Chinese Water Dragons as Pets: Lifespan, Colors and Care Info

Chinese Water Dragons as Pets-Everything You Need to Know

A fire breathing dragon may come to mind when you hear the words “Chinese Water Dragon;” but in reality, is simply a small lizard that is native to China, and the mainland of Southeast Asia.

Chinese Water Dragons are efficient and docile animals. They are well around their surroundings, and take pretty good care of themselves. From their eating and resting habits, to how they live, to even their self-care process, Chinese Water Dragons are fascinating creatures.

So what does it take to care for one? Do they make good pets? All of these inquiries are valid, and every question has an answer. So let’s learn some intriguing facts about Chinese Water Dragons!

Is A Chinese Water Dragon A Good Pet?

Within nature, Chinese Water Dragons are able to move about with ease, without the restrictions of a human or a cage; however, in the case of them being a good pet, they also make the cut.

Although they may seem like a challenging animal, Chinese Water Dragons are usually easy-going, and easy to manage. The best way to keep a Chinese Water Dragon happy as a pet is to create an environment that mimics their natural surroundings.

Since they live outside, its best to keep them in a warm and humid environment so that they can regulate their own body temperatures. Every once and awhile, you can even take them out of the cage and allow them to roam on a warm floor, or even your warm body!

They truly do enjoy connecting with other entities – especially the one that gives them free food.

Also, supplying them with many natural items for them to climb on, such as a thick stick or a graspable climbing structure, will keep them entertained and friendly.

How Long Do Chinese Dragons Live For?

The lifespan of a Chinese Water Dragon is about 10 to 16 years; and this range in determinant on several factors that are within the control of the dragon, as well as within yours.

To list some of the factors that play a role in the lifespan of this little lizard, let’s start with temperature. Like most other lizards, Chinese Water Dragons are cold-blooded. This means that they take on the same temperature as their surroundings.

So by keeping an area for move into where they can warm up if needed has a major effect on their quality of life. Also, their diet is a significant attribute to their livelihood.

Lizards, such as this one, require lots of protein so that they can keep their muscles strong enough to climb and swim. Considering this fact, keeping small bugs and insects around will promptly increase their energy, and thus, keep them active and overall healthy.

How Much Does A Water Dragon Cost?

The cost of a Water Dragon is dependent on two major factors: whether the lizard was caught directly out of nature, or if the lizard was born and bred in captivity. Overall, when considering the cost of a Chinese Water Dragon, be open to using about 20 to 80 dollars to purchase your new animal.

In addition to the lizard itself, there are other attributes that should be factored into the cost of a Water Dragon. For instance, implementing the cost of an enclosure will increase the total cost.

Also, take into consideration trinkets and structures that will go into the enclosure to keep the little dragon entertained and active.

These items are fairly cost efficient – around 40 dollars – and will do a splendid job at keeping your Water Dragon secure in its new space. One more inclusion is any type of shot(s) or vaccine that the lizard may need; which is simply the cost of a visit to the Veterinarian.

All-in-all, for the initial cost of a Chinese Water Dragon, expect to use about 150 to 200 dollars for lizard, enclosure, structures, and doctor visit.

Can Chinese Water Dragons Swim?

With a name like “Chinese Water Dragon” it better be able to swim! Luckily this is the case, and they are actually fabulous swimmers.

Water Dragons are capable of spending a plethora of time on both land and in the water; but they have way more fun while splashing around!

The water acts as an entertainment source for fun and exercise, but is also play another vital function: body temperature regulation. When the lizard’s blood gets a little too warm, the lizard becomes susceptible to overheating.

To cure this, an easy and long swim usually does the trick in restabilizing their body temperature. A Chinese Water Dragon will also use swimming as a defensive mechanism to hide from any danger or predators that may try to harm it.

When this situation does occur, the Water Dragon will dive directly into the water,

Do Chinese Water Dragons Like To Be Handled?

In fact, yes, Chinese Water Dragons do like to be handled; and in some cases, it’s required to frequently handle these connection-seeking lizards.

Why? Because they are used to having option of socializing, or being alone. Although half of their day is spent eating and resting, the other half is spent being active by moving, running, and swimming, and this is when they would want some interaction.

If this doesn’t occur soon or frequently enough, Water Dragons are known to become aggressive, which shows in the form of biting or whipping its tail back and forth assertively.

The best way to handle a Chinese Water Dragon is to hold it lengthwise, and letting it rest on between your hand and your elbow, or on your thigh, for about 15 to 20 minutes; and maybe even feed it from your hands, so that your new friend can become familiar with you..

When they begin to move around, allow them the range to do so. They may begin to crawl up your arm or leg, and may go as high as your head; this is totally normal, at least for them, considering that they are natural born climbers.

What Is The Best Bedding For Chinese Water Dragons?

The bedding is the naturalistic material that covers the floor of the enclosure, and certain aspects of the bedding can make or break how well it will do with your Water Dragon.

The best bedding for a Chinese Water Dragon is a substrate, or flooring material, that promotes high humidity and warm temperatures that are to the liking of the little Dragon.

Temperature ranges vary based on humidity, so a substrate that has the capability of keeping the balance between warm and cool temperatures is a must.

Some examples of quality bedding for Chinese Water Dragons are coconut husk, reptile (orchid) bark, and cypress mulch.

Also take note that materials like sand or paper is not the best choice for flooring because they lack the ability to retain moisture; thus, potentially drying out the enclosure’s air.

That’s when some green sphagnum moss might do well. It retains water, when you mist it regularly, and it also adds a great organic look!

Do Chinese Water Dragons Change Colors?

As hatchlings, Chinese Water Dragons begin their lives as a nice strong and solid light green color.

Let me explain.

Chinese Water Dragons don’t change colors that much. They are pretty stable about their color, and their color is pretty stable at staying the same. Now what you will notice is that bright green color they had as a hatchling becoming darker.

Darker skin on the Water Dragon is due to the fact that they spend a lot of time in the sun, or in some form of a heating source. For some lizards, their body will be one solid tone of green;for others, the top half of their body may vary from their minty green color, to a dark forest green.

The lower half of their body may have some slight range as well: it could either be a light green color, or could be white or yellow in color.

Does A Chinese Water Dragon Hurt?

A bite from a Chinese Water Dragon may not hurt as much as you think.

As hatchlings, Water Dragons don’t have teeth; just straight up gums and a potentially strong jaw. As they continue to grow, their small teeth will begin to grow in.

Although their small, they are sharp for easy biting and slight tearing of a small insects and bugs. So with that being said, a Chinese Water Dragon has the capability of biting you, and yes you will feel the bite.

In most cases, however, they bite has a better chance of simply alerting you, and at most, leaving a small bruise around the bite area, but has a slim chance of breaking your skin. The bites usually come from wanting attention, to be fed, or being handled in an uncomfortable way.

For the most part though, Chinese Water Dragons literally practice the phrase “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

How Often Do Chinese Water Dragons Shed?

Shedding for a Chinese Water Dragon is completely normal, and it’s nothing to be afraid of, although you may find yourself a bit curious about the process.

The shedding process of a Water Dragon takes happens once approximately every 2 to 6 weeks.

This process happens more often, and towards the former amount of time, when they are hatchlings because they are growing; and shedding occurs when the lizard’s body gets bigger, and needs to get rid of its old skin to make room for the new, more elastic type.

As an adult, the Water Dragon may shed once a month. It may be harder to realize considering the fact that they shedding isn’t majorly significant; and for the fact that they adult Chinese Water Dragons are known to eat the skin that they shed, simply because they think it’s food.

How Long Can Water Dragons Hold Their Breath?

A Chinese Water Dragon have the capability to stay submerged underwater, and hold its breath for up to 25 minutes!

The length of time is dependent on whether this an adolescent lizard, or a full adult dragon. Since this is an impressive amount of time to hold one’s breath, I bet you’re wondering how this is possible; so allow me to fill you in.

Chinese Water Dragons have flaps attached to their nose and eyelids that cover the orifice of the said body parts as its submerged. They do not have gills; they simply have the right body parts that make them capable of such a feature; and the more they do it, the longer they can hold their breath, which could increase that 25 minutes up to a solid 90 minutes, with practice and lots of activity.

What Does It Mean When A Chinese Water Dragon Holds Its Mouth Open?

Lizards can be fascinating creatures, even when they do branded and signatures moves like stand still as a statue with their mouth wide open; but the real question is, why does this happen?

If you your Chinese Water Dragon has its mouth wide open, then it can mean that they are simply trying to cool off. Body regulation is a serious mechanism for lizards, and they can’t get away from the various ways that they keep their internal temperature at an equilibrium.

When their mouth is open, the excess amount of heat has an opportunity to escape their body, which inturn cools it down.

Another reason why their mouths are hanging wide open is out of aggression. Opening their mouth as wide as they can is a mechanism to make themselves appear bigger than what they are in order to fend off predators.

In addition, if none of these options seem to be the case, there may be a mouth infection involved.

Can Water Dragons Live With Other Reptiles?

Although Water Dragons are social animals, they should not be mixed in with other species of lizards.

This is because they lifestyle of the Water Dragon is a bit more demanding than that of other lizard species; and for this reason, can be considered too active, and may become aggressive to the other lizards that aren’t paying it any attention.

Can Chinese Water Dragons Live Together?

Yes, Chinese Water Dragons can live together. In nature, Chinese Water Dragons tend to live in social groups of a few single males, with slightly more females.

The males may become assertive towards one another, but this is normal as it dictates their social status for leadership and mating privileges.

In addition, their social status dictates how much space they are allowed; so it’s safe to say that the more dominant Water Dragons have more room to roam, and can be pretty territorial, even while living in a group with other lizards.

Other than that, Water Dragons live well together.

If you are considering having more than one male, prepare for some scobbles every now and again. If it becomes too frequent, simply separate the lizards into their own domain in order for them to feel more secure, and less aggressive.

If you would like more of a mixed company, you can expect an increase in mating.

How Can You Tell If A Water Dragon Is Male Or Female?

While they are hatchlings, it can be difficult to tell whether the newborn lizard is a male or female.

As they grow bigger, so their muscles, which then makes it easier to tell. Once they reach adulthood, Chinese Water Dragons become dimorphic; meaning that you’ll be able to visibly see the difference between male and female.

Male Water Dragons will grow very significantly. At around a year and a half of growth, “puberty” will begin, and they will become bigger in every way.

Their head will widen and begin to look more triangular. The spikes on their back will almost double in size as well. Female Water Dragons have the same features, but on a much smaller scale.

Femoral pores are another way to identify the sex of your new dragon friend. These are brownish-black dots on the inside of the lizard’s thighs.

The bigger and more noticeable they are, the more likely the lizard is to be a boy. If you see the dots, yet they aren’t too big, then you’re most likely handling a female Water Dragon.

How Often Do Water Dragons Lay Eggs?

Female Chinese Water Dragons are capable of laying eggs at any point after their maturity, averaging about 2 to four 4 per year.

The process begins with the fertilization of a male dragon to a female dragon. After about three weeks, the female dragon has reached its peak, and will begin looking for a clear and deep space to lay her eggs.

Within the nest, a female Chinese Water Dragon can lay anywhere between seven and sixteen eggs. These eggs are usually covered by some form of soil in order to naturally incubate the eggs.

How Long Does It Take For Water Dragon Eggs To Hatch?

Once the eggs are laid into the nesting area, the mother will make sure that they are well-covered, and fully unseen from any predators or immediate danger.

For the eggs to reach full maturity, it will take approximately 2 months for the eggs to go from incubation to fully-formed Water Dragons. This is the average length of time based on one solid factor: temperature; and the proper temperature for these eggs is about 85 degrees fahrenheit.

Fun fact! While in nature, did you know that once the hatchlings break free from their encapsulation, they are totally independent?

This is a fascinating concept that shows that naturally, the mother Water Dragon rarely engages in raising her young, as they are deemed fit to survive on their own, based on their size, diet, and skills.

Care of Chinese Water Dragons

Chinese Water Dragon Temperament

Most of the time, Chinese Water Dragons have an even-tone and pretty well-balanced temperament. They are interactive, fun and loving animals.

They enjoy socializing and chasing one another around like it’s a game of tag. After a good run, they are prone to climbing a big branch or tree in order to rest and re-regulate their internals blood pressure and temperature.

And no matter how much of a simple concept it is, Chinese Water Dragons love to swim, and to watch a lizard swim and dive deep underwater is always a fascinating and intriguing sight to behold.

When necessary, Chinese Water Dragons will show forms of aggression. This aggression is usually a response to not having enough social interaction, or some form of harm or discomfort.

In this case, they will display assertive signs that you should be on the lookout for. Some of these signs include excessive bobbing of their head, or the puffing of their throats.

Other signs of an aggressive temperament include waving as fast as they can with their arm, or strongly running after you, or the entity that is causing them trouble.

Cage Size (How Much Water Does A Chinese Water Dragon Need?)

Considering that male Water Dragons can grow up to 3 feet, and females up to 2 feet long, the cage size for an adult Chinese Water Dragon should be at least 5 to 6 feet long, about 4 to 5 feet wide, and 3 to 4 feet deep.

This will grant the lizards more than enough room to roam around without feeling cramped. With a different measurement, their enclosure size should reach about 55 gallons.

Make sure that you have a screened lit on the top of the cage that fits perfectly, or your Water Dragon may be tempted to leave the cage and roam around at its will. When the lizard is a baby or adolescent Dragon, the dimensions can change a bit.

When they are six inches long or less, a three feet by two feet cage is a decent size to provide them with area to move around in. At this stage, you can line the cage with reptile carpet; this provides them with the feel of an organic ground.

When it comes to the amount of water that is necessary to satisfy the needs of a Chinese Water Dragon, you’ll about 8 ounces of water for them to drink, and it should be cleaned out on a daily basis.

For them to swim in and regulate their body temperature, a great method is to use about 5 to 10 gallons of water – in a separate container. – This is enough room for an adult Water Dragon to swim across, as well as dive as the container will let them.

Food & Water (What To Eat, How Much To Feed, & How Often To Feed)

Chinese Water Dragons are easy animals to feed because they are satisfied by the most abundant creatures on the Earth, insects and bugs!

While they are in their younger stage of life, it’s best to feed the juvenile Dragons on a daily basis, and less than a handful of critters per meal.

Their diet at this point in their life is mostly carnivorous, and consist mostly of various forms of insects such as king mealworms, crickets, grasshoppers, cockaroaches, and even earthworms.

As the lizards reach full adulthood, their diet alters into an omnivorous state, which grants them the power to eat whatever they like, which is still mostly bugs and insects, but you can also throw in vegetation like spinach or kale, or carrots, sweet potato, or even zucchini!

But in addition to the little critters that these lizards love to feast on, pinky mice and small fish also become a part of their routine meals, simply because their mouth and stomach are now big enough to handle the digestion process.

Once they are at this stage, you can reduce their frequency of feeding from daily to two to three times per week.

Heating & Humidity

The heat and humidity of a Chinese Water Dragon is one of the most imperative features that should always be checked on in order to keep your lizard biologically safe.

The best temperature for the internal enclosure is between 80 and 86 degrees fahrenheit. This will allow for stable physical regulation of their body. Since these dragons are reptiles, of course they like to bask.

Their basking temperature is usually higher than the average heat spot, and should be around 90 to 95 degrees fahrenheit. Under-tank heat lamps are ideal for this situation.

In addition to their naturally altering body, Water Dragons will also need a spot to cool their body down during the times that it gets too hot, which presents the risk of overheating. Their cool down spot should surpass no lower than 77 degrees fahrenheit.


Chinese Water Dragons are binaural, and love to be up during the day; which means that they need prolonged stimulating sunlight, or at least a synthetic version of it.

If you want to keep it natural, simply take your Dragon outside and let it crawl around in the sun. If you’re a bit more cautious, you can invest in a UVA or UVB light bulb between the range of 290 and 320nm.

By choosing this option, it’s important to keep the lamp on for at least 12 hours in order to make it hot enough for the lizard. There are also night-specific bulbs that can stay on during the night, without disturbing the lizards’s circadian rhythm.

The bulbs do well at keeping the Dragons at a livable equilibrium, and should be changed at least every six months.

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