Questions for Bruce
Is My Bearded Dragon Dehydrated?
Judy from Willoughby asked: “Because I can’t measure my bearded dragon’s water intake, how will I really know if he is dehydrated? I have never seen him drink directly from his water bowl, and I am worried he might not be getting enough water. I just want to make sure I am doing everything I should be to keep him hydrated—please help!”
Bruce’s Answer: Thank you for writing, Judy. Your concern about your beardy’s hydration speaks to your attentiveness, which is the first step in recognizing the signs of dehydration. I know it can be frustrating to monitor your dragon’s water intake, and I’m happy to provide some guidance for making sure he gets enough water. Let’s start by taking a look at some of the most-common signs of dehydration in bearded dragons.
Signs of a Dehydrated Bearded Dragon
One important note before we dive in: If you have immediate concerns about your bearded dragon’s health, we recommend consulting with a veterinarian or medical professional. This information is only meant to help guide you in recognizing the signs of dehydration so that you can step in and take appropriate action.
- Your dragon’s skin is wrinkled. The first place to look is your dragon’s skin. You may have heard of the “pinch test.” If you gently pinch a section of your dragon’s skin, what does it do? If it immediately bounces back, he is likely not dehydrated; however, if the skin stays pinched—like a pitched tent—this can be a sign of dehydration.
- Your dragon’s saliva is different. A dehydrated dragon will form double strands of saliva that will be visible when he opens his mouth.
- Your dragon is less active, shedding more slowly, and having infrequent bowel movements. Now, these are also common signs of bearded dragon brumation. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the brumation process as well as it will be important to keep your brumating dragon well hydrated. That being said, to tell if your dragon is dehydrated, look for these signs in addition to the notably wrinkled skin that isn’t passing the pinch test.
Keeping Your Bearded Dragon Hydrated
Dragons do not lap water from a bowl like a pet dog or cat. In fact, dragons do not intuitively know how to drink water directly from a bowl—it is a learned behavior. Because of this, dragons will get their water intake through various sources which can be hard, or even impossible, to monitor. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to ensure your dragon is well hydrated.
- Regularly mist your dragon and his enclosure.
- Always provide a bowl of clean water—even if you never see him drink it. He may stand or lay in it and get a lick of water here or there.
- Give him a bath. This is a great opportunity to get your dragon to drink, especially if he is brumating.
- Offer vegetables and insects, like hornworms, with high water content.
We hope this helps you better recognize the signs of dehydration in your bearded dragon and give him plenty of opportunities to stay hydrated. If we can provide additional advice or answer any other questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.