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Chinese Water Dragons

Physignathus cocincinus

Adult Length (m): 3ft (92cm)

Adult Length (f): 2ft (61cm)

Habitat: Southeast Asia




Lifespan: 10 to 20 years

The Enclosure

Specs for my vivarium:
6ft tall 4 ft wide 3 ft deep
chipboard covered in highgloss white latex paint
mixture of topsoil and peat moss substrate, with filtered pond 10 gallons

Chinese water dragons are very territorial, particularly the males. A vivarium this large may seem excessive, but remember in the wild they live in the trees of southeast asia, and climb down to the water to eat and handle other business, so they need a lot of vertical space, and they also need to have enough room to maneuver comfortably around the ground level.

Birds and Bees, a la lizard.

As a dragon approaches approximately a year and a half in age- lets say 4.5- 6" snout to vent or 16 - 18" in total length, the secondary sexual characteristics begin to develop.
At this time, if your dragon is a male:

  • His head will begin to get larger and wider and even more triangular.
  • The crest on the neck will begin to get higher, and the spikes much longer
  • The spikes on his back will get longer,
    •       You'll notice that below the spikes there is a ridge of bone or cartilage under the skin that points upward, just as the spikes do. On an adult male these bony protrusions under the skin, below the spikes are approximately 1/2 inch long (1.2 cm).
      • Females do not have this at all.
  • the spikes at the base of the tail will get substantially higher, almost like a secondary dorsal crest
  • the femoral pores on the underside of the back legs will grow much wider, become darker and start to fill with a waxy like substance.
    • The femoral pores will feel bumpy compared to a females which will continue to stay small, smooth and indistinct.
  • As the male dragon approaches adulthood you should notice that his body is also more triangular shaped , and that the base of the tail is much more triangular than that of a female.
    • An adult females body is more rounded or pear shaped (especially in the abdominal area), and her tail should remain rounded in appearance.


    Mating season is somewhat violent for the chinese water dragons. the males will show dominance by bobbing their head up and down and by waving their arms around. then they will bite at the back of the females neck and grab ahold of her. He will have his way with her, and then be on his way.

Then Comes...

egg development:approx 2 months
incubation: 2 months

Eggs are layed in moist, soft dirt.
Hatchlings are about one inch long (stv) and will eat very small insects (2 week old crickets for example)
usually 3 or 4 hatchlings per clutch.

The female dragon will likely lay eggs regardless of the fertilization of a male dragon, but the eggs will not be viable. Even if they aren't fertilized, egg development and laying takes quite a toll on female dragons so it is VERY IMPORTANT that they get adequate nutrition and extra calcium and vitamins when they are gravid.

Common Ailments

~Metabolic Bone Disease (Hypocalcemia or hypercalcemia)
~Nostral/Snout Damage (Mouth Rot)

In loving memory of Gizmo. RIP June 19,2001