Bearded Dragon Brumation
As a beardie owner, you will most likely have heard the term "brumation" so what is brumation? Brumation and hibernation are similar but not the same, the main reason for this is that unlike hibernation, a dragon can wake up and move around a bit and maybe even eat and drink a little before settling back down to sleep. Though it's possible, it doesn't mean it will happen every day but will happen as, and when each beardie decides to, they are all different, also be aware that they can be a bit grumpy while they wake during brumation so be patient with them.
Some bearded dragons may never brumate, while others will do it every year like clockwork and everything in between. A bearded dragons genetics plus their instinct to brumate are the main reasons for them going into brumation in captivity. Dragons in captivity do not need to brumate, they do so in the wild when temperatures get lower, and food becomes scarce. But since we can maintain heat and food supply while they are in captivity, they don't need to brumate. If your temperatures are too low, then you can actually encourage them to go into brumation, so you want to make sure you maintain the proper temperatures for them.
Brumation can last anything from a few days to a few months; this has partly to do with the dragon's surroundings (lighting, heat, etc.), but, barring any external reason, it's mainly down to their personality. When dragons choose to brumate can vary, but it logically goes mostly with the seasons, if your dragon seems to be attempting to brumate when the weather is warm where you are then you need to double-check your day temps.
See below for a rundown of temperatures:
Basking spot temp: 100°F - 110°F (surface temp)
Hot side temp: 90°F - 95°F (ambient temp)
Cold side temp: 80°F - 85°F (ambient temp)
Also, ensure you have the proper UVB fluorescent tube fixture. You need to replace your UVB bulb every six months and also provide a fecal and wellness check for your dragon every twelve months. Dragons should only try to brumate once per year; if they attempt to do it more times than that, then it can be indicative of an issue with your dragon, and you should seek further assistance on what could be wrong.
The signs of brumation are very similar to symptoms of sickness; they begin to sleep a lot more, may eat less, and generally seem sluggish. If you think they may be trying to brumate, it's essential to get a fecal and checkup done at a licensed vet to make sure they aren't sick and can healthily brumate. Sickness can induce a sort of brumation, as well as sickness signs mimicking brumation, but both of these are just as dangerous as the other. On that note, while your dragon is brumating, you need to look out for signs of dehydration or starvation, weight loss during brumation is a sign something could be very wrong as they shouldn't lose weight or dehydrate very much, if at all when brumating. If your dragon brumates while it has parasites or is sick, then it can be fatal.
Dragons shouldn't really try and brumate if they are under a year old, but it's not unheard of, but if your dragon is less than a year old and seems to be trying to brumate it's a bit more critical that they get a vet visit, compared to an older established dragon who brumates regularly and you know their brumation cycle.
Ensure that your dragon has a place to hide and sleep comfortably in their enclosure, keep their lights on their regular schedule so as to not encourage them to sleep for longer. Offer salad and water every few days, but don't worry about their bugs as often. It's also important to check in on them every couple of days to make sure they look okay when you feed; you can wake them up and see if they're okay. It doesn't negatively affect them if you wake them up, but even though this can be a nervous time for an owner, try not to do it too often, or you could extend the amount of time they sleep.