An important factor involving feeding is a reptile's requirements for water. Often taken for granted or overlooked as a means for a reptile to soak or to provide humidity, water plays a vital role in the overall health of a captive reptile.
The specific water requirements for a given species depends on several factors. The first factor is the natural geographic location and climatic conditions of the reptile. An example of this is the Savannah Monitor who is better designed by nature to handle a drier climate and may survive for short periods with limited water intake. Compared this to a (Giant) Green Iguana who's natural habitat is very humid, requiring it to have a constant supply of fresh water either in the form of standing water or extreme humidity levels. The second factor is the moisture content of the foods that a reptile consumes. For instance, an insectivorous lizard would not receive a large amount of moisture from its food do to the limited amount of moisture contained in the food item. Herbivorous lizards would receive a larger amount of moisture from the foods that they eat as a result of the large amounts of moisture contained in most fruits and vegetables. The third factor to consider when determining a reptile's moisture requirements is the amount of moisture the animal looses through respiration, defecation and urination. Desert species, for example, are capable of recycling moisture by producing hard dry urates from which the moisture has been re-absorbed.
A fresh and clean water supply should always be available to captive reptiles. The method of delivering the water should be considered and will vary from species to species. Some species, such as the Grandis Day Gecko, may refuse to drink from standing water and may prefer droplets instead.
Aquatic and semi-aquatic species may fulfill their needs for water by drinking the water that they swim in. Because of this the quality of the water should be considered vital to avoid harmful bacteria. An owner of any aquatic or semi-aquatic species should always take note of the fact that these species drink from their own toilets.
Water quality is a consideration for all species, not just aquatic and semi-aquatic species. Water may contain many different mineral and chemicals that may or may not effect the reptile's overall health. For instance, some water sources contain Fluoride in place of sodium salts. Its effects on mammals are known to be dangerous if improperly dosed, but its effects on reptiles are currently undetermined. Hard water contains bicarbonates, calcium and magnesium, all of which are safe in reptiles. In soft water the calcium and magnesium are replaced by sodium. This is not a problem for most reptiles, but may present a problem for reptiles that are adversely effected by excess salts.
All rights reserved by Edward M. Craft. Printed in the United States of America. Original Edition 1997