If you’re a bearded dragon owner, you may be wondering if you can give your pet tap water to drink. Tap water contains fluoride, chlorine, and other contaminants that could potentially harm your reptile.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine if tap water is safe for bearded dragons and provide tips for providing safe drinking water.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Tap water is generally safe for bearded dragons to drink in moderation, as long as precautions are taken to remove chlorine and heavy metals. It’s best to use filtered or bottled spring water when possible.

The Potential Risks of Tap Water for Bearded Dragons


Municipal tap water is typically treated with chlorine, which is added as a disinfectant to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. While safe for human consumption in regulated amounts, chlorine can be harmful to reptiles like bearded dragons when consumed over time.

When ingested, chlorine builds up in a bearded dragon’s system and can cause irritation, inflammation, and damage to the digestive tract. High levels of chlorine may also impact the good gut bacteria that aid digestion and nutrient absorption.

According to veterinarians, the frequent consumption of chlorinated water has been linked to health issues in bearded dragons like appetite loss, lethargy, and improper shedding.

Some sources suggest allowing tap water to sit out uncovered for 24-48 hours before offering it to bearded dragons. This allows time for the chlorine to dissipate. Using water filtration systems or dechlorinating products made for reptiles can also reduce chlorine levels in tap water.

Heavy Metals

Tap water may also contain small amounts of heavy metals like lead, copper, zinc, and chromium that can be toxic to reptiles at high levels. These metals can leach from old pipes and plumbing fixtures, especially in older homes and buildings.

Over time, the accumulation of heavy metals from drinking tap water can cause liver and kidney damage in reptiles. It may also impact their bones, skin, scales, and central nervous system. Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning include lack of appetite, lethargy, tremors, and poor coordination.

Using a high-quality water filtration system is the best way to remove heavy metals from tap water for bearded dragons. Reverse osmosis and deionization filtration have been shown to be effective at reducing metal concentrations to safe levels.


Most municipal tap water contains added fluoride to help prevent tooth decay in humans. However, fluoride can be toxic to reptiles when consumed regularly even in small amounts.

Fluoride poisoning in reptiles can cause knobby protrusions and deformities on the teeth and jawbone. It can also lead to kidney dysfunction, seizures, and paralysis. Lizards are especially susceptible because they do not shed fluoride from their bodies as easily as other animals.

Using non-fluoridated bottled water or water filtered by reverse osmosis is recommended for bearded dragons. This effectively removes fluoride along with other potential tap water contaminants like chlorine and heavy metals.

Is Tap Water Ever Safe for Bearded Dragons?

Providing safe and clean drinking water is crucial for any pet, including bearded dragons. Many owners wonder if it’s okay to give their beardie tap water or if they should only use bottled or filtered water. The answer is not quite so simple.

Tap water can potentially be safe for bearded dragons to drink, but there are some important factors to consider first.

Letting Tap Water Sit Out

One of the biggest concerns with tap water is the chlorine and other chemicals that are added during the municipal treatment process. High levels of chlorine can be harmful to reptiles. Luckily, letting tap water sit out in an open container for 24-48 hours before offering it to your bearded dragon allows most of the chlorine to dissipate into the air.

This is an easy solution to reduce the chlorine levels.

Using Water Conditioners

As an alternative to letting water sit out, you can use water conditioning products made specifically for reptiles. These quickly neutralize chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals in tap water to make it safer for bearded dragon consumption.

Some popular brands are ReptiSafe by ZooMed and AquaSafe by Tetra. Always follow package directions.

Filtering Tap Water

Lastly, using high-quality filtration like reverse osmosis can effectively remove impurities from tap water. RO systems attach right to your faucet or under the sink. Just be aware they also strip out beneficial minerals, so you’ll need to re-mineralize the water after.

A simpler option is attaching carbon filtration cartridges to your faucet or using pitchers with built-in filters. These help reduce contaminants like heavy metals that could accumulate in your beardie over time.

Tips for Providing Safe Drinking Water

Use Bottled Spring or Purified Water

The best option for hydrating your bearded dragon is to use bottled spring or purified water instead of tap water. Tap water often contains heavy metals, chemicals, and other contaminants that can be harmful if ingested over time (1).

These impurities can cause health issues like kidney problems or metabolic bone disease.

Bottled spring water and purified water have gone through more rigorous filtration and treatment processes to remove impurities. This makes them safer, purer sources of hydration. Just make sure to avoid distilled water as it lacks essential minerals that bearded dragons need.

Change Water Daily

You should empty and refresh your bearded dragon’s water bowl daily. Over 24 hours, the water can accumulate bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that are unsafe to drink (2). By swapping out old for new water every day, you lower the risk of your dragon consuming anything harmful in their hydration.

Additionally, replacing their water daily encourages more drinking. Bearded dragons prefer cooler, fresher water. So keeping the bowl freshly filled with cool water every morning will entice them to drink more.

Use Proper Water Containers

The type of bowl or container used for water also impacts safety and cleanliness:

  • Use a sturdy, tip-proof ceramic or heavy bowl that cannot be easily overturned.
  • Select a size – about 4 inches diameter and 1-2 inches deep – suitable for the dragon to access but not enter bodily.
  • Ensure the interior surface is smooth. Rough surfaces harbor bacteria.
  • Place it on a stable surface inside the habitat where accidental soil contamination is unlikely.

Proper containers reduce chances of spilling or soiling the water before your dragon can drink it. Stainless steel, ceramic, and heavy glass bowls are easiest to thoroughly wash and disinfect between water changes.

Unsafe Water Bowl Materials Safe Water Bowl Materials
Plastic Ceramic
Aluminum Glass
Latex Stainless Steel

Signs Your Bearded Dragon May Be Dehydrated

Lethargy and Weakness

Bearded dragons who are not getting enough fluids will often become lethargic and weak. They may move around their enclosure less or have difficulty climbing and perching. According to the Bearded Dragon Care 101 site, dehydrated dragons seem tired, less alert, and not as active as usual.

Sunken Eyes

Dehydration causes the eyes to appear sunken as they lose volume. The skin around the orbits can also look wrinkled. Compare photos when your bearded dragon was healthy to notice subtle changes over time. Advanced dehydration makes sunken eyes very obvious on physical exam.

Wrinkled Skin

With inadequate fluid levels, a bearded dragon’s skin loses elasticity and appears wrinkled or tenting when gently pinched and released. The decreased skin turgor is most noticeable along the sides, on the neck, and underneath the front legs. Normal, well-hydrated skin snaps right back when pinched.


Lack of fluids causes the intestinal contents to become dry and difficult to pass. Signs of constipation include straining, infrequent bowel movements, small dry feces, loss of appetite, or a swollen abdomen. Contrast this with well-hydrated droppings which are large, soft, and urate white.

Catching dehydration early and resolving fluid deficits prevent more severe illness. Weakness from dehydration can quickly progress to lethargy, poor appetite, vomiting, seizures and even death if unattended. Know the signs above indicating your bearded dragon needs more fluids.

The key is providing clean water at all times. Use a heavy ceramic bowl that cannot be tipped over easily. Replace water daily. Consider adding electrolyte replacement drinks a few times a week for extra hydration support. Getting enough fluids ensures your bearded dragon stays happy and healthy!

When to Contact a Veterinarian

As a bearded dragon owner, it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs of illness or injury in your pet. Knowing when to seek veterinary care can literally make the difference between life and death for your bearded dragon.

Here are some of the key times when you should contact an exotic animal veterinarian:

Not Eating or Drinking

One of the most concerning signs in a bearded dragon is a lack of appetite or not drinking water. These reptiles are famous for being voracious eaters, so a dragon that refuses food for more than 2-3 days could be a red flag. Dehydration is also dangerous for bearded dragons.

Contact your vet promptly if you notice decreased eating or drinking.


Bearded dragons are naturally active reptiles that explore their habitat and bask under lights. A lethargic, inactive dragon is often a sick dragon. Lack of normal movement or unusual stillness warrants a call to the vet.

Swollen Eyes or Limbs

localized swelling or puffiness around the eyes or legs can signal an infection or other medical issue. Swelling is not normal and needs to be addressed quickly. Don’t delay – call your exotic pet veterinarian.

Vomiting or Diarrhea

Reptiles are prone to gastrointestinal issues, which can come on quickly. If your bearded dragon vomits, has frequent watery stools, or shows other signs of GI distress, he or she needs veterinary attention fast. Diarrhea leads to dangerous dehydration in short order.


Bearded dragons can accidentally hurt themselves by falling or getting a limb or tail stuck. Injuries like broken bones or cuts should receive prompt veterinary care. Even minor cuts can get infected quickly in reptiles. It’s better to have the vet examine any injury.

Difficulty Shedding

Healthy dragons shed their skin regularly when growing. But sheds that come off in patches or don’t fully come off can mean an underlying health issue. Skin that stays stuck can cut off circulation or invite infection. Vet assistance ensures proper shedding.

Changes in Color or Energy

You know your dragon’s normal behavior and appearance. Any major changes could signal illness. Darkening skin, stressed colors, less activity, or other differences warrant a checkup. Don’t chalk it up to age or season – let an exotic vet determine the cause.

Bearded dragons make great pets when owners educate themselves on proper husbandry and watch for signs of illness. With attentive care and vet supervision when needed, bearded dragons can thrive for many years in captivity.


While tap water can be safe for bearded dragons in moderation, it’s best to take precautions to remove contaminants. Provide filtered, bottled spring, or purified water whenever possible to keep your dragon hydrated and healthy.

Monitor for signs of dehydration, and contact your vet if you have any concerns about your pet’s water intake or health.

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