Chinese Water Dragon Care

Chinese Water Dragon Care

Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus)

also known as Asian Water Dragons, Thai Water Dragons, and Green Water Dragons

Popularity: Make good house pets

Origin: The lowland and highland forests of India, Northern and southern China, and eastern and southeastern Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma)

Native habitat: The banks of freshwater lakes and streams, average humidity levels of 60–80 percent, temperatures ranging from 80–90 degrees F.

Size: 2-3 feet

Lifespan: Up to 18 years

Appearance: Chinese water dragons colors range from dark to light green. Green or turquoise diagonal stripes decorate the body, and there are green and dark brown bands starting at the middle of the tail that go to the end of the tail. The tail comprises over 2/3 of the total body length. The underside may be white, off white, pale green or pale yellow. The Dragon’s throat can be yellow, orange, or peach. Some throats are a single color, and some have stripes. The head, neck and tail has crests, and the head is triangular. Males have larger, more triangular-shaped heads and larger crests than females, and are larger overall.

Diet: Though they will also eat vegetation, the diet of the water dragon consists mainly of insects, supplemented with an occasional small fish, mammal or reptile.

Activities: Active during the day (diurnal), and spend most of their time in the trees or plants (arboreal)

Defense Mechanisms: They use the long tail as a weapon, as well as for other things like balance and swimming. When threatened, the lizard drops from the trees into the water. It will then swim to safety or remain submerged for almost a half-hour. The pineal gland described below can help the Dragon avoid aerial predators.

Misc characteristics: The Chinese Water Dragon has a pineal gland — a small, iridescent, photosensitive spot — between their eyes that is believed to help them with thermoregulation of their bodies by detecting differences in light. This helps them with basking and looking for shelter after the sun goes down.

BASIC CARE

Housing

Keep Chinese Water Dragons in a large enclosure. Since they need water to swim, a glass aquarium is a good option. The tank’s length should be at least twice the Dragon’s length (more is recommended), and the top must be fully and securely screened. If you provide plenty of water, you can use a screen enclosure, which will provide good ventilation to avoid stale air.

Substrate and Furnishings

Potting soil, sand and peat moss are good substrates if you are not using water on the bottom of the tank. The Dragon needs large branches and other objects to climb and perch on.

Temperature and Humidity

These Dragon’s need heat. Keep the daytime temperature between 83 to 88 degrees F. At night, keep the temperature between 75 to 80 degrees F. Provide a basking spot that gets to 90 degrees F. Humidity needs to be around 80 percent, but not over 85 percent as it can cause problems to the Dragon’s respiratory system.

Lighting

Keep a day light on a 12-hour cycle, 14 during colder months. Provide full-spectrum lighting: both UVA and UVB. This helps the lizard to process necessary vitamins.

Feeding

Feed the Dragon gut-loaded, vitamin- and mineral-dusted crickets, locusts, cockroaches and mealworms. Wax worms can be fed to them occasionally as a treat, as can pinkies/ fuzzies (mice).

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