To keep your bearded dragon healthy and happy and to lead a long life, they must have access to a handful of required items. Some of these necessities include a nutritious diet, shelter, heat, light, and others. But what about water? Do bearded dragons need water? Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
Do Bearded Dragons Need Water?
Bearded dragons do need water for multiple reasons.
Without adequate fresh water supplies, bearded dragons can fall ill and even die.
Let’s make more sense out of this by explaining why bearded dragons need water to stay healthy.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Need Water?
Bearded dragons must have access to fresh water to survive for multiple reasons.
Here are the most basic and necessary reasons why your bearded dragon needs you to give them water.
Reason #1: Staying Regular
That’s right! In order for the urinary system and the digestive system to move and function properly, your bearded dragon need to have adequate water levels.
If these systems do not have enough water content, the movement or flow of substrates inside these tracts slows and can cause extremely serious results, even death.
Reason #2: Hydration
Just like all other animals, water is necessary for life.
Every type of cell, every tissue, and every organ must have water in order to function correctly and to work together to support a healthy bearded dragon’s body.
Your bearded dragon must have a certain amount of water each day to stay hydrated and support all bodily functions.
How Much Water Does Your Bearded Dragon Need?
Bearded dragons need between 10-30 mls (milliliters, also called “cc’s” or cubic centimeters in medical lingo) per kilogram of body weight, per day.
Therefore, I like to tell pet parents that on average, a bearded dragon needs around 20 milliliters of fresh water per kilogram of body weight per day. Well, how do you know how much your bearded dragon weighs?
If you beardie is young or small – then you can weigh them using a kitchen scale.
Tare or “zero out” your kitchen scale with a clean bowl on the scale, then carefully place your bearded dragon in the bowl to measure how much the lizard weighs, making sure that the dragon does not fall or jump out.
If your bearded dragon is an adult, use the reference that an average-sized adult bearded dragon weighs between 400 – 500 grams (so a little less to 1/2, of one kilogram).
So for example, if you have a 500 gram adult bearded dragon, your dragon should be consuming around 10 milliliters of water each day ( 20 milliliters x 1/2 kilograms = 10 milliliters).
To go a step farther, 1 teaspoon of water is approximately 5 milliliters in volume, so this same bearded dragon would need to consume around 2 teaspoons of water per day to stay hydrated (10 milliliters water needed, divided by 5 milliliters for every 1 teaspoon, = 2 teaspoons water).
Reason #3: Circulation
Water makes up a large percentage of the blood in the body.
A decrease in the amount of water in the body and in therefore, the blood, can lower the blood pressure inside the blood vessels.
This means that blood and the nutrients that are carried along with the blood cells themselves, do not get carried to necessary organs appropriately.
Reason #4: Prevents Stones
Water can help protect against the buildup of certain minerals that can cause problems like stone formation in your bearded dragon.
What Happens If They Don’t Get Enough Water?
Bearded dragons can become quite sick if they do not have access to fresh and clean water sources.
If they do not get this much needed water, then they can become dehydrated and much worse, such as kidney disease, severe constipation, gout, behavioral issues, dysecdysis (abnormal shedding condition), and more.
Signs That A Bearded Dragon Is Dehydrated:
Here are a few signs that your bearded dragon may be dehydrated and it may be time to contact your veterinarian:
- Tacky Mucous Membranes (gums): if you can safely view inside your bearded dragon’s mouth and there are saliva strings, or their gums feel dry or tacky / sticky to the touch, your beardie may be dehydrated
- Skin Tent Test: If you very gently “tent” or pinch the skin along the bearded dragon, and the skin does not immediately (within 1 second) snap back to normal (no skin tent can be seen) once the pinch is released, then your dragon may be dehydrated.
- Sunken Eyes: If you notice that your pet’s eyes are sunken, or drawn back into the eye socket, more than normal, then this may be another sign that your bearded dragon may be dehydrated.
- Behavioral Changes: If your pet is dehydrated, they more than likely will experience some behavioral changes. These changes include but are not limited to – increased lethargy, increased hiding, decreased socializing with humans, decreased eating/drinking, etc.
- Decreased Bowel/Urate Movements: When there is a decrease in total body water, the gastrointestinal tract (digestive tract) will slow down because it needs water to properly propel, digest, and absorb food and nutrients through it. When the gut slows, the number of bowel/urate movements will decrease.
- Decreased Shedding: When your bearded dragon’s body is not functioning properly due to lack of water, they are not going to properly shed, or they will continue to shed, just less frequently. If your beardie is shedding less often, it may be a sign that they have an underlying hydration problem.
Can Bearded Dragons Get Too Much Water?
It is highly unlikely that your bearded dragon will willingly consume too much water.
They are naturally programed to be desert-dwellers – they like warm and dry conditions.
In fact, many bearded dragons have a hard time drinking solely from a water bowl and need other forms of water access in order to get enough water in their bodies on a regular basis.
How Do You Give Bearded Dragons Water?
There are multiple ways that a bearded dragon should be offered water.
Here are some of the important ways that you should be offering your pet water.
Water Source: Drinking Water
Just like any other pet, you should always have fresh, clean water for your bearded dragon to drink from.
It is common for beardie owners to place a bowl of fresh water in the tank with their pet.
However, some bearded dragons do not like to drink water straight from a drinking bowl.
Therefore, there are a few other safe choices that you can offer to your bearded dragon on top of continually offering bowls of fresh water to them.
Other ways to offer your bearded dragon water is to turn on your sink’s water in a soft stream, and holding your bearded dragon close to the trickle, but not under or in it.
Some bearded dragons take delight in sipping the water right out of the tap, while others love to stick their head under the “waterfall” and sipping while under the water.
Other dragons love to be offered water through syringes, carefully making sure not to force any water consumption, offering water from the syringe tip one bead of water at a time.
Water Source: Misting
Your bearded dragon will likely love a decent misting a couple of times a week. They will lap up the water droplets 9 times out of 10, to help with their hydration.
Gently mist your beardie with room-temperature water right on their back (not hitting their face), so that small droplets of water can be seen on their rough skin.
Be careful not to overdue the misting – over-misting can create a very moist environment, which can lead to health problems because these bearded dragons are desert animals, and don’t do well in very humid environments.
Water Source: Bathing
Many bearded dragons love to bathe.
Bathing occurs when a bearded dragon is offered a container of water that enables them to submerge their bodies under water.
Most of the time, pet parents place tap water into the bath.
The bearded dragon will willingly go into the bath for a period of time.
Sometimes the beardie will take a drink of water during the bath, other times they will not.
Either way, allowing your beardie to bathe, gives them one more option as to how to stay hydrated (and happy!).
Water Source: Food
Lots of the vegetable and fruit choices that you feed your bearded dragon contain water.
That means that every time they snack on fresh produce, they are consuming a small amount of water to keep them hydrated.
Just make sure that they fruits and veggies that they are snacking on are choices that are safe for them to consume!
What Type of Water Can Bearded Dragons Have?
Bearded dragons can have tap water (Divers and Mader, 2015). Tap water can be offered for both drinking water, misting water, and bathing water.
If your water is soft, take account of the amount of sodium in it – too much sodium can cause a problem in your bearded dragon if your dragon has a medical condition in which their sodium intake must be decreased.
Hard water can also be used in most lizards, including bearded dragons.
Bearded dragons need water daily.
Not only do they need a shallow bowl of drinking water – your beardie may need more water options because not all dragons like to get their water from a bowl.
Other ways to give your pet water include misting, bathing, sink “waterfalls”, and gentle syringing.
If your bearded dragon does not get enough water, they can become dehydrated, which can lead to many long-term medical issues and even death.
If you can’t get your bearded dragon to drink, or you think that your pet is dehydrated, contact your veterinarian for more help!