Today we’re going to talk about one of the coolest, most charismatic creatures in the reptile kingdom, the bearded dragon.
Named for their unique throat pouch that resembles a beard when puffed up, these spiky-scaled friends make popular pets and are beloved for their curious and generally friendly demeanor.
But here’s where it gets interesting – bearded dragons hibernate! Well, sort of. It’s called brumation. It’s like hibernation’s cooler, reptile cousin.
But this raises a critical question for all beardie parents: “Can I hold my bearded dragon during brumation?“
What is a Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons, or ‘beardies,’ as they’re fondly called, are native to Australia’s arid, rocky regions. They’ve got a certain charm that makes them irresistible to reptile lovers, making them one of the most popular pet lizards in the US, UK, and Canada.
What is Brumation?
Brumation is a form of hibernation that cold-blooded animals, like our beardie friends, go through.
As temperatures drop and daylight dwindles, bearded dragons may enter this state of dormancy, showing signs like decreased activity, eating less, and sleeping more.
It’s a natural process they go through to survive in cooler temperatures, and yes, it’s normal.
Understanding Bearded Dragon Behavior
To answer our big question – “Should you handle a bearded dragon in brumation?” we first need to unravel the mystery of bearded dragon behavior. Trust me; it’s as fascinating as a detective novel!
Normal Bearded Dragon Behavior
Beardies are usually active, curious, and literally love basking in the spotlight. They enjoy sunbathing under a heat lamp, munching on insects and veggies, and exploring their surroundings.
With their cute head bobbing and arm waving, these guys could win any talent show, hands down!
Brumation: A Special Type of Behavior
As winter creeps in, your beardie might start acting a bit, well, off. Less party animal and more sleepyhead. This could be a sign they’re entering brumation – the reptile version of hibernation.
You might notice them eating less, sleeping more, and generally being less active. This is completely normal and no cause for alarm.
To gain more insight into the mind of your bearded dragon, check out our post do bearded dragons get bored. It’s a riveting read that’ll make you see your pet in a whole new light!
Can I Hold My Bearded Dragon During Brumation?
You’ve been waiting for this, haven’t you? So, here it is – the short answer and the long answer.
Short Answer: Yes, But…
Yes, you can, but there’s a little asterisk next to that “yes.” You see, beardies are pretty chill creatures.
They won’t mind you holding them, even during brumation. But that doesn’t mean you should wake them up just for a cuddle session.
Long Answer: It’s Complicated
Bearded dragons are not like us. They don’t follow a Netflix-and-chill routine during their downtime. Brumation is a crucial period for them.
It’s a time when their bodies slow down, conserve energy, and prepare for the coming active months.
Interrupting this period with frequent handling might stress them out, and we don’t want that, do we? A stressed beardie is not a happy beardie. So, how do we navigate this? Let’s explore that next.
The Impact of Holding a Bearded Dragon During Brumation
While occasional gentle handling might not cause harm, frequent or rough handling can stress your beardie out.
And stress in bearded dragons can lead to a host of health issues, like changes in eating habits, lethargy, or even illness.
To learn more about how stress affects your bearded dragon and how to spot the signs, check out our post on how to tell if your bearded dragon is stressed.
How to Handle Your Bearded Dragon During Brumation
We’ve established that handling your bearded dragon during brumation is okay but with some caution. Now, let’s talk about how to do it right!
Gentle Handling: Key Tips
When you need to handle your brumating beardie, remember the golden rule: be gentle. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises that might startle them.
Here’s a pro tip: Always wash your hands before and after handling your bearded dragon. This helps prevent the spread of germs and keeps both you and your pet healthy.
Monitoring Health: Don’t Ignore the Signs
Even though brumation is a natural process, keeping an eye on your pet’s health is still important. If you notice any alarming signs, like weight loss or changes in skin color, it’s best to consult a vet.
Remember, your bearded dragon might wake up occasionally during brumation, which is a perfect time to offer some water. How often should you do this? Check out our post on how often bearded dragons drink water for a detailed guide!
What to Do If Your Bearded Dragon Is Brumating
Brumation might feel like a long winter nap for your beardie, but for you, it’s a time for vigilant care and attention. Here’s your action plan.
Preparing for Brumation: Checklist
- Visit the Vet: Before brumation kicks in, taking your beardie for a check-up is a good idea. The vet can ensure they’re healthy and ready for this period of dormancy.
- Clean the Habitat: Cleanliness is next to godliness, even for bearded dragons! Make sure their habitat is clean and comfy before they hit the snooze button.
- Water and Weigh: Keep a shallow dish of water in their habitat, and monitor their weight regularly. This helps ensure they stay hydrated and don’t lose too much weight during brumation.
Caring for Your Bearded Dragon During Brumation
- Quiet, Please: Try to keep the noise down around your brumating beardie. They’re trying to sleep, after all!
- Check-In, But Don’t Disturb: Regularly check on your bearded dragon, but avoid unnecessary handling.
- Hydrate: If your beardie wakes up, offer them water. They might not drink it, but having the option is good.
Knowing if your lizard is dehydrated is crucial. Check out our guide on how you know if a lizard is dehydrated to keep your pet healthy!
Common Misconceptions About Bearded Dragons and Brumation
In the world of bearded dragons, there’s no shortage of myths and misconceptions, especially when it comes to brumation. So, let’s clear the air and get our facts straight!
Myth 1: Bearded Dragons in Brumation are Sick
Truth: Not at all! While the signs of brumation might seem similar to illness (less activity, eating less), brumation is a completely natural process. However, if you’re unsure, always consult a vet.
Myth 2: All Bearded Dragons Brumate
Truth: Nope, not all bearded dragons will brumate. Some might skip it entirely, while others might only brumate for a short time. It depends on the individual dragon and its environment.
Myth 3: You Should Wake Your Bearded Dragon During Brumation
Truth: Let sleeping dragons lie! Unless there’s an urgent need (like a vet visit), it’s best not to wake your brumating bearded dragon. They need this time to rest and rejuvenate.
Myth 4: Bearded Dragons Shouldn’t Eat During Brumation
Truth: While it’s true that beardies eat less during brumation, they might wake up occasionally for a snack or a drink. So, it’s a good idea to have food and water available.
So, there we have it, folks! We’ve journeyed into the bearded dragons and brumation world, untangling myths and answering that all-important question – “Can I hold my bearded dragon during brumation?“
We learned that yes, you can, but it’s essential to handle with care. Remember, this is their downtime, their time to chill and rejuvenate.
So, as much as we love our scaly buddies, let’s respect their space and make sure their brumation period is as comfortable as possible.
As always, keep an eye on your bearded dragon’s health during this time, and don’t hesitate to consult a vet if you notice anything amiss.