Bearded dragons are fascinating reptiles and among the best to have for a pet and companion. Like most reptiles, ensuring hydration can be tricky if you are uneducated on the different ways that reptiles take in and store water.
If you own bearded dragons or are in the market for your very first one, you have probably come across the advice of misting or submerging their bodies for hydration during your experience and/or research. This is amazing advice and a very helpful practice in maintaining the health and well-being of your bearded dragon.
There tends to be a bit of confusion when it comes to how this practice is beneficial to a bearded dragon, especially when it comes to hydration. So, why is it a common practice at all? What does it mean?
Can bearded dragons really absorb water through their skin?
Since they are desert lizards, bearded dragons have many innovative ways to stay hydrated but a number of theories and a certain amount of confusion revolves around whether or not they absorb water through their skin.
In short, no, bearded dragons don’t actually absorb water through their skin. This myth has derived from the innovative techniques that bearded dragons have for hydration, including water droplet storage and taking in water through their vent.
The vent is the opening from which a bearded dragon will urinate and defecate; the vent is located on the underside of your bearded dragon near the base of its tail.
Bearded dragons are native to the dry and warm climate of beautiful Australia and are considered desert reptiles. Even though they are found naturally in a desert climate, water and hydration are a vital part of any animal’s diet and health.
Bearded dragons have developed many unique ways to stay hydrated despite their relatively dry habitat and these unique methods are used by your pet bearded dragon as well. Bearded dragons can obtain proper hydration through misting, drinking from a bowl, eating their veggies, and soaking in a warm pool of water.
For the sake of this article we will only be discussing how bearded dragons take in water through their vent and why soaking is so important, why it is common to mist their skin, and the most important and easiest way for bearded dragons to consume water; which have all led to the misconception that bearded dragons absorb water through their skin. So, let’s sit back, relax, and dive into the interesting world of water absorption for the interesting and innovative bearded dragon.
How Does My Bearded Dragon Absorb Water If Not Through Their Skin?
Method 1: Hydration Through Soaking
It is common knowledge to place your bearded dragon in a warm pool of water to promote hydration, but why? Bearded dragons have a vent on their underside near the base of their tail that they urinate and defecate from, but this vent can also be used for taking in water if they need to, which is part of the reason for the myth that bearded dragons can absorb water through their skin.
Giving your bearded dragon a bath at least once a week should already be part of your routine, especially if you don’t offer your bearded dragon a fresh pool of water each day. Regular baths and soaks are an essential way for bearded dragons to maintain hydration either by mouth or by vent, and allows for the skin to stay moisturized which aids in appearance and shedding capabilities.
Not only do regular baths and soaks allow for proper hydration techniques but also helps keep them clean of any bacteria which is a crucial part in maintaining their health. If you are ever concerned that your bearded dragon is not consuming enough water and could be dehydrated, try offering more frequent baths or a soaking dish filled with fresh water daily.
Frequent baths and soaks give your bearded dragon more of an opportunity to get a few drinks of water. If you happen to notice that your bearded dragon is staying hydrated but hasn’t been getting drinks of water, he or she is more than likely absorbing water through their vent instead; not all bearded dragons prefer drinking which is another reason why bearded dragons have so many unique ways of staying hydrated.
Soaking and baths also encourages defecation, if you notice your bearded dragon has not relieved their bowels in some time then it might be a good idea to give them a good soak in some warm water.
If you are giving your bearded dragon and they have relieved themselves in the water, remove your bearded dragon immediately, same goes for if you offer a soaking water dish for your bearded dragon be sure to fill with fresh water every day and to immediately clean the dish if your beardie has defecated in it.
Method 2: Hydration Through Misting
In the wild, bearded dragons will often take advantage of rain fall to aid in hydration using the same techniques your pet bearded dragon will use when you mist their body with water. So how are they staying hydrated with misting if they are unable to absorb water through their skin?
One method is for your bearded dragon to catch or lap up any water drops that run down their face. Just like in nature, bearded dragons will tip their heads forward during rain fall or a good misting to allow water droplets to roll down their face to their mouths to get a drink.
The second method bearded dragons will use is to take advantage of the raised ridges and bumps along its back and use them to store water. If the bearded dragon becomes dehydrated or requires a drink, they will then tilt their entire body up and forward to allow the water to run down its body towards its head and ultimately to their mouths.
This method is more common in wild bearded dragons as it is used as a survival technique to combat dehydration in the desert, but your pet bearded dragon may partake in this interesting ritual from time to time as well considering some bearded dragons prefer to not drink from water dishes or bowls. If you feel uncomfortable giving your bearded dragon a soaking dish then you can most certainly mist their bodies once a day to aid in hydration.
This practice of misting water on to your bearded dragon’s body is what has led to the idea that bearded dragons can absorb water through their skin, while that would definitely be an interesting technique; it isn’t the case for bearded dragons. If you are misting your bearded dragon, be sure to mist their bodies with warm water, not cold.
Method 3: Hydration Through Food Consumption
Probably the most important method for your bearded dragon to absorb water and to remain hydrated is through their food. Maintaining a balanced diet for your bearded dragon is not only necessary for their protein and vitamins but for their hydration as well.
The different types of fruit of vegetable that you can offer your bearded dragon contain a certain amount of moisture that will assist your bearded dragon in staying properly hydrated. If you believe that you should be doing more for your bearded dragon’s hydration then you can also mist the fruits and vegetables before serving them to your bearded dragon.
This process will add moisture and allow for your bearded dragon to hydrate just by eating their meal. It is also important to remove any food from your bearded dragon’s enclosure after meal time as the heat from their lamps will cause the fruits and vegetables to dry out and shrivel up.
As we discussed above, not all bearded dragons are keen on the idea of drinking from a water dish and that will require you to get sneaky and crafty in your hydration techniques.
Ensuring your bearded dragon is achieving the most appropriate level of hydration on a daily basis can be an interesting series of trial and error. Not all bearded dragons prefer to take in water in the same ways.
Some will prefer a water dish for drinking, some might prefer a good soak, and some would rather you just mist them and call it a day. Hydration is a top priority in ensuring the health and well-being of any animal, as it also is for your bearded dragon.
Reptiles may require less water than that of other animals but they still require a certain amount to survive and lead a healthy life. Dehydration can be just as dangerous for your bearded dragon as it can be for you and can develop quite quickly.
Bearded dragons may be natives of arid and rocky regions such as the desert outback of Australia and they may have evolved over the years to be able to survive extended periods with water, but this does not mean that they do not need water and that it is not vital for their survival. If you are ever concerned your bearded dragon has become dehydrated, contact your local herp vet for any answers and tips in maintaining the proper hydration levels for your beloved beardie.