Reptile Maniac

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dehydrated bearded dragon

The bearded dragon is a popular and unique reptile pet, and if you own one, you already know that they have fun behavior traits and make great reptile companions. However, they differ from many other common pets in various ways. No doubt, you want to ensure that you provide your cold-blooded friend with everything they need to thrive.

You may have noticed that during specific times, such as brumating, your bearded dragon drinks less water. Perhaps you are worried that they might be getting dehydrated or have asked yourself if it’s even possible for dehydration to occur in this type of reptile.

The answer is yes. Having a dehydrated bearded dragon is possible. Although these reptiles can survive in the wild with low amounts of water, such as in the deserts of Australia, bearded dragons kept at home require proper amounts of water to stay healthy.

Here we will give you all the information you need to know to prevent dehydration of your bearded dragon. We will also tell you some things to look for to determine if your bearded dragon is suffering from dehydration and how to treat it.

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Do Bearded Dragons Drink Water?

Like any pet owner, you want to make sure that you provide your bearded dragon with everything that it needs to survive and thrive, including the right amount of food and water.

Luckily, these reptiles get most of their water from their food. So if you provide your bearded dragon with a healthy diet (a good mix of protein and leafy greens), chances are it will stay properly hydrated.

In fact, did you know that many bearded dragon owners have never even seen their dragon drink water from a bowl? It’s true. These reptiles don’t make their drinking habits very obvious.

So, do bearded dragons need water at all if you’re providing a healthy diet?

Yes, they do also drink water. However, it will mostly be small amounts. The regular natural habitat of the bearded dragon is arid and does not have an abundance of water. Therefore, they’ve developed other methods to adapt to this harsh environment and get enough water into their systems. 

The Right Amount of Water for Your Bearded Dragon

Many people ask the question of how much water do bearded dragons need?

As a general rule, the amount of daily water that your bearded dragon needs depend largely on its weight. The typical measurement is that they should have 10-30mL of water per kilogram of body weight each day. The proper amount will vary depending on their diet and the humidity of their environment.

You should make sure to have fresh water available for your bearded dragon each day. You can put it in a water bowl in their habitat. A bearded dragon water dish should be small and very shallow. However, you might have to train them to drink from it (more on that later in this article).

Luckily, as mentioned, the bearded dragon gets most of its water from the types of food that it eats, including insects and vegetation (like leafy green vegetables). So if they’re timid about drinking from their water bowl at first, it should not be a big problem.

Specialized pellet food for your bearded dragon typically contains 10-12% water, whereas live insects will have 60-85% water, and leafy greens contain 85-92% water. As you can see from these percentages, insects and leafy greens are the healthiest things to feed your bearded dragon to ensure it remains hydrated.

If you want to slightly increase the water content of the food that you feed your bearded dragon, you can mist it lightly with water before feeding it. This method helps the bearded dragon take in more water while eating.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Not Drinking?

Because bearded dragons are desert creatures, they have difficulty recognizing water if it’s not actively running. Therefore, many bearded dragon owners find that their pet does not drink from the provided water bowl and wonder if their bearded dragon is drinking water when needed.

If you’re feeding your bearded dragon a well-balanced diet that includes insects and leafy greens, its diet may meet its water requirements. In this case, it may not need much supplemental water.

So, although you should provide your bearded dragon with fresh water daily, you shouldn’t be too concerned if you do not see it drinking out of its water bowl regularly. If your bearded dragon drinks from the water bowl about twice weekly, it is most likely enough. Just make sure that you’re allowing your bearded dragon to drink when needed.

Do I Need to Spray My Bearded Dragon With Water?

Many bearded dragon owners will lightly mist their dragon’s head, face, and body regularly to help with hydration. Although this practice may lead one to think that the bearded dragon can absorb water through their skin, that is not actually the case.

The misting allows droplets to run down the lizard’s face, and it will catch the running water in its mouth, leading to another source of hydration. Also, water can enter the vents on each side of the bearded dragon to provide another hydration opportunity.

Many owners also mist the surrounding surfaces in the bearded dragon’s habitat. The water will run down the surfaces and attract the bearded dragon, as these reptiles tend only to notice water if it’s moving.

Just make sure you don’t over-mist the environment and cause the humidity levels to get too high, which can also harm your bearded dragon. The ideal humidity level for your habitat should be moderate (around 40% to 60% RH). 

Can My Bearded Dragon Drink Too Much Water?

For the bearded dragon, insufficient water intake is not the only issue that can cause health problems. On the other hand, overhydrating your bearded dragon can also cause issues and possibly lead to dehydration.

The reason is that if your bearded dragon takes in too much water, it can lead to diarrhea. Just like with humans, diarrhea causes the body to lose water faster than it takes it in, and dehydration is one of the dangers. It also prevents the bearded dragon from adequately absorbing the nutrients in its food.

If your bearded dragon shows signs of overhydration, such as diarrhea, your goal needs to be to reduce the amount of water intake until the stool becomes normal again. To learn more about what the stool of a bearded dragon should look like, read our guide: Bearded Dragon White Poop? Is it Normal?

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Drinking Too Much Water?

Although you generally wouldn’t worry about your other pets drinking too much water, as we just discussed, overhydration can be a problem in the bearded dragon that will lead to dehydration.

If you notice that your bearded dragon seems to drink more water than it should, it may indicate that it has a kidney issue or is overheating and can’t cool itself down.

First, check the temperature and humidity in their habitat and ensure it is set correctly for the bearded dragon’s comfort. If that looks good and your bearded dragon is still drinking too much water, analyze the water content of the diet you are feeding it and ensure your bearded dragon is getting enough leafy greens.

Finally, if you suspect your bearded dragon is overdrinking due to a kidney issue, you should make an appointment to have the vet check it out as soon as possible. The kidneys may not be processing the water and waste appropriately. Left untreated, your bearded dragon could die.

Signs of a Dehydrated Bearded Dragon

Now that you know a bit more about properly hydrating your bearded dragon let’s go over how to tell if your bearded dragon is dehydrated. Sometimes it’s difficult to know when reptiles are getting dehydrated. However, if you pay careful attention to your pet, you will recognize that something is off with their appearance or behavior.

A dehydrated bearded dragon will have:

Loss of Appetite

If you’re feeding your bearded dragon as usual and notice that it no longer wants to eat, you should take it to the vet immediately. Since the bearded dragon gets most of its water intake from its food, not eating as it should will quickly cause it to become dehydrated. If you can get it to eat, and it perks up after eating, it’s a sure sign that dehydration caused the loss of appetite.

Sunken Eyes

Although sunken eyes can indicate other issues with your bearded dragon, dehydration is the most common reason for this issue. If your bearded dragon has dark and sunken eyes, try to rehydrate them and see if it improves. If, after rehydrating the bearded dragon, the condition does not improve, it most likely indicates something else is medically wrong.

Tacky Saliva

Another clear indication of dehydration in the bearded dragon is if their salvia looks thick, sticky, or tacky when they open their mouth. Often it will appear as a “double-strand.”

Decreased Elasticity in the Skin

Just like with humans, you can do the “pinch” test on your bearded dragon’s skin to check and see if they are dehydrated. To do this test, you pull a bit of the skin on the dragon’s back or side and assess how quickly it returns to normal. If the skin returns to normal quickly, your dragon is not dehydrated. If it takes a slower time to return to normal, dehydration is the cause. Also, if the skin hangs loosely on your reptile, it usually indicates dehydration.

Trouble Passing Stools

Ensure that your bearded dragon passes stools normally and looks like healthy stools. Dehydrated bearded dragon poop will be smaller and harder than usual, and the dragon will have trouble expelling it. However, make sure you don’t confuse constipation with the common health issue of impaction.

Difficulty Shedding

If your bearded dragon is not shedding as it should, it can signify dry skin and dehydration. Shedding issues can be challenging to determine in the bearded dragon because they shed individual scales rather than their entire skin. However, if anything looks different in the amount or how your dragon sheds, you should take it to the vet to have it checked out.

Reduced Activity

Lethargy is a typical indicator of dehydration in many different animals, and the bearded dragon is no exception. You should take a bearded dragon that has grown noticeably lethargic to the vet for assessment. These animals rarely will act this way unless something is physically wrong. So, if your bearded dragon shows decreased activity, it could be dehydration or another critical health issue.

How to Treat a Bearded Dragon That’s Dehydrated?

If you’ve determined that your bearded dragon is dehydrated, you should take immediate action to ensure that it gets the proper amount of water and can recover quickly. For mild dehydration, you can treat it at home.

To treat your bearded dragon’s mild dehydration:

If you’ve tried these methods and your bearded dragon still shows signs of dehydration, you must take it to the vet for proper treatment and care. Vets have particular ways to get the right amount of fluids into reptiles through feeding tubes or intravenous injections. If you let a case of severe dehydration linger too long, it could lead to your bearded dragon’s death.

How Long Can A Bearded Dragon Go Without Water Before Dying?

Now that you know bearded dragons do not require a lot of water intake, you may wonder just how long can bearded dragons go without water?

The answer to this question is a pretty broad spectrum. In general, an adult bearded dragon can survive up to two weeks without water (especially during brumation), although many of them would have signs of dehydration before that.

If your bearded dragon is very active, it will need water more often and should be drinking at least every few days. However, when your bearded dragon is brumating, it could potentially survive the two weeks without water just fine.

This wide range of time is another reason why bearded dragon owners must observe their pets for signs of dehydration, as relying on water intake alone cannot prove highly reliable. Some owners never catch their bearded dragon actively drinking water, yet it doesn’t get dehydrated.

How Can I Train My Bearded Dragon To Drink from the Water Bowl?

As mentioned earlier, sometimes you will need to train your bearded dragon to drink from their provided water bowl, as they do not have this instinct like many other household pets do. Luckily, bearded dragons are pretty easily trained.

If your bearded dragon does not seem to be drinking from the shallow bowl of water you provide, you can take some steps to help it learn. Try to do things that will attract your bearded dragon to the water, such as:

After a time, your bearded dragon should recognize and remember that the bowl provides an easy way to access drinking water. It should then start to drink consistently without your extra encouragement.

Other FAQs

Do Bearded Dragons Absorb Water Through Their Skin?

No. Bearded dragons do not absorb water directly through their skin. They can only absorb water through their mouth or the vents on either side of their body. When you bathe your bearded dragon, you allow water to get through the side vents. If you mist your dragon, the water will drip down their head, and they can drink it through their mouth.

Do I Need to Clean the Water Bowl Everyday?

Yes, it is critically important that you provide your bearded dragon with fresh water and a clean bowl every day, even if it does not seem that they drink from it daily. Many bearded dragons like to defecate in their water bowls, so keeping it clean is also essential for their health.

What Temperature of Water Should My Bearded Dragon Drink?

You should keep your bearded dragon’s water slightly above room temperature. Generally, a temperature of 75 to 85 degrees should be suitable. Don’t worry too much about a slight variation in this range. As long as it’s not too cold or too hot, your dragon will be fine. 

Should I Bathe My Bearded Dragon To Prevent Dehydration?

Many bearded dragon owners use bathing as a way to bond with their pet and also hydrate it. However, please note that bathing alone will not give your bearded dragon as much hydration as it requires, and you should only utilize it as a supplement. Also, not all bearded dragons enjoy getting a bath. If bathing yours seems to stress it out, you should not force it. If you do bathe your bearded dragon, take care to make sure that the water is not too hot or too cold.

How Often Should I Mist My Bearded Dragon?

A thorough misting of your bearded dragon two to three times a week should be enough to help prevent dehydration in the reptile. The goal is to simulate the rain that might fall in the natural desert environment of the animal. Ensure you don’t mist your bearded dragon too much, as you will risk overhydrating it (especially if your environment is humid).

Can I Add Juice to My Bearded Dragons Water?

It’s okay to add a little bit of juice to your bearded dragon’s water bowl when you’re training it to drink from the bowl, but you shouldn’t regularly feed your bearded dragon juice, especially in large amounts. Since juice is high in sugar, it should not be considered a regular part of your bearded dragon’s diet. Make sure that if you do use juice, it is not citrus. Citrus juices will irritate their digestive system.

Do I Need to Hydrate My Bearded Dragon During Brumation?

During the brumation period, your bearded dragon will be sleeping, so you cannot rely on them to drink water for themselves. Make sure you still leave water for it in the water bowl, and take care to occasionally mist or bathe your dragon to prevent it from dehydrating. Basically, attempt to mimic the amount of wetness they would receive in the wild from rainfall during this time period.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to recognize and care for a dehydrated bearded dragon, you can feel more confident that you are giving your reptile companion the proper care and attention it needs to thrive in its environment.

Keeping your bearded dragon from getting dehydrated is not very difficult at all. If you provide a proper diet with a good mix of protein and leafy greens and give it access to fresh water daily, you should not have any issues.

However, if your bearded dragon does show signs of dehydration, make sure that you don’t delay in rehydrating it, as the more severe the dehydration gets, the more serious and life-threatening issue it will become.