When setting up a proper bearded dragon habitat, many factors probably come to mind: temperature, decorations, UVB bulbs, and more.
What many bearded dragon owners tend to overlook, though, is humidity.
Proper humidity is important to keeping your pet comfortable and preventing respiratory issues.
Ideally, humidity within your bearded dragon’s enclosure should be within 30% to 40% at all times. If tank humidity levels are too high, you’ll need to make one or more of these adjustments:
- Move/remove the water bowl
- Mist the tank less often
- Use a dehumidifier
- Use a drier substrate
- Increase ventilation
To learn more about humidity, why it’s so important to your beloved bearded dragon’s health, and how to keep humidity within proper levels, read on.
Thankfully, most methods commonly used to adjust humidity levels in reptile enclosures are fast, inexpensive, and simple.
How Humid Should A Bearded Dragon Enclosure Be?
Maintaining proper humidity within your bearded dragon’s habitat is extremely important to their health and happiness in your home.
Remember, bearded dragons are native to Australia’s extremely arid, desert climate, so in captivity, their humidity levels will likely need to be adjusted and then carefully maintained once within an acceptable range.
Any lower than 30% is too dry, while any higher than 40% is too humid.
Both are problematic for different reasons.
If your beardie’s habitat is too dry, they run the risk of becoming dehydrated and tired due to the dry, unforgiving heat within the enclosure.
If the tank is too humid, though, your pet will become susceptible to respiratory infections brought on by the excess moisture in the air.
While a too-dry habitat is certainly just as problematic (albeit in different ways), you are far more likely to encounter an enclosure that is too humid, as most average homes tend to be a bit too humid for bearded dragons to begin with.
Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce the humidity and maintain correct humidity levels within your pet’s enclosure.
First, however, you’ll need to accurately measure the humidity within the tank to determine if adjustments need to be made.
How To Measure Humidity In A Bearded Dragon Cage
Measuring humidity in your bearded dragon’s tank is as simple as purchasing a hygrometer.
This will be your first step in determining if your beardie’s habitat needs adjusting.
A hygrometer is a device designed to measure humidity levels within an enclosed space.
While you’re welcome to purchase a hygrometer by itself, many reptile experts opt for a dual thermometer and hygrometer designed for reptile enclosures, as you’ll need a thermometer anyway to monitor temperature levels too.
This way, by using one small device mounted inside of the enclosure, you’ll be able to get accurate temperature and humidity readings at a glance at all times.
There are two main types of hygrometers: digital and analog.
While both will produce highly accurate readings, digital devices are becoming more common as they are easier to quickly read and have a more sleek, modern look.
If you haven’t found the one you like yet, we recommend something like Repti Zoo’s Reptile Terrarium Thermometer Hygrometer.
It’s small and easy to mount inside the enclosure with its attached suction cup, and it has large enough numbers to allow you to read it from a distance.
Once you’ve gotten a proper humidity reading and have determined your beardie’s enclosure is too humid, your next step will be to lower the overall humidity level in the tank.
But you’re probably asking: How?
How To Lower Humidity In A Bearded Dragon Tank
To lower humidity, you’ll essentially need to make the conditions within your dragon’s enclosure drier.
Remember, you need to be aiming for a humidity level of at least 30% and no higher than 40% at all times, which is quite dry!
There are several ways to quickly lower the humidity within your beardie’s habitat, and all of them are fairly simple to implement and either free or inexpensive.
In short, these methods are:
- Making adjustments to the water bowl
- Using a dehumidifier in the room housing your bearded dragon’s enclosure
- Using a different substrate, preferably one which retains less moisture
- Increasing ventilation to the room housing your bearded dragon’s enclosure
- Misting the enclosure/your dragon less often
All these methods lower the humidity within your beardie’s habitat in a short amount of time.
Let’s get into the details of each to hopefully pinpoint the cause of the increase in humidity, shall we?
Lowering Humidity: Move/Remove/Use A Smaller Water Dish
One of the first and most obvious ways many reptile owners opt to reduce humidity levels in their pet’s enclosures is by adjusting the water dish in the tank.
Often, the biggest source of humidity in damp enclosures is the beardie’s water bowl!
It’s important to have a large and shallow enough water dish in your beardie’s tank for your pet to drink from freely, but many dishes are either too large or aren’t set up in an ideal location within the enclosure.
For example, you want to avoid placing the water dish directly under your dragon’s basking bulb, as the direct, concentrated heat will cause the water to evaporate more quickly.
As a result, the evaporated water will raise the overall humidity within the enclosure significantly.
Additionally, the larger the water dish, the more evaporated water will get released into the air.
It’s normal for a small amount of water to evaporate over time.
Still, if the water dish is too large, the excess evaporation will, as mentioned above, increase the tank’s overall humidity.
This method will take a bit of experimentation, depending on your enclosure’s size and exact setup.
However, start by moving the water dish you already have to the cool end of the tank if you haven’t already.
This alone should reduce humidity levels slightly.
If you don’t see any noticeable results after an hour, swap out the water dish for a smaller one.
Bearded dragons don’t actively drink much water in their natural habitat anyway, and you’ll always be able to add more when they drink from the dish.
In this situation, less is more!
If humidity levels still aren’t quite where you want them to be after making adjustments to your pet’s water dish, don’t panic, as many options are still available.
Lowering Humidity: Use A Dehumidifier
Another common method many bearded dragon owners use to lower and maintain proper humidity levels within their lizard’s enclosure is purchasing a dehumidifier to set up in the room which houses the tank.
While this method is a bit more costly than some of the other quick fixes on this list, it’s one of the most impactful.
There are many fairly inexpensive dehumidifiers on the market designed for small spaces, such as LONONE’s 34 oz. Mini Electric Dehumidifier.
Dehumidifiers are excellent for lowering the humidity in an enclosed space; essentially, they pull warm, humid air currents into its coils by using a fan.
The warm air gets fed into the dehumidifier’s refrigerated coils, leaving any condensation trapped inside the device.
While the exact instructions for use will vary depending on the brand and model of dehumidifier you end up purchasing, all you’ll need to do is turn it on and allow it to slowly dry out the room you’ve set up your beardie’s enclosure.
Place it fairly close to the tank at roughly the same elevation for best results.
If you aren’t quite ready or financially able to go out and purchase a dehumidifier just yet, don’t worry!
There are still a few other options available to you to lower the humidity levels in your beloved beardie’s habitat.
Lowering Humidity: Use A Different Substrate
This option and its efficacy will depend heavily on the type of substrate you’re currently using in your bearded dragon’s enclosure.
You’ve probably heard many reptile experts recommend against using loose substrates as a whole, primarily to prevent accidental ingestion and eventual impaction; however, some loose substrates present additional hazards.
Flat, solid substrates like tile, linoleum, and reptile carpet don’t affect overall humidity within the enclosure.
However, certain loose substrates like coconut fiber, soil, and bark tend to collect and retain large amounts of moisture, raising the humidity of the tank as a whole.
Many of these substrates will even feel damp to the touch if they’ve retained a substantial amount of moisture, which is a clear sign they’re releasing at least some of this extra humidity into the air.
If you’re using a loose substrate, consider switching it out for a flat, non-loose flooring material that won’t collect so much moisture.
Some excellent examples of substrates ideal for bearded dragon enclosures include:
- Reptile carpet
- Linoleum stick-down “tiles”
- Ceramic tiles
Some reptile owners opt to use paper towels, though these are sometimes problems like loose substrates when it comes to humidity, as they tend to absorb and retain moisture present in the air.
If the humidity levels are within a reasonable level, it is fine to use paper towels.
But if you’re actively attempting to lower moisture levels, it’s best to use one of the other options mentioned above.
Lowering Humidity: Increase Ventilation
Another great way to lower the humidity in your beardie’s enclosure and the room it’s housed in general is to simply increase the overall ventilation to the room.
Increasing ventilation ensures more air circulation, which will, in turn, reduce the level of moisture hanging around in the air.
There are many quick and easy ways to increase ventilation to an enclosed space, including:
- Installing a window air conditioner unit for the room
- Keeping doors and windows open if/whenever possible
- Use ceiling or floor fans
- Moving the tank location to a more ventilated area
- Use fans in combination with open windows/doors
Essentially, you’re looking for any way to get more air, particularly dry air, flowing into the room where you’ve set up your bearded dragon’s habitat.
These methods are especially useful when combined or with using a dehumidifier, as mentioned earlier.
Using a small window air conditioning unit is a great, fast way to increase ventilation.
However, many units are somewhat expensive, particularly if you only intend to use it for one room.
Opt for a small fan and open doors/windows at first; then, if the humidity levels in your beardie’s tank are still too high, look into purchasing a window unit.
If you have other pets in your home, leaving windows and doors open might not be possible all the time, especially when you’re not around (for example, if you have a particularly mischievous cat who won’t leave your beardie alone).
In this case, using a large fan (or even multiple smaller fans) will help to maintain proper airflow when your pets are home alone.
Lowering Humidity: Mist Less Often
Misting your bearded dragon and its enclosure is very helpful for keeping your pet hydrated and helping them shed their skin every so often.
Most reptile experts highly recommend misting semi-regularly to keep your pet from becoming dehydrated, as some bearded dragons are less willing to drink from free-standing water than others.
Misting the enclosure too much leaves water droplets in the air after each misting session.
This will increase the humidity within your pet’s habitat, making it far too humid and uncomfortable for them.
Of all of the methods of lowering humidity we’ve listed here, this is probably one of the easiest and least expensive.
If you’re misting your bearded dragon’s enclosure daily, switch to every other day and see if anything changes by closely monitoring the hygrometer you’ve set up in your pet’s tank.
Additionally, focus on misting your bearded dragon rather than the entire enclosure itself if you’re worried your pet isn’t getting enough hydration.
By saturating the entire tank with misted water, the humidity levels will only increase further.
It will also help feed your beardie more moisture-rich foods if they don’t particularly enjoy drinking from their water dish or similar free-standing water sources.
For example, fruits like watermelon and strawberries contain lots of water, and most bearded dragons love eating them, too!
Alternatively, instead of misting, add more water to your dragon’s fruits and veggies in general; dip their greens in cool water or sprinkle water onto more fibrous veggies and fruits.
This way, your beardie will get plenty of water from their diet and won’t need to necessarily rely on misting for moisture, and the enclosure will be less humid overall as a result.
How To Maintain Proper Humidity In A Bearded Dragon Tank
Once you’ve made one or more of the adjustments above to your bearded dragon’s habitat and humidity levels have dropped to an appropriate level, maintaining this correct level of humidity is usually as simple as repeating and/or maintaining those adjustments you made.
The first thing you’ll need to do is check the hygrometer in the enclosure daily, if not several times per day, to check for any sudden changes to humidity levels.
From there, use the reading on the hygrometer to determine if any further changes need to be made.
Is the humidity somewhere between 30 and 40%?
If it is, then great!
You don’t need to do anything else at this time.
But remember, don’t get complacent; keep checking the hygrometer at least once per day in case.
If humidity levels begin increasing again, repeat some of the previous methods of lowering humidity, preferably the ones that have given you previous results.
For example, just because the humidity has dropped a bit temporarily doesn’t mean you should go back to misting the enclosure regularly.
The frequent misting was likely what made the humidity so high in the first place!
You’ll need to do some troubleshooting to figure out what produces (and maintains) the best results for your particular setup and space.
All of the methods we covered here will work to some extent, though some will work better for some setups than others.
What Happens If Bearded Dragon Humidity Is Too High?
Keeping humidity within an appropriate range is crucial to your bearded dragon’s health, and novice reptile owners too often overlook it.
While too low of humidity is certainly an issue in its own right, the real health problems begin to arise when humidity climbs above 40% or so.
The main issue with excess humidity is it makes your bearded dragon susceptible to respiratory issues, namely very painful and uncomfortable respiratory infections.
Check out this article on how you treat respiratory infections in bearded dragons to see how tough it is to handle.
Hot, humid conditions also create the perfect breeding ground for bacterial infections and various types of fungi.
As your bearded dragon breathes and draws in the moist, hot air from their humid environment, it will collect and build up in their lungs, in turn causing them to present upper respiratory infection symptoms like coughing, lack of energy, and loss of appetite.
Treatments for these infections often require veterinary intervention once they become severe, so when it comes to reducing excess humidity, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure.
You may also want to check out other reasons your bearded dragon is breathing heavy.