Everything You Should Know About Bearded Dragon Humidity Levels
Bearded dragons are truly a joy to raise in captivity, but their environment requires specific conditions. Lighting, substrate, and the size of the tank are essential considerations. However, without the right bearded dragon humidity levels, these details may not matter.
When getting a home ready for your new pet, ensure that the humidity is kept at the right level. In this guide, we will explore these requirements, along with the best tips for maintaining consistent humidity levels.
What is the right humidity level for bearded dragons? The relative humidity should be kept at about 35% to 40%. This closely mimics the conditions in the reptile’s native habitat.
As you likely know, bearded dragons are bred locally but originally come from the desert regions of Australia. These cold-blooded reptiles enjoy hot, arid conditions. To keep your pet healthy, use the following tips to maintain the recommended bearded dragon humidity.
What Is Relative Humidity and How Do You Measure It?
Relative humidity is the amount of water vapour in the air compared to the maximum amount of water that the air can hold at that temperature.
At 40% relative humidity, the air is holding 40% of the total water vapours that it can hold at that temperature.
The average daily relative humidity during mid April in Nottingham where I live is about 76%, much too humid for a bearded dragon. Most people tend to keep their homes at about 40% to 60% humidity.
You may also notice slightly higher humidity levels at night when the air is cooler. As hot air can hold more water compared to cold air, the 32-degree Celsius temperatures inside the enclosure make it relatively easy to maintain ideal relative humidity.
Relative humidity is typically measured with a hygrometer. To get the most accurate reading, it helps to place the hygrometer or its probe in a central spot.
Pay attention to the objects around the hygrometer. Setting it too close to the water dish or live plants is likely to result in higher reading compared to the rest of the enclosure.
In most habitats, placing the hygrometer partway up the back wall should offer the most accurate reading.
General Recommendations for Controlling Humidity
Before getting into specific tips for lowering or raising bearded dragon humidity, there are a few general best practices for maintaining the right conditions.
First, avoid using a solid plastic or glass cover on top of the enclosure. Good air circulation helps lower humidity levels and ensures that your dragon receives fresh oxygen. Instead of solid plastic or glass, go with a screen or mesh cover.
You should also check the humidity in your home. As mentioned, most homes are kept between 40% and 60%. At the higher end of this spectrum, you may find it harder to keep the humidity inside the tank low.
In some cases, it helps to add a dehumidifier to the room. A standard room dehumidifier should help keep humidity at a more manageable 40%. Do not place a dehumidifier in the enclosure or too close to it. Simply set it in the room.
As mentioned, temperatures may drop slightly at night, increasing the humidity reading. Minor fluctuations are expected. If the humidity is at 35% during the day and 40% at night, you have nothing to worry about.
Ensuring that the enclosure is the right size is also helpful. A larger enclosure allows more air to circulate inside the vivarium. The typical recommendation is to choose a 50-gallon to 75-gallon tank for dragons measuring 40 to 50 centimetres.
How to Increase the Humidity Level
Increasing the humidity is easier than lowering it. If you find that the humidity level is below 30%, the environment may get too dry for your dragon. Here are a few tips to help add moisture:
- Ensure that the water dish is full
- Mist live plants each morning
- Add live plants to the enclosure
- Add a humidifier to the room
With lower humidity, your bearded dragon is at risk of dehydration. Make sure that the water dish is full. In fact, you may even want to consider increasing the size of the dish if the humidity level is constantly low.
Misting live plants can add to the humidity and help keep the plants alive. Use a spray bottle containing water to gently mist the branches or foliage each morning.
If you do not have live plants inside the enclosure, consider adding some. Live plants are a great way to improve the conditions inside the tank.
The plants help remove carbon dioxide from the air. They also add oxygen and moisture, making it easier to maintain a higher humidity level.
What types of plants can you add to the terrarium? Here are a few suggestions:
- Jade Plant
- Aloe Vera
- Tillandsia Ionantha
- Callisia Repens
Echeveria is a genus of succulents that includes a wide selection of fun-looking plants. They often feature small rosettes of thick leaves, like small roses growing from the ground. Echeveria plants also come in a variety of colours, from light purple to green or orange.
The Jade Plant is another succulent that is easy to care for. It has small, rounded green leaves that may develop a reddish tinge under the bright UV lights.
Aloe Vera is also helpful, as it requires very little care. The only issue is that bearded dragons tend to love munching on the leaves. Depending on the preferences of your pet, he or she may devour the plant shortly after planting.
Tillandsia Ionantha is an air plant and commonly called blushing bride. Air plants grow on just about anything. You simply glue it to a surface and mist it occasionally. I suggest glueing it to the wall of the tank, just out of the reach of your pet.
Almost any herb can also be grown in the tank. Oregano, parsley, cilantro, and rosemary are safe for your bearded dragon to eat and easy to care for. Unfortunately, they may not last long inside the habitat (greedy little lizards!).
One option is to grow herbs in small pots. Switch out one of the pots inside the tank for a pot that you store outside the tank each day. This rotation helps keep the plants from getting completely eaten.
You may have noticed that the first three plants listed are succulents. As the conditions inside the enclosure need to stay somewhat dry and hot, you need plants that can survive with less water and brighter light.
Succulents store moisture in their foliage and require very minimal care. The plants listed are also safe for your bearded dragon, should he or she decide to munch on the leaves.
The final tip for increasing the humidity inside the tank is to use a humidifier. As mentioned, some homes may become too humid, making it harder to control the humidity inside the tank.
How to Decrease the Humidity Level
Decreasing the humidity level inside the tank can be a little harder compared to increasing the humidity. If you notice that the humidity is consistently high, you should try to determine some of the causes of the excess moisture.
First, determine the humidity level in the room. If the humidity is close to 60%, you may struggle to keep the humidity in the tank at a lower level. Instead of adding a humidifier to the room, consider using a dehumidifier.
When purchasing a dehumidifier, pay attention to the recommended room size. If the unit is too small for the room, it will be less effective at removing moisture from the air.
If the room is not too humid, it is time to consider the conditions inside the tank. Here are the best tips for reducing bearded dragon humidity inside an enclosure:
- Use mesh or screen enclosures
- Check the air temperature
- Move the water dish
- Use a smaller water dish
- Remove live plants
In an enclosed environment, it is harder for air to circulate and moisture to escape. Using a mesh or screen cover helps prevent this problem. However, if you already use a mesh or screen cover, but use a glass tank, you may need to switch to a screen enclosure.
With a screen enclosure, the humidity is often closer to the humidity of the room where the enclosure is set up. If you can maintain low humidity in the room, it should be easier to keep the humidity in the habitat from getting too high.
The next step is to check the air temperature inside the habitat. The ideal temperature for bearded dragons is 26-degrees to 32-degrees Celsius. It should be on the lower end in the cooler parts of the enclosure and the higher end under the UV light.
If the humidity is high and the temperature is low, try increasing the temperature. Remember that hot air can hold more moisture. Increasing the temperature without changing the moisture results in lower relative humidity.
I prefer to use a digital thermometer with multiple sensors. It allows me to check the temperature at both ends of the vivarium. If the temperature is too low, consider upgrading your lighting.
If these steps do not help lower the humidity, try moving the water dish. If it is too close to one of the lights, the bright UV rays can cause the water to dissipate and release moisture into the air.
You may also be using a water dish that is too big. To test this issue, remove the water dish after you notice your bearded dragon getting a drink. Check the humidity level after an hour or two. If the humidity drops, you know that the dish is likely contributing to the problem.
For a single bearded dragon, you only need a shallow dish, such as the top of a jar. If your home is typically very humid, only keep the dish inside the enclosure for a few hours each day.
The final recommendation for lowering humidity is to remove live plants. This should only be used as a last resort when the previous tips fail to solve the issue.
As mentioned, live plants are good for the environment. They help eliminate carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen, but the moisture that they add may make it harder to control humidity.
If you have multiple plants, start by removing one or two. Check the humidity level the next day. If the humidity is still high, remove another plant.
After adding a dehumidifier, switching to a screen enclosure, removing the water dish, and removing live plants, you should achieve lower humidity. If these tips fail to resolve the issue, the most likely problem is the hygrometer itself. Try adding a new hygrometer.
The Dangers of High and Low Humidity for Bearded Dragons
Low bearded dragon humidity may lead to dehydration, which is known to cause renal disease, urinary tract infections, and difficulty shedding.
If the humidity gets too high, you increase the risk of bacterial and fungal growth in the enclosure. This may lead to bacterial infections, mycotic disease, and respiratory diseases.
Last Thoughts on Bearded Dragon Humidity Levels
The relative humidity inside the enclosure should be kept between 35% and 40%. To maintain the right humidity level, remember to place the hygrometer in a central location inside the enclosure. You may even need to add a dehumidifier or a humidifier to control humidity.
If the humidity gets too high, try using a screen enclosure or removing the water dish. Live plants may also add to the moisture in the habitat.
To raise the humidity, add live plants and mist them daily. Moving the water dish closer to the basking light may also boost moisture levels.
Hopefully, these tips have not prevented you from wanting to keep a bearded dragon as a pet. They are fantastic creatures. You just need to follow the right steps to ensure that their home is kept comfortable.