As a bearded dragons owner, it can be an unusual site to take a look in your bearded dragon’s tank and see them lying in their water bowl for what appears to be no apparent reason.
As you probably know by now, bearded dragons are fascinating creatures with some of the most unusual and unique behaviours of any animal on planet Earth let alone reptiles.
The truth is that when a bearded dragon lays in their water bowl it’s usually for a very good reason.
In this post, we will share with you the 4 common reasons why bearded dragons lay in their water bowl. We will also share if this behaviour is safe or not as well as giving practical tips to stop them from laying in their water bowl if necessary.
So why do bearded dragons lay in their water bowl? Bearded dragons lay in their water bowl largely due to the fact that they need to take a drink. The water bowl might be their preferred method of drinking or simply a fast means of hydration. They may also lay in their water bowl to cool down or help soften stubborn shed.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Lay In Their Water Bowl? (more info)
Sometimes when you see your bearded dragon laying in their water bowl it can be difficult to put any reasoning behind this behaviour.
This behaviour is often nothing to worry about, however, sometimes it can be the signs that something is not quite right with either your beardies diet or tank set up.
As we mentioned before, there are 4 common reasons why bearded dragons display this behaviour.
Here are those reasons why your bearded dragon will lay in their water bowl…
- Preferred Method Of Drinking
- Cooling Down
- Helping With The Shedding Process
Let’s now take a look at all 4 of these reasons in more detail…
Not all bearded dragons like to drink from a water bowl in a conventional way.
In fact, some bearded dragons simply don’t know how to drink from water bowls as it’s not actually natural for them to do this.
In the wild, beardies get their water intake from a combination of moisture in the food they eat, rain or morning dew on plants.
They very rarely actually go to a water source and drink as most animals would.
This means that drinking from a water bowl isn’t really something that comes naturally to bearded dragons.
Instead, your bearded dragon may actually prefer to lay in the water bowl and consume water this way.
A common misconception is that beardies absorb water through their skin but this isn’t strictly true.
What bearded dragons actually do is take in water through their vent. The vent is a small opening where your bearded dragon both defecates and urinates.
When you see your beardie laying in their bowl, there’s a good chance that they are doing this to take in water rather than drinking through their mouth, which as we mentioned isn’t always natural for them.
If you want to know more about how bearded dragons drink then we have shared a new article that covers all the ways your beardie can consume water (some of the reasons are pretty clever)
If your bearded dragon usually drinks out of their water bowl just fine then there is a possibility that they could be laying in their bowl for one of the other 3 reasons below.
Another common reason why bearded dragons lay in their water bowl is that they are dehydrated.
This is a little different than simply laying in the bowl as a preferred way to intake water.
When a bearded dragon is dehydrated they will often use the water bowl as a fast method to rehydrate themselves.
Later in the post, we will look at the ‘tell-tale’ signs of a dehydrated bearded dragon so you can quickly see if your beardie is indeed dehydrated or not.
We will also look at ways that you can easily keep your bearded dragon hydrated.
For now, it’s just important to know that dehydration can be a major reason why bearded dragons lay in the water bowl.
3. Cool Down
Sometimes bearded dragons can lay in their water bowl as a method of cooling down.
This can happen when they reach their optimal temperature but then need to cool down.
As the water is cold, a bearded dragon may use it to regulate their body temperature.
Even though this is clever and shows just how smart beardies can be, it can also be a sign that there is something wrong with your tank set up.
It can mean that the temperature gradient in the tank isn’t correct and the cool side of the tank is too hot.
A good rule of thumb for the gradient between your basking area and cool spot is around a 20°F difference.
So if your basking area is 100°F then your cool spot would be around 80°F.
Here is a table that shows how the tank temperatures should look…
Bearded Dragon Tank Temperature Guide
|Bearded Dragon Temperature Guide|
|Basking Area 95°-100°F|
|Cool Spot 75°-80°F|
If you stick to these kinds of temperature guidelines then your beardie should always have the heat they need without getting too hot, while also having a place in the tank to cool down.
Providing tunnels and hides is also important for allowing your beardie to find different temperatures in the tank and regulate their body temperature more easily.
You can see some great tunnels and hides that we recommend over at our recommended tank accessories page.
The equipment you use is also very important because if your thermostat is either poor quality, old or broken then you could be getting false readings and incorrect temperatures.
We recommend using a handheld thermometer to check various points of the tank so you can double-check that the temperatures and gradient are correct.
We have put together a guide that shares our recommended thermostats and thermometers as well as the best places to purchase them from.
If you are confident that your tank temperatures are correct with a good gradient and you also have caves and hides in the tank then it’s a good chance that this may not be the reason why they are laying in their water bowl.
Another common reason why bearded dragons often lay in their water bowl is to help with the shedding process.
If your beardie has got some stubborn shed then they may find that laying in their water bowl softens it and allows it to finally be removed.
If you think this is the case then there are various ways that you can help your beardie through the shedding process and also make the chance of them having stubborn shed in the first place much less.
It’s important to note that you should never attempt to pull off any shed that appears to be stuck and this can cause a great deal of pain and doesn’t help the matter at all.
We have created a guide that covers all you need to know about the shedding process and also lists all the ways that you can easily help your beardie to shed smoothly.
Is It Safe For Bearded Dragons to Lay In Their Water Bowl?
There are times when it’s perfectly safe for your bearded dragon to lay in their water bowl and there are also times when it may not be.
Here are 3 main reasons why you need to be careful when allowing your bearded dragon to lay in their water bowl…
- Risk of drowning
- Feces and urine in the bowl
- Bearded dragon becoming too cold
Let’s now take a closer look at these 3 reasons…
Risk Of Drowning
It might surprise you that there is a risk of your bearded dragon drowning in their water bowl but the good news is that this can only happen if the water is too deep.
The water in the bowl should only be deep enough to come up to your beardies shoulders and no more.
If you have a deep bowl then this is something that you really need to be aware of.
It’s also important to note that if your bearded dragon likes to lay in their bowl to drink then you should provide them with a bowl that they can easily lay in as well as easily get in and out of.
Faeces & Urine In The Bowl
Another problem that can occur from your bearded dragon laying in their bowl is that the bowl could actually be contaminated with faeces and urine.
This can happen when your beardie poops and urinates throughout the day and sometimes they will end up contaminating the water bowl.
Other times the contamination actually happens when they lay in the bowl. As you are probably aware, beardies often poop when they get bathed and they can actually do the same when they lay in their bowl.
Laying in their own faeces and urine is obviously not hygienic and can cause illness and infection.
As there isn’t really any way to stop this from happening, we would simply recommend changing the water in the bowl often to ensure it’s clean, especially after your bearded dragon has laid in the bowl.
Becoming Too Cold
It’s possible that your beardie could actually become too cold while laying in the bowl.
Bearded dragons are extremely clever and understand how to regulate their body temperature.
With this being said, there are lots of situations where they may stay in the bowl for too long for example if your bearded dragon falls asleep (more on this shortly)
Do All Bearded Dragons Lay In Their Water Bowl?
Not all bearded dragons will lay in their water bowl and this usually comes down to a variety of factors.
The first thing to understand is that all beardies have individual personalities and while some will like to lay in the bowl others simply won’t.
You also need to consider the 4 reasons we mentioned at the beginning of this post.
If your bearded dragon needs to drink or is dehydrated then you may find that they will use their bowl to lay in but on the other hand, if they are happy drinking normally and are fully hydrated then you may never see them displaying this behaviour.
If a bearded dragon lays in their bowl it really is all down to personal preference and the situation at hand.
Can My Bearded Dragons Sleep In Their Water Bowl?
We don’t recommend ever letting your bearded dragon sleep in their water bowl.
As we mentioned briefly before, this can cause your beardie’s body temperature to drop quite a bit as they might be laying in the bowl for a significant amount of time.
During the night you also won’t have the basking lamp on so it will be difficult for them to increase their body temperature quickly.
If your dragon is laying in their bowl on a night then we would strongly recommend taking the bowl out of the tank.
It’s also a good idea to check the tank temperature at this point as we mentioned earlier as the night time temperatures could possibly be too high.
How Much Water Should My Bearded Dragon Drink Each Day?
Obviously there are 4 common reasons why your bearded dragon might be laying in their water bowl but the one that worries owners is that their beardie could possibly be dehydrated.
That’s why it’s a good idea to understand how much water your bearded dragon should generally be consuming each day.
This will largely depend on the size of your beardie and the bigger they are the more water they will need.
Here is a chart that explains how much water your bearded dragon should consume daily…
Bearded Dragon | Recommended Water Intake (24 Hour Period)
|Reptile Weight (Grams)||Water Per 24 Hour Period (ml)||Water In 24 Hour Period (oz)|
What Are the Signs of Dehydration In Bearded Dragons?
Remember, not every time your beardie lays in their bowl is due to dehydration, in fact, they might never do this due to dehydration but it’s still important to know the signs so you can rule them out.
Here are the common signs of dehydration in bearded dragons…
- Wrinkled Skin
- Lack of appetite
- Sunken Eyes
- Loose Skin (Test)
One or more of these signs could mean that your bearded dragon is dehydrated but it’s also important to mention that symptoms such as lack of appetite could be signs of many other problems too.
The loose skin test is simple and can usually quickly show if a bearded dragon is dehydrated or not.
All you need to do gently pinch the skin on their back and then let go. If the skin goes back to normal very quickly they are likely to be hydrated and if the skin takes a while to go back to normal then its a sign of dehydration.
This test shouldn’t be used as a definitive test but it can be a good indicator and a good place to start.
How Can I Make Sure My Bearded Dragon Is Always Hydrated?
The obvious way to keep your bearded dragon hydrated is to provide them with a water bowl and let them drink from it.
The thing is, as we mentioned at the beginning of this post, by nature bearded dragons aren’t used to this method of drinking and lots of them don’t actually like to consume water this way.
There are actually some other pretty simple and effective ways of providing your beardie with the water they need on a daily basis.
These methods are...
- Misting your bearded dragon
- Misting your bearded dragon’s food
- Natural water content in food
If you want to know more about any of the methods then head over to our guide that covers exactly how bearded dragons drink, where we cover all of these methods in more detail
What Should I Do If My Bearded Dragon Is Constantly Dehydrated?
If you feel that your bearded dragon is constantly dehydrated then you should first try hydrating them over a couple of days using methods such as misting their head so they can drink the droplets and also misting their food.
You also need to ensure that your tank temperatures are correct and there’s no chance of them constantly overheating.
If you feel that this isn’t working then you should go and see your local veterinarian.
When it comes to the health and well being of your beardie it’s always best to get the opinion of an expert who can see your bearded dragon in person and make a full assessment.
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