Ask a Vet

Do Bearded Dragons Play Dead? How To React

Photo of author
Updated on

What should I do if my bearded dragon plays dead? How long does it take for them to wake up? What happens if they don’t wake up?

Bearded Dragons are lizards native to Australia and New Guinea. They are very friendly animals and love being held.

Bearded dragon brumation

If you want to get a pet, then you should choose a bearded dragon because they are very easy to care for.

Most bearded dragons are very playful and curious creatures. They enjoy playing with their owners and other pets.

When they are sleeping, they usually curl up into a ball or lay flat on their backs.

What is the best way to react when your bearded dragon plays dead? Is there anything that can be done at this point?

Should you leave him in his position until he wakes up? Or should you try to move him so that he will come back to life?

Find out how you should react and more in this article!

Why Would A Bearded Dragon Play Dead?

If you have ever owned a reptile before, then you know that reptiles need a lot of attention. Their needs change every day. Some days they may need less food than others.

And some days they might just need a bit of playtime.

The same thing goes for bearded dragons. Most of the time they like to hang around and watch what’s going on around them.

But sometimes they prefer to hide behind something. This could be a plant or an object.

When a bearded dragon hides under a plant or an object, it means that he doesn’t feel safe anymore. He feels threatened by these objects, and he wants to avoid them.

This makes sense because plants and objects can often hurt him.

So instead of hiding from danger, he chooses to play dead. In this case, he curls up into a ball and lays down completely still.

The next step would be for the owner to check whether the lizard is breathing.

How Should You React When A Bearded Dragon Plays Dead?

One thing that should be noted here is that your bearded dragon may be entering brumation and this could be a big reason for them playing dead.

We will continue exploring this point later on. But for now, these are some things you will need to do if you notice that your bearded dragon is playing dead:

You should act according to the situation.

First, make sure that your bearded dragon is really asleep. If he isn’t, then he probably won’t stay still for too long.

Next, check whether he has any injuries. Perhaps he was hit in the head while he was curled up. Check if his eyes are closed.

Also, look at his mouth and body to see if there are any signs of injury.

Finally, examine his surroundings. It’s possible that he got stuck in a cage or another enclosure. Make sure that he has enough room to roam freely.

If everything seems okay, then you can carry out one of the following options:

Option 1 – Leave Him Alone

In most cases, you shouldn’t worry about a bearded dragon who is playing dead.

Because after all, why would someone want to harm such a cute creature? Besides, they are quite harmless.

If you have no reason to believe that your bearded dragon is hurt, then you can simply let him sleep. After a few hours, he will wake up and start moving again.

However, keep in mind that if your bearded dragon is injured, you should call your vet immediately.

Option 2 – Move Him Out Of Harm’s Way

If your bearded dragon is not injured but hiding, you should take action. Moving him out of harm’s way would help him recover faster.

So, do whatever it takes to prevent him from being harmed. For example, if you have a pen with walls higher than 4 feet, then you could place him inside this pen.

Other ways include placing him in a large aquarium or using a terrarium as a temporary solution.

Option 3 – Call Your Vet Immediately In Case Of Injury

If your bearded dragon starts showing signs of injury, then you should definitely contact your vet. They will be able to tell you exactly what to do.

However, remember that you could also ask other people about how to care for bearded dragons.

For instance, many people suggest giving your bearded dragon warm water.

This is because cold temperatures can cause dehydration. Since he is already dehydrated, it would only worsen the problem.

Also, try feeding your bearded dragon small amounts of food every day. This will give him energy so that he can heal faster.

Close up of a bearded dragon's face

Brumation Could Be At The Root Of It

As mentioned earlier, you should think twice before calling your vet. There is a possibility that your bearded dragon might just be going through brumation.

Yes, brumation is a term used by reptile hobbyists to describe hibernation behavior.

This is when reptiles like turtles and lizards go dormant. During this time their metabolism slows down, which means that they don’t eat much.

As a result, they lose weight and become lethargic. In addition to this, their bodies produce less heat, which makes them feel colder.

The length of time depends on the species, age, gender, environmental factors, and other factors. But generally speaking, brumation lasts between two and four weeks.

So, if your bearded dragon shows symptoms of brumation, don’t panic. Just make sure you monitor his activity levels regularly.

If he doesn’t seem to be recovering, then it’s best to consult a veterinarian.

What Are The Signs Of Brumation?

When a lizard goes into brumation, there are certain things that you need to look out for. You can check these signs by observing your bearded dragon. Here are some of the common ones:

  • Body Temperature Dropping – A key sign of brumation is body temperature dropping. Take note of this sign because it can alert you that your lizard may be sick.
  • Lack Of Activity – Another important thing to watch out for is lack of activity. Make sure that your bearded dragon is active enough to stay awake. If he seems sleepy, then that means he has gone into brumation.
  • Lethargy – Another sign that your bearded dragon is undergoing brumation is lethargy. A healthy lizard usually stays up and moves around. Even during brumation, he shouldn’t be sluggish.
  • Weight Loss – Another sign of brumation involves weight loss. It could happen gradually or suddenly. Either way, losing weight is an indication that your bearded dragon is suffering from brumation.
  • Dull Skin Color – As mentioned above, most reptiles go dormant during brumation. This results in dull skin color. When this happens, your lizard should have a white or pale appearance.

When Is Brumation Likely To Happen?

There is no exact rule as to when brumation will occur. Some experts believe that it can happen anytime throughout the year.

Others believe that it is more likely to occur during the winter months.

However, based on your region, you may have better chances of seeing brumation during one season over another.

For example, in the US, many people see brumation occurring during the fall and winter months. On the other hand, in Australia, this is more commonly seen during the spring and summer months.

How Long Does It Last?

There is no general guideline about how long it takes for a bearded dragon to complete brumation. The duration varies with each individual.

So, it all depends on the species, the environment, and other factors. Generally, however, it lasts anywhere between 2-4 weeks.

Three bearded dragons

Is Your Bearded Dragon Dead For Real Or Are They Brumating?

Firstly, these animals are very good at faking their death, so it is wise not to jump to conclusions. They might appear dead, but they aren’t, actually.

There are a couple of things you will notice if your bearded dragon dies:

The Color – The first thing you will notice with a dead bearded dragon is that its color will be different from normal.

The Smell – When anything dies you will notice that there is a nasty smell and the same can be said for when a bearded dragon dies.

If you are not sure whether your bearded dragon is alive, dead, or just brumating, there is a simple test you can perform.

Pick up your bearded dragon and lay it on its side, if you notice any movement it is likely alive. If your beardie does not move you can try putting it on its back.

A live bearded dragon would try to get itself upright. SO, if you see no movement at all your beardie is probably deceased.

Is Your Bearded Dragon Ill Or Are They Just Brumating?

It is possible that your bearded dragon is ill. In fact, some lizards can even suffer from a medical condition called “Bromasal syndrome”.

This is caused by a buildup of mucus in the nasal cavity which leads to respiratory issues. Unfortunately, this is also one of the reasons why your bearded dragon might die.

Other causes of illness include:

  • Infection – You could find out that your bearded dragon has picked up an infection. Symptoms include lethargy, unresponsiveness, diarrhea, and lack of appetite.
  • Toxicity – Your bearded dragon might be poisoned.
  • Feeding Issues – As mentioned earlier, sometimes your bearded dragons simply refuse to eat. In such cases, you need to make them happy again.

Learn To Read The Signs, So You Know If Something Is Wrong

You must learn to read the signs so that you know if something is wrong with your pet. Here are some common symptoms that indicate your bearded dragon is sick:

  • Lethargic behavior
  • Unresponsive to touch
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Weakness and/or inability to stand
  • Dry mouth
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you suspect that your bearded dragon is sick, you should seek help immediately. It is important to note that the best treatment for a sick animal is prevention.

Therefore, you need to ensure that your lizard gets proper care and attention at all times. This means that you should never leave your bearded dragon unattended for extended periods of time.

Frequesntly Asked Question

In this section, we are going to answer several questions concerning bearded dragons and how they play dead. So, without further ado, let us get started!

What Does A Bearded Dragon Do When It’s Mad?

Bearded dragons do not like being mad. If you have ever seen a bearded dragon scowl, then you know what I am talking about.

Just as humans frown when they are angry, bearded dragons frown when they are upset. However, unlike people, bearded dragons cannot hide their anger.

When a bearded dragon feels threatened, he is more likely to display his temper than a person. He may lash out at his owner, or he may bite someone who comes near him.

So when your bearded dragon becomes angry, you need to keep your distance!

How To Tell If A Bearded Dragon Is Stressed?

Stressful situations usually provoke a response from animals. For example, when a young bearded dragon finds itself in a new environment, it will become stressed.

This is because it does not understand everything that is around it yet. Likewise, when a bearded dragon lives in captivity, it will feel stressed.

This happens when it is kept in a small space that is too hot or cold, or where there are no other reptiles nearby.

If you notice that your bearded dragon is acting unusually, try giving it a few minutes alone. See if things calm down after a while.

If they don’t, you may want to consult with a reptile veterinarian or exotic animal expert.

Is there Anything that can be Done to Prevent my Bearded Dragon from Playing Dead?

Yes, but these suggestions do not always work for everyone. There are several ways to prevent your bearded dragon from playing dead. These methods include:

  • Provide Adequate Space – A large enclosure is essential for keeping your bearded dragon active. Ensure that the cage has enough room for your lizard to move around freely. Also, provide plenty of hiding places, toys, and plants.
  • Keep The Temperature Cool – Make sure that your bearded dragon’s habitat stays between 68° F and 77° F. Remember that warmer temperatures stimulate activity while cooler ones promote sleepiness.
  • Feed Regularly – Your bearded dragon needs to get food every day. You can feed them lettuce leaves, fruit, vegetables, or even meal worms. Just make sure that they eat on schedule.
  • Prevent Boredom – In addition to providing ample space, toys, and vegetation, you also need to give your bearded dragon something to do. Try putting some seedlings inside its cage. This way, your lizard will find something interesting to chew on.
  • Clean Up Your Bearded Dragon’s Bedding Regularly – Over time, your bearded dragon will build up lint on its skin.

This is especially true if you live in an area with high humidity. The lint can cause respiratory problems, so you should clean up the bedding occasionally.

Final Thoughts

So, now you know everything about Brumation. This information allows you to understand what happens during Brumation.

Hopefully, this article will assist you in understanding what exactly brumation is and how to react to it.


Photo of author
About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.