Should You Mist A Bearded Dragon?
Is it necessary to mist a bearded dragon? Does it help with bearded dragon dehydration?
3 Steps To Misting Bearded Dragon
Misting is a process of using a very fine spray to create a mist which lands on a reptile. It is a common process for some other reptiles, particularly tropical varieties but is not necessary to mist a bearded dragon. It is, however, something that some people like to do and if done properly does not cause any harm and some bearded dragons do seem to enjoy it.
Misting A Bearded Dragon or Not To Mist, That Is The Question
This is a common question often asked by bearded dragon owners. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. The purpose of misting is to keep your bearded dragon hydrated and to help with shedding. Bearded dragons originated from the arid desserts of Australia where the temperatures are high and the humidity is low.
Although bearded dragons are relatively hardy creatures, hydration is an important element to maintain their health. However, recent research has proven conclusively that bearded dragons do not absorb any water through their skin – so misting is only going to provide hydration if the bearded dragon drinks the droplets of water.
So back to the question… The decision to mist a bearded dragon should be directed by the bearded dragon itself. By this we mean there are a number of ways that your bearded dragon can keep hydrated other than misting.
- Vegetation – vegetables are a good source of hydration although not all bearded dragons will eat their greens especially the babies.
- Water bowls – This might sound obvious that they will automatically drink from a water bowl, this is not always the case usually due to the water is still and they are more responsive to movement. They may need to be taught where it is by generating movement with your finger for example.
- Droplets of water on their nose – Placing small droplets of water is another effective way to get them to drink. You can use an pipette/dropper or your finger works just as well. Place a small droplet of water on the very end of their nose and will lick it off.
- Baths – Bathing your bearded dragon regularly is a great way to keep them hydrated and is a good social activity for you and your bearded dragon. However not all bearded dragons enjoy a bath!!
Is it necessary to mist a bearded dragon?
If your bearded dragon eats veg, drinks water and takes regular baths they should be hydrated enough and misting is not necessary. Your bearded dragon may be reluctant or just out right refuse other hydration alternatives. If you think that your bearded dragon is not getting enough moisture by other means then misting may provide some benefit.
There has been some recent research that misting is not as beneficial as first thought. It has been proven that bearded dragons don’t absorb moisture through their skin. Since this is the case, misting wont provide much hydration but it will help soften scales during shedding. Misting is very beneficial for silkies (silkback bearded dragons) this is due to their skin, their lack of scales and more frequent shedding.
Concentrating the misting over the head will allow larger droplets to form. These will roll down their face and sit at the mouth, having the same effect as putting droplets on their nose. They will not be able to resist licking it in. Its important to make sure that you have a fine mist, not a jet spray as this could cause your bearded dragon to aspirate. This is where they inhale the water rather than swallowing it.
How To Mist a Bearded Dragon
If you feel that your bearded dragon will benefit from misting and is something you want to try then follow these steps:
- Do NOT use cold water! Cold water can shock your bearded dragon and will affect their thermoregulation. Make sure that the water is warm not hot.
- Put the water into a spray bottle and adjust the nozzle to spray not jet. The water droplets should be a fine mist, these can be layered up into larger droplets.
- Don’t spray your bearded dragon too frequently, Once a day is more than enough.
Should You Mist A Bearded Dragon And Their Vivarium?
We would advise taking your bearded dragon out of the vivarium and just mist them. Make sure the bearded dragon is dry before returning them back into the vivarium. This way you can mist your dragon at anytime of the day. If you really want to mist your bearded dragon and the tank then we would suggest that this is done before any heating in the enclosure has come on.
The reason for this is that by misting the enclosure you will affect the humidity of the vivarium but if its done just before heat coming on it will essentially replicate the morning dew. If you are already misting the tank (or want to) then its essential that you have a humidity meter so you can accurately monitor the humidity levels. Unregulated humidity levels can potentially lead to respiratory issues especially if the humidity remains persistently high. See why is monitoring humidity important.
Can I use a Misting / Fogging machine in my Bearded Dragons vivarium?
The answer to this is NO, not for bearded dragons, these machines will make their enclosure too damp and the humidity levels will be way too high. Having high humidity is not good for bearded dragons and leads to respiratory infections and fungal problems.
Misting and fogging machines are best suited for terrariums where the environment is required to be tropical or sub-tropical, such as for water dragons.
How to tell if your Bearded Dragon is Dehydrated
If you think that your bearded dragon maybe dehydrated you could try performing a skin turgor test. This is done by gently pinching the skin on the back of your bearded dragon. If it is slow to return this suggest that they may be dehydrated. This is the same test we would use on the back of our hand.
If your dragon is severely dehydrated these signs are more obvious. Their eyes will be sunken so will the fat pads on their head, they will look sallow and wrinkled. They may also be lethargic and not eating.
These signs may also be sign of other illness check out My Bearded Dragon Looks Sick for a comprehensive overview of disease and illness.
How to tell if your Bearded Dragon is over Hydrated
Over hydration is generally not an issue for your dragon as they will usually excrete excess fluid. You may notice that their faecal matter is loose, runny and resemble diarrhoea. It is worth noting that over hydration is not the only cause for diarrhoea, change of diet, stress or illness can also cause a change in faecal consistency. See causes of diarrhoea in bearded dragons.
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