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Decided what to do for brumation

FlapJack16

Hatchling Member
Hello,

First time beardie owner and first time brumation. Some of you have been following my questions and helping me out, which is always appreciated!

I have been trying to find the best of both suggestions- the vets advice, who specializes in reptiles, with a staff that owns bearded dragon, at a clinic I completely trust, and the BD.com users advice, each with 20+ years of experience, whom I also trust.

The vets solution seems excessive. Force him out of brumation, remove hides, bathe every day, tube feed, offer food, wake him up every day etc etc. She also wants me to increase the basking temp from my 103-107 (changes a little) to a 110- 115, thus increasing overall cage temp as well. "Australian summer". It is tricky, because I have been to her for everything, including my ball pythons weight loss and respiratory infection, which she completely fixed, as well as my sisters leopard gecko for numerous reasons. She also fixed FlapJacks parasites about 6-8 months ago. The vet is full of staff who owns animals, and at least 1 staff member has a bearded dragon (but I am pretty sure there are others with reptiles).

And the users on BD.com suggestions seem a bit more relaxed, making sure he is not dropping weight, but leaving him alone; it is a natural process, I also trust you guys. Experience is not something to look past, and a professional veterinary opinion shouldn't necessarily be the only one.

I read on this website, that before brumation, a fecal is recommended to make sure there are no underlying issues, like parasites, before brumation. I agree with this and will do this, because going into a somewhat dormant state while the body is fighting something, like 2-3 different kinds of parasites, (the first time he had them, he had 2 kinds. I cannot remember which, but he did not have hookworms) the dragon can either come out of brumation worse, or not be able to survive, to my understanding, from information I have gathered from this site.

Here is what I will be doing:
-bathing, massaging, and offering a "natural laxative" such as olive oil or prunes, for a couple days, until he provides a fecal sample that I can have tested for parasites. This should only take 2-3 days. After that, I will stop waking him up to bathe daily, and stop giving him those things.

- I will keep track of his weight. His fecal sample will drop him just a touch. As of Wednesday, at the vet, he weighed 456 grams, or 1.005 lbs, 6 grams down from a few days before (which may or may not be a big deal, weight fluctuates, but he had not had anything in or out). I am not sure how much weight changes from a bowel movement for a bearded dragon, but I am expecting him to be just under a pound, around 445 grams. (totally a guess).
I can weigh him every 3-4 days, and if he keeps dropping:

-If he keeps dropping weight, i will start to offer food, if he refuses, I will tube feed a little bit. I also read here, on BD.com, that they should not be losing weight during brumation- and since Karrie already said he looks a little thin, I do not want to mess around with that; I have a formula that the vet suggested.

So, all in all I will get a fecal sample tested, and possibly bump up the cage temp a bit. I will only offer food/ tube feed if he loses weight (Starting weight would be AFTER the bathroom). I won't wake him up/bathe him daily, but possibly once a week. I will pretty much just leave him alone, if he is negative for parasites and doesn't drop weight (other than that once a week thing).

Hope this sounds about right, I am trying to balance one kind of experience with another kind of experience+degree.
Let me know what you think.
Thank you, as always!
 

Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
Personally, I don't think a parasite test is needed before brumation. The article you are reading on this site is a bit outdated, and we have learned a lot and grown in experience as a whole since it was written.

It is not uncommon for a dragon to have some amount of parasites present in their system. But, the bodies immune system can keep them at bay, and make them asymptomatic and not cause any issue at all.
When a dragon brumates, ALL of the bodies metabolic functions slow to a crawl. There is an argument that could be made that brumation is actually a natural solution that dragons have to keep parasites in check in the wild. With no food being consumed (and metabolic functions slowing to a crawl, making it unnecessary for the body to consume food) the parasites would likely start to die off as there is no sustenance in the gut for them to feed on.

But, those are simply my thoughts, so I'm sharing them. Like I said in your last thread, I've only ever felt the need in my 20+ years to see a vet once. And I have nothing against vets, I also don't see my own dr unless I have a need to. Luckly, I haven't had a need to see a vet with the very vast majority of my time as dragon keeper. I never get them checked for parasites before they brumate. Not unless there's a reason to.

Compare it to getting a strep throat test (if you've ever had one you'll know they suck lol) twice a year just to check. You have no sore throat, but your mom tells you to do it anyway twice a year. That's kind of what I compare getting a fecal check done without symptoms. Sure, you might have hit the lotto (or not) and test positive for strep even though you had no sore throat, and your vet might find parasites even without symptoms or negative effect from them.

Please don't take this as me being overly critical. I'm just sharing my experience, and my thoughts on the matter. MOST people on here don't actually get upset if you don't take his or her advice. We just want to share our experience so you can make your own decisions.

Experience is the best teacher, so whatever you decide to do you'll learn from it, and we will still be here to help along the way with any questions you have whether you go with our advice, the vets, or a mix of the two :)

-Brandon
 

FlapJack16

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
thank you for the feedback-
I have forgotten to add that I have noticed his behavior change earlier than brumation. It seemed like he'd run around, look out the window, and hide. Then look out the window, hide. Became less interested in food, had to hand feed him- this is a few months before november, when brumation started. it was different than the change into brumation, with less bathroom, less eating, eventually none.
i don't know- it does not seem like they take 3 months to change their behavior before they brumate?
 

Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
It can sometimes, it's hard to say either way. Most times, my dragons start slowing down slowly, and then brumate. This current time right now, they were all eating ravenous and then within 2 days, all are hunkered down.

Go with your gut on what to do, you'll know what's best :)

None of your options are really going to be detrimental to your dragon (besides maybe the original suggestion of removing all the cage furniture and forcing feeding him). So just roll with the punches and chalk it up to the learning experience :)

-Brandon
 

FlapJack16

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
Hey, good timing! Thanks!
So far, I have just decided to leave him be, listening to you guys- just seems so aggressive to remove hides and force feed and such.
Temps have stayed about the same, the basking bulb burnt out so it was replaced with a slightly lower wattage bulb.Basking is now 101.5ish, and ambient is 83ish, and apparently the warmest it gets in Australian desert winters is about 75ish. He does sleep UNDER his basking spot, so increasing it again slightly might be good? If they seem too low, I can buy another higher wattage bulb.

As far as weight-
First weigh in, around December 1st, he was 462.09 grams
Second weigh in, at the vet, he was 456 grams
Third weigh in, today, he is at 452-453ish.

So, with nothing going in or coming out, he has lost 9-10 grams in roughly 15 days.
Please let me know if that is cause for concern, and if not, let me know at what point weight loss becomes cause for concern.

I have not soaked him or began the process of getting and testing a fecal yet- thoughts on that? Should I begin doing that? If so, I would do it on Monday, because he would have Monday-Saturday to provide a sample (vet hours.) In my experience, (I don't know if this is normal) it usually takes at least 2 days of prunes to get something out of him, and since he is out of direct heat, and whatever is in his system is a harder lump, I feel like I will have very little luck. (Monday-thursday, 8AM to 6PM, Saturday, 8AM to 4PM, and Sunday, closed.)

Planning on soaking daily, massaging belly, and baby food prunes daily until I do get a sample. It seems unlikely though, he usually goes to the bathroom in his tank when I do that and he is just sleeping and out of the way of heat. Ugh.

Also, when I woke him up to weigh him today, he was very dark. And usually, when I check on him, his eye(s?) are open, possibly because he hears me moving around.

Thank you for the help- hope the above text is clear- I am REALLY tired today :lol:

If anyone has a recommendation for a brumation hide/basking spot combo, PLEASE let me know- I put his hide under his basking spot so he stays warm. Mine is kind of precariously set up- it is really not ideal for him. (his basking spot is very short, and my tank is 24 inches tall. I have NEVER had a good basking spot :/ )

Also, just a side note, way off topic, my bday is in less than a week, my GED testing is really working out, and I will be starting college about January 4th (First time ever!) (I am a minor, and still will be after bday)

I hope everyone's December is going well, everyone is staying safe, etc- Whatever holiday you celebrate, whether just one, or multiple (I have a Jewish teacher that celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah), I hope it goes well for you!

Thanks for checking in, AHBD, looking forward to response and more helpful answers!
 

AHBD

BD.org Sicko
Actually REALLY good timing because one of my boys just came out of a nearly 4 month brumation and looks nearly the same as when he went to sleep. He will be 9 years old the end of march and has brumated every year with no problem, just as all my dragons ever have. He did not eat drink or come out at all. He woke up yesterday and here is a pic of him. He had a drink, a few bugs and a small salad, although not all dragons will eat the day they emerge and not all will sleep all the way through. BTW, you can use a shoebox or bootbox or a similar size box as a cave, be sure to put one on the cool side. My guys prefer the cool side and it slows their metabolism down better [ about 63 F ] As for your guy, I'd skip the efforts to make him poo, he will when he's ready. A 10 gram weight loss is no problem BTW. So here's Buddy fresh after after brumation, going on 9 years old :

https://www.beardeddragon.org/media/29978/full
 
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