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Chinese Water Dragon

Chinese Water Dragon Care Guide: Tips & Facts

Ready to dive into the fascinating world of Chinese water dragons? These unique reptiles, also known as Thai water dragons or green water dragons, are a species of lizard that belongs to the family Agamidae. Native to southern China, Thailand, and Vietnam, these creatures are excellent swimmers and can stay underwater for up to 25 minutes.

One of the most distinctive features of the Chinese water dragon is its long tail, which makes up two-thirds of its total length. Not only does this tail help with balance while swimming, but it’s also used for communication between these social creatures.

While they may not be suitable pets for everyone due to their specific care requirements and need for space, many people find themselves fascinated by these captivating lizards. So if you’re curious about what makes Chinese water dragons so special and want to learn more about how they live and thrive in their natural habitat, keep reading!

Appearance and Colors of Chinese Water Dragons

Chinese water dragons, also known as Asian water dragons, are fascinating creatures with a unique appearance. These reptiles have a large body size, with adult males growing up to 3 feet in length. Females are slightly smaller than males but still have a considerable size.

One of the most striking features of the Chinese water dragon is its color. The color of their bodies varies from pale green to dark green, with some having pale yellow bellies. Some individuals may have brown or black patches on their skin, which can be caused by various factors such as stress or disease.

Chinese water dragons also have a parietal eye, also known as the third eye, which is sensitive to UV light. This eye helps them detect predators from above and protect themselves accordingly.

Shades of Green

The shades of green that Chinese water dragons come in can vary greatly depending on their age and environment. Hatchlings tend to be lighter in color and develop darker hues as they mature.

In captivity, it’s important to provide your Chinese water dragon with an appropriate UVB source to ensure they maintain its bright green coloring. Without adequate lighting, these lizards can become dull in color or even turn brown or black.

Size Matters

As mentioned earlier, male Chinese water dragons can grow up to 3 feet long while females are slightly smaller at around 2-2.5 feet long. Their large size makes them impressive animals that require spacious enclosures for proper care.

It’s essential to note that providing adequate space for your pet dragon is crucial for its well-being and happiness since cramped quarters can lead to stress-related health issues.

The Third Eye

The parietal eye located on top of the head is a unique feature found only in certain reptile species like Chinese water dragons. It’s believed that this third eye helps regulate circadian rhythms and detect potential threats from above.

While it’s not a “real” eye in the traditional sense, it does contain a lens, retina, and even a cornea. This eye is also sensitive to UV light, which means that providing proper lighting is essential for your pet’s health.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does a Chinese water dragon look like? A Chinese water dragon has a large body size with shades of green on its skin. It also has a parietal eye located on top of its head.
  • Why is my Chinese water dragon brown? If your Chinese water dragon is turning brown or black, it may be due to stress or disease. Ensure that they have adequate lighting and space in their enclosure to prevent this from happening.
  • Why is my Chinese water dragon turning black? A color change can indicate an underlying health issue. It’s best to consult with a veterinarian experienced in treating reptiles if you notice any changes in your pet’s coloring.

Habitat Setup for Chinese Water Dragons

If you’re planning to keep a Chinese water dragon as a pet, it’s essential to provide them with an appropriate habitat setup. In the wild, these reptiles are found in Southeast Asia near freshwater lakes and vegetation. Therefore, creating an environment that mimics their natural habitat is crucial for their health and well-being.

Chinese Water Dragons


The first step in setting up a Chinese water dragon’s habitat is choosing the right enclosure. A standard 55-gallon aquarium tank can accommodate one adult water dragon comfortably. However, if you plan on keeping more than one, you’ll need a larger tank.

Ensure that the enclosure has secure locks because these dragons are excellent climbers and escape artists. Make sure the enclosure has enough ventilation to prevent respiratory issues.

Basking Areas and Spots

Chinese water dragons require basking areas and spots to regulate their body temperature adequately. You can create basking areas using rocks or logs placed under heat lamps or UVB bulbs. The basking spot should be between 95°F-105°F (35°C-40°C), while the cooler side of the enclosure should range from 75°F-85°F (24°C-29°C).


Chinese water dragons require high humidity levels ranging from 60%-80%. To achieve this, add live plants such as pothos or dracaena to the enclosure. These plants help maintain humidity levels by releasing moisture into the air through transpiration.

Sphagnum moss also helps retain moisture in the enclosure while providing hiding spots for your pet. Cypress mulch is another option that can help maintain humidity levels while adding aesthetic appeal to your pet’s home.

Vegetation and Decorations

Chinese water dragons love climbing trees and vegetation in their natural habitat; therefore, adding live or artificial plants will provide them with opportunities to climb and explore their surroundings.

You can also add decorations such as logs, rocks, and other climbing structures to the enclosure. These not only provide entertainment for your pet but also help create a more natural environment.


If you plan on breeding Chinese water dragons, ensure that you have enough space in the enclosure. Provide hiding spots and vegetation to create a more suitable environment for mating.

Where to Get a Chinese Water Dragon

Before acquiring a Chinese water dragon, ensure that it’s legal to keep one in your area. Also, research reputable breeders or pet stores that specialize in reptiles. Look for healthy specimens and avoid purchasing from sources that exhibit signs of neglect or mistreatment.

Temperature and Lighting for Chinese Water Dragons

Maintaining the right temperature and lighting conditions is crucial for the health and well-being of Chinese water dragons. In this section, we’ll discuss the ideal temperatures, humidity levels, and lighting requirements for these fascinating creatures.

Temperature Requirements

Chinese water dragons need a basking temperature of 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. The cool side of their enclosure should be around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s essential to provide them with a temperature gradient so that they can regulate their body temperature as needed.

One way to achieve this is by using a heat lamp at one end of the enclosure. This will create a warm spot where your dragon can bask when it needs to raise its body temperature. At the other end of the enclosure, you can place a ceramic heater to maintain temperatures without disturbing your dragon’s sleep at night.

It’s important to monitor temperatures regularly using a thermometer or thermostat. A slight variation in temperature can affect your dragon’s health and behavior.

Humidity Levels

The average humidity level in a Chinese water dragon’s enclosure should be between 60% to 80%. You can use a hygrometer to measure humidity levels accurately. To maintain proper humidity levels, you can mist your dragon’s enclosure once or twice daily with distilled water.

Lighting Requirements

UVB lighting is essential for Chinese water dragons as it helps them synthesize vitamin D3, which is necessary for calcium absorption and bone development. Without adequate UVB exposure, they may develop metabolic bone disease (MBD), which can lead to deformities and other health problems.

You should provide your Chinese water dragon with access to UVB lighting for 10-12 hours per day. You can use fluorescent bulbs or mercury vapor bulbs that emit both UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to replace bulbs every six months as they lose their effectiveness over time.

When selecting UVB lighting, it’s important to consider the distance between the bulb and your dragon. The recommended distance is 12-18 inches from the basking spot.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What watt heat bulb for a Chinese water dragon? The recommended wattage for a heat lamp will depend on the size of your enclosure. For a 40-gallon tank, a 100-watt bulb should suffice. However, you may need to use a higher-wattage bulb for larger enclosures.
  • How long does it take for a Chinese water dragon to reach full size? Chinese water dragons grow rapidly in their first year and can reach up to two feet in length. They typically reach their full adult size of three feet within two years.
  • When is a Chinese water dragon full-grown? Chinese water dragons are considered fully grown when they reach three feet in length, which usually occurs within two years of age.

Chinese Water Dragon Diet and Nutrition

one of the most important things you need to know is their diet and nutrition. These creatures are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. In this section, we will discuss what a balanced diet for a Chinese water dragon looks like, how often they should eat, and what health problems can arise from feeding them the wrong foods.

What Should You Feed Your Chinese Water Dragon?

A balanced diet for your Chinese water dragon should consist of insects, fruits, vegetables, and occasionally small rodents. Some good insect options include crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and roaches. Try feeding them items such as kale, collard greens, strawberries, blueberries, and mangoes.

It’s important to note that while some people may choose to feed their water dragons live prey such as mice or rats occasionally; this is not necessary for their survival. If you do decide to feed your dragon rodents or other larger prey items make sure they are appropriately sized for your pet.

How Often Should You Feed Your Chinese Water Dragon?

The frequency of feeding your Chinese water dragon depends on its age. Younger dragons require more frequent feedings because they grow at a faster rate than adults do. For hatchlings up until 3 months old offer food daily; from 3-6 months old offer food every other day; from 6-12 months old offer food every third day; after 12 months old offer food twice per week.

It’s also important not to overfeed your water dragon since obesity can lead to health problems such as metabolic bone disease (MBD). MBD is caused by an imbalance in calcium levels in the body which can lead to weak bones or even fractures.

Why Is My Chinese Water Dragon Not Eating?

There are several reasons why your Chinese water dragon may not be eating. The most common reason is stress, which can be caused by a change in environment or handling. Make sure your dragon has a comfortable and spacious enclosure to reduce stress levels.

Other reasons for not eating could be due to illness or parasites. If you suspect this may be the case, take your pet to a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles as soon as possible.

How Big Can A Chinese Water Dragon Get?

Chinese water dragons can grow up to 3 feet long from head to tail and weigh up to 2 pounds. Males tend to grow larger than females and can have more vibrant coloring on their throats.

Food and Water for Chinese Water Dragons

Chinese water dragons are fascinating creatures that make great pets. They are semi-aquatic reptiles that require a lot of water to stay hydrated and healthy. In this article, we will discuss what to feed your Chinese water dragon and how to provide them with the proper amount of water.

What to Feed Your Chinese Water Dragon

Live food should make up the majority of your Chinese water dragon’s diet. This includes insects such as crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and roaches. You can also feed them small fish such as guppies or goldfish. It’s important to avoid feeding your Chinese water dragon any wild-caught animals as they may carry diseases or parasites.

In addition, to live food, you can also offer your Chinese water dragon some fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, blueberries, kale, collard greens, carrots, and sweet potatoes. These foods should only be offered occasionally as they do not provide all the necessary nutrients that your pet needs.

It’s important to note that calcium and vitamin D3 supplements should be added to their food once a week to ensure their bones remain strong.

How Much Water Do They Need?

As mentioned earlier, Chinese water dragons need a lot of water to stay hydrated. They require both drinking water and soaking areas where they can submerge themselves partially or fully in order to maintain proper humidity levels.

A ceramic bowl is recommended for providing drinking water for your pet. The bowl should be shallow enough so it doesn’t pose a drowning hazard but deep enough so that it can hold a sufficient amount of water.

For soaking areas, you can use a shallow dish filled with lukewarm tap water or rainwater (if available). The container should be large enough for your pet to fit comfortably inside without feeling cramped.

Providing Humidity

Humidity is another important factor in keeping your Chinese water dragon healthy. They require a humidity level of around 60-80%. To maintain proper humidity levels, you can mist the enclosure with water several times a day or use a humidifier.

Common Health Problems in Chinese Water Dragons

As a Chinese water dragon owner, it is important to be aware of the common health problems that can affect your pet. Here are some of the most prevalent issues and what you can do to prevent or treat them.

Mouth Rot

Mouth rot, also known as infectious stomatitis, is a bacterial infection that affects the mouth and gums of reptiles. Symptoms include swollen gums, pus-filled pockets around the teeth, and difficulty eating. If left untreated, it can lead to loss of appetite and even death.

To prevent mouth rot in your Chinese water dragon, make sure its enclosure is clean and free from bacteria. Provide fresh water daily and ensure they have a balanced diet with plenty of calcium-rich foods. If you notice any signs of mouth rot, take your pet to a veterinarian who specializes in reptile care immediately.

Inflated Jaw

An inflated jaw, or mandibular edema, occurs when fluid accumulates under the skin on the lower jaw. This can be caused by injury or infection and may cause difficulty eating or breathing.

To prevent an inflated jaw in your Chinese water dragon, ensure its enclosure has plenty of hiding spots and soft surfaces to minimize the risk of injury. Keep their environment clean to reduce the risk of infection. If you notice any swelling around your pet’s jaw area, seek veterinary care right away.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic bone disease is a condition that occurs when reptiles don’t receive enough calcium or vitamin D3 in their diet. Symptoms include lethargy, tremors, weakness in limbs, bowed legs, or spine deformities.

To prevent metabolic bone disease in your Chinese water dragon provide them with UVB light for at least 10-12 hours per day so they can synthesize Vitamin D3 naturally from sunlight exposure which helps them absorb calcium efficiently from their food sources such as insects or leafy greens. Provide a well-balanced diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D3 supplementation.

Head Bobbing

Head bobbing is a behavior commonly seen in male Chinese water dragons during the breeding season or when they feel threatened. However, if your pet is constantly head-bobbing, it may be a sign of stress or illness.

To prevent head bobbing in your Chinese water dragon, make sure their enclosure has plenty of hiding spots and things to climb on so that they feel secure in their environment. Avoid handling them too much as this can cause stress which may lead to head-bobbing behavior.

Care Guide for Chinese Water Dragon Owners

As a Chinese water dragon owner, it is important to understand the specific care requirements needed to keep your pet healthy and happy. Here is a summary of the key points discussed in this guide:

Appearance and Colors of Chinese Water Dragons

Chinese water dragons are arboreal lizards that can grow up to 3 feet long. They have green scales with stripes or patches of brown or turquoise on their bodies and a long tail that makes up two-thirds of their length.

Habitat Setup for Chinese Water Dragons

To ensure your Chinese water dragon feels at home, create a spacious enclosure with plenty of climbing opportunities, hiding spots, and a large water source for swimming.

Temperature and Lighting for Chinese Water Dragons

Chinese water dragons require specific temperature and lighting conditions to thrive. They need basking areas with temperatures between 90-95°F during the day, as well as UVB lighting to aid in calcium absorption.

Chinese Water Dragon Diet and Nutrition

A balanced diet consisting of insects, fruits, vegetables, and occasional small rodents is vital for maintaining your Chinese water dragon’s health.

Food and Water for Chinese Water Dragons

Provide fresh drinking water daily along with misting or soaking opportunities to help maintain proper hydration levels.

Common Health Problems in Chinese Water Dragons

Chinese water dragons may experience health issues such as respiratory infections or metabolic bone disease if their care requirements are not met. Regular veterinary check-ups can help prevent these problems from occurring.

In conclusion, owning a Chinese water dragon requires attention to detail providing proper temperature and lighting conditions, and offering a balanced diet with fresh food and water sources daily. By following this care guide closely you will be able to ensure that your pet lives a healthy life full of joy.

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