Brumation is the reptile equivalent of hibernation, a period of time during the cool part of the year when reptiles sleep for weeks on end in order to conserve energy while the weather is cold and food is scarce.
For many reptiles, allowing them to brumate in captivity is the best way to encourage breeding. However, evidence suggests that brumation also plays a role in long-term health by giving the reptile’s body an opportunity to “reboot”.
In the wild, winter takes place roughly between November to February, and sandfish brumate for 2-4 months. Encouraging brumation for captive sandfish during this time is pretty easy:
- 1 month before you plan to start brumation, reduce your light timer from 12 hours/day to 10 hours/day.
- 1 week before brumation, stop feeding your sandfish. This gives it an opportunity to clear out its systems and signals the skink’s body to prepare for brumation.
- On the day that brumation is scheduled, turn off the skink’s heat lamp. You can leave the UV light on to keep the usual day/night cycle.
- Let the skink sleep for 2-4 months at room temperature (70-72°F). Make sure there is a constant supply of fresh water available just in case it wakes up thirsty (this does happen).
- When brumation is scheduled to end, turn the heat lamp back on. This should trigger the sandfish to wake up.
- 2 days after the skink has woken up, offer food.
- 1 month after brumation ends, increase the light timer from 10 hours/day back to 12 hours/day.