Chinese water dragons originally come from Southern China and Thailand.
These small insectivores need a balanced bug diet and good lighting to ensure that they thrive in their cage.
While Physignathus cocincinus are skittish, you can easily tame them to handle them much easier.
Here is our practical care guide that covers everything you need about Chinese water dragons and their maintenance (see also “Bearded Dragon Care Sheet“).
What Are Chinese Water Dragons?
Chinese water dragons are a type of agamid lizard that originate from mainland Southeast Asia and China.
These beautiful animals are also known under a number of other names, such as green water dragon, Thai water dragon and Asian water dragon.
As these lizards can live for up to 15 years, it is essential that pet owners provide a suitable environment for their Chinese water dragon to live healthily.
Housing For Chinese Water Dragons
The first thing you need to set up for your pet Chinese water dragon is a space where it can move around and rest.
Water dragons are energetic animals which means that you need to provide a lot of room for them to move around.
Your reptile vivarium should be at least 5ft x 2ft x 3ft. A larger size would even be better as these pets need to climb and run a lot, just like they would do in the wild.
Next, you need to set up a large pool. Just as their name suggests, Chinese water dragons love water, so you should create a space with a paludarium that provides fresh water.
Many reptiles defecate in the water, so make sure that you change the water at least once a day. Alternatively, you can also add a filtration system that cleans the water automatically.
Can You Keep Chinese Water Dragons Together?
Yes, under certain circumstances you can keep a pair of Chinese water dragons together. For example, when you have two females, then they can live together.
This being said, pairs of female-male and male-male often fight, so you either need an enclosure that’s double the size or you house them separately.
Reptile experts usually recommend keeping single Chinese water dragons in an enclosure as they are not naturally social animals, so they wouldn’t miss the company.
Heating Conditions For Chinese Water Dragons
Originally from the tropical regions in Asia, water dragons love hot temperatures between 32 degrees Celsius and 35 degrees Celsius.
The temperature shouldn’t be lower than 20 degrees Celsius at night.
As these lizards enjoy sunbathing on foliage and branches, it is important that you add an arboreal set to their enclosure.
This means that you will also need a ceramic or bulb in addition to other heat sources.
Make sure that your setup is controlled by a thermostat, so your water dragon always has the right tropical conditions.
Ideal Lighting For A Water Dragon
In addition to a reliable heat source, you also need to install UV lighting in the enclosure. Water dragons need light to metabolize a variety of nutrients that keep their bones healthy.
The specific bulb and bulb size depend on the size of your vivarium. Just ensure that you buy a good quality bulb that lasts for at least 12 months.
You will need to replace the bulb after a year (or earlier) as the UV light should be switched on for at least 12 hours every day.
Suitable Humidity For Chinese Water Dragons
As Chinese water dragons are tropical lizards, they need a high humidity of 80% to thrive. You can use foggers or misters to achieve this.
There should still be a good volume of water at the bottom of the enclosure, plenty of live plants and a humid soil substrate.
All these elements will ensure that the humidity is high enough for your water dragon. This being said, it is a good idea to install a digital hygrometer to keep track of humidity levels.
The Right Diet For Your Chinese Water Dragon
Unlike some other reptiles, Chinese water dragons need to feed every day, so it is essential that you have a regular feeding routine.
As these animals are insectivores, they feed on hornworms, mealworms, roaches, crickets and a variety of other bugs.
This being said, variety is important to Chinese water dragons because they are extremely fussy eaters, so make sure to mix it up.
You can also include rodents, fish, fruit and green into your pet’s diet. However, keep this to once a week as these treats should be only 10% of a water dragon’s diet.
Breeding Chinese Water Dragons
If you keep a female and male Chinese water dragon in a large enclosure, then they will eventually breed naturally.
Saying this, before you consider placing them together in a vivarium, it is important to consider whether you want to have small water dragons.
Plus, a gravid female water dragon needs to have a large nesting box that’s big enough for her to turn around and lay eggs.
The eggs need to be incubated in an incubator at 29 degrees Celsius. It takes around two months for the eggs of a water dragon to hatch.
Handling A Chinese Water Dragon
Chinese water dragons can be handled, although it takes some training. It is best not to handle a baby water dragon until they have matured.
While they don’t usually bite, it requires patience and regular training to tame your animal.
As water dragons are very food-oriented, they trust the hand that feeds them. This means that you will eventually tame your dragon over time simply by feeding it.
Are Chinese Water Dragons High Maintenance?
Caring for a Chinese water dragon can be considered high maintenance. They have very specific needs when it comes to temperature, space and humidity.
Plus, these lizards are also fussy eaters which means that you regularly need to change their diet. This requires plenty of training with your pet and patience.
While Chinese water dragons have specific care requirements (see also “Frilled Dragon Care Sheet“), they are great pets.