Hydration! Lets talk water!
|With calcium being the most abundant mineral in our bodies, we also need to pay attention to some of the other things found in our bodies, the most abundant molecules in all living organisms... H20.|
You expect everyone to know that water is one of the most vital components for life to exist as we know it. As most do know this, in contrary, most people do not know why it is so essential or understand all the roles water plays in vitality. Our bodies are about sixty percent water with most animals being close to the same. As we are all living organisms with cellular functions and metabolisms, our bodies could not carry out all the necessary functions without water. Bearded dragons really aren't that much different other than they don't regulate their own body temperatures and they don't sweat to do this. Luckily, they have adapted to living in the hot, dry deserts so their bodies are super efficient with the water they do get.
Since bearded dragons are cold blooded, they can speed up their metabolism by raising their body temps by basking in the sun or slow it down by lowering their body temps when hiding from the sun. They can regulate their temps by only raising it when its necessary which really conserves a lot of water. Bearded dragons also have very large livers in relation to the size of their other organs and this also helps them be more efficient when filtering out toxins in their systems. When it comes to expelling those toxins, instead of urinating, they have a urate which is basically the same thing without the excess fluid. That's why they go to the bathroom in two different colors, the white part is essentially the "pee" in concentrated form.
Most bearded dragons will not drink from a standing dish of water. Since they cannot see it in the dish, they probably won't even realize it's there unless they figure it out by accident. If you do put a dish of water in for them, make it a very shallow dish and put some greens in the water so that they can see it and know something is there. They will recognize water if they see you pour or squirt it in the dish, you can also stir it with your finger to get their attention or plop them in the middle of it. If you put a larger water dish in their cage, it could add too much humidity to the air and you will probably find your dragon laying in it instead of drinking from it and doing that excessively can lead to upper respiratory and fungal infections.
Baby bearded dragons have a much smaller body mass that doesn't hold that much water in the first place. Combine their frequent eating, basking in higher heats to metabolize their food, and you can get a dehydrated little beardie fast. A great way to combat this is to offer them water once or twice a day. A dropper works great or a small squeeze bottle that holds more liquid is what I prefer to use. It's amazing how much a very small dragon will drink at one time, I've seen a ten gram baby drink up to three cc's at once. Some people like to mist their dragons but it may not provide enough water and either run off or evaporate. Another great way to keep them hydrated is a nice soak in the bath. With babies, this can also be somewhat of a shock to them so you have to be sneaky. First make the water close to the same temp as their body, or around room temperature, slightly warm to the touch. If you have a clear pyrex container or shallow dish that is transparent, put a half inch of water in it. Beardies don't see anything that is clear or transparent so chances are, they will hardly know you've put them in the water. If they start to freak out, hold them in your hand in the water. If they like it, let them play or swim around and enjoy the water until it gets cool or they're ready to come out. Never leave them unattended, just like human babies!
Most bigger dragons, juvies, sub adults and adults enjoy their regular bath time. Many dragons look forward to it so they can get a nice drink if they need it before they do their bathing. For many adult dragons, bath time means bathroom time, it's an easy and convenient way for your dragon to go poop without having to clean the cage. A nice warm bath not only helps keep dragons hydrated, it can be a soothing aid when shedding, or a gentle helper if a dragon becomes some what impacted. Best of all, who likes a stinky dragon? It keeps them clean too! Baths are good hygiene and cleanliness can be a preventative for most of the parasites that dragons are susceptible to. Two or three times a week is a good schedule and is always fun.
Another way to add water to their intake is by misting their greens or insects. Adding water to their salad will help keep it fresh longer but misting isn't really enough unless it is going to be eaten immediately. It is better to drench their salad with water so that the greens are sitting in a small pool, this will last much longer than a misting. As far as misting crickets, probably more trouble than its worth. Dipping Black Soldier Fly Larvae in water is a great way to clean them before feeding, they are a little dry in the first place and benefit from the added moisture. Roaches are difficult to dust with powder calcium so spraying them is a good trick for getting the powder calcium to stick. Or, depending on the calcium you use, the ultra fine calcium powder mixes well with water for coating insects or veggies very nicely.
Not all dragons are the same and not all of them will prefer to drink their water the same way. I find it more useful to try to teach them to drink from the dropper in case they need to be hand fed for some reason or if they get sick. It's also a good way to add nutrients to their diet if you want to mix small amounts of calcium, b vitamins, acidophilus or electrolytes to it. It's nice to know they are getting some of their supplements because most dragons probably don't get as much as they should. At least by offering it often and seeing them drink, you have one less thing to worry about. Hydration is not only essential to health, it can prevent serious issues that build up over time.