The information on the BambooZoo site is as much as 10 years old and in the hobby much has been learned. Though, I believe there is merit in keeping the site open. There are many controversial issues presented in these pages. Please view BambooZoo as a starting point in your research.
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BRUMATION AND ME
Well, it's that time of year again. My buddies are getting lazy and sleepy and I am struggling to keep them awake a while longer. Their internal clocks are ticking while mine is not. Here in lower Ontario the longest day of the year is actually in late December. My husband is a weather watcher, he pokes me, and prods me and lifts the covers and lets me know the light is coming!
I try to brumate later than most as shipping in feeders is most difficult in January and February. The windows of opportunity to get crickets are rare, as they cannot be shipped when weather is below freezing.
While not everyone here brumates, even those who don't, do slow down and are much quieter. My water dragons will find a quiet corner and nap too, a couple to three days in a row. I do not adjust their conditions with the exception of turning lights down but the house itself does not have a heated or sealed to conditions basement and that is enough to slow dragons.
Brumation is not hibernation. Close, but hibernation indicates a complete withdrawl and a full sleeping period of months without waking or without moving from a burrow. Many reptiles do not do this as completely as a mammal would. I have some, like the Russian Torts who seem to stay down for a couple of months ~ in the real world they would be in their burrows for up to 5 to 6 months. Here it is a couple. Others like the Bearded Dragons who are up and down every few days to check on the world around them, will stay out for a few hours under the lamps, grab a drink of water and maybe a worm or two.
While brumation is not necessary and not recommended in the first year of life it is a part of their natural life cycle which I prefer to follow. One of my beliefs is that by experiencing differing conditions it helps strengthen the immunity system.
Those reptiles coming from the equitorial regions are less likely to be brumating species. Check on the life cycle of yours before preparing for brumation to be sure that it is one that does.
Having a fairly large collection of lizards I find this period gives me a chance to recouperate and relax.......when I am not panicking over not seeing a particular one.
There are a few things to do and be aware of when starting a brumating cycle. Over a 2 month period I lower the time the lights are on from 14 hours a day to 10 hours. I do this 30 minutes at a time leaving it for 2 weeks and then reducing the daylight another 30 minutes.
I do not move my buddies to brumate but leave them in their environments in the midst of the house, so ours tend to be up and down. They have house temps to contend with making for a mild winter climate.
When I have it down an hour to an hour and a half, I start to change heat bulbs and reduce the heat by one level. Example: 150 to 100 or 100's to 75's. Turn out a night heat source at 11 hours. And turn off the day heat lamp during the heart of the brumation while leaving the UVB on.
You should begin to see appetites dropping and reduce the number of feeders you are providing. Go from a 2 day schedule to 3, etc.
So for me, November and December I turn down conditions. January and February are the dormant months and start turning things back up at the beginning of March.
It is very important to make sure your lizard empties it's bowels before it heads off into the substrate. And speaking of substrate, a little deeper and clean new bedding should be provided to make your buddy happy.
The hardest part is not disturbing them to check up on them when you have not seen them in a couple of weeks. I cannot resist usually. Know where they are sleeping and be as gentle and quiet as possible and limit the disruption if you find you must see if they are breathing!
Some will sleep heavily and this is good for them. For the others that appear every 3 to days to a week, supply water and a little food is ok too. With these guys being up often they will usually stay out for a few hours, take care of eliminating, a snack and a drink. Keep a few worms on hand and give one or two. Do check to make sure they are eliminating.
Do not try to brumate a reptile that is not in great condition. A brumating animal should not lose much weight, just a few grams. For an animal with health problems, the problems will get a chance to multiply in brumation.
In March reverse the fall light schedule until you return to the full 14 hours. It should take 4 to 5 or even 6 months to complete the cycle. In my home, 6.