Bearded Dragon Humidity: Guide + Vet Q&A

Humidity plays a significant role in the shedding process, breathing, hydration, and overall health of bearded dragons. 

Inadequate humidity can lead to incomplete shedding and cause discomfort and potential health issues. On the other hand, optimal humidity ensures a smooth shedding experience, promoting healthy skin and minimizing the risk of complications.

Bearded dragons are susceptible to respiratory issues, and maintaining the right humidity levels can help prevent such problems. In environments with excessively low humidity, bearded dragons may experience respiratory discomfort, making them more vulnerable to infections.

A balanced humidity level helps maintain adequate hydration for your bearded dragon. It allows them to absorb moisture through their skin and provides moisture for drinking. Without proper humidity, your pet may suffer from dehydration, leading to serious health complications.

In this bearded dragon humidity guide, you can find an ideal placement, level, tips, and our favorite products to keep your birdie happy and healthy. 

Ideal Humidity Levels for Bearded Dragons

The ideal bearded dragon humidity is 35-40% but this varies depending on the life stage of the bearded dragon. For hatchlings and younger dragons, slightly higher humidity (around 40%-50%) is recommended. As they grow, the humidity level can be gradually reduced to around 35 – 40%.

Humidity Gradients

Creating humidity gradients in the enclosure allows the bearded dragon to regulate its exposure to humidity. This can be achieved by concentrating humidity sources on one side of the habitat while keeping the other side drier.

Measuring Humidity

hygrometer for reptile enclose

The hygrometer contains a sensing element that responds to changes in humidity. The most common type of sensing element used in hygrometers is a hygroscopic material, which absorbs or releases moisture depending on the humidity level.

Mechanical Hygrometers use a hair or fiber element that expands or contracts with changes in humidity. This movement is then translated into a reading on the hygrometer’s display.

Digital Hygrometers use digital hygrometers that rely on electronic sensors to measure humidity. These sensors detect changes in electrical properties as the humidity level varies, and the data is processed and displayed digitally. Digital hygrometers are generally more accurate and easier to read.

Display: The hygrometer’s display shows the measured humidity level as a percentage. For example, a reading of 50% indicates that the air contains 50% of the maximum amount of water vapor it can hold at that temperature.

You can browse some good affordable hygrometers here

How to calibrate hygrometers 

Hygrometers should be calibrated regularly to ensure accuracy. Calibration involves comparing the hygrometer’s reading to a known reference value, typically using a calibration kit or a salt test.

What You’ll Need:

  • A high-quality hygrometer
  • A sealable plastic bag or airtight container
  • Table salt
  • Water

Step 1: Check the Hygrometer’s Manual

Before starting the calibration process, refer to the hygrometer’s user manual or instructions for any specific calibration guidelines provided by the manufacturer.

Step 2: Prepare the Salt Solution

Create a salt solution by mixing a small amount of table salt with water. The goal is to create a saturated salt solution. The salt should be enough to cover the bottom of the container, and a few drops of water should be added to make the salt damp but not soaked.

Step 3: Place the Hygrometer and Salt Solution in an Airtight Container

Put the hygrometer and the container with the salt solution inside an airtight plastic bag or container. Seal it tightly to create a closed environment.

Step 4: Wait for Calibration

Leave the hygrometer and the salt solution inside the sealed container for at least 8 hours. During this time, the salt solution will release humidity into the air, creating a controlled and stable environment.

Step 5: Check the Reading

After at least 8 hours, open the container and check the hygrometer’s reading. The hygrometer should ideally display a humidity level close to 75%. If it doesn’t, note the difference between the displayed reading and 75%.

Step 6: Adjust the Calibration

Using the difference you noted in Step 5, adjust the hygrometer’s reading accordingly. Most hygrometers have a calibration knob or screw that can be turned to adjust the reading. Turn it until the display shows the correct humidity level (in this case, 75%).

Step 7: Verify Calibration

To verify the calibration, repeat the process after a few days or weeks. If the hygrometer consistently displays a reading close to 75% in the salt solution, it is properly calibrated.

Important Tips:

The salt solution calibration method is considered accurate for most household hygrometers. However, if your hygrometer’s manual suggests a different calibration method, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Make sure the salt solution is not too wet, as excess water can lead to inaccuracies.

Keep the calibration environment at room temperature for reliable results.

Correct Placement of Hygrometers

Hygrometers should be placed at the bearded dragon’s basking spot and on the cooler side of the enclosure to monitor humidity variations.

Basking Spot: Place one hygrometer near the basking spot. The basking area is where the bearded dragon spends a significant portion of its time to regulate its body temperature. Monitoring humidity here is essential as higher temperatures can affect humidity levels.

Cooler Side: Position another hygrometer on the cooler side of the enclosure. This area is where the bearded dragon retreats to cool down when it’s not basking. Check humidity levels here, as they might differ from the basking spot.

Avoid Direct Contact: Do not place the hygrometer in direct contact with water sources or misting systems. Direct contact can affect the accuracy of the reading and might lead to false high readings.

Avoid Direct Heat: Keep the hygrometer away from direct heat sources such as basking lamps or heat mats. Heat can impact the hygrometer’s accuracy and give misleading readings.

Avoid Drafts: Place the hygrometer away from areas with drafts or constant airflow. Drafts can affect humidity levels and result in inconsistent readings.

At Bearded Dragon’s Eye Level: Position the hygrometer at the height of the bearded dragon’s eyes or slightly below. This ensures that you are monitoring humidity levels at the reptile’s level where it experiences the environmental conditions directly.

Multiple Points of Observation: If you have a large enclosure, consider using multiple hygrometers to monitor humidity levels at various points. This provides a more comprehensive understanding of the humidity distribution in the enclosure.

Humidity Sources

Mist Systems

Mist systems are a convenient way to increase humidity. However, avoid excessive misting, as it can lead to high humidity levels, which may be harmful to your bearded dragon’s health.

You can opt for 2 in 1 solution, fog, and mist. 

fog and mist machine for bearded dragons

You can find this or similar mist systems here. 

Water Bowl

Providing a water bowl in the enclosure not only serves as a water source but also contributes to the ambient humidity. Ensure that the water is fresh and clean at all times.

I like bowls that add up to the look and feel of the enclosure. 

bearded dragon water bowl

You can find this or similar water bowls here

Live Plants

Live plants not only add to the aesthetic appeal of the enclosure but also help in maintaining humidity levels naturally. Choose suitable plants that thrive in a bearded dragon’s habitat.

Aloe Vera provides hiding spots for bearded dragons and can be a source of hydration if they choose to lick its leaves.

Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis): Hibiscus adds vibrant colors to the enclosure and offers edible flowers that bearded dragons may enjoy as a treat.

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum): Spider plants are safe and easy to care for. They provide lush foliage and make great climbing structures for bearded dragons.

Bromeliads (Bromeliaceae family): Bromeliads come in various shapes and colors, adding diversity to the enclosure. They create natural perches and can be misted for additional humidity.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum): Pothos is a hardy and versatile plant that can thrive in various conditions. It can also help improve the enclosure’s air quality by absorbing toxins.

Bamboo (Bambusoideae family): Bamboo provides a visually appealing backdrop and can create a stimulating environment for bearded dragons to explore.

Ficus (Ficus benjamina): Ficus plants offer dense foliage and create a natural and enriching environment for bearded dragons.

If you are looking to add live plants consult experts because plants treated with pesticides can be harmful to your birdie, they can also have mold or mites.

Most bearded dragon parents decide on fake plants to prevent potential issues that live plants can bring to the enclosure. 

You can browse some fake plants here.

Humidity Control and Regulation

Adjusting Humidity Levels

Adjusting humidity levels can be achieved by altering the frequency of misting and adjusting the size of the water bowl. Monitoring the hygrometer readings will guide you in making necessary changes.

Dealing with Excess Humidity

If the humidity levels are consistently too high, use a towel or sponge to absorb excess moisture from the enclosure. Proper ventilation is also crucial in preventing excess humidity.

Combatting Low Humidity

If the humidity levels are too low, mist the enclosure more frequently and consider adding more humidity sources, such as additional water bowls or live plants.

Maintaining a Healthy Habitat

Substrate Choice

substrate for regulating humidity

Avoid using substrates that absorb too much moisture and retain it for extended periods, as they can lead to mold and bacterial growth.

A good choice for a substrate is Zilla Pet Reptile Terrarium Substrate Bedding you can find it here.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Regularly clean the enclosure to prevent the buildup of waste and maintain a healthy environment. Proper maintenance ensures that humidity sources, such as water bowls, remain clean and free from contaminants.

Common Mistakes and Misconceptions

  1. Frequent and Excessive Misting: too much misting can lead to excessively high humidity levels, which can be harmful to the reptile’s health.
  2. Ignoring Humidity Gradients: Bearded dragons need humidity gradients in their enclosure. Placing all humidity sources in one area or not providing enough variation in humidity levels can prevent bearded dragons from self-regulating their exposure to humidity.
  3. Using Incorrect Substrate: Some substrates can absorb and retain too much moisture, leading to excessively high humidity levels. Using the wrong substrate can contribute to mold growth and other health issues.
  4. Not Providing a Water Bowl: Some owners may rely solely on misting as a humidity source and neglect to provide a water bowl. A water bowl is essential not only for hydration but also to contribute to the overall ambient humidity in the enclosure.
  5. Ignoring Shedding Difficulties: Improper humidity levels can lead to shedding problems for bearded dragons. Owners should pay attention to signs of incomplete shedding and adjust humidity accordingly.
  6. Assuming All Bearded Dragons Have the Same Humidity Requirements: Different age groups of bearded dragons may have different humidity needs. Hatchlings and younger dragons generally require higher humidity levels compared to adult dragons.

Signs Your Bearded Dragon is Comfortable with the Humidity Level

While it’s crucial to maintain the ideal humidity level, it’s equally important to monitor your bearded dragon for signs of comfort. Some signs that indicate your pet is comfortable with the humidity level include:

Healthy skin and shedding: Your bearded dragon’s skin should be plump, hydrated, and shed properly. If the shedding process is smooth and the skin appears healthy, it’s a good indication that the humidity level is suitable.

Normal drinking and urination: Bearded dragons should have regular drinking and urination habits. If your pet is adequately hydrated, it signifies that the humidity level is appropriate.

Active behavior: A comfortable bearded dragon will exhibit active and alert behavior. They should be curious, explore their habitat, and show interest in their surroundings.

Tips for Maintaining the Ideal Humidity Level

  1. Keep the humidity level consistent 
  2. Monitor the humidity levels in your bearded dragon’s habitat at least once a day. Adjust the humidity as needed by misting, adding, or removing water sources, or using a reptile specific humidifier or dehumidifier.
  3. Introduce natural humidity sources to help maintain the ideal level without relying solely on mechanical methods. Placing live plants in the enclosure can increase humidity naturally. Ensure the plants are safe for reptiles and won’t harm your pet if ingested.
  4. Creating a humidity hide by lining a small hide with damp moss or paper towels. This will provide your bearded dragon with a designated area where they can seek higher humidity levels if needed.

Addressing Common Humidity Problems

Even with the best care, humidity problems can arise. Let’s address some common issues and their solutions.

Dealing with Too High Humidity Levels

If the humidity level is consistently too high, consider the following steps:

Ensure proper ventilation: Make sure the enclosure has adequate airflow to allow excess moisture to escape.

Reduce misting frequency: Limit misting sessions or spray less directly into the habitat.

Adjust heating elements: Check the temperature gradient in the enclosure. Lowering the temperature slightly can help reduce humidity.

Solutions for Too Low Humidity Levels

If the humidity level is consistently too low, try the following remedies:

Mist the habitat: Increase the frequency of misting sessions to provide additional moisture.

Add water sources: Place a shallow water dish or water bowl in the enclosure to raise humidity levels.

Use humidifiers: Consider using a reptile-safe humidifier to increase humidity in the habitat.

Bearded dragon humidity Vet Q+A

Q: Can I use a humidifier to maintain humidity in the enclosure?

A: While using a humidifier may seem like a practical solution, it can lead to excessively high humidity levels, which may harm your bearded dragon. It’s best to use more controlled methods, such as misting and water bowls and reptile-specific rogers and misters. 

Q: What are the signs of low humidity in a bearded dragon enclosure?

A: Signs of low humidity include difficulty shedding, wrinkled skin, and increased respiratory issues. If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to increase humidity levels.

Q: Can I use tap water in the water bowl?

A: It’s best to use filtered or dechlorinated water to fill the water bowl. 

Q: Is 20 humidity bad for bearded dragons?

A: Yes, a humidity level of 20% is too low for bearded dragons and can be detrimental to their health. Bearded dragons originate from arid regions, but they still require some level of humidity to stay healthy and properly function.

Low humidity can lead to several issues for bearded dragons:

  1. Respiratory Problems
  2. Dehydration.
  3. Shedding Difficulties
  4. Stress: A lack of sufficient humidity can cause stress to bearded dragons, leading to behavioral and health issues commonly seen as stress marks.
  5. Eye and Skin Problems.