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Chinese Water Dragon



Common Names: Chinese Water Dragon

Scientific Name: Physignathus cocincinus

Distribution: Southeast Asia

Size: Large male Chinese Water Dragons can grow up to 3 feet long. Average size for Chinese Water Dragons is from 24 to 30 inches.

Temperament: Baby and juvenile Chinese Water Dragons can be easily tamed. Imported adult Chinese Water Dragons may remain hard to handle and may bite hard. Adult male Chinese Water Dragons can be very territorial.

Hardiness: Chinese Water Dragons are very hardy when deparasitized and set up and maintained properly. Adult male Chinese Water Dragons may be difficult to acclimate.

Sexing: Male Chinese Water Dragons have a larger head, crest, and enlarged femoral pores. Juvenile Chinese Water Dragons should be probe sexed.

Food: Chinese Water Dragons eat vitamin / calcium coated crickets, jumbo mealworms, butterworms, night crawlers, feeder goldfish and baby mice. Baby Chinese Water Dragons have very high calcium requirements to prevent rickets.

Housing: Baby and smaller juvenile Chinese Water Dragons can be housed in 20-30 gallon terrarium with either sand, reptile bedding, or orchid bark substrate. Landscape and create basking areas with rocks, cork bark slabs, driftwood and if so desired sturdy live or artificial plants. Adult Chinese Water Dragons require a large 2'x4'x2' custom built enclosure set up in a similar manner.

Water: Provide a large (1/4 to 1/2) enclosure water section for drinking and soaking. Change water frequently, as needed.

Temperature/Humidity: Chinese Water Dragons like day temperatures between 76 degrees F to 88 degrees F. They like night temperatures between 66 degrees F and 76 degrees F. High humidity is maintained for your Chinese Water Dragon by large water section and frequent misting of cage or tank.

Lighting: Full spectrum lighting / U.V. radiation is needed for long term maintenance of Chinese Water Dragons. It is especially critical for rearing baby and juvenile Chinese Water Dragons.

Heating: Under tank reptile heating pad placed under both water and land sections will provide 24 hour bottom surface and water heat. Incandescent light bulbs with reflectors situated over basking areas will provide the proper daytime heat gradient.

Notes: The Australian / New Guinea Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii) and Indonesian Water Dragon (Physignathus temporalis) both can be set up and maintained under similar conditions.


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Revised December 2008