, prop his head up on a folded facecloth so you don't have to actually hold it up for 20 minutes! His body will take in whatever moisture he needs through his vent during the 20 or 30 minute soaking.

Often, during the soaking, she will wake up a little (or a lot!).  She'll continue to absorb moisture through her vent, but she may also want to lower her head and drink. That's great ... just make absolutely sure that she is drinking and that her head and nostrils do not slip below the water!

Bathing a juvenile (5 mth old) bearded dragon 

 Bathing an adult (6 tear old) bearded dragon 

Once he’s had his  soak you can return him to his enclosure.  I personally put him in the centre of the viv if he's awake.  If he's still sound asleep I put him right where I found him after I dry him off really well first since putting him back while he’s still wet may cause a fungal infection.  If he's awake you should still pat him dry and place him on his basking spot for a few minutes to ensure that he is completely dry.  When he’s had enough basking he’ll return to his sleeping place on his own or he may choose to walk around a bit before returning to sleep.  Let him decide on his own what he wants to do and when he chooses to do it.


If he seems hungry you can offer him some food but if he isn’t interested don’t force the issue.  He’s the best judge of what his body needs.  If he does decide to eat, return to the rule of making sure he basks for at least an hour to prompt digestion. Then, you will have to ensure that you give him another warm soak in a day or two to promote a bowel movement since food left in his system should he return to brumation will simply cause it to rot and make him very ill. Then, once he's had his bowel movement, you can again allow him to do as he pleases until it's time for his next soak. Be sure to mark the dates on the calendar as to when he's had his soaks and when he is to get his next one ... time goes by so quickly sometimes and it is easy to forget that it's again time to give him his hydrating soak! 


Hydration of lizards in captivity is essential to their overall well-being - especially during brumation when they tend to dehydrate more than when they are eating .

3 bearded dragons are having their bath (with young boy who is helping them get hydrated) 

Brumation Care and Hydration Needs

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