Bearded Dragon Hydration: What You Need to Know
By: Em Lock of Zen HabitatsBearded dragons are one of the most popular exotic pets in 2022. In fact, Zen Habitats exists today because of one Bearded Dragon called, “Chi”.
Although there is a wealth of knowledge available on the internet on the care and husbandry of bearded dragons, one important topic is still under-explored: Bearded Dragon Hydration.
As a desert reptile from a hot and arid environment, it can be easy to overlook the hydration needs of a pet Bearded Dragon.
Here are some ways you can monitor your bearded dragon's hydration, encourage drinking, and help a bearded dragon that may be suffering from dehydration.
So, how can you tell if your Bearded Dragon is dehydrated?
Conduct a pinch test!
How to pinch-test for dehydration:
Gently pinch the skin on the side of your bearded dragon’s body. If the skin settles back into place quickly, your dragon is hydrated. If it is sluggish in settling back into position, your dragon may be dehydrated.
Other signs of a dehydrated dragon include:
- Sunken eyes
- Stressed coloration
- Poor appetite
Note: The severity of these symptoms may vary from dragon to dragon. If you are concerned that your dragon may be severely dehydrated, contact an exotics veterinarian as soon as possible.
What are some natural ways to encourage a bearded dragon to drink and hydrate?
- Offer freshly washed vegetables that are still a little wet in your dragon’s food dish.
- Have a soaking dish in your dragon’s enclosure so that they can soak anytime.
- Add Reptile Electrolytes to the soaking dish.
- Offer your Bearded Dragon a warm soak in a tub with added electrolytes once every 7-10 days.
- Using a spray bottle on the stream setting, gently press the lever to release water. When the water is dripping from the bottle and mimicking the flow of rain, drop a few droplets on your bearded dragon’s nose. This can stimulate drinking behavior. You can also add Reptile Electrolytes into your spray bottle.
- Gut-load your feeder insects with nutritious food and water. Special hydration gels are available to help with gut-loading your insects. Be sure to offer your bearded dragon well fed and hydrated feeders.
Invertebrate hydration gel
How can I rehydrate a severely dehydrated bearded dragon?
In some cases, such as rescue, illness, or recovering a bearded dragon which managed to escape, a bearded dragon may be severely dehydrated. In these cases, your dragon may not be able to absorb hydration. In critical cases, it is best to seek the aid of a veterinarian who treats exotic pets. The vet may be able to administer Ringer’s Solution intravenously to your dragon. Ringer’s Solution is a fluid used to treat dehydration, is a fast-acting hydrant, and is generally thought to be safe for most reptiles.
As with many reptile medical issues, prevention is the best form of defense against dehydration. Ensure that your dragon is staying hydrated through regular pinch tests, having water available in the enclosure at all times, offering water droplets on their nose every few days to stimulate drinking behavior, and providing regular soaks with Reptile Electrolytes to aid hydration.
Bonus tip: Your bearded dragon is more likely to be dehydrated after emerging from brumation. As your dragon begins to bask and increase their level of movement, a 20-minute soak in shallow, warm water with some added electrolytes (we recommend ‘Electrolyte Reptile Soak’) will help your beardie to wake up happy and hydrated!
About the Author: Em Lock
|Em is a Colorado-based Animal Educator, and former Zookeeper. Alongside her YouTube channel, 'Emzotic', Em works in our Partnerships department here at Zen Habitats. She keeps a variety of exotic pets at home, including Lizards, Snakes, and Ferrets.