Chinese Water Dragon Lighting Information :
You will need to provide UVB in the form of fluorescent or metal halide lighting. Incandescent bulbs do not produce UVB rays; they usually only provide UVA. Your water dragon will need UVB to produce vitamin D3 in its skin, which in turn aids it in using the calcium in its diet properly. Without proper UVB lighting, water dragons often develop nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism (aka metabolic bone disease), which causes their bones to soften, bend and break easily. It can also lead to tremors, seizures and even death if action isn’t taken to reverse the deficiency.
Set UVB lighting fixtures over your dragon’s basking area. There should not be glass or plastic between the light and the dragon as this will block most of the UVB rays from reaching your lizard. The light should also sit no more than 10 to 12 inches above your dragon to provide the highest level of UVB.
Incandescent basking lights can maintain proper cage temperatures, and their heat combined with misting helps maintain humidity. Water dragons are diurnal lizards, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night. The lights, therefore, need to go off at night. For this reason, a lightless heat source, such as a ceramic heat emitter for day and night heating might also prove beneficial. Set the ceramic heat emitter on a thermostat or rheostat control to maintain the needed temperature range. Your water dragon should have light during normal seasonal daylight hours. I use a timer to create a day/night cycle; it turns the lights on at 7 a.m. and turns them off near sunset, perhaps 7 p.m.
4- Selected Articles of care and husbandry of Water Dragons :
- Genus Species:
1- Physignathus cocincinus- Green Water Dragon
2- Physignathus lesueurii- Australian Water Dragon
Please note that this website will contain only information pertaining to the keeping of the Chinese water dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) from this point onward.
The care of the Australian water dragon (Physignathus lesueurii) is apparently similar to that of the Chinese water dragon. There is at least one other species classed in the genus Physignathus, and that is Physignathus temporalis, but I have been told that both lesueurii and temporalis will be re-classed in the near future.
Physignathus lesueurii- Australian Water Dragon
- Doawnloadable Books :
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- Chinese Water Dragon Care
courtesy to : www.reptilesmagazine.com/Chinese-Water-Dragon-Care/
BY TRICIA POWER
I developed a passion for water dragons in 1995 when I first saw a gorgeous green lizard with bright golden-brown eyes staring back at me through its tank in a local pet store. I had kept many other reptile and amphibian species in the past, but never lizards. Little did I know that upon setting eyes on that bright green creature that it would become the start of what appears to be a life-long love of the green water dragon.
Chinese water dragons (Physignathus cocincinus) were starting to become popular in the pet trade at that time, but it wasn’t as easy to find quality care information in 1995 as it is today. Over the past decade, I have researched the care of Physignathus cocincinus by reading books, exchanging information with thousands of water dragon owners and through my own trial and error.
PHOTO BY TRICIA POWER
Know the sex of your water dragons before placing multiple individuals in an enclosure together. More than one male may result in battles.
Stores that sell reptiles often carry Chinese water dragons, also known as the green water dragon or Asian water dragon. They originate from the southeast Asian mainland — Thailand, southern China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Many of these lizards are still imported from their countries of origin for the pet trade, but over the years there has been an increase in captive breeding by private owners and reptile-related businesses throughout North America and Europe. Try to find a captive-bred Asian water dragon when considering a purchase, as your new lizard will likely be healthier and less stressed than its wild-caught or imported counterpart.
Given optimal care, green water dragons can live up to 16 years. I have found them to be extremely pleasant to care for. They are beautiful to observe given their attractive bright green color, and once they are used to your presence, they are generally tame and easily handled. While they occasionally fight among themselves or compete for superiority with cagemates, they are rarely aggressive toward human keepers. If frightened, they might give you an open-mouthed threat, which they rarely follow through on, or a light tail whip when picked up. If scared, they may turn dark or try to hide behind a plant or in their water.
Chinese Water Dragon Hatchlings
Hatchlings are 1 inch snout to vent, and 5 to 6 inches in total length. The upper surfaces of their body are a brownish green, while a pale green to white covers their lower abdominal area. Light-colored stripes of white or beige run vertically on either side of the body, and a brown and green banded tail, very large eyes and short snout make up the rest of their features. After growing to approximately 10 inches, and after shedding their skin a few times, the upper body becomes a bright green, ranging from aqua to mint green.
Adult males grow to approximately 3 feet in length; adult females measure approximately 2 feet. The tail is laterally flattened, banded brown and green, ends in a fine point and makes up 70 to 75 percent of their length. Water dragons use their tails for balance and leverage when climbing, and they can use them to whip would-be attackers, predators or keepers.
PHOTO BY TRICIA POWER
Water dragons like a humid environment. Water in the enclosure, as well as live plants and a soil substrate, can all increase humidity.
Access to the water and the large and clean water tank should be always available for these amazing creatures
Adult water dragons are, of course, green, ranging from a dark forest green to a light mint green. The lower body is generally white or a very light yellow, while the vertical stripes that run along the sides of the water dragon’s body are a pale green, mint green, aqua or even turquoise in color. The throats of juvenile and adult water dragons can also be quite colorful, ranging from a very pale yellow, orange, peach, bright pink, fuchsia or even dark purple.
The head is triangular, and a male’s will become quite large and wide. Large, rounded, white scales run just below the mouth and end in one or two larger pointed scales where the head and neck meet. A dark stripe runs from the lower corner of the eye and toward the ear. The tongue is thick and wide, and ends in a very small fork. It has a sticky surface that helps to catch and hold prey. Water dragon teeth are small and pointed — the better to eat an omnivorous diet — and can draw blood if a dragon were to bite its keeper. Luckily, most dragons are even-tempered and rarely bite.
Both males and females have well-developed nuchal crests above the neck; however, an adult male’s is often higher and has longer spikes. Males also have prominent mid-sagittal crests. A very small round shiny “scale,” located on the top of the head between the eyes, is known as the parietal or third eye. The parietal eye is thought to help water dragons, as well as a number of other reptiles, sense differences in light. It is believed they use it to help thermoregulate. For example, it may help them to decide upon a good basking spot, or it may sense decreasing light levels, leading to a lizard finding shelter for the night.
PHOTO BY TRICIA POWER
Because they are arboreal, water dragons need branches and other climbing areas inside their enclosures.
Water dragons have well-developed legs; the front legs are generally much more slender than the back legs. The front legs climb and grasp branches, while the muscular back legs aid in climbing and swimming, as well as jumping or leaping. Water dragons can run on their strong hind legs, which is an amazing sight to see. The front and hind feet are five-toed, and the middle toes on the hind feet are the longest.
Almost all green water dragons appear female until they attain 14 to 16 inches in length, at which time males begin to develop larger heads, jowls and a higher nuchal crest. The femoral pores of adult males are slightly larger than that of the females too. When dragons are mature and able to breed, they are generally about 2 years old and 2 feet long.
Knowing the sex of your water dragon is important if you want to keep more than one in the same enclosure. Two mature males will fight, and these fights can often result in serious injury or even death. Two female dragons usually get along but they, too, can become territorial. When housing multiple dragons in one large enclosure, I’ve found that the best mix is one male to two or three females.
If keeping more than one dragon interests you, I strongly suggest keeping an additional enclosure set up and ready for use in the event that your pets fight or if one falls ill. It will be easier for you to care for one that is not doing well if you can separate it from the other dragons. In cases of illness it might even help prevent an infection from spreading into the remainder of your collection.
Chinese Water Dragon Enclosure :
Caring for Chinese water dragons is not all that difficult but their needs are very specific (as are most reptile species’). They are arboreal lizards, meaning they climb and like to be up high. An ideal enclosure for one or more adult dragons would measure 6 feet tall, 3 to 4 feet deep and 4 to 6 feet long.
Water dragons enjoy a humid environment, so maintain cage humidity at close to 80 percent. Unless you live in a warm, humid climate, a screened enclosure will not be suitable for maintaining the needed heat and humidity range for your water dragon. If you build an enclosure for your pet dragon, think about making it out of wood or glass. However, keep in mind that water dragons don’t seem to understand glass and often end up rubbing their snouts on glass walls, often permanently damaging their noses and lower jaws. If the enclosure is large, damage from snout rubbing seems to be less of a problem. You can also try taping a visual barrier (such as paper or cardboard) around the outside bottom of the enclosure, so the water dragons can’t see through. This reportedly can curb snout rubbing as well.
Green water dragons enjoy swimming and soaking in water. Provide a large pan that’s deep enough to allow soaking (hatchlings do fine a with shallow pan). Change the water frequently to maintain cleanliness. If you choose to build an elaborate naturalistic vivarium complete with a pool for your water dragons, consider using some type of aquarium filter in the water area.
I do stress that any water area be kept clean. Chinese water dragons are susceptible to Pseudomonas infections and often pick these up in water areas that have not been well maintained. Nonfiltered water areas need cleaning once a day, and filtered water areas should have a complete water change and cleaning no less than every three or four days.
Maintaining cage humidity can be difficult. Enclosed cages, those built with glass or wood, with sliding doors and solid lids often easily maintain humidity at the proper levels. Open-topped glass tanks and screened cages pose more difficulty.
I find that along with heat (more on this later), moving water in the cage helps increase humidity. You may use something simple, such as an air-stone bubbler placed in the water, or create an impressive waterfall using an aquarium powerhead. Live plants and substrates that hold moisture also help increase cage humidity, as does misting the cage once or twice a day with a spray bottle.
As arboreal creatures, water dragons need some high basking areas in the cage to rest in. Climbing branches or shelves within the enclosure will allow them to reach the upper limits of the cage. Live or artificial plants and leafy green foliage throughout the enclosure provide shelter and will make your water dragon feel more secure in its environment. If you choose to use live plants you might try Dracaena, hibiscus and ficus bushes, Pothos, Philodendron and spider plant. Epiphytes such as staghorn ferns can be used too, as well as some bromeliads.
Your choice of substrate also helps maintain cage humidity. There are a variety of substrates to choose from, but my favorite is plain, sterile soil. It can be dug in if a female is gravid, it can help live plants grow, it’s soft for jumping dragons to land on and it helps maintain cage humidity if kept slightly moist. Many water dragon owners also use astroturf or repti-carpet, as these can be easily replaced with a clean piece when soiled (beware unraveling edges that can snag lizard toes). Large pieces of orchid and cypress bark work if the bark is larger than the water dragon’s head; otherwise, they tend to accidentally eat bark and other loose substrates, which poses the risk of bowel obstruction. Substrates that are composed of coconut husk may cause eye irritation that can lead to infection in water dragons.
Daytime temperatures should range from 84 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit, with a basking area of 95. Nighttime temperatures should range from 75 to 80 degrees. It’s a good idea to have at least two thermometers in the cage, one in the cool side and one in the warm side of the enclosure. Improper temperature ranges can lead to a water dragon with a weakened immune system and inadequate digestion of nutrients due to slower metabolism.
Natural, unfiltered sunlight is the very best lighting for water dragons and most other herps. Unfortunately, many people who own water dragons cannot provide natural sunlight at all. If you can, by all means do so, especially if you can build an outdoor wire cage with plants and foliage for shelter, shade and security. Never put a glass tank that contains a dragon — whether it’s indoors or outside — in direct sunlight, as this could cause severe overheating and death.
Chinese Water Dragon Food :
Chinese water dragons eat a variety of live food items ranging from crickets, mealworms, king mealworms, waxworms, earthworms, grasshoppers, butterworms, locusts, feeder fish, pinkies and fuzzies. Many care booklets say that water dragons eat some fruit and vegetables. You may try to offer finely shredded vegetables and small chunks of fruit, but these items should make up only about 10 to 15 percent of your dragon’s diet if you are able to get it to eat them. I have never been successful in my attempts, but I have spoken with many people who have been.
I always feed my dragons daily. Some literature suggests feeding them every second or third day, but I’ve never felt comfortable with that schedule, especially for hatchling and young dragons. They are growing and need their nutrients. Hatchling and very young dragons can eat most of the food items listed above with the exception of pinkies and fuzzies. Their food items need to be small — 2-week-old crickets, small mealworms or earthworms broken into two or three pieces.
Water dragons can become picky eaters and may refuse to eat when they become bored with their food. This happens most often when an owner only feeds perhaps two types of food items most of the time. One way to combat boredom is to vary the diet by offering crickets one day, mealworms the next, earthworms the day after that and so on. We would get bored if we ate the same thing every day, so why shouldn’t they?
Whole prey items, such as pinkies, fuzzies and feeder fish, are an important component of a juvenile-to-adult water dragon’s diet. These items are high in calcium and other nutrients, and if offered to the dragon two or three times a week will help maintain a good bone structure.
Chinese water dragons are not the easiest reptile to care for, but in my opinion, they certainly are one of the most beautiful and worth any extra effort.
- Taming your new Water Dragon
courtesy to : www.triciaswaterdragon.com/behavr.htm#Taming
Are they as hard to tame as an iguana?
Speaking with limited experience, as I have had an iguana now for 3 years, and 6 months- There is no comparing iguana's to water dragons. Iguana's can get very aggressive during breeding season and they like to be the dominant member of the household. :) A lot of training and taming must be done for an iguana. I'm not saying that iguana's don't make a wonderful addition to any household, just that they require quite a bit of constant work to have a nice tame one. :) I worked with my iguana two hours a day to tame him, and he is extremely tame and handlable, on the other hand, the dragons needed much less daily handling for them to become calm. Water dragon personalities don't seem to change much during breeding season, at least not toward the owner, perhaps to the poor female dragon that is being relentlessly pursued by the male.
A short period of training and taming may be in order when you get your dragon. Dragons are often wild caught, and are usually skittish and stressed when they are first brought home, and may run into the glass in an effort to get away from the huge human that they think is going to eat them. :)
Even once they are used to their home and caregiver they may continue to bang into their glass simply because they do not understand that glass is a barrier- perhaps they think it is hard air that they can somehow find a way through? Please read my Enclosure page for more information about water dragons and glass tanks and how to keep them from damaging their snouts while housed in glass tanks.
When you first bring your dragon home, the best thing to do is to set up the tank or Large enclosure in a quite area. Give the dragon a few days to adjust before stressing it out by trying to handle it right away, and then, after it is less skittish at the sight of you, you may gradually begin to hold it for short periods of time during the day. Perhaps as little as 15 minutes once or twice a day for the first couple of weeks, gradually increasing the amount of time spent handling the dragon each day as it begins to trust you.
If your dragon is particularly skittish it might be best to just pet it, or handle it in it's enclosure at first. When you first attempt this please try to remember to put your hand in to the side of the tank or enclosure, away from the dragon, and then slowly move your hand at eye level with the dragon closer to him. If you just swoop your hand in from above and attempt to pick up the dragon the dragon is likely to stress and either run away or struggle when being held. This is likely because one of the dragons predators in the wild are birds, and birds swoop down from above ... so if you do the same type of action with your hand, the dragon is likely to think it's about to be attacked. So slip your hand into the cage away from the dragon and slowly bring it closer to the dragon. Then pet the dragon gently or carefully scoop the dragon onto your hand and pet it while it's still in it's enclosure or territory. Make contact with your dragon in this manner for a while, until it seems relaxed or less stressed with you doing this, before you attempt to take it out of the cage and handle it in a room as described above.
Eventually, as the dragon begins to realize that you are not going to eat it and realizes that you are actually the source of its food etc., then you can start to bring it out into a small room (den or washroom) that is well heated and escape proof and let it roam around while you are in the room with it. This will eventually build up trust and bonding. At first the dragon may hide under furniture but if you just gently get him out from under **Note that in the first couple of weeks that you have your dragon home with you he or she may not eat much, may not eat for up to a week in fact, and may be quite skittish when you approach the enclosure. Talk softly to your new dragon and do not rush into handling the dragon daily if he or she is not eating. Moving into a new environment is very stressful and the dragon should be allowed a period of time to adjust. Keep in mind that your new dragon could be ill, very stressed or improperly set up. Please read my Problems with water dragons FAQ. This FAQ will inform you of common problems that occur with water dragons - especially in the first few weeks in a new home, and offers suggestions on how to solve these problems. ** the furniture and put him back in the centre of the room (not the tank right away) he or she will eventually realize that it is safe to roam and that hiding and finding does not mean going back to the cage immediately.
It may take a month or longer to build up this trust with your dragon but if you do it everyday and always treat the dragon well then it should calm down quite nicely. I believe most herps need this period of adjustment, and, if they are handlable herps, period of gradual handling.
As long as the dragon is active in the cage as opposed to lethargic, and appears to be using it's water area all should be well. If the new dragon is lethargic, doesn't eat, doesn't bath or drink then he or she may be ill and should be taken to a qualified reptile vet right away. I always recommend a visit to the vet when someone purchases a new dragon anyway.
Reptiles are very good at hiding illness and usually do not act ill until they are almost too sick to help. If your dragon shows any signs of illness do not hesitate to take it to a qualified reptile vet- you may not have much time to help your dragon!
PHOTO BY GINA CIOLI/I-5 STUDIO
Once green water dragons measure about 20 inches, they start breeding like crazy.
- Breeding Green Water Dragons :
BY MICHAEL SPEARS
After 10 years of working with the green water dragon (Physignathus cocincinus), also called the Asian water dragon, we at Sapphire Dragon Ranch know a great deal about the challenges of breeding this species in captivity. It isn’t easy; getting their eggs to hatch can be a challenge.
Arboreal Accommodations :
The average adult green water dragon is 25 to 30 inches long. Females are approximately 1 to 8 inches shorter than males. The perfect setup to breed a pair of water dragons is a tall, heavy-duty soft-screen enclosure. The lizards have to be able to climb. Their muscles will atrophy in a glass enclosure that doesn’t allow them the exercise they require. No more 55-gallon glass tanks, please! Provide them with an enclosure at least 4 to 6 feet tall by 21⁄2 to 4 feet wide, and keep the setup’s length similar to its width.
We use cypress mulch for the substrate and plastic shoeboxes for bathing dishes. They measure approximately 15 inches long by 8 inches wide by 4 inches deep. Water is changed every other day. Keep the temperature under the hotspot between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the cool end between 67 and 70 degrees.
Most commercially available pellets supply all the vitamins and minerals in a balanced form, so we don’t use ultraviolet lighting with our dragons. In our experience, the lizards don’t like direct sun exposure. They become stressed out, especially when they don’t have a place to hide from it, and display behaviors such as turning their backs and biting their keepers’ fingers. They don’t mind a mild ultraviolet bulb, but avoid high-output mercury vapor bulbs that emit ultraviolet light because those can burn their skin.
Finding the Right Mates
Finding an adult male and female sounds easy, but often you are at the mercy of the people sexing them. Some can actually do it, and others just want to take your money. Visually, you can tell green water dragons apart by a few characteristics. Males usually show a high rooster comb on the back of their necks once they’re 6 months old. Females have a small rooster comb, which gives males something to hold during copulation. If you are buying hatchlings at the local pet store, purchase at least three, and hope you get a male and a female to pair together. Females often start fighting with each other when they reach 2 to 4 months old.
Breeding Frenzy :
Once green water dragons measure about 20 inches, they start breeding like crazy. Breeding season occurs in late fall and winter. Dragons get approximately 12 to 14 hours of light a day. We have never had any need to adjust the photoperiod.
In our enclosures we provide one male with two females to ensure that the eggs each female lays are fertile. We always keep these groups together because we never know when the dragons will mate.
Breeding is often a violent affair. The male picks whichever female is closest, grabs her by the neck and drags her to wherever he feels most comfortable to mount her. This activity can happen several times.
About 21 days later the fertilized female starts scratching about the cage looking for a suitable egg-laying site. We use a deep plastic container measuring 10 inches wide by 18 inches long by 18 inches tall as an egg-laying box, fill it with damp sphagnum moss, and place it in the cool area of the enclosure away from the water dish.
A gravid female placed in this box may jump back out, but when she is ready, she will return and start digging in a corner to lay her eggs. Over the course of two hours she will deposit anywhere from seven to 15 eggs on average. She then covers them, packs the dirt and moss with her nose, and actually digs a decoy hole on the other side of the box to fool predators
Incubation Tips :
Once a female green water dragon has deposited her eggs, carefully dig them up. Make sure to keep them facing the same side up that you found them. Failing to do so can deprive hatchlings of oxygen and suffocate them.
Note that females are famous for laying infertile eggs. This can happen with or without the presence of a male dragon. Bad eggs usually turn yellow in about two to three weeks. Good eggs are plump and white. Holding a flashlight up to them reveals small red veins inside.
In a plastic shoebox place all fertile eggs in rows of four or five atop 1 inch of damp vermiculite or perlite. Cover the shoebox with a top that has one hole measuring approximately one-eighth inch wide on each corner to provide ventilation. Place the box in an incubator, and set the temperature at 84 to 86 degrees.
Check eggs every two weeks to make sure they’re not drying out or turning yellow. Throw out the bad ones, which have turned yellow or have mold on them. As the weeks progress, the grape-sized eggs grow to almost a pecan size. They hatch within 60 days.
Hatchling TLC :
After hatchlings emerge from their eggs, soak them overnight in a plastic container with warm, shallow water below their noses. Once this soak is complete, move them into a 20-gallon tank with a screen top. Position a small 75-watt heat lamp on one side of the enclosure, and use a timer to provide a 12-hour photoperiod. Give hatchlings the same temperatures as the adults. Place small plants within their enclosure to give them places to hide behind.
Feed them two to three pinhead crickets a day, and dust the food offering with vitamin and mineral powder twice a week. Once the lizards reach 4 weeks old, add a bowl of small beardie pellets to the enclosure. Mist green water dragons twice a day, and provide a water dish for bathing. Of course, make sure the dish is not so deep that they may drown. Placing a rock or branch within it usually helps to prevent this.
After three weeks, move the lizards into screen cages of at least 30 gallons. Dragons can be set up in groups of four or five at this point. Adjust food to include slightly larger crickets and one-eighth-inch pellets. As the lizards get bigger their cages should get bigger.
Green water dragons are a lot of work to breed in comparison to other dragons and geckos out there, but if you can raise these guys, you can succeed with anything. They are definitely worth the trouble.
- Enclosure ( Vivarium ) :
Photos for some successful enclosure ( Paludariums ) for the Chinese water dragons :
- ASIA Species :
- ASIA Species :