Bearded dragon water dish

Water Dish or No Water Dish?

All pets need water. We have a dish of water out at all times for our cats and dogs. But what about bearded dragons, do they need a water dish? After all they are from the dry arid Australian outback. Let’s take a look at if one is necessary.

Is a Water Dish Necessary for a Bearded Dragon?

One common misconception is that bearded dragons need a water dish. In actuality, a water dish is not necessary. Some owners still like to provide one for their bearnie, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Most bearded dragons do not recognize still water and will not get the concept of a water dish. So you might run into problems with him actually using it. Flicking the surface of the water helps some recognize it as a water source. Some people even use vibrating water bowls. No matter what you try, a lot of beardies just will not drink from a standing water bowl.

If you decide to use a water dish, it’s best to keep it on the cool side of the enclosure. Also, keep in mind the evaporation of water can cause the humidity to fluctuate. The recommended humidity level for a beardie is between 30%-40%. If your humidity starts going above 40% it’s best to remove the water bowl.

If you notice your bearnie hanging out in his water dish, it’s because he’s found out the water is cooler than anywhere else in the tank, and he is thermoregulating. I would recommend checking your tank temperatures. The low side temperature might be too high for him. If the temperatures check out try giving him a bath.

The main reason I never use a water dish in my tank is they have always used it as their personal loo. Bearded dragons hate the smell of poo, and it never takes them long to figure out that doing their “business” in the water bowl doesn’t smell. For me contaminated drinking water is something I never wanted to have in my enclosure.

What If I Don’t Want to Use a Water Dish?

Even though bearded dragons don’t need a water dish, water is still essential. It’s not uncommon for bearded dragons to become dehydrated.

Most of their water will come from vegetables. Always make sure to wash their veggies to remove any pesticides. Before serving I like to mist them down first, doing so adds a little extra water.

In addition to misting his veggies, Use a pipette and drop a few drops on his nose when he licks it off give him a few more drops. It takes time to get to know your bearnie, after a while you can tell if he is looking a bit parched and needs water.

Depending on who you ask, baths are totally unnecessary, or they’re essential. I fall into the latter category “Every 3 days.” If they are shedding I give them a bath every other day. Besides keeping them clean it gives them the opportunity to drink.

How to Tell If Your Bearded Dragon Is Dehydrated

Dehydration is the leading cause of impaction. The use of loose substrates often gets the blame, and often times a miss diagnosed cause. It’s worth a mention that I do not support the use of loose substrates. If you are using sand, walnut shells, or wood chips I would recommend switching you can read our list of recommended substrates.

You can’t really tell hydration levels from outward appearance.

One of the symptoms of dehydration is the loss of skin elasticity and flexibility. If you pinch the skin on their back between your fingers, when you let go it should roll back in place immediately. It’s a sign your bearnie is hydrated. If the skin stays in a pinched position, their dehydrated.

If the urate (the white substance their poop) is white and semi-soft it’s a sign of a healthy well-hydrated bearnie. If it’s discolored and or hard it’s a sign of health problems or dehydration.

Can Bearded Dragons Drink Tap Water?

Generally if the tap water in your area is safe for human consumption, it will be safe for reptiles. Most city water may contain a trace amount of chlorine, or fluoride. If you call the water company, they should be able to tell you what’s in the water supply.

If you live in an area with non-portable tap water, “Flint Michigan” I would recommend using a charcoal water purifier. It will remove any lead, fluoride & chlorine. The bottom line when in doubt purify.

Conclusion

If having a water dish does not raise the humidity in your tank, and with daily water changes, there is no risk to your bearnie. Now, if the only purpose is being your bearnies toilet, I would suggest removing it.

I would love to hear your thoughts, questions in the comments below.

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