Brumation (hiberation) in the
Australian Bearded Dragon

Brumation in Bearded Dragons

    This handout contains a compilation of emails from the Pogona list on the internet, which discusses Pogona vitticeps, the Bearded Dragon. It gives many different opinions on the phenomenon of brumation. I think that giving multiple alternatives helps us BD-lovers figure out the full latitude of care that works. And the different voices are good to "hear".

    What is our dragon doing???

    Karen We have a bearded dragon, male, 11 months old, who is at present: Sleeping a LOT, Staying in his hideaway in the cooler part of the tan, Only out to eat if I move him out, Having very infrequent bowel movements, I don't remember the last time he shed his skin.....[maybe August??] I had a stool sample checked which was negative. I made it hotter in the tank, which didn't seem to make much difference. Then I spoke to someone who told me that he was not exactly hibernating, but kind of going dormant due to the day length shortening etc., and that I should turn the heat right down, feed him once a week, and let him sleep for a few weeks. I then spoke to someone else who said to do the opposite; turn up the heat, feed him daily, otherwise I may starve him to death! HELP...Can you tell me, Is this normal behavior? What should I be doing? Can I stop worrying ?



    Kathryn Your dragon is entering a normal period of semi-dormancy called "Brumation" (this name distinguishes it scientifically from hibernation, in which an animal undergoes more extreme physiological changes). Brumation always scares new BD owners. You have done exactly the right thing--as lethargy hits, check the BD's health and do a fecal check. If those are fine, then you can cease worrying that he is ill--he is just going through a natural lethargy period.

    If your beardie doesn't show these changes, there is no need to force him to enter dormancy. Most of us don't "brumate" our young dragons (less than a year old) and some dragons prefer to stay active. Brumation does appear to help breeding dragons--those BDs who go through a cooling period are said to have higher sperm counts/egg viability. Those people who don't want to breed their dragons usually don't cool their dragon much--although I breed mine and don't cool them any more than room temperature (and "The Babe" laid 180 eggs last year...).

    Jen Someone asked awhile ago about brumation not being in the dictionary... my professor brought it up today in class, so i thought i'd pass on what he said. Herpetologists use or used the word brumation for the reptile version of hibernation. it's essentially the same thing, but it's a different metabolic process. Mammals used stored fat for energy, reptiles use glycogen. My prof said the trend with some people lately is to switch back to using the word hibernation because the general public is more familiar with the word.

    Bill Mears Well, hibernation is taken from 'hiver' which is French for 'winter' so that's what animals do in the winter. And.....brumation is taken from the French 'brume' which means 'fog' so that's what animals do when they visit England or anywhere there's a heavy smoker.

    Nancy If hibernation is the actual going to sleep for the winter and brumation is when they go to sleep for days and weeks at a time, then what is it called when they open their eyes each morning, lay there all day and stare out blankly at you, then go back to sleep at night in the same place? I have decided to call that FRUSTRATION.
    Because that is what they do to me, but like a lot of other things in my life I have learned to live with it, since it is futile to try to change them. They always look at me and say, "I'm the Beardie, gotta love me."


Brumating… or sick?

    Kathryn If apathy or lethargy is accompanied by a change in feces--looser and smelly-- it often indicates that treatment is in order. An evil odor generally indicates a coccidia outbreak, and while BDs can carry some level of coccidia without any problems, when the feces begins to smell really bad, and the BD has a lower level of activity, and the coccidia count is high, I consider it time for treatment with Albon. Loose stools alone are not diagnostic and often simply indicate a slight change in diet (or mood, or whatever).

    To see if a BD is really feeling under the weather, another thing I look for is little dark circles under the eyes. I kid you not. Take a look at your BD's eyes--look for a dark brownish color in the lower eyelid, often only on the back part of the eyelid. These little dark circles indicate to me that the BD truly isn't feeling well, that the lethargy is not just incipient brumation. Also look at the gums--do they look paler than usual which could indicate blood-loss from a heavy parasite infection, or are they pulled back a bit, which could indicate a bit of dehydration? If you see any evidence of dehydration, you can treat that directly with warm baths and water or Gatorade or Pedialyte given orally by needless syringe.

    One thing I generally suggest if a BD starts showing a slowdown is to get a fecal exam done--particularly try to find a vet that will do such an exam for 10-12$ and prescribe meds (Albon, Panacur) without charging you a huge amount for an office visit. Sometimes you simply have to develop a relationship with a vet. If the fecal exam is clear (or shows minimal parasite loads--make sure your vet pays attention to the quantity of parasites; bad in my opinion to aggressively treat a minimal infestation) and the BD is plump, bright-eyed, pink-gummed, hydrated, then I don't worry at all about the slowdown.

    When do they do it? Can you prevent it?

    Mark Lee In my experience, brumation can be dependent on temperature, lighting and (if your dragons are near a window and can see outside) external climate conditions. We live in Seattle where the weather is generally dark and miserable from mid October through March / April. Our dragons have a cage right by the window, so they notice the shorter daylight hours and dark skies. They began brumation in November and came out about 2 weeks ago. Our Rankins dragons are still sleeping ! Most of the books I have read suggest that brumation usually ends around mid February. During brumation, cage lighting times and heat should be reduced to mimic seasonal changes. Many of the available care sheets should give you suggestions for optimal levels of heat/light. Perhaps we were flying in the face of convention, but we checked on our Dragons every 2 weeks. We uncovered them slightly and gave them a drink of water from a small spray bottle (squirted gently onto the tip of their noses so they can lick the water). We covered them again immediately afterwards and it did not appear to disturb them at all.

    Female Dragons seem to be quite particular about having things to dig in/under and will try numerous places before finding a spot they like. You may also notice a decline in appetite and fecal matter as he/she prepares for brumation. This is quite common. Make sure that s/he has a good meal and a drink prior to brumating. A healthy Dragon (nice fat tail base) will have no problems going for 3 or 4 months without food. Some people may take issue with me on the subject of water, but I would still suggest giving them a small amount of fluids every 3 weeks. It's amazing how much you miss them when they are sleeping. Our apartment seemed very empty and quiet, though we do have 2 very lively young Uromastyx who are not quite old enough to brumate yet so they kept us amused.

    Jen I think it's also depends on the individual dragon. Gwen's first winter she was young and didn't slow down a bit. last winder she didn't eat from October to February (and yes, that DID freak me out at first!) this year so far she hasn't shown any signs of slowing at all...but it's still early. if she does brumate, hopefully she will do it *after* she eats all the crickets i just ordered!:)

    Kathryn If you did lower the temps, your juveniles might slow down, even brumate. However, I would tend to let them remain hyper right now, since they are still probably in their growth phase; they could be so excited because they realize that THIS IS THEIR CHANCE--they can eat and eat and eat and exercise and eat and GROW and catch up with the big'ens!!

    I do think it is interesting physiologically that, in the same tank, 2 BDs will brumate and 2 will run around wildly, oblivious to what must be the same environmental signals. Similarly, as I look right now into my adolescent tank (on the coffee table), I note that 5 are out of sight and have been for the past week, sleeping soundly under their branches and paper towels, while a male and a female are happily basking under separate basking sites. They are all about the same age and from the same parents, so neither age nor size nor genetics explains the different behaviors; while brumation is to a large extent innate, the behavior must have a fair amount of variability. BDs seem just to be rugged individualists--or the dissenters all have a plan to GROW while everyone is asleep, so they can take over the WORLD!!!!

    Rita V Our guys "slowed down" last winter for several months - into February as I recall. We're in Chicago and I was surprised when they started eating like little pigs again in the coldest darkest part of winter... Does anyone know why this happens ? Do they just sense the coming of spring ? Rita V

    Paul, in Australia
    It really depends on the individual and the environment. My guys all slept through Winter and are now just waking up. The Diamond Python was up all year, and half the Bluetongue skink population was out. Year before that, they were all down for 3 months.

    Ronnie Buck I haven't made any changes in my temps and I now have 7 dragons that are down, 3 under the night stand, one in the closet, one who is gravid and was digging everywhere so I placed her in an egg tub where she promptly dug a nice nest only to curl up inside if it and crash out, one is sleeping on the bottom shelf of a book case, and one who is still in his cage but sleeping under a log. I'll dig the gravid female out tomorrow and try to keep her awake until after the clutch and she puts her weight back on.

    Kathryn I agree--the dragons do it themselves, individually, regardless of the cues we think they may be following. Indeed, I have had multiple dragons *in the very same cage* take multiple approaches to brumation. For instance, one did not brumate at all--one brumated a short time--two sacked out for a couple of months--and the last one was first down, and last to awaken.

    It may well turn out that the cues for brumation are multifactoral, like bird navigation during migration. You take away one cue, the bird still gets to where it should go. Take away two, no problem. Take away three, a few mistakes, but there they are all at their destination--you have to get all the factors before you get a totally lost bird.
    In addition, the cues on *WHEN* to brumate must be involved with the circadian rhythms--and with circadian rhythms, the clock is innate (even genetic!! People have been able to genetically manipulate circadian rhythms in some beasties!) and it is only *reset* and adjusted by external cues (and some internal cues, like "am I fat and healthy enough to brumate, or should I stay awake and EAT?"). Like when we get up in the morning--the light can cue awakeness, and if the light is on earlier every day, the internal clock can adjust (for most people--some people don't seem to be "light activated" of course, or at least use the more common cue--bloody alarm clock--). So, take away ALL the cues, and the internal clock still, at some point, says GET UP or GO TO SLEEP, or, well BRUMATE!!

    SO, if the dragon is going to brumate, it is going to brumate...we can only try to delay their brumation to assure that they are nice and fat, and healthy, and have a low parasite load, etc. I don't know of a good way to prevent brumation (or at least prolonged lethargy) all winter. It may be that brumation can be *induced* by reducing temperature, light, etc. But stopping them? Delay, maybe, stop, beyond my ability!


Bill Mears When Dud 'n' Daisy were that size, daisy buried herself for 2 weeks and when I was convinced she must have escaped and dug her out she was a lot smaller than Dudley, she's caught up since then, but Dudley has NEVER shown any inclination to reduce his food intake in over 2 years and while the others are slowing down, he actually tried to eat my sweater this week while he was sat on my lap waiting for crix!

Kathryn Several of mine are digging, and a few are actually "dug-in", even rarely coming out to eat. I added some hiding spots--curved bark pieces, wooden platforms or even paper towels ("BD blankies")-- for them to dig under, which seems to make them happy (judged by the fact that, once under something, they often curl up and go to sleep, rather than continuing to dig). Others are becoming more lethargic, but rather than digging in are never moving from the basking sites. In the multi-adolescent cage, only one male is still very active. He seems quite pleased with himself. He runs around and grabs everyone by the epaulets-- his glee suggests that he's thinking "Oh, goodie, everyone is going to sleep and now I am DOMINANT!!!!"

Kevin Here's another view! With all the strange goings on with everyone else’s sleeping dragons I thought I'd share. Well one is dug in under the branch and sleeps for days on end, another won't give in and runs around disturbing the others, and finally the other has decided to sleep in the tree!! Maybe I should change her name to CHESHIRE. Curiouser & Curiouser

Kathryn One of the young females has decided that the very very best place to brumate is INSIDE the big food dish. Saves lots of effort if she should happen to wake up hungry... Her cagemate is less thrilled with her choice of winter accommodations. She sometimes rouses a bit when I drop greens on her, or nudge her to clean the old greens out of the bowl.

The seasonal changes have one other consequence--I have found one way to quite amicably introduce a couple of females to a likely male, even though he is larger than they are by a couple of inches. First, I put their cages side by side for several weeks. The excitement was high initially, and gradually ebbed enough that the male simply decided it was time for brumation. He dug in well, stopped eating, slept most of the day. THEN I introduced the females. With all the commotion, he looked up from his cozy nest half-hidden by logs, stared at the females as though saying "NOW!!!! You give me the females NOW??? What are you THINKING??? " They are now amicably ensconced with one another, with little head-bobbing, neck-biting or display. The male is still playing with brumation, but may still be confused about his priorities. They do end up basking in the classic BD pile at times, although one or another will take an occasional foray into the favored brumation site, digging themselves in with a "I give up on you all, I'm going to ignore this entire social scene and SLEEP..."



Three general ways to safely help your dragon through brumation

Strategy one: support the brumation in the dragon’s normal cage

    Kathryn Most of us on the Pogona list use this strategy. We keep a basking light on, but reduce the ambient cage temperature to room temperature (mine is 68-72; a few other people reduce into the low 60's) and reduce the light duration to 10-12 hours per day (or to match the outside light duration). Although several modes of brumation work, perhaps because our BDs are so robust, I think it important to provide a normal basking site, because sometimes a brumating BD will decide to eat something--and he won't be able to digest it if he can't get warm. The food will decay in his tummy (anaerobic bacteria, bad) and could make him very very sick or dead. [for example--I have heard that some Uromastyx die from bacterial gut infections after brumation.] Brumating a BD in its normal setting, and offering food but NOT offering a basking site, could be worse than putting them in a shoebox in the dark for weeks. Most of us continue to offer food during this period. I keep a ceramic dish in the cage with a few superworms in the bottom, and some veggies etc. for the worms to much on. The worms don't escape from the dish and are there for snacks, if wanted. I still offer a leaf or two of Kale or other nutritious green every day or two, more if someone has become active momentarily

    Theresa I, too, have a male beardie that is going dormant. I took in a fecal last week again to check for parasites. It was negative, thank goodness. Tarzan is hiding and will not eat his greens. He just eats his crickets and doesn't bask much lately. He is 16 in. long and weighs 350 grams. He is not losing weight. However, I worry about him not eating his greens. He is eating some superworms also. When beardies go dormant, should we take them out of their hiding place and put them on their basking branch? (I've been doing this off and on) Do we need to offer fluids by mouth or strained baby food? I've been soaking Tarzan in warm water every three days so he will poop

    Alta replies: I don't do anything. I continue to offer veggies every day and put superworms in the worm dish. I don't give crickets because I don't want them chewing on Valen while he's vegging out. I figure they brumate in the wild just fine without intervention. Your sentence, "He is not losing weight." is the most important one here. As long as he's maintaining his weight, he's fine. You don't have to do anything. :)

    Todd Let him do what comes natural. Don't force him to go outside. If he wants to sleep, give him a week or two to clear his digestive tract (making them swim helps this) and slowly back his lights down to about 8 hours a day with less intense basking light.

    Pete I would like some input from anyone who cares to comment on whether or not their adults have started "slowing down" for the winter? Both my male and female adults have cut WAY back on eating and activity

    Rita Yep, Gwelg and Winston have definitely slowed down - from a dozen plus crix each to "Well, maybe I'd try one" From four or five superworms to Gwelg eating 2-4 (superworms are her favorite) and Winston looking at me like I've lost what little mind I had left and well waxworms..... what can I say, they haven't slowed down as far as they did last winter, They would still eat as many waxworms as I would give them.

    Louise I have no idea how old my 3 are but I doubt if they are eating more than a cricket a greens and they all just lie on their branches like they are part of the branch or made of stone. I haven't seen one of them move in a week unless I take them off the branch.....and if I've seen one poop this week it was a small (6-7" snout to end of tail) hibernate or go dormant...I'd think they'd starve to death at that size and one of them is looking a tad thin at that.

    Cindy Lynn This brumation/hibernation thing has all the poor Pogona parents in a tizzy...I guess I am very lucky in that Billy Bob has slowed down somewhat but has a very hectic social schedule that must be preventing him from a total shut down...He still wakes up at 7:00 am and goes to bed approximately 12 hours later.. Even though we have captive bred reptiles and keep them in an environmentally controlled house they still know the seasons and cycle accordingly...Most "experts" and breeders articles I have read say to let them do what comes naturally.. My Collareds seem to be shutting down a little earlier in the day ..and I turn off their lights when they are tucked into their rock pile for the night. On days that BB does go to sleep earlier I do the same for him.. But as far as waiting till 6:00 to feed.. In my opinion that is too late in the day for proper time to digest....If Ricky is still wanting to eat I would feed him before noon...Take Care and looking forward to other's opinions...

The lessened appetite and consequently lessened poop-rate:

    Todd Keep in mind that if your dragon was going every day and eating up to 50 crix a day, and then he decides it is time for the winter slowdown and only takes in 50 in almost a week, he should only have to go once or twice a week. Kinda like you might only pee once or twice a day if you are drinking 2 or 3 cans of pop or water a day, but if you drink as much as 1-2 gallons of pop, water, juice like I do, you will probably need to do so more often. As long as he doesn't seem to be in any pain and simply appears to be slowing down in his eating activity and other aspects, don't freak out. And certainly don't give furball medicine every time a dragon isn't pooping like you expect. As long as there are no signs of discomfort or any other problems, don't worry about it. I haven't had to clean Kinker's tank in over 2 weeks because she just isn't eating very much. Stumpy on the other hand is still quite active and eats his greens,,pellets, supers and crix and I have to spot clean his enclosure at least once a day. Both of my dragons are fine.

Do they need a basking site while brumating?

    Laura I would have to agree with Kathryn on having available the basking spot for those BD's that do eat during the brumation period. What I suspect, at least with my guy, his temps are a little to warm to induce a real brumation. He comes out and eats every 3 days, if I let him, he would go directly back into the hut which is 78F during the daytime. On the days that he does eat, I put him in the basking spot so he can at least digest what food he has eaten. This gives me peace of mind knowing that the food is being digested, at least I hope it is. Usually he'll hang out in the warmer end for the day, and by late afternoon is more then ready to good back into his hut and sleep for a couple more days. He seems to be quite happy with this arrangement. This also brings a question for me, I always thought that Reptiles that weren't kept at optimum temps usually don't have much of an appetite. So why do BD's get hungry when they are maintained at the lower temps? Or is it that they are such piggys that they will eat regardless of the temps? Laura

    Kathryn I can speculate---Perhaps life is really tough out there in the bush. A dragon comes out from its cool burrow in the morning, just for a little break and to see if Spring is there yet (they are probably eternal optimists), looks around the desert, and usually finds nothing to eat. His inborn expectations will be that there usually IS nothing to eat, that food is a rare and precious commodity. So, if he actually sees food, he probably thinks, "NO WAITING....I'll eat it NOW, regardless of my body temperature, the food will disappear if I wait-- and something in my tummy will give me incentive to find a nice warm spot to digest in. But--food FIRST!!!" I.e., food opportunists.... Or, perhaps they ARE just piggies.

    I've said in the past that in my experience, a young BD will not overeat; it will turn all food promptly into dragon. Well....BDs are various and seem to delight in offering exceptions to our rules. I now have a quickly growing, ravenous orange tiger BD, who is increasing in ALL dimensions much faster than anyone else in his tank-- even his tummy is distinctly balloonish. His (earned) name is now "Pudge".


    Strategy two: pack the BD away--

    alizard wrote: I keep them in Styrofoam containers with a layer of slightly moistened sand/peat (same mix I use in the nesting boxes). The mix helps to keep things slightly humid and prevent dehydration. I've got to argue with the notion that was slightly implied that keeping a hibernating dragon in a smallish box may be somehow cruel. Maybe if they were in fact small humans in lizard clothing, but they are not. (Even though sometimes I would almost swear one thinks it is!) As long as they have room to stretch out and sleep comfortably, I'll bet it's fairly close to how they hole up and sleep out the cool season in nature, and probably quite comfortable, even comforting to them possibly offering a feeling of security. (I mean that only when really kept cool like mine are however. I have seen dragons cycled on warmer temperatures who are still somewhat active, and in that case i wouldn't think a box would be all that great. But mine just sleep and nothing else). The dragons will slightly wake when I check on them every week or so during the cooling, but are VERY groggy and look and probably feel similar to the way I do at 3 in the morning. They just sort of sit and stare for a moment before dropping back off to sleep. On a related note in the thread, I never feed mine during the cooling, but have on rare occasion watered an individual who looked like it might be dehydrating. (And that before I started using the sand/peat in the boxes. Now it doesn't ever seem necessary). Oh, yeah, and one word of caution. I don't cool individuals until they are adult or very nearly adult size. I also don't leave them out on nights below 60 until they are 9 or 10 inches or more total length and below 55 unless they are very nearly adult size. So, I don't know for sure if young could take it, but I certainly am much more cautious about them, just in case.

    Kathryn I think you describe one very good way to brumate your BDs. In no regard do I find your strategy to be cruel or unusual. I get the impression that many people avoid simply boxing their BDs up as you describe because they want to continue to interact with them, and keep tabs on them. ("Oh, yes, I have a wonderful pet, very sweet and interactive, and I keep him in a dark box full of dirt in the closet....") or they don't intend to breed their BDs, or their BDs are continuing active. The only danger in keeping them in their normal cages seems to be the danger of not providing a basking site should they eat something, since digestion would be impaired. For me, the danger of putting my BD away in a box is my middle-aged memory (now where did I put Fluffy??) ....AND my lack of closet space...

    Bill Mears I created a hibernation/brumation for mine last year. Once the night were drawing in and they were slower to get up in the mornings, I decided I'd give it a try. So one night while they were all fast asleep, I put them into RubberMaid containers on the floor of the Dragon House and switched off the heat lamps and fluorescents, leaving a fan heater to keep the overall temp around 55F. They slept for 3 months until I reawoke the house and then one night, popped them out into it while they were asleep. They woke up and had long drinks and were perfectly fine. I did check them weekly for weight/ fat loss, but they all did fine. I wouldn't recommend this for juveniles or even sub-adults but for adults (1 year plus) it seems to work fine. This year I'll probably use the basement and close the Dragon House down completely.

Strategy three: let them brumate outside
(in largely frost-free areas only!)

    Nathan As Southern California settles into the icy grip of a long and bitter winter, my adult BDs are well and truly sacked out in their outdoor enclosure. We dug them up yesterday evening (to make sure we wouldn't step on them while doing stuff to the enclosure), so I thought I'd post an update on how the Outdoor Brumation Project is going.

    Background: The dragons are around 18 months old, thus in their first winter as adults. They're in the same enclosure they live in the rest of the year; a small outbuilding in the back yard, with ground access (a layer of decomposed granite, then the existing sod/topsoil, then the native adobe clay). I'm in the inland portion of San Diego County, CA, where the climate is a little more extreme than the coastal one; a *really* cold winter night can drop below freezing where I am (while the official airport low temperature will be something like 50 F). Thus we've been monitoring the overnight air and ground temperatures pretty closely, with a mini-max thermometer---the thermometer body is on a shelf in the dragon house, with the probe an inch or two underground. It's been getting pretty cold the last few nights, so yesterday we added a layer of straw to the ground as further insulation.
    The lowest air temperature recorded so far is 29.5 F (-1.4 C); the lowest ground temperature is 43.3 F (6.3 C). (Pretty cold---that's what led us to put the straw down---but clearly not dangerous, remembering that the ground temperature is what's important here.)

    When we dug the little guys up last night, they were sort of ridiculous; bleary-eyed, sluggish, and completely pancaked. The male was pretty much circular when seen from above, and about half an inch thick seen from the side; the female was a little less extreme. Both woke up enough to walk around a bit while we were working and to crawl back under the substrate afterwards. They've retained their color (really cold dragons seem to fade to gray temporarily) and haven't lost any significant amount of weight.

    At this point, I'm thinking we won't have to bring them in for the winter at all. (If the overnight lows get lower than they already have, we'll be in record-cold territory.) It remains to be seen how effectively the straw layer buffers the temperature, but even without it the low ground temperature has consistently been fifteen to twenty degrees (F) warmer than the low air temperature.

    (later) Seriously, my adults are still outside---I'm considering leaving them out to handle their own brumating, and would welcome opinions on that. (The winter lows are likely to be right around the freezing mark, which is comparable to what happens in most of BD range; so far, it looks like the surface of the ground stays about five to ten degrees warmer than the air all night, and a little bit underground is warmer still. I'm guessing that, if they dug in just a few inches, they'd probably never get below 45 F, and that only for brief periods on the really cold nights.) So far, they only use the top, maybe, three inches of loose soil. Most of the time they aren't even fully buried (they've got preferred spots where the ground has developed contours to match their sleeping postures, so they're snugged in fairly well); when they do go fully underground, it seems to be only an inch or so under, with burrows just long enough to accommodate their bodies---if you look in with a flashlight you can see their heads. So I don't think that a shallow brumation substrate is necessarily a problem, though of course it would depend on the exact conditions (including, I expect, the thermal properties of the substrate).

    (later) All survived the experience with flying colors!!


Interrupting brumation, and illnesses during

    Debisabel I accidentally disrupted Beowulf's brumation! Anyway, he is awake, but still a little sleepy. He hasn't eaten any greens or fruit. But he does devour crickets and pinkie mice. I also tried putting some water to his mouth, but he won't even lick it.

    Nathan No problem. Mine have been interrupted in brumation a zillion times, either by us ("you know, I haven't seen the dragons in three weeks, should we make sure they're okay?") or by themselves ("HEY! Is it WARM out there?"). They don't seem very interested in food in general when first awakened. (Mine haven't shown any interest in water either; they must not get very dehydrated while brumating, as they don't seem to lose much weight.)

    Psitacus Stupid me got a new dragon and didn't think about quarantine, this past fall. She ended up giving Coccidia to ALL my dragons. They were all treated with Albon. Albon can cause dehydration so make sure your BD gets soaked daily during treatment and also a good week after treatment. The only problem I had was that one of my females decided to take a snooze for the winter right after I stopped medicating her. She become severely dehydrated during that time and I eventually got scared and put her in a sink full of warm water until she woke up enough to drink. I did this daily for a week before she really woke up and was ready to eat. She now only eats things full of moisture (soaked pellets, wet greens, etc) and is still being soaked daily. She's terribly thin but last week I began giving her pinkies and that has brought on some weight gain and she's now more active, maybe in another month she can join the others again.


Waking up !

    Amy He's awake! He's awake! He's awake! I came home from work today and Auggie was out of hiding. I was so glad to see him! :0) I know this whole "brumation" thing is normal but damn, it made me nervous! He hasn't eaten yet but there are a couple of super mealworms in there along with a little bit of greens. I gave him some water (I just squeeze it from a wet paper towel onto his nose) and I swear, he lapped it up for 10 minutes (not quite with the enthusiasm of a dog, but nonetheless happily!) He is now basking on the highest perch so I have talked to him and pet him but I don't want to bother him too much. Not until tomorrow, at least! LOL!! Just had to share!

    Kathryn It is such fun when they poke their little heads out, even transiently. One male, Goldie, who is in with two semi-active females, had been sleeping in cave-let, covered with a paper towel blankie for a couple of weeks. Just this morning, he stuck his head out. Two hours later his head is still stuck out and in exactly the same place. He merely swivels his head occasionally to keep an eye on things. A really SLOW awakener.
    The wakeup seems surprisingly general. This morning several sleepyheads are showing signs of activity, perhaps because an "Indian Summer" has hit and the outside temperature is supposed to get up to 75 deg F today. Although how the little brumators know that is beyond me. Maybe some alarm went off that I didn't hear--and they are all out looking for it. "Did you hear anything? I think I heard something? Are we supposed to be waking up now? What WAS that."

    Goldie just saw a superworm move in the food dish, and proceeded toward it in absolute slow motion. Then chomp, chomp and he is now simply sitting, with his midsection on the edge of the 6" deep dish, his front and hind legs both hanging, while he contemplates the greens. Perhaps they have been paying to much attention to my own (befuddled) morning rituals. He's still contemplating.

    Kathryn Hi, Cliff. My four older females behave just like yours--reluctant to come fully out of brumation. Three are sunning themselves regularly now; one is still sleeping. One has begun to scarf up crickets, but she had been more or less "awake" for 3 weeks; the other two have been awake for even longer. All three of the "awake" ones even failed to eat their favorite food item at first--waxworms!!! Slowly, they would accept waxworms by hand; Bodacea was first tempted by some mango (HER favorite); The Babe was tempted by superworm pupae... Appetites are increasing very gradually; or perhaps its better to say they increase in steps: sometimes BIG steps. Just this morning, The Babe DEVOURED repeated handfuls of crickets, like a starving woman. All are also now eating a few greens/veggies.

    Oddly, my males have not been so restrained. They eat, it seems, IMMEDIATELY when they wake up. Perhaps the girls are all contemplating future eggs? I don't see a difference among the three housed with a male and the one housed alone, but that doesn't mean that reproductive concerns aren't involved. Likewise, with their input so little, their output has been similarly restrained. I have soaked them in warm (not hot) water baths, which did stimulate gut activity appropriately. The stimulation appeared to help the appetites as well, since they all tended to eat more after.

    So, I suggest 1) warm baths, 2) give treat foods by hand (if pinkies are a proven favorite, likely they will stimulate appetite; some dragons hate pinkies…) and 3) to help jump-start a healthy digestive tract, give some Acidopholus bacteria (e.g., sprinkled directly on waxworms or any other food they like) or live-culture yogurt, as soon as the BD will accept real food.