Bearded dragons originate from the arid Australian desert, so they like the temperature hot—but that doesn’t mean they like it dry! They need water to stay healthy and happy. In fact, dehydration can cause (or be a sign of) some major health concerns, so it’s important to know what to look out for and how to protect your bearded dragon from getting dehydrated in the first place.
So how do you know if your bearded dragon is dehydrated, and what can you do about it? How can you prevent dehydration in your bearded dragon? Let’s find out.
Signs of Dehydration in Your Bearded Dragon
First of all, here are some signs of dehydration to look out for in your bearded dragon:
- Lethargy and loss of appetite
- Wrinkly, dry-looking skin
- Loose skin
- Sunken eyes
- Thick, sticky saliva
- Retained shed (if your dragon is shedding)
- Acting stressed
- Black coloring around the beard or stress marks on the body
If symptoms are severe, call your vet.
Pro Tip: Sometimes, your dragon may exhibit some of the above symptoms but not from dehydration. If you’re still unsure, here’s how to do a quick skin test. When your dragon is lying straight (not curled up), gently pinch the skin on his back and let go. Does the skin bounce back? If not—if it releases slowly back into shape—that’s a sign of dehydration.
Problems from dehydration (especially prolonged) include:
- Kidney failure
- Trouble with digestion
- Low energy
- Muscle weakness
Common causes of dehydration include:
- Too many foods high in water content
- Not offering a source of water that your dragon likes to drink
- Various illnesses
- Citrus fruit
What to Do If Your Bearded Dragon Is Dehydrated
- Give your vet a call. Do this immediately if signs point to a severe case. In a milder case, it’s still worth a call to get their advice.
- Give your dragon a bath if they enjoy drinking in the bath.
- Grab your misting bottle and spray the tank walls and floor (if it’s tile or another smooth material). This tends to work well because moving water usually attracts bearded dragons, and they’ll lick the droplets off the surface you’re spraying. You can also mist your bearded dragon’s feeder insects and salad so they end up unintentionally getting more hydration.
- Try dropping an insect or two right into the water bowl during feeding time. Your dragon will inadvertently drink as she goes after the feeders.
- Use a medicine syringe or dropper to feed your bearded dragon water directly. If you feel comfortable doing so, and know how to handle your dragon well, you can try this option. This technique can be especially useful for dehydrated baby bearded dragons.
- Offer small portions of foods with high water content (just be careful not to offer too many, or your dragon may get diarrhea). Some fruits and veggies that are high in water content include:
- Cucumbers - 96% water
- Celery - 95% water
- Radishes - 95% water
- Watermelon - 92% water
- Raspberries - 87% water
- Grapes - 45% to 68% water
How to Prevent Dehydration in Bearded Dragons
Although dehydration isn’t preventable in all cases—for example, if your dragon gets sick—there are some things you can do to keep your dragon hydrated. These include:
- Provide a clean, fresh water bowl each day. Some dragons go to the bathroom in their water bowl, so clean and disinfect it immediately if that happens. Additionally, don’t place the bowl beneath the basking lamp or in the basking spot. It should be on the other end of the tank so that the heat doesn’t cause excess humidity.
- Take good care of your dragon. Illness can often happen to bearded dragons as a result of poor diet, not enough calcium, and poor housing or lighting. Make sure you are offering your dragon a healthy diet and understand how to set up their terrarium so they are less likely to get sick and dehydrated.
- Give your dragon regular baths. Some dragons enjoy drinking in the bath. In fact, some drink out of the bath rather than the water bowl.
- Brumation. If your dragon is about to brumate, make sure they drink water beforehand. It’s really important not to let them enter brumation dehydrated, as the dormant state can exacerbate the issue and cause health problems. Similarly, when your dragon comes out of brumation, make sure he gets a lot of water; he may be dehydrated upon waking up.
These tips can help your bearded dragon stay hydrated and healthy.
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