Enclosure ventilation and humidity

Axil

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Beebz
No, only because temperatures in the tank are usually going to be more important. So, ventilation is usually considered adequate if the temperatures are proper.
I see (I think) so your valuing ventilation in so far as it allows you to establish an appropriate tempature gradient.

Inadequate ventilation would not allow enough heat to escape to keep your cool side. Or cause temperature to drift up constantly over the course of the day. Is that correct?

By the same token would you say an enclosure where heat drops off quickly as you move away from the basking lamp is over ventilated? My enclosure may fall into this category as the warm end of the enclosure falls pretty quickly towards the cool end of the spectrum, leaving me with more of a warm quarter than a warm side.

This would mean the appropriate amount of ventilation would change as the R-value of your enclosure changes, as well as the heat output by your lights.

I was under the impression that ventilation was desired to move fresh air into the enclosure rather than just a tool to facilitate the transfer of heat. Is the theory that any ventilation sufficient to establish your temperature gradient will also be enough to remove "stale" air from the enclosure?

I would think that would lead to a very wide range in airflow depending on enclosure design, leaving me wishing there was a way to measure it properly.

A normal tank with a mesh top is going to have plenty of ventilation. A DIY enclosure is typically going to be equal to better in ventilation even with smaller vent holes due to placement of them. A convection will
occur, and is usually what is attempted by placing vents low and high.
Ah, I knew the high/low placement increased airflow. I did not realize it would do so to such an extent it could overcome the huge difference in surface area. I imagine this could potentially allow air to flow more evenly as well, or conversely lead to more dead pockets if the placement is not precise. Again I find myself wishing there was an "airflow meter". As usual I am vexed by things I can't measure.


It would be easy to test, you'd really only need to test one of your hygrometers if the other two agree. I've posted the "Salt Test" a few times over the years for testing hygrometers. If you're unfamiliar with it I can post a guide or a link to another guide on it.
A link would be great. Or I can look it up if you feel it's a derailment of the thread. I would imagine testing your ability to measure humidity is germane to the topic of lowering humidity but alas derailment is another quantity I am unable to measure ;)
 

Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
I see (I think) so your valuing ventilation in so far as it allows you to establish an appropriate tempature gradient.
For the most part.

Inadequate ventilation would not allow enough heat to escape to keep your cool side. Or cause temperature to drift up constantly over the course of the day. Is that correct?
Correct.

By the same token would you say an enclosure where heat drops off quickly as you move away from the basking lamp is over ventilated?
Right. We've made suggestions over the years in certain situations for owners to cover part of their lids for the purposes of keeping heat in.

I was under the impression that ventilation was desired to move fresh air into the enclosure rather than just a tool to facilitate the transfer of heat. Is the theory that any ventilation sufficient to establish your temperature gradient will also be enough to remove "stale" air from the enclosure?
So this is where it gets really scientific, but also up for interpretation... so not scientific. On factors of importance, temperatures are more important than air flow (fresh air (fresh in the sense that stale air eventually gets removed and replaced) ). However, it's still important for any creature breathing oxygen to not just be diluting their own air supply by the exhaling of the waste products of respiration.

So if we understand what the main goal of behind having ventilation or "airflow" in the enclosure is, we can try to better quantify it. In my opinion, the goal of ventilation in the tank would first and foremost be that the creature has adequate fresh air to breath. Feel free to disagree with that if you feel there is a more important reason behind ventilation in the enclosure.

If we base it on that requirement, we can at least run some numbers and have a goal. And in doing so, you will see why the amount of ventilation outside of temperature control is going to be a non-issue for our purposes.

Basing lung activity off of known anesthesiologist studies in reptiles (arguably going to be the best source as a measured amount of "air" gets regulated into an unconscious lizard) we know that as a general rule, lizards will use about 44ml/kg/min while under anesthesia. For the average 400g beardie, this is going to be approximately 17.6 ml/min. Since respirations while under anesthesia are lower than when awake (usually around 2 per minute when compared to 6-10 while awake) we will take the middle ground of 8, to get 70.4 ml/min while awake (17.6 @ 2 breaths per minute x 4 to = 8 breathes per minute at 70.4 ml)

So we have an average adult consuming 70.4ml of air per minute while awake. 4224ml of air per hour. 50,688ml per waking day (respirations drop while sleeping, thus would be significantly lower amounts of consumed air).

50,688ml is just under 13.5 gallons of air.

For the purposes of this discussion, if you were to be able to create an air tight seal in the average 40g breeder tank, that dragon would have enough fresh air to be able to breath for the whole day, easily.
No tank is going to be air tight, and some replacement of air is going to occur even with the smallest of ventilation.

For purposes of replacing air, most DIY are equal or better than open tops because of convection. Even with a grossly smaller surface area of ventilation holes compared to an open screen top.

So, even if you have to limit your ventilation significantly to keep your enclosures temperature proper, your dragon is going to have enough fresh air, assuming you're being a good beardie slave and feeding the poor thing at least once a day. The opening of the front doors, sliding door, screen top, etc, is going to move air.

IMO, as long as you don't have obvious issues with a lack of ventilation, which only would be temperatures too high, or condensation on the walls of the enclosure, it's going to be a non-issue for 99.99% of beardie owners (much like humidity IMO)

That's a lot to digest, and if you see flaws in the logic feel free to point them out. This isn't really something I've thought much on, you just kind of piqued an interest in me and got me going down the rabbit hole.

-Brandon
 

Axil

Juvie Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Beebz
For the most part.


Correct.


Right. We've made suggestions over the years in certain situations for owners to cover part of their lids for the purposes of keeping heat in.


So this is where it gets really scientific, but also up for interpretation... so not scientific. On factors of importance, temperatures are more important than air flow (fresh air (fresh in the sense that stale air eventually gets removed and replaced) ). However, it's still important for any creature breathing oxygen to not just be diluting their own air supply by the exhaling of the waste products of respiration.

So if we understand what the main goal of behind having ventilation or "airflow" in the enclosure is, we can try to better quantify it. In my opinion, the goal of ventilation in the tank would first and foremost be that the creature has adequate fresh air to breath. Feel free to disagree with that if you feel there is a more important reason behind ventilation in the enclosure.

If we base it on that requirement, we can at least run some numbers and have a goal. And in doing so, you will see why the amount of ventilation outside of temperature control is going to be a non-issue for our purposes.

Basing lung activity off of known anesthesiologist studies in reptiles (arguably going to be the best source as a measured amount of "air" gets regulated into an unconscious lizard) we know that as a general rule, lizards will use about 44ml/kg/min while under anesthesia. For the average 400g beardie, this is going to be approximately 17.6 ml/min. Since respirations while under anesthesia are lower than when awake (usually around 2 per minute when compared to 6-10 while awake) we will take the middle ground of 8, to get 70.4 ml/min while awake (17.6 @ 2 breaths per minute x 4 to = 8 breathes per minute at 70.4 ml)

So we have an average adult consuming 70.4ml of air per minute while awake. 4224ml of air per hour. 50,688ml per waking day (respirations drop while sleeping, thus would be significantly lower amounts of consumed air).

50,688ml is just under 13.5 gallons of air.

For the purposes of this discussion, if you were to be able to create an air tight seal in the average 40g breeder tank, that dragon would have enough fresh air to be able to breath for the whole day, easily.
No tank is going to be air tight, and some replacement of air is going to occur even with the smallest of ventilation.

For purposes of replacing air, most DIY are equal or better than open tops because of convection. Even with a grossly smaller surface area of ventilation holes compared to an open screen top.

So, even if you have to limit your ventilation significantly to keep your enclosures temperature proper, your dragon is going to have enough fresh air, assuming you're being a good beardie slave and feeding the poor thing at least once a day. The opening of the front doors, sliding door, screen top, etc, is going to move air.

IMO, as long as you don't have obvious issues with a lack of ventilation, which only would be temperatures too high, or condensation on the walls of the enclosure, it's going to be a non-issue for 99.99% of beardie owners (much like humidity IMO)

That's a lot to digest, and if you see flaws in the logic feel free to point them out. This isn't really something I've thought much on, you just kind of piqued an interest in me and got me going down the rabbit hole.

-Brandon
Thank you for the detailed response and especially for tracking down dragon respiratory rates/volume. I do have some thoughts and questions but I'm going to save them until I have the chance to sit in front of PC with a second screen open for researching data.

Glad you found it interesting, feel free to bail on the discussion if/when it becomes boring/tedious. I live in the rabbithole, these are the sorts of questions I ponder in the shower :LOL:
 

xp29

BD.org Addict
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
Man you guys make my head hurt lmao 🤣.
But seriously it's great we have members here that can give answers backed by science as opposed to emotion or guesses. Personally I'm a fixer, i understand how things work. (Mechanically speaking) i like people who get it, and damn you guys get it!!! 😄
 

Axil

Juvie Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Beebz
Ok, I sat down to try and write this earlier and inevitably things got crazy and i spent the next few hours running putting out fires. So let me just reread this and collect my thoughts....

Ok, so while replenishing the air expelled by the critter utilizing the enclosure is obviously important, that wasn't necessarily the primary reason I thought ventilation was desirable. I had to really think about it, because air circulation was something i always just put in the "good" category of husbandry without a clear understanding the reasoning. You did a very thorough job explaining two clear benefits.

1.) temperature regulation: This is easily measurable with a couple thermometers, and you can easily tell when you've satisfied this requirement.

2.) Allowing your dragons exhaled waste in the form of CO2, etc to dissipate from the tank. You make a good case that this is almost impossible for an enclosure that regulates temperature to fail to do.

Apart from those two things here are some things I believed ventilation played a role in:

In an enclosed space things pathogens like virus's and bacteria have an easier time taking hold. We see this in humans with the flu, and recently covid, becoming more widespread when people spend time in enclosed spaces.

Now the primary vector for these infections are close contact with other humans. However my understanding is that it is prolonged exposure to these pathogens in an enclosed environment that makes it more likely they manage to infect as opposed to an outdoor setting where movement in the air scatters the pathogens and diminishes there ability to infect.

Obviously your dragon shouldn't be sharing his space with a roommate with potential to infect him however the pathogens that cause RI's and other contaminants have to enter the enclosure somehow, and I would think the greater the airflow the more likely that contaminant will be removed before a viral load can accumulate.

Tied to this are humidity levels in the enclosure. Most pathogens be they viral, bacterial, or even parasitic need higher levels of humidity to survive. Even if the majority of your tank is sitting at 20% humidity a small puddle by the water bowl, droppings you haven't cleaned yet, or some bug carcass that managed to hide after escaping during feeding is going to create a more humid "micro-biome" around that water source. The more air that moves through the tank the sooner that local humidity source should dissipate and cease to be a vector for infection.

My understanding is that the theory why dragons often have dehydration issues even with a water bowl present is that they have evolved to subsist largely on morning dew in their natural habitat. This would mean the humidity must reach 100% in order for dew to form. This would lead me to believe one of two things must be true. Either Dragons in the wild often suffer from the consequences of high humidity (RI/Fungus/etc). Or short term exposure to high humidity is tolerated well and it's the persistence of high humidity that can in captivity allow these issues to present. Again this should be largely avoided in a well ventilated enclosure where humidity cannot persist for long periods of time, at least not in localized areas, as the movement in the air will quickly normalize to whatever the humidity level outside the enclosure is.

This is why I wondered about the potential of convection systems with small vents on the top and bottom of the enclosure to create dead zones in sections of the tank where air stagnates. Presumably this would be less likely than in a mesh top where i would think the air movement would be mostly uniform.

Lastly I wondered about possible benefits of air moving over the dragon itself. Does this perhaps help with shedding, or heat regulation? I have no idea but in the wild they would have access to moving air. Even if there are benefits it may be unlikely that any passive air movement in an enclosure would be able to provide them. I wonder if you could set up a small low powered fan in some way and see if the Dragon would utilize flowing air. I won't be trying that with Beebz, he'd probably find a way to get his tongue stuck in the fan blades.

Obviously this is all speculation on my part. It's not meant to refute any of the information you provided, only to say I thought there was more to the subject of ventilation than what you laid out. I suppose the primary benefit I believed ventilation provided was to speed the removal of any pathogens or humidity issues in the enclosure.

In reality if those benefits exist at all, they may be outweighed by an inability to realize them without compromising the ability to keep temperature consistent. As i mentioned previously I'm not entirely happy with the way my gradient is working out currently. I'm still playing around with trying to add a heating element to the middle of the enclosure to smooth out my gradient but i may well end up just covering a third of the mesh towards hot side and see if that ends up being the best solution.

Anyway, I think that sums up my perspective on the issue.
 

Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
You are right, there are other potential benefits, potentially dozens, but personally I akin it to missing the forest for the trees.

So often, in many aspects of life, we get so caught up in making things perfect that we won't just accept good. You've probably heard the aphorism "Perfect is the enemy of good."

It would be nice if there were loads more benefits we could harness from increasing airflow, but I just don't see it, and I haven't seen it or heard of anyone else seeing it in the decades I've been part of the hobby. It doesn't mean it doesn't exist, it might just mean it hasn't been discovered yet.

I will touch on a few of your points, not to argue them, but to give a bit more perspective on them.

We see this in humans with the flu, and recently covid, becoming more widespread when people spend time in enclosed spaces.
Yes, but only when there is a host already in the enclosed area, and a lack of removal of the virus that the host is spreading. 100 people crammed in a bedroom who do not have covid and have not been exposed to it aren't going to spread it.

In the real world, ventilation was so important because we did not know who may or may not be spreading the virus. If it's the guy next to you, massive amounts of ventilation would be a God-send. If no one in the building had it, then the massive amounts of ventilation could not reduce the risk of infection lower than the 0 it already was at.

So in our case, the virus has to be introduced some how. We don't know enough about viral infections in dragons to know much about what their cause is. It would be a safe assumption to state they come in from food we offer whether that be the insects or salad items. If this is the case, the virus isn't going to infect the dragon from hanging out in semi-stagnant air, it's going to infect the dragon through direct contact with the food.

they have evolved to subsist largely on morning dew in their natural habitat. This would mean the humidity must reach 100% in order for dew to form.
While I can't say I've seen any scientific studies to back this up, I would agree it's at least a plausible. But on that same note, like I mentioned earlier, respirations drop significantly while the dragon is sleeping. Especially so as the night grows colder. A dragon's metabolism and bodily functions come to almost a standstill in the cold of night. Less respirations per minute = less exposure to the humidity then one might first imagine. It's just a byproduct of being cold blooded. Without heat, the body slows to a crawl.

I'm going to go off a bit on a tangent here just because it's a valid point in the discussion of air flow - humidity. In my opinion and experience, humidity is a non-factor for our purposes. There are some here who like to preach that humidity can not get up above a certain level or your dragon will get sick. Those same will also say it can't get below a certain level. Truth of the matter is, to a healthy dragon, humidity does not matter. Obviously if you're misting your enclosure like a gecko terrarium, you're going to increase your chances for issues. But like you've pointed out, in the wild, dragons are exposed to a wide range of humidity levels. And in the wild, airflow doesn't play much a role in immediately changing the humidity like it would in our tanks.

So what's the take away? Humidity isn't the demon people think it is. Too low of humidity will not cause your dragon to have difficulty shedding. Too high will not give your dragon a URI. Extremes might worsen a URI, but they won't outright create it, usually.

The majority of URI's in our situation are viral, not bacterial. And most of those can even be traced back to improper husbandry and diet (too low of temps, improper/inconsistent diet being the main factors). In the hundreds of dragons I've ever raised (albeit many of them only as babies) I've only ever had one dragon get a RI. And it was because she aspirated water in her bath. A man made situation that I put her in caused her illness.

Humidity and URI's almost need to be a whole separate thread entirely. It's a whole 'nother rabbit hole I could go down lol.
Presumably this would be less likely than in a mesh top where i would think the air movement would be mostly uniform.
I am by no means an expert in fluid dynamics. I wouldn't even call myself knowledgeable in it. However, I know that what has been recommended here has worked, and it's what I've done in the two dozen or so builds I've done over the years.

Lastly I wondered about possible benefits of air moving over the dragon itself.
I've wondered too. If anything, I think it could be more of an enrichment idea, much like some people put a dig box into the enclosure. Does a dig box help improve their health? Not really (ignoring gravid females who obviously need to lay). But it just adds to trying to fix the monotony of a living creature having to stare at the same 4 walls it's whole life.

If it could be implemented easily enough, and it doesn't effect the main important aspects of your husbandry, I don't see an issue with it, unless the fan was obnoxiously noisy, or caused vibrations throughout the enclosure. Does the possible benefits (even if they are unquantifiable benefits) outweigh the possible negatives that would come from implementing it?

I thought there was more to the subject of ventilation than what you laid out.
I am sure there is, and I welcome the discussion, from everyone. No one learns if people don't feel comfortable with questioning and putting their thoughts and opinions out there. Change requires discussion. But discussion won't always bring about a change.

It's only my opinion that the significant benefits of ventilation are for temperature regulation, and for there being a volume of fresh air to breath; that is definitely not a fact :)

In reality if those benefits exist at all, they may be outweighed by an inability to realize them without compromising the ability to keep temperature consistent.
Hmm, I should have read your whole response before starting to reply. It would appear you do understand that aphorism :)

In my opinion, questioning, learning, and experimenting, have always been one of the enjoyable parts of this hobby for me. If you can find a way to test your ideas on ventilation while not disturbing the key factors of husbandry, then I'm all for it.

It's late at night for me. Pardon the wall of text and pardon if anything comes off rude or like I'm brushing off your ideas. Not the intent here although things tend to read that way a lot when two people on the internet chat with eachother :)

-Brandon
 

xp29

BD.org Addict
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
First i agree with Brandon about chat. It can be very flat without the benefit of the infliction we add with verbal communication 😃 (thats why i try to use so many emoji lol ... and lols, to convey I'm being light hearted)
Second i think computer fans would be the fan of choice. Most are reasonably quite, they come in sizes that would fit right onto the vents, they are very low power consumption, and most are variable speed so adjustment would be easy.
 

Axil

Juvie Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Beebz
It's late at night for me. Pardon the wall of text and pardon if anything comes off rude or like I'm brushing off your ideas. Not the intent here although things tend to read that way a lot when two people on the internet chat with eachother :)
Let me address this first. I didn't read any rudeness or condescension into your words. On the contrary I found your responses well reasoned and respectful.

Conversely I hope I don't come up off as diminishing or disregarding the knowledge and wisdom you've gained from years of hands on experience with the animal I am attempting to better understand and care for.

The opposite is true. I am very grateful you've chosen to share some of the benefits of that experience with myself and others here. I do not have many strongly held opinions on the subject of Bearded Dragons, as my experience is very limited.

I try to make a point to use words like "may", "might", "could" and "I think" to indicate this lack of certainty. Any lack of such qualifiers is more likely to be am oversight on my part than a declaration of certainty.

Consequently I am eminently persuadable on these questions, which is why I very much enjoy these discussions.

I am sure there is, and I welcome the discussion, from everyone. No one learns if people don't feel comfortable with questioning and putting their thoughts and opinions out there. Change requires discussion. But discussion won't always bring about a change.

In my opinion, questioning, learning, and experimenting, have always been one of the enjoyable parts of this hobby for me.
And I agree with these sentiments wholeheartedly. While I appreciate keepers here telling me the correct way to care for my Dragon, I am most excited to why a practice is correct.

A lack of understanding on the reasoning behind a practice can, in my experience, lead to incorrect and potentially dangerous inferences in the face of novel circumstance.

So again, I thank you for giving me a glimpse into your thought processes.


Well... that was a long preamble!

I think the lesson I am learning here is where I mostly considered temperature to be somthing I could get sorted out, and make minor adjustments to as I increased the ventilation to whatever I wanted. In reality temperature, and the gradient I want to achieve may be so closely tied to ventilation it doesn't make much sense to talk about one without the other.

That was likely what you were trying to convey in the thread that spawned this post that went over my head. I read: "use ventilation to establish your temperature then don't worry about it" when perhaps the correct take away was "establishing your thermal gradient will dictate your ventilation" as there isn't as much ability to change the ventilation in given enclosure without throwing the gradient off.

There were a couple other things I thought were interesting in your post I wanted to clarify/discuss:

We don't know enough about viral infections in dragons to know much about what their cause is. It would be a safe assumption to state they come in from food we offer whether that be the insects or salad items. If this is the case, the virus isn't going to infect the dragon from hanging out in semi-stagnant air, it's going to infect the dragon through direct contact with the food.
Does it make sense for a respiratory infection to be contracted from direct contact with food? I would think it would have to be inhaled from the air to enter the respiratory system.

In my head contamination was most prevalent/dangerous when it found a way to take root and multiply in the system, rather than introduced as a one off in food. Reptile carpet is generally discouraged for this reason.

In the hundreds of dragons I've ever raised (albeit many of them only as babies) I've only ever had one dragon get a RI. And it was because she aspirated water in her bath.
This is pretty compelling evidence that if ventilation does play a role in controlling RI's, whatever you have is sufficient to realize that benefit. At least within the range of conditions you've kept your Dragons in. I don't know how much your humidity fluctuates. And while i've focused on humidity, that's only because i've seen it brought up repeatedly as the cause or exacerbating factor in RI's and fungal infections, and i have at least some understanding of many pathogens need for moisture to survive. In reality It may well be that the fact I keep chickens or have a stream full of frogs behind my house creates more risk than any small difference in ventilation can effectively mitigate.

While I can't say I've seen any scientific studies to back this up, I would agree it's at least a plausible. But on that same note, like I mentioned earlier, respirations drop significantly while the dragon is sleeping. Especially so as the night grows colder. A dragon's metabolism and bodily functions come to almost a standstill in the cold of night. Less respirations per minute = less exposure to the humidity then one might first imagine. It's just a byproduct of being cold blooded. Without heat, the body slows to a crawl.
While I haven't seen any studies that confirm Dragons to be dew drinkers, my point was for that to even be a possibility dew must be regular occurrence over most of their range. This goes back to my point about dangerous inferences. Perhaps the theory is fundamentally flawed and dew is rare in thier habitat. If we assume dew is common though I believe your point here reinforces mine. When humidity is highest, the Dragons exposure is naturally the lowest, thus ventilation quickly removing humidity as the enclosure warms would be beneficial and more closely mirror the environment they've adapted to.

So what's the take away? Humidity isn't the demon people think it is. Too low of humidity will not cause your dragon to have difficulty shedding. Too high will not give your dragon a URI. Extremes might worsen a URI, but they won't outright create it, usually.
Anecdotally, Beebz does seem to shed much easier than when the humidity was dropping to 7-9% in his enclosure. That may not be the reason, but the changes i noticed tracked reasonably well with the humidity levels. That was i believe a rather extreme scenario though. The air was noticeably uncomfortable for humans even without a heat lamp beaming down on us. A situation I hope to have remedied before next winter. A post you made on the subject of raising humidity actually prompted me to do a dive into climate in Australia and in my specific situation Beebz was experiencing humidity that as far as I was able to ascertain only occurred in a small part of the Dragons natural range, and even then only for a few hours a day during a specific season. Anyway, i'll leave that there as like you mentioned there humidity is a pretty complex and seemingly controversial subject for which i've seen experienced keepers give advice ranging from. "Try to keep it as low as possible at all times" to "provide a humid hide, and try to make sure humidity reaches 70% at night"

If it could be implemented easily enough, and it doesn't effect the main important aspects of your husbandry, I don't see an issue with it, unless the fan was obnoxiously noisy, or caused vibrations throughout the enclosure. Does the possible benefits (even if they are unquantifiable benefits) outweigh the possible negatives that would come from implementing it?

Maybe one of these days if i find myself building an enclosure I'll try something like this. As it is, i don't feel i interpret Dragon behavior well enough to identify such an experiment having a negative impact. I could probably fill a whole forum section with threads on that topic. What is "lethargy", how do i quantify it? How much can i read into changes in coloration, etc? Why does Beebz sleep in different places? Why did he push his basking decor far enough away from the wall to get behind it?! I could go on. :p
 

Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
establishing your thermal gradient will dictate your ventilation
That is a good way of putting it, simple and direct.

Does it make sense for a respiratory infection to be contracted from direct contact with food? I would think it would have to be inhaled from the air to enter the respiratory system.
It does. While the virus has to get into the respiratory system somehow (there are a lot of ways) it doesn't have to directly be breathed in. It's why hand washing is so important with humans, because a lot of viruses live on surfaces as opposed to spreading mainly through the air.

Just like us touching some dirty surface and then eating introducing germs and viruses into our body, so could be said for dragons since they eat with their face basically LOL. Any contact with a pathogen is going to start off with a pretty direct path into the respiratory system.

This is pretty compelling evidence that if ventilation does play a role in controlling RI's, whatever you have is sufficient to realize that benefit. At least within the range of conditions you've kept your Dragons in.
Yes but correlation does not equal causation (or visa versa). Realistically, URI's are rare in dragons. Rarer so in dragons kept under proper husbandry conditions. When my girl got one, she was over it in a week or two with no real outside intervention from me besides keeping her slightly warmer at night (to keep the body working). She didn't get put on meds, she didn't have a nebulizer treatment, she was a healthy dragon, kept in healthy conditions, and her body naturally healed itself much like a healthy human being would be able to do.

Proper husbandry plays such a huge role in a dragons health. Temperature, diet, and proper UV being the main three if I had to rank them. A healthy dragon eating a healthy diet will have a healthy immune system. This has a two-fold benefit. First is that any viruses/germs that get introduced, are going to have a much harder time grabbing hold of the dragon. Secondly, any that do grab hold, are going to be handled much better.

I mention it a lot, and it gets lost on some, but UV is DANGEROUS. It is harmful. It is also necessary. For those two reasons alone, the only logical deduction is to provide as little UV as necessary. You want the health benefits of UV, but you don't want to cross that line into it being more damaging than good. I've discusses UVI in great lengths and detail on this website over the years, and collaborated with Dr. Francis Baines on multiple occasions for the betterment of folks here understanding the complex concepts of UV in the enclosure. If you want to start down another rabbit hole, look through some of those threads.

All that is to point out that UV being dangerous, is actually going to be of slight benefit to one of your concerns over lack of airflow and the possibility of germs/viruses just hanging out and multiplying.

Firstly, a virus can not replicate on it's own, it needs host cells. So viruses replicating in the enclosure due to airflow I feel don't need to be worried about.

Germs on the other hand can spread and replicate on surfaces. Luckily for us, a bearded dragons enclosure is actually a pretty harsh environment when you think about it. Most people are providing UVI levels higher than necessary, but that makes it even harder for germs to spread or live. And I'm not too sure how much an effect airflow would have in removing germs from a surface, as that is typically where you are going to find them.

maybe one of these days if i find myself building an enclosure I'll try something like this.
I was actually really close to doing this two years back. I like building built-in enclosures, and was going to convert a bedroom closet into a 5-6 tank built in. My main concern was the closet getting way too hot due to 5 or 6 heat lamps, and not being able to provide a proper cool side. My solution for this was going to be having a dead space of a few inches behind the enclosures to the closet wall that was sealed off from the rest of the room. I was going to route an inline fan through the attic space to suck the hot "used" air out from the back. This combined with vents on the front of the enclosures would force fresh room air through the enclosure to expel the hotter used air. Would have taken some balancing with vent openings so that one or two enclosures aren't getting all their air flow while the rest get none, but would have been easy to do.

Really wish I would have just gone for it, but ended up having another child and needing the room to have a functioning closet apparently... :rolleyes::LOL: It is still something i'd like to experiment with, as its very easy to overheat a room once you have multiple enclosures in it. But in that case the benefits were going to solely be for temperature regulation, and according to my wife maybe the most important part of the ventilation issue, smell... :)

I have a little wish list of things I want to do experiment wise with enclosures. One being that ventilation idea, but another being an actual full spectrum lighting array that I design and program to change throughout the day to mimic the changing spectra of the sun throughout the day. Lots of ideas on that one, it's a bit of my unicorn project. It will get done one day.

-Brandon
 
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Axil

Juvie Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Beebz
It does. While the virus has to get into the respiratory system somehow (there are a lot of ways) it doesn't have to directly be breathed in
That... is obviously true. I don't know why I got it in my head that an RI in a dragon meant it had to be introduced through the respiratory system. As you mention, this is not true of many RI's that affect humans.

Yes but correlation does not equal causation (or visa versa).
Right, I should've been clearer. I wasn't suggesting you had stumbled on some mystical perfect level of ventilation inadvertently. More so that since you had no issues with RI's over a large time period spent with a large number of dragons, and you weren't making a point to increase airflow in your enclosures - It's unlikely increasing airflow would provide much protection. Unless perhaps someone is dealing with some risk factor that is different from your environment. Bioactive setups come to mind. They seem really cool... and really complicated to get right.

You make a good point about the challenge the enclosure presents for a viral pathogen. My (limited) understanding is that bacteria and even parasites have a tough time with UV. Back in my fishkeeping days some people were experimenting with running the return lines of their pumps through an intense UV light to sterilize the water of things like ick. I think some companies even sold kit for that purpose.

an actual full spectrum lighting array that I design and program to change throughout the day to mimic the changing spectra of the sun throughout the day. Lots of ideas on that one, it's a bit of my unicorn project. It will get done one day.
I saw a really interesting video on that subject recently. Might be worth a watch if you've got 15 minutes and haven't seen it. Even though I'm sure you're already far more familiar with most of the concepts presented than i was before watching it, it might still be cool to see it in action.

While i can't see myself doing anything that complicated in the near, or even midterm future. I have kicked around the idea of getting a couple LED lights on a timer between say 10am-2pm to see how Beebz reacts, and perhaps also enhance my viewing experience as it's a bit darker than i'd like, especially with my enclosure being black PVC.
 
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