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Habitat & Water

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Iím using Central NSW for the figures which Iíve taken from our Bureau of Meteorology - remember that Australia is in the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. The mean maximum temperature in February is 30-33c (86-92f) whilst mean minimum temperature is 18-21c (65-70f) - around the recommended basic temps for our vivariums). In August the mean maximum is 15-18c (60-65f) with a mean minimum of 3-6c (37-43f). Even in summer night time temperatures can be quite cool.
 

As beardies donít migrate and they canít get sufficient heat on a regular basis in the winter period, the only alternative is to slow down their metabolism by one method or another. The safest way is to get in hole under a bloody big rock and do nothing until something tells you itís time to come out again Ė thus your basic brumation.

 

 

 


 

No-one I know would try it on sub-adults (less than 12 months old) Ė they may slow down a bit over mid-winter but should still have temperatures and food maintained as they are still growing at a rapid rate. Some adults donít bother Ė they just keep on racing round all year, but others will show less interest in food and more in sleeping, so in mid-autumn start reducing temperatures over 4-6 weeks so that there is no heating on at all at the end of that period. Check that your beardie had a good clear out of his bowels at the end of the 6 weeks as anything left in the gut can ferment or rot etc. Turn off the last heating and lighting and a couple of days later put him in a cool place for the next three months. After around three months he will start to stir again, so reverse the process and get ready for an eating binge.

 

They don't lose much weight (mine have lost around 5g only) but they wake up really hungry. I use large boxes floored with paper kitty litter pellets as insulation, these are put into a cupboard in an unheated room. Water is provided as this is not full hibernation and occasionally on a good day one will get up for a short wander then back to bed. Do not feed them anything at this time as they will not be able to digest the food.

 

Brumation assists with breeding but should not be used for this purpose only. Itís a natural thing and so if/when your beardie shows signs of slowing down then follow the care sheet and let him/her have a rest.


It won't hurt if they don't brumate but it may shorten their life span if not offered the chance. I think the bottom line is to do what your beardie wants. Ours actually start to slow down themselves - more sleeping, less interest in food etc! Once this happens then we start the above process. If your guys show no sign of slowing down then there is no need to follow this regime.

 

There is no solid evidence Iím aware of that it does or doesn't shorten the lifespan but taken as part of the whole husbandry thing you could expect it to have some effect somewhere. The trouble with beardies is that there does not appear to be any single really in-depth study available and to compound that, the UK ones have been bred from a limited number exported from Australia in the 60's & 70's (unless youíve got smuggled stock!) Over the last 30-40 years it is quite possible that some traits have either been bred out or reinforced to some extent.

 

For those interested in a closer look at the type of climate in which our beardies live, try looking at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and follow the ďrecent months observationĒ link. Iíll leave it to you to research townships within their territorial areas, but in general they are found west of the mountain range on the East coast, across to Alice Springs and from mid-Queensland down as far as some points on the eastern end of the Nullarbor. There's also the Your Bearded Dragon, its habitat and Water page.



© Rick Catt
Australia 2008

 

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