Chinese Water Dragon Care Sheet

Average size – 2-3ft (Males Larger)

Longevity:  18 Years

Origin: China, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia

Shopping list

  • Suitable sized vivarium
  • Basking Bulb
  • UV Bulb and Holder
  • Substrate
  • Calcium Supplement
  • Cage Furniture
  • 2 x Thermometers
  • Large Bowl / Litter Tray (big enough to swim in)
  • Sprinkler / Water Drip System
  • Food Dish
  • Book on Chinese Water Dragons

It is a good idea to leave your new dragon alone to settle in for about a week. After buying your water dragon it is not uncommon for them to go off their food for a few days moving home is very stressful.

Housing

Water dragons are fairly active lizards and love to climb and swim so are in need of a large vivarium.  An adult male water dragon will reach 3ft in length. An ideal enclosure would be a 2m high x 1.8m long and 1m Deep, vivarium made out of glass. The floor can be covered in paper, carpet and cleaned when soiled, if using substrate remove soiled material immediately and change entire substrate regularly.

Heating of small enclosures for juveniles may be accomplished using a heat mat and small incandescent bulb, larger adult enclosures however are best heated using ceramic heaters controlled by a thermostat. Additional basking lamps may be needed to create hotter basking areas. All heat lamps must be screened from the lizard to prevent burns.

Ultra violet (UVB & UVA) Lighting should be provided and placed on a timer to give 12 hours of continuous light daily. There are various full spectrum UV lights available.

Feeding

Water Dragons should be offered a wide selection of insects including crickets, meal worm larvae, beetles, waxworm larvae and moths, locusts and earth worms. It is important to make sure any prey insects have been fed correctly 48 hours preferably one week prior to feeding your dragon. Immediately prior to feeding dust the insect with calcium carbonate.

Also once or twice weekly the prey items should be dusted with a reptile multivitamin supplement containing vitamin D3. Water dragons should be offered fruits and vegetables as they mature, again supplemented with a high calcium reptile specific supplement. Feed young dragons 5 days per week and adults 3-4 days per week (fruit and vegetables may be offered daily). Care is required to avoid obesity in adults.

Water

Access to a large shallow dish is necessary which should be cleaned with soapy water and disinfected at least once weekly. Water should be replenished with fresh water daily. Some water dragons may sleep fully immersed in their water which should not be confused with drowning.

Maturity

Sexual maturity occurs when animals exceed 40cm in length (usually 2-3 years of age). Male courtship includes prominent positioning within the enclosure, head bobbing and pursuit and biting of females. Gravid females enlarge girth and require a large nesting chamber (90cm x 90cm x 45cm deep) containing soil.

Veterinary

During the 1st week it is recommended to get your vet to do a post purchase health check on your dragon. The exam should check for parasites (which are extremely common in water dragons), overall health and to establish proper diet and environmental conditions at an early stage. It is worthwhile taking a fresh faecal sample from your dragon along to the consultation.

The following list of problems require veterinary attention –

  • Not eating, no stool production
  • Difficulty shedding
  • Drooling, Salivation or Malformation of the lower jaw
  • Open mouthed breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Inability to use legs
  • Abdominal swelling or swelling of any of the limbs
  • The presence of pink tissue protruding from the vent
  • Diarrhoea or straining to urinate or pass stool.