Relative humidity and temperature
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, while relative humidity (RH) is the amount of water vapor in the air as a percentage of the amount of moisture required to cause saturation at a specific temperature.
To measure RH, you need a hygrometer. There are many types, with the common being the analog (mechanical) and digital thermometers (electrical).
Humidity level for bearded dragon
Beardies, being semi-arid lizards thrive in areas with low relative humidity, such as the one available in their Australian natural habitats.
Ideally, keep the relative humidity in the bearded dragon tank between 35% to 40%. However, they can tolerate a slight range of 30%-50% RH.
Temp and humidity relationship
Since relative humidity is temperature-dependent, when the temperature goes high, air can hold more moisture, and this will decrease RH. However, if there is a drop in temperature, it will go high since air will only be able to hold old lesser moisture.
Therefore, you need to ensure your humidity remains between the allowable range both at night and daytime since these times have different temperatures.
During the day, typical basking temperature is 100 -110 °F (about 38- 43 °C) while the cooler side can have 75-90°F (about 24 to 32°C). When nighttime comes, you need to temperature can go as low as 65-75°F, this means that relative humidity is going to rise.
However, if the temperatures go below 65 °F, you nighttime tank heating with a ceramic heat emitter or other means of keeping the terrarium warm. Avoid those that emit visible light.
Analog vs. digital terrarium hygrometers
When buying them, you need to decide if you need a digital or an analog humidity meter. Let us look at each time briefly to help enlighten you more:
1. Digital humidity meters
Digital hygrometers modern devices use a sensor to detect humidity before reporting it on a digital screen.
- They are very accurate
- Do not need recalibration
- Have additional functions such as reading temperature or memory to record humidity fluctuation.
- Are affordable
- They may be susceptible to technological glitches
- They may not show immediate changes, i.e., they may need some time to adjust.
- They need batteries or any energy source
2. Analog hygrometers
They use a spring that becomes tighter or loose depending on the level of humidity.
- They have elegance, antiquity, style appeal
- They are not prone to technological malfunctions.
- They provide no extra information besides RH.
- They require tune-up from time to time
- They may not be as accurate as possible, especially if you don’t tune them up.
- You will have to replace them more often.
- Expensive to maintain
Choosing the best hygrometers
Besides deciding on an analog or digital hygrometer, essential things to look at when buying a good hygrometer for your bearded dragons include:
- Suitability – while there are many sleeker hygrometers, you need to ensure they will serve the intended functions. Some cannot withstand vivarium conditions.
- Display – Easy to read display. Those with big LCDs are better
- Durability – Must withstand the terrarium conditions, especially for those that don’t have a remote sensing probe. Otherwise, you will have to replace them often.
- Features– Go combined temperature and humidity gauge, one with memory, reminders, and so on. Such will make monitoring much more straightforward.
- Precision – They need to be accurate with a small marginal error. Inaccurate ones will not help you keep the right humidity.
- Cost – They must be within what you can afford without compromising on their quality, accuracy, and durability.
- Have an expansive measurement range – Go for those that measure a more extensive RH range, such as from about 10% RH to 99% RH.
5 Best terrarium hygrometers
From the discussion above, it is more than evident that the best option is the digital hygrometer, especially if you get one with a probe and a long cable. Therefore, this means that you should avoid any all-in-one bearded dragon kits if they come with analog thermometers.
Furthermore, most of the top brands will serve both as hygrometers and thermometers.
Here are the best brands to buy that will not let you down:
1. Zoo Med Labs Digital Thermometer Humidity Gauge
This Zoo Med digital hygrometer and thermometer should be your first choice when it comes to buying a hygrometer for your terraria or incubators.
- It has two separate and independently working external probes that can sense temperature and humidity at different spots inside your tank.
- You can mount it easily, thanks to its suction cups.
- It has a big LCD readout
- Value for money
- Its probes are waterproof. You can put it underwater. However, don’t immerse the equipment.
While most users are upbeat by its easy to use, accuracy, and value for money, a few people are not so happy with its working.
2. The Zilla Terrarium Thermometer-Hygrometer
Like its Zoo Med counterpart, the Zilla Terrarium Thermometer-Hygrometer is also a combo with a humidity range of 30% to 90% and a temperature range of 3°F to 122°F (-5°C to +50°C).
- Features two separate probes with a 57-inch long wire making it suitable for even the very big vivarium. The sensing probes have easy to mount suction caps.
- Has a reminder (clock, alarm, and calendar) to remind you in case of any condition or schedule you have.
- Has internal memory that keeps track of changes in both humidity and temperature.
- It is very accurate.
Most users are happy with its effectiveness and consistency, with a few noting that it works best in dry tanks, and its lower humidity range is high.
3. ETHMEAS Digital Thermometer and Hygrometer
While ETHMEAS may not sound like a household name in herps business, this combined temperature and humidity gauge is a great alternative to buy.
- It can measure lower RH values, i.e., has a range of 10% – 99% RH with a precision of ±5% RH displayed on a large LCD screen.
- Its two sensors to measure temperature and humidity with each having suction cups for mounting them.
- It automatically records the maximum and minimum temperature and relative humidity in its memory.
- It comes with retractable mounted spring clips, stands, or uses large magnets for mounting it wherever you find ideal.
4. Zoo Med Analog Thermometer and Humidity Gauge
If you love analog hygrometer, this combo compact Zoo Med Analog device is what you should go for to help you measure not just humidity but also your vivarium temperature.
- Compact and small in size. It will not take much of your space.
- It features a velcro backing to enable you to quickly cleaning or moving it.
- It is one of the cheapest reptile tank hygrometers in the market.
While a majority are somewhat satisfied with this equipment, some note that it is not very accurate, and doesn’t last long.
If you are one of the unhappy people but still want an analog hygrometer, our best bet is the Zoo Med Precision Analog Thermometer and Humidity Gauge, manufactured with German precision movement.
5. Exo Terra Digital Hygrometer with Probe
While all the other types we have seen are combined hygrometers and thermometers, this one is only a digital hygrometer.
- It uses a remote sensor (probe wire) to measure humidity. The probe has a suction cup for easy attachment.
- Easy to use and read as you will only operate it with a single button.
- The device comes with mounting fastener and hook. If you have or Exo Terra Compact Top or Exo Terra Linear Top, it has a slot where it fits.
6. Other Notable brands
Besides the above, other notable terrarium hygrometers worthwhile every penny you will spend on them include the following:
- Komodo Combined Digital Thermometer and Hygrometer (in the UK)
- Repti Zoo Reptile Terrarium Thermometer Hygrometer
- Fluker’s Hygrometer for Reptile.
Placing hygrometer correctly
Using more hygrometers will give a chance to have more placements and hence monitor your vivarium relative humidity more accurately. Avoid corners where this is poor air circulation, near water bowl, or live plants.
An ideal scenario is placing them centrally both vertically and horizontal on the cooler side, basking side, and the middle of the tank.
Lowering the humidity in bearded dragon tank
Some of the effects of high Rh in these pets include
- Respiratory infections or complication
- Increased microorganism growth, especially bacterial and fungi infections. The presence of uneaten food, waste material, or a moist substrate will worsen microorganism growth. This microorganism will increase risk of mycotic diseases such as yellow fungus disease or bacterial infections necrotic dermatitis (ulcerative dermatitis)
Therefore, your bearded dragons tank humidity at night should not go beyond 55-60%, as that will be too high or beyond 50% during the day. If that happens, you need to reduce it.
The high RH can be due to conditions inside the cage or the room (environment), including temperature. Some of the ways to ensure proper bearded dragon humidity include:
1. Proper ventilation
Some vivarium may require you to drill more ventilation holes and place the screens opening you make, mainly designs with a solid top.
Also, remove any covers or insulating material you use to try to keep your vivarium hot at night as they also affect ventilation.
Finally, do not put your vivarium near a window or where there is a wind draft, especially in humid and cold weather.
2. Change and move water bowl
The hot temperature on the basking area and a more giant water bowl mean more evaporation that will raise the humidity. Change to the smallest functional container and move it to the colder side of your vivarium.
3. Remove moist food
Fresh veggies and greens can contribute to a spike in humidity, especially if they have dew. Ensure all fresh vegetables don’t have dew and remove them immediately after they finish eating them.
4. Change substrate
Some bearded dragon tank substrates trap moisture. Such substrates can increase humidity as the trapped moisture evaporate, especially those porous or absorbent. Replace such substrates with totally dry, less absorbent substrates. For instance, coconut fiber, barks, etc., may trap moisture.
5. Are dehumidifiers necessary for bearded dragons?
Sometimes, the high relative humidity may be a result of poor room ventilation, open windows, or run an air condition or a fan.
However, if you live in a humid area, you buy a dehumidifier and place it in a room that has the vivarium and not in the tank itself. Ideal room RH should be 30-60%.
There are many brands you can buy, depending on the size of the room. Some of the great brands you can buy include the Eva-dry Renewable Mini dehumidifier, Frigidaire Energy Star Dehumidifier, hOmeLabs, Pro Breeze Electric Mini Dehumidifier or Vremi.
Only place a mini dehumidifier inside your tank, such as the Eva-dry Renewable Mini dehumidifier that uses renewable silica gel to absorb water if the room humidity is not also high.
6. Other ways
- Remove any plants as they may rise humidity both as the water in wet soil evaporates or as transpiration occurs
- Try a sock of rice that may work. However, it may grow molds if not changed from time to time.
- Use a bigger vivarium
If the RH goes so low, it may cause skin dehydration, which will make shedding hard, increase the risks of renal diseases or urinary tract disease.
Furthermore, your beardie will be spending a long time in a watering bowl, have shedding problems, lose appetite, breathing via their open mouth or begin climbing on the walls of your vivarium (surf).
In case humidity goes so low, here are some of the ways you can raise it:
- Use a more significant water bowl or move it near the basking area. The dish must be untippable.
- Reduce ventilation by covering a part of your screen lip or blocking too many ventilations depending on the design of your tank.
- Buy a misting sprayer such as the Exo Terra Mister Portable Pressure Sprayer and mist your cage whenever their humidity is low. Take care not to overdo it.
- Include safe live plants in the vivarium such as jade plants, aloe vera, echeveria, turtle vine, and so on.
- Use a room humidifier or a terrarium humidifier such as the Zoo Med Reptifogger Terrarium Humidifier.
Since keeping the right humidity is very important to these pets, you need to buy a good hygrometer and continuously look at its readings. Alternatively, get one with memory to help you see if there are fluctuations.