The Cold-blooded Pet: Chinese Water Dragons Facts

The Cold-blooded Pet: Chinese Water Dragons Facts

Found in lush tropical forests, always close to a source of water, the Chinese water dragon is arboreal in nature and needs a lot of space. It is capable of camouflaging perfectly well with its surroundings and can change its shades from green to brown within no time at all.
The Physignathus cocincinus or the Chinese water dragon is also called by other names that include Asian water dragon and Green water dragon. Native to the Asian continent, this reptile is a sub-species of the Physignathus lesueurii, which is mainly found in Australia. Its life span varies from ten to twenty years.

When it comes to size, adult males reach lengths of about 3 feet including the tail, and the females tend to be smaller, reaching lengths of about 2 feet. A major portion of the overall length is made up of the tail.

Appearance

This reptile is generally green in color, but can range from a darker to a lighter shade. It has vertical slanted stripes of either turquoise or green on its body.

The belly is usually white or pale-yellow in color and its distinguishing feature is the throat that is very colorful, ranging from yellow to orange to peach. The tail is long and narrow and has green and brown bands. It is generally used as a powerful weapon by the dragon to defend itself. In comparison, adult males have larger heads than adult females, and have larger crests on the backs of their head and neck.

Habitat Requirements

This dragon makes a very good pet. If you are planning on keeping one, here are some tips to help you care for it.
  • Enclosure - This reptile needs a big enclosure. The smallest-sized enclosure you can get for an adult is one that is 6 feet in length, 3 feet in depth, and about 6 feet in height. Remember that it will have to be custom-made and is going to be expensive. Until and unless you find out what your dragon's gender is, it would be better to keep only one. A male and a female will generally get along, but two females or two males will always display aggression unless they are given a lot of space.
  • Furnishing the Enclosure - For safety purpose, choose furnishings that won't cause any damage if ingested. Potting soils should be sterilized and covered with sphagnum moss, which is good for humidity. A good mix of soil, peat, sand, cypress mulch, paper, and Astroturf is also good. Lots of branches should be put in for climbing purposes. Plants like hibiscus, pothos, staghorn ferns, dracena, and ficus also make good additions.
  • Water and Humidity - This animal needs a lot of water. The water source should be deep and large, so that the dragon can comfortably submerge itself in it. Clean the water on a daily basis. Humidity should be kept at around 80 percent and the enclosure needs to be misted at least once or twice daily. Live potted plants will help with the humidity.
  • Lighting and Heat - Ideally, daytime temperature should be kept somewhere between 84 - 88 degrees F, with a spot for basking at 90 degrees F. The night temperatures should be dropped to 75 - 80 degrees F. A combination of a ceramic heat element, basking light, under tank heat tape, and heat pads should be used. A UVA/UVB fluorescent lighting fixture can also be used.
Diet Requirements

You can feed your dragon anything from mealworms, earthworms, butter worms, and wax worms, to crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts. An adult can be fed kingworms and pinkie mice. All insects should first be gut loaded. It is best to discourage your dragon from catching wild insects and fireflies as they are all potentially-toxic. A small amount of chopped fruits and vegetables can be offered. Try dandelion, mustard greens, collards, parsnips, carrots, sweet potato, and yellow or orange squash. Fruits should be fed in smaller quantities than vegetables. Strawberries, mangoes, figs, raspberries, cantaloupe, and papayas are ideal.

Juveniles and hatchlings have to be fed daily, and adults can be fed every second or third day. The best way to figure out how much to feed your pet is to analyze its body condition - chubby dragons should be fed less while the skinnier ones should be fed more. Calcium and vitamin D3 supplements are also good for maintaining health.
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