One of the most common things that people hear about bearded dragons is that they are able to absorb water out of their environment and take it in through their skin. This theory is quite interesting when you stop to think about it, but is it true? I decided to do some research around the topic to find out for good whether there is any truth to these claims.
So, do bearded dragons absorb water through their skin? Bearded dragons do not absorb water through their skin. Instead, they remain hydrated by obtaining water through the vegetables in their diet, by drinking water provided through misting and taking in water through their vent. It is known for some bearded dragons to drink from a bowl too.
Some owners are keen to express that their bearded dragon gets plenty of water without physically drinking. This has lead to the faulty belief that this behavior is not required as their bodies simply absorb the water they need.
While these amusing lizards have intriguing and innovative ways to hydrate themselves, this is not one of them. So, let us take a closer look exactly how a beardie remains hydrated along with some practical recommendations to ensure they do so at all times.
Do Bearded Dragons Drink Water Through Their Skin?
Bearded dragons do not drink water through their skin, but it is common practice to mist a bearded dragon with water. Therefore, this has led to the assumption it is their skin which makes use of the water.
Misting is good for a bearded dragon’s skin, which is likely why so many owners do it faithfully. When you mist your pet, there are two things that they may do with the water.
The first is to lower their head when they are being sprayed. Instinct tells them to put their head down. When this happens, the droplets of water run down their face and they will then start to take it in through their mouths.
The second is to store the misted water in the bumps (small raised ridges) you see on their back.
Whenever they become dehydrated, a bearded dragon will tilt its head and body forward so the drops they have been storing run down their face. They will lap up the water this way. Misting should be done frequently, especially if you have been observing your lizard closely and noticed that they are not drinking much water.
Also, if your dragon happens to be in the bathtub and they are dehydrated, they can make use of their vents to drink. The vent is the opening at your pet’s rear end from which they poop and pee. It also allows them to take in water if needed.
Do Bearded Dragons Really Drink Water From A Bowl?
Some bearded dragons will drink water from a bowl if you provide it for them in this way.
Dragons that do this are the exception rather than the rule. Most bearded dragons dislike using their mouths to drink water.
If your pet does drink from a bowl, they will still need to be misted on a regular basis.
How Much Water Do Bearded Dragons Need To Drink Each Day?
Bearded dragons need to drink different amount of water, depending on their size and their age.
The average reptile weighs around 300 grams (almost ¾ of a pound). A dragon of this size will need around 3 ml of water per day.
Below, you can find a rough estimate of the amount of water a bearded dragon requires, depending on their size. Of course, this is for informative purposes only. It is best to find out the exact amount your beardie should be drinking directly from your vet:
|Bearded Dragon Weight (Grams)
|Water Per 24 Hour Period (ml)
|Water In 24 Hour Period (oz)
As you can see, this does not appear to be like a lot of water. But why is this?
When in their natural habitat, bearded dragons go through long periods without access to water and where no rainfall is seen at all.
So where do they get water when there is none available?
Most of the water a bearded dragon consumes in the wild is from the plants and insects that they eat. This is generally enough to satisfy their needs in this way.
Captive bearded dragons are slightly different, and they often need the help of their owners to encourage them to drink.
You would assume that any animal who sees water will drink it instinctively. Not so much with our pet dragons.
They will need to essentially be trained to drink water from a bowl.
One way to do this that has had success with many owners is to add a small amount of fruit juice to their water bowl.
There is nothing wrong with their sense of smell, and when they become aware of the sweet smell from the fruit, they are more likely to try drinking from the bowl.
Use a small amount of juice like apple or pear. Put only a tiny amount in so that it does not get thick, or too calorie/sugar dense.
Another trick to encourage bearded dragons to drink from a bowl is the move the water around. Running water draws their interest so if you swirl your finger around in the bowl could be enough to get them to investigate.
How Can I Tell If My Bearded Dragon Is Dehydrated?
You can give your bearded dragon a quick and easy exam to see if they may be dehydrated.
In order to survive, every living thing needs water. Without it, most living things die long before they starve to death.
Bearded dragons in captivity need you to keep a close eye on them to catch dehydration before it becomes a danger.
One way to tell is by using the pinch test. Gently pinch your pet’s skin in several different places.
If it does not go back to normal almost immediately, there is a good chance your dragon is suffering from dehydration. There are also other signs to look out for which we will cover below.
What Are The Signs Of Dehydration In Bearded Dragons?
A loss of skin elasticity, lethargy, and a few other things are good clues your dragon is dehydrated.
The skin on your pet will become wrinkled all over the more dehydrated they get. Refusing to eat is another sign.
They can also become lethargic even when not in brumation. It is likely that your dragon will become constipated.
They could also appear to have sunken eyes, gout, or muscle weakness. In some, you will notice when the mouth opens that they have double strands of tacky-looking saliva.
How Do You Hydrate A Bearded Dragon?
There are several ways to hydrate your bearded dragon without taking them to the vet.
Misting your dragon will allow them to lap drops of water as they roll down the face.
You can also mist the surfaces of their enclosure. Just be sure to clean up excess water once they have had their fun.
Try being sneaky and misting the top of your pet’s food. You can also give them a bath, which some bearded dragons really enjoy.
You can of course try to get them to drink from a bowl. Make sure their water is always clean and fresh.
The best spot to put the water bowl is the coolest area in their enclosure.
Humans do not enjoy warm, stagnant water, and neither do bearded dragons.
If they will not drink from the bowl and you are sure they are dehydrated, try using a syringe or eye dropper. Be extremely gentle and go slowly. Squirt the water into their mouth, not down their throat.
When none of these methods work, before running to the vet, try to get them to eat some food that has a high water content.
Which Foods Can Be Used To Re-hydrate A Bearded Dragon?
Many foods, especially green vegetables and bugs contain lots of moisture.
Human foods with a high water content that are good for your bearded dragon:
- Raw bell peppers
- Raw strawberries
- Peeled watermelon (massive water content)
- Raw zucchini with the peel left on
- Raw watercress
- Frozen mustard greens or frozen turnip greens
- Raw cabbage
Worms from your garden (if you do not use pesticides), or crickets from a bait shop or pet store also contain high moisture.
Especially with the crickets, your dragon will have a great time chasing them around until they finally catch them.
When Should You Take Your Bearded Dragon To The Vet?
If your bearded dragon seems to be ill, and they are acting off, they probably are, and they should see a qualified vet immediately.
Some issues you should see the vet for include worsening dehydration, smelly stools, and for extreme constipation.
You should also bring your pet to vet every six months or so for a fecal exam. The vet will check to make sure there are no parasites present.
One common cause of parasites in bearded dragons is from the crickets they consume. It is a good practice to take them in for a check up once a year. This way you will catch any problems before they spin out of control.
Bearded dragons make wonderful additions to any family. You just need to keep a close eye on them to be certain they are getting enough water. This way, with proper care you should have your dragon as part of your family for a good ten years.
Bearded dragons require a certain amount of water, just like any other living thing. Being lizards, and native to arid and rocky regions; they have evolved to go a long time without water, and survive in an environment where water is sparse.
That being said, keeping a bearded dragon in captivity does require a certain setup and a certain type of care. Dehydration is not only possible but can be very dangerous too. You need to do all you can to prevent this from happening. If you ever were to suspect that your bearded dragon is dehydrated, contacting a vet should become your foremost priority.
While it can be said that a large proportion of water a bearded dragon needs can be obtained through their diet, misting and even the provision of a water bowl are things you should do.
Ultimately, bearded dragons do not absorb water through their skin. Even if it appears so. Lapping up water that their skin collects is perhaps the main reason for this assumption.
Baths can be used to hydrate bearded dragons in two different ways. Firstly, a bearded dragon may drink the water as they bathe and secondly, they can take in water through their vent.
A bearded dragon will require misting on average around 2 times per week. However, they may require additional misting during particular times. For example, additional misting may be required if they are dehydrated, shedding, or unable to drink enough water.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.