Hydration is as important for your bearded dragon as it is for you. New and existing bearded dragon owners may be struggling with the small amount of water their beardie is drinking, if they are drinking at all. It's a concern if you think your dragon may be dehydrated, something you want to avoid to ensure your bearded dragon remains in optimum health.
Bearded dragons come from the deserts of Australia. They are used to low humidity levels and high temperatures and as a result, it's important that they remain hydrated at all times. Most other pets, you put down a water bowl and don't think about it again, it's not that easy with a bearded dragon that gets the majority of its moisture through eating vegetables, taking baths and eating insects.
In the wild, a bearded dragon gets it's water from insects and plants that it eats. They have adapted to the dry conditions, but living in captivity is different to the wild and it's your responsibility to ensure your bearded dragon remains hydrated and healthy.
Where you live can play a role in whether your bearded dragon is hydrated or dehydrated. Here are a few things you need to understand:
- Dry climates – Dry climates with low humidity levels will mean your beardie should have constant access to water. Place water in a shallow bowl in the tank and refresh it daily.
- Moist climates – Wet and humid climates mean that putting a water bowl in the bearded dragon cage could push up the humidity levels. Rather add a bowl of water to the tank for a couple of hours each day.
How to Tell If Your Bearded Dragon Is Dehydrated
Dehydration can be very serious in reptiles, as it is in humans and therefore you want to ensure you keep your beardie well hydrated at all times. There are some signs and symptoms to look out for, which can help you identify if your bearded dragon is dehydrated, these include:
- Sunken eyes
- Wrinkled skin
- Loss of appetite
- Struggling to shed
- Not defecating
- Pinch skin test – skin remains elevated and doesn't bounce back into place after being pinched.
It is possible your bearded dragon is dehydrated due to no fault of your own. If all your efforts to rehydrate your pet fails, ensure you seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible.
Loss of appetite and energy can also be a sign of brumation, which is normal for bearded dragons. See our bearded dragon care sheet for more information about brumation.
How to Tell If Your Bearded Dragon Is Overhydrated
It is possible that your bearded dragon can get too much water. The most common sign is a runny stool with the beardie defecating at regular intervals. Another sign is that there is undigested food visible in the stool.
This can be due to numerous reasons from the beardie having too many baths or simply drinking too much to having high water content in their vegetables. Vegetables that contain the most water include cucumber, celery and cabbage, to name a few. Reducing the high water content veggies, fruit and greens for a few days should help get your beardie back to normal.
It's recommended when you suspect your bearded dragon is too hydrated that you reduce the number of baths and mistings your beardie is enjoying. If you do leave a water bowl in the tank, only leave it there for a couple of hours a day until their stool returns to normal.
Ways To Keep Your Bearded Dragon Hydrated
Keeping your bearded dragon hydrated is much easier than you may think. You can:
- Introduce plenty of greens, vegetables and fruits that contain water.
- Give your bearded dragon regular baths – play for up to half an hour in a sink of water.
- Add a water bowl to their tank. Some dragons may not recognize the water as standing water isn't something they see in nature. You may need to create small ripples in the bowl to show them.
- Use a small syringe filled with water and gently drop one or two drops directly into the beardie's mouth to help hydrate them.
- Mist your bearded dragon– Misting is debatable among bearded dragon community. Half of the community claims that missing is not natural in the desert environment and can cause upper respiratory infections. Misting or not misting is up to you. But remember to use warm water and always mist outside the tank to reduce humidity.
Keep Your Bearded Dragon Hydrated During Brumation
Brumation is a period that some (not all) bearded dragons go through. Brumation is a type of hibernation that usually happens when temperatures drop. Bear in mind that your beardie doesn't live in the wild, so while they receive constant temperatures, they are still inclined to go into a semi-hibernation, which can last anywhere up to a few months.
It's very important during this time that you keep your dragon hydrated. At the end of the brumation period, your beardie should be the same healthy weight and reptile that you have grown to love.
In the wild, a bearded dragon going through brumation will drink water from a pool of water on the ground or they will dig down into the ground to get water. In captivity, things are different and it's your responsibility to ensure that your beardie is getting enough water during this process.
The best way to do this is to give your beardie a bath at least once a week. Baths help to moisten the skin and also hydrates the beardie. Misting is another popular choice to keep the skin moist, along with a healthy and well balanced diet of plant and animal material.
Keep Your Bearded Dragon Hydrated During Shedding
Shedding is something all bearded dragons go through. The younger they are, the more rapidly they grow, the more they shed. An adult beardie will shed around twice per year. Keeping your dragon hydrated during this time is essential to help keep the skin moist and make it easier for the dragon to go through this process.
There are numerous ways you can help your bearded dragon remain hydrated during their shedding period, including:
- Vegetables – leave a fresh supply of leafy greens and vegetables in the tank – these are filled with moisture.
- Baths – give your bearded dragon a bath every couple of days to moisten the skin and help hydrate your beardie.
- Misting – Misting more frequently can also help to moisten the skin and help the shedding process while keeping your beardie hydrated.
- Water dropper – A water dropper enables you to drop water directly into your beardies mouth while reducing the risk of humidity in the tank.