If you own a bearded dragon, then you will likely have some questions about keeping them well hydrated. Being a lizard, how they obtain their water can vary but nonetheless, it is important that they get sufficient water. Interestingly, bearded dragons drink water, and can learn to do so from a dish. But can you top this up with tap water? Is it safe and preferable to do so? This is what you must know.
So, can bearded dragons drink tap water? Bearded dragons can drink tap water although reptile specialists recommend that you purify it first with a water filter or conditioner. This will remove unwanted minerals, chemicals, and other additives which can be harmful to your bearded dragon. While small amounts of unfiltered tap water should be okay, prolonged exposure can lead to health complications over time.
As levels of potentially harmful substances will vary depending on your location and your local water supply, it is best to remain cautious and safe.
Besides, the water that comes out of our taps is actually a highly altered resource.
It’s entirely different from what these reptiles are used to in the wild.
Bearded dragons originate from the desert regions of the Australian outback; this makes them able to adapt well to arid conditions.
But, water is still important; and how a bearded dragon obtains it is even more so if we think about how limited it usually is in this kind of landscape.
In their natural environment, bearded dragons have developed ways to derive their hydration from the plant and insect materials they consume.
Bearded dragons in captivity can do the same, but they equally should be provided with a clean water source every day.
Many owners assume their tap water is safe to offer their bearded dragons.
Sometimes it is, but for others, it can be proven to be more problematic.
The honest answer to whether bearded dragons can drink tap water is, therefore, it depends, but this advice is not very actionable or helpful.
So instead, it is best to be proactive and take the initiative.
Some town councils and local authorities will list exactly what is in your tap water online. Others by law will have to make it available upon request.
Either way, we can never be entirely sure and certain as to what is in our tap water, which is why filtering it first is often recommended by reptile specialists and veterinarians.
Let us now take a closer look at the importance of hydration for bearded dragons before we look more closely at tap water specifically.
We’ll finish up with some helpful ways to ensure your bearded dragon gets all the water they need along with some signs to watch out for that could suggest dehydration.
So, be sure to keep on reading to ensure you obtain all the information you need to keep your beardie happy and healthy.
Importance Of Hydration For Bearded Dragons
A bearded dragon must remain well-hydrated because even mild dehydration will eventually result in health problems.
Health complications that can arise include kidney disease, constipation, gout, and excessive or partial shedding.
Even during brumation (a state of minimal activity and movement), bearded dragons need hydration as it can lead to severe health issues and, in extreme cases, death.
However, at the same time, bearded dragons do not need an excess of water. Too much can be problematic too.
Remember, wild bearded dragons will spend the majority of their time slightly more dehydrated than the other way; so it is important that you meet their needs and nothing more.
To calculate how much water your bearded dragon needs, you can use the following calculation:
Bearded Dragons Water Requirements = 0.1 milliliters per gram of body weight per day.
Essentially, water requirements vary depending on a bearded dragon’s size and age. Generally, older and larger beardies require more water.
With this in mind, the below is a useful table which displays roughly how much they should be getting per day:
|Bearded Dragon Weight (Grams)||Water Per 24 Hour Period (ml)||Water In A 24 Hour Period (oz)|
Thus, the average adult bearded dragon, weighing around 500 grams only requires around 5ml in 24 hours. It’s not a lot.
Equally, you can include the water content in food. Taking that calculation into account, the average amount of water a beardie needs in a day is about two teaspoons of fluids.
No age is exempt from requiring extra water in addition to food. Baby bearded dragons drink water just like juveniles and adults.
Many bearded dragons in captivity don’t naturally take to the water, which can be worrying for many owners.
If you offer your beardie a bowl full of water, they are likely to ignore it especially, to begin with.
This is where you need to prompt your beardie to drink; some beardies will never drink of their own accord.
You can teach you a bearded dragon to drink water by applying some tips and tricks to your teaching method, failing that there are other ways to keep your beardie hydrated:
Bearded dragons are naturally attracted to moving water when they are thirsty. When you mist your beardie, spray water on something in your beardie’s tank that will drip over into a bowl and see if that piques their interest.
Spray Water In Your Hand
Make sure your hand is clean before spraying water on your hand and make sure that you are not doing this after they have had a bath.
You must let your bearded dragon see you spraying the water in your hand when your beardie is thirsty; this may take a few attempts but keep trying.
Bathing Your Bearded Dragon
Beardies like their baths, and it’s an excellent way for them to hydrate.
Bearded dragons drink water in the bath; however, there is no guarantee that all do this every time. Beardies only need a few milliliters of water per day.
Is Tap Water Bad For Bearded Dragons?
Now we know that bearded dragons must intake a certain amount of water per day, but back to the source. Specifically, tap water.
The issue with tap water is that by default, it often contains many additives and chemicals to purify it.
Any of which could be dangerous to a bearded dragon, especially in excess.
Fluoride and chlorine are perhaps the most familiar ones, although heavy metals are sometimes present too. Some areas even have lead in their water.
Other potentially harmful elements to be aware of include: Bromoform, Bromodichloromethane, Chloroform, and Hexavalent Chromium (which is carcinogenic) to name but a few.
For the most part, we are not able to tell exactly what is included in our tap water and in what amounts.
Plus, it’s even harder yet to know how our reptiles will respond to them. It’s one thing for us, humans, to drink tap water and be perfectly fine doing so, but this does not mean it’s the same for our bearded dragons.
With this in mind, what should you do?
It is best to either bottled water or distilled, filtered, or condition tap water. All such approaches will help to remove any potentially harmful chemicals and additives.
One of the most cost-effective and things to do is to actually invest in some good quality water conditioner.
Reptisafe on Amazon comes with some of the best reviews as it can effectively mitigate chemicals in tap water.
This means you can continue to offer tap water to your bearded dragon, so long as this conditioner has been added.
It’s the easiest way to go about it; and as bearded dragons do not drink a lot of water each day, it lasts for a long time!
You can also consider using filtered bottled mineral water, like Evian, Nestle, or Fiji.
Otherwise, a filter system, like this Brita Pitcher on Amazon is equally effective in ensuring your beardie does not ingest any harmful chemicals.
Regardless of the approach you take, it’s important not to offer tap water and not to take any risks. There is a reason why reptile conditioner products are available.
How To Provide Water To A Bearded Dragon
There are generally three main ways you can get your bearded dragon to consume more water:
- Providing a fresh, clean bowl of water,
- Provide hydrating vegetables that are water dense
As mentioned previously in this article above, captive beardies will not immediately start drinking from their water bowl even if they are thirsty.
Drinking from a bowl does not come naturally to them nor will they understand how to effectively do it.
Therefore, you will have to train your beardie to drink from a bowl.
One way to entice your beardie to drink from their bowl is to add a little papaya or strawberry juice to the water.
The smell of the sweet fruit will tempt your beardie to drink it. This method has proved successful for many beardie owners and is one of the best things you can do to train the behavior.
Just ensure you only use a small part of fruit juice relative to water, and that it is mostly diluted.
Once your bearded dragon learns to drink from a bowl, they should begin to do it more instinctively.
Bearded dragons in the wild receive water during rainfall. They lick up the raindrops that drip from their nose.
You can mimic this by misting water on your bearded dragon.
This is essentially where you spray water on your bearded dragon using a misting bottle or a generic spray bottle.
While they will not absorb water through their skin, they will instead drink the water that drips down their face and onto their nose.
Many veterinarians recommend misting as a way to keep your beardie hydrated.
It is also possible to mist food, especially vegetables, to increase how much water your beardie is taking in while eating.
Some vegetables contain more water than others, and these can be an effective way of boosting the hydration in your beardie.
While you will want to avoid lettuce, you can look to add things like cucumber to the diet which are water-dense without leading to issues.
Signs Your Bearded Dragon Is Dehydrated
While bearded dragons do not need a lot of water, they must remain hydrated as we have discussed above.
Therefore, it is essential that you look out for the potential signs of dehydration before it can lead to fatal consequences.
If you notice your bearded dragon is lethargic, is not eating their good or has sunken eyes, it is likely that they are not adequately hydrated.
To test and to confirm, you can perform what is known as the skin pinch test.
to do this, use your fingers to gently pinch the skin on your beardies body. If it rolls back quickly and feels elasticated, they are adequately hydrated.
If however, it’s slow to respond, it could indicate dehydration.
Either way, if you suspect your bearded dragon is dehydrated or not well, or they fail this test, it’s best to take them to a veterinarian who can run a more thorough examination and ensure your beardie is meeting their water requirements and needs.
Bearded dragons should be able to drink tap water, but it does depend on where you live and your local water supply.
We just do not know what is in our tap water, nor do we fully understand how these things impact our beardie dragons.
Therefore, it is always best to purify the water that comes out of your tap first.
Thankfully there are several ways to do this. You can boil the water and give it time to cool down, you can use a home filter, or purchase special conditioners to remove minerals and impurities from your tap water.
Even though bearded dragons come from the arid regions of the Australian outback, and fair quite well without water from time to time, they still require adequate hydration.
Prolonged or continued dehydration can lead to numerous health problems.
Bearded dragons in the wild derive water from their food, (either plants or insects) or through rainwater.
However, it is not so easy for their captive counterparts, and these reptiles do not know how to immediately drink from their bowl.
They need a little training to understand the act and the process.
Make sure that you regularly clean the water bowl; you do not want any germs lingering.
Many water bowls that you’d find in your local pet store are dishwasher safe and can be cleaned in the dishwasher – which does make this easier.
Make sure any dish soap is thoroughly rinsed and that there is no residue before offering it to your beardie.
A dirty water bowl will only increase the chances of an illness, which is something you want to avoid at all costs!
You can bathe your bearded dragon in tap water, although it is much better to use filtered water. A bearded dragon is likely to attempt to drink water while bathing, and you want to ensure that they are not ingesting any chemicals, elements, or metals that may be present. Equally, it’s important never to use any soaps or detergents when bathing.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.