The Water Bowl Debate

There are many things that bearded dragon owners disagree on. From the correct substrate and lighting to the right foods and social interactions. Although there are many things that beardie enthusiasts don’t see eye to eye on, the biggest one has to be the water bowl debate. The discussion of whether or not to provide your dragon with a water bowl has become a hot topic in the bearded dragon community. Online forums and social media groups are flooded with bearded dragon lovers arguing over how you should keep your dragon hydrated. So what is the correct answer? Well, there really isn’t a cut and dry answer to this one. In the following article, I am going to break down the pros and cons of a water bowl to help you make the right decision for your dragon.

How do dragons stay hydrated in the wild?

I feel like it is smart to look at how dragons live in the wild to determine the best way for us to care for them in captivity. In the wild, bearded dragons get water through three main sources. The first way that they get hydrated in the wild is through the veggies that they eat. The vegetation in the wild collects condensation and dew which is then consumed when the dragon eats the plant. They also get moisture from the plant itself which stores water internally. Although it may not happen often, it does rain in their natural habitat. Bearded dragons can easily consume rain water thanks to the unique shape of their head funneling the water to their mouth. Another place that beardies can get water in the wild is natural water sources such as puddles, streams and watering holes. Now that we know how dragons stay hydrated in the wild, we can talk about keeping them hydrated in captivity.

Why are people against water bowls?

The first reason that many people do not agree with water bowls is that there is a chance of them creating higher humidity. Being that dragons are desert dwellers, high humidity can be harmful to them. High humidity can cause respiratory infections as well as mold and fungal growth in the enclosure and even on the dragon's skin. Ideally, the humidity in a bearded dragon’s environment should not go above 40%. Realistically, if you live in a climate with normal or low humidity, a water bowl will likely not cause a huge increase in the enclosure humidity.

Another reason that people don’t like to put water bowls in dragon enclosures is because they believe that bearded dragons cannot see still water. It is true that it may be harder for them to recognize water due to the fact that it isn’t moving or making any noise. It is surprisingly easy to train a bearded dragon to drink from a water bowl by allowing them to watch you pour the water in or by misting the surface of the water while they watch. Once a beardie realizes that there is water available, they will more than likely make use of that resource.

How do they get water if I don’t provide a water bowl?

There are a few ways to make sure your beardie stays hydrated if you decide not to use a water bowl. The first way is to mist your dragon’s enclosure. This is something that should not be done more than once or twice a week and should only be done if you live in an area that isn’t too humid. Misting can be helpful in getting your dragon to drink because it simulates rainwater falling on them. It is important to be very careful with this method and to keep an eye on your humidity levels. Another way that they get water without a water bowl is from their veggies. Leafy greens naturally contain a good amount of water but you can also mist down the greens before you feed them to add a little bit extra. The last way to keep your beardie hydrated without a water bowl is by soaking them regularly. Many dragons will start drinking as soon as you put them in the tub of water. Even if you don’t physically see them drinking, they will still absorb water through their vent. They cannot absorb water through their skin. You can soak your beardie in 85-90 degree water for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. People most commonly soak their dragons once or twice a week.

As you can see, the water bowl debate isn’t about the right or wrong way to do things but the right or wrong way to do things for YOU and YOUR dragon. Just like people, all dragons are different, with their own personalities and their own needs. There is not one single way to do things and there are many different ways to care for our scaly babies that will allow them to live a happy and healthy life with us!