If you have been considering adopting a lizard, you may want to consider getting a Chinese water dragon. As your local Marion, IA vet, I’m happy to offer advice on caring for these pretty lizards. Read on to learn more.
Chinese water dragons are green with banded tails, though their hues can vary a bit. They can live up to 16 years with proper care, and are typically quite gentle. When they hatch, they are usually under 6 inches long. Males can grow to about 3 feet, while females reach about 2 feet. In both cases, their tails make up most of their length.
Water dragons are very interesting to watch. They use their tails to help them climb, but can actually ‘run’ on their back legs. They are usually docile, but may whip their tails when frightened. (They also may turn dark and/or try to hide if they are scared.) Although you can usually keep females together, males will normally fight.
Your pet lizard will need his own enclosure. This should be at least 6′ tall, 4′ long, and 4′ wide. This habitat will need to stay at around 80 percent humidity, so you will need some special equipment, such as misters. Glass is a good material, but you may need to put up a barrier. Water dragons tend to try to go through glass, which can cause snout injuries. Sterile soil substrates are great, as they help keep moisture in, but you can also use reptile carpet or AstroTurf. You’ll need to provide your pet with a pool or pan of water to swim and soak in, as well as branches to climb. Be sure to keep the water clean! As for temperature, one part of the enclosure should stay between 84-88 °F. There should also be a basking area, which should be about 95 °F. The habitat can be cooler at night. You’ll need to provide UVB lighting as well. Ask your vet for more information on setting up the enclosure.
Like most reptiles, Chinese water dragons eat live food. Waxworms, mealworms, grasshoppers, feeder fish, and pinkies are all on the menu. Offer a variety of foods, so your dragon doesn’t get bored. Ask your vet for specific advice.
Please call me, your Marion, IA vet, with any questions or concerns about water dragon care. I’m here to help!