Chinese water dragons are Chinese and Southeast Asia lizards. These green dragons have white markings on the lower jaw with fine lines running along the tail. They are distinguished by their large spines which run along the crest of the head, spine, and tail. They are popular pets and can be interesting and fun to watch.
If you are thinking of welcoming a new baby Chinese water dragon into your home or you have recently purchased a baby dragon, then continue reading for detailed information to care for your new reptilian pet.
Are Baby Chinese Water Dragons Good Pets?
The first question most potential reptile owners have is whether the Chinese water dragon will make a good pet. They do make beautiful pets, but they have very specific care needs. These are exotic lizards and while they are small at juvenile size, they can grow large.
They do take some time to tame, so it will need some patience. Once your dragon is tamed, they can make great beginner pets. They are very intelligent, but handling should be limited until they get used to you, even though a baby Chinese water dragon will not bite. Proceed slowly and you can have a great pet that you can enjoy for years to come.
Baby Chinese Water Dragon Quick Facts
Chinese water dragon
5" - 6"
Male: 22" - 28"
Female: 22" - 26"
10 - 15 years
Baby: 55 - 75 gallon
Adult male: 4ft x 3ft x 6ft
Adult female: 3ft x 2ft x 5ft
85ºF - 100ºF
Insects, vegetables, and fruits
Calcium and multivitamin
Baby Chinese Water Dragon Habitat Setup
Preparing to bring your baby Chinese water dragon home means setting up their enclosure to achieve the most hospitable habitat that will meet your dragon’s tropical needs with confidence.
Note that in the wild, your baby Chinese water dragon would spend a lot of time in trees, being above ground, which means when putting their enclosure together you want to take careful note of size to ensure you can accommodate the size and needs of your new Chinese water dragon. A 36” x 18” x 24” should be big enough for the first six months of your dragon’s life, then you will want to increase the size to allow your dragon to move with ease and comfort.
Your Chinese water dragon will outgrow its enclosure, you cannot stunt its size by keeping it in a smaller tank. Adult dragons will need a minimum enclosure of 4 feet x 3 feet x 6 feet for male and 3feet x 2feet x 5feet for female.
An important part of your enclosure set up is the substrate that you choose. Remember you are looking for a substrate that will hold humidity, such as coconut fibers. Add a water bowl, this also helps to keep humidity levels high but is not uncommon for dragons to use it as the bathroom. Remember to keep the water clean and change it frequently as a result.
Lighting and Temperature
Your Chinese water dragon is native to a tropical climate, which means warmth and sunshine. When you set up the enclosure you are going to want to create a warm/basking side to the enclosure and then a cool side, enabling your Chinese water dragon to regulate its temperature with ease.
Temperatures should be set as follows:
- Basking area – 90ºF to 100ºF
- Ambient and cool temperature – 75ºF and 80ºF
- Nighttime temperatures – above 75ºF
Ensure you use a good quality digital thermometer to easily and accurately monitor your temperature levels.
You are also going to want to provide your Chinese water dragon with imitation sunshine, which comes as a UVB bulb. This helps your dragon absorb calcium and reduce the risk of metabolic bone disease. It is not recommended to use heat rocks with Chinese water dragons as they are used to getting their heat from above, therefore a heat rock can result in serious burns.
Being a tropical lizard, your Chinese water dragon is going to have very specific humidity requirements. These lizards require 80% humidity, which can be difficult to attain without adding the proper substrate, a large freshwater dish, and regular misting. Provide your dragon with a water dish which is big enough to swim in and don't get worried, they can hold their breath for a long time and often sleep underwater.
Using a good quality substrate that can hold humidity can help to maintain the high eighty percent humidity levels within the enclosure. You can also mist the enclosure, remember not to soak it, you want to dampen the substrate and any leaves and plants you may have in the enclosure.
Baby Chinese Water Dragon Diet and Supplements
Chinese water dragons are omnivorous and will eat vegetables, insects, and fruits. When they are older, you can even feed them pinky or fuzzy mice.
Baby Chinese water dragons need more insects than fruits and vegetables, so ensure that at least 85% of their diet is insects and whole prey until they are at least a year of age. From here you can feed up to 60% insects and 30% worms.
You can feed 15% of their diet in vegetables and greens and up to 5% percent in fruit. Mice should only be given once to twice per month once your dragon is big enough to eat a mouse of that size.
Calcium supplements are essential for baby Chinese water dragons to ensure that they develop strong and healthy bones. Your dragon should be fed “gut loaded” insects to achieve the best results. Gut loading involves feeding insects a high calcium diet for a few days before feeding your dragon.
Alternatively, you can dust the insects in calcium supplements before feeding. This is often the preferred method. Simply place insects in a plastic bag, add some supplement powder, give it a good shake and then feed.
Ensure you also provide a multivitamin once a week.
Your baby Chinese water dragon is going to eat more now than it will when it gets older. Babies should be fed daily until they are around six months of age, thereafter they should be fed every two days. Once they reach eighteen months you can feed every two to three days.
If you are worried that your Chinese water dragon is underweight, then you can feed more to try and increase weight. Be careful and only do this with a vets agreement.
It's recommended to feed after the lights are out. Wait a few hours and then feed, this will ensure your dragon digests the food during the day.
Why Is My Baby Chinese Water Dragon Not Eating?
Temperature too Low
One of the most common reasons your baby Chinese water dragon may not be eating is because the enclosure temperature is too low, which is causing stress. Low temperatures will make digestion hard for your dragon.
Ensure you provide a basking platform with lower temperatures below to ensure that your dragon can get out of the heat quickly when they need to regulate their temperature. Place a digital thermometer in the enclosure to ensure you can quickly and accurately identify the temperature.
Temperatures too High
Appetite loss can result when the temperatures are too low, but high temperatures can also result in a lack of appetite. High temperatures can be dangerous to your Chinese water dragon. Ensure your basking area is no hotter than 100ºF. When basking areas are too high you may notice your dragon avoiding the area or digging close to the area to escape the heat. High temperatures can result in weakness and even death. Monitor regularly using a digital thermometer with a probe, enabling you to measure the temperature anywhere in the enclosure.
Chinese water dragons are going to stop eating if they are impacted. Impacted is constipated and often results from your dragon eating some substrate when capturing their prey. Some Chinese water dragon owners feed their dragons in a separate container to reduce the risk of this happening. You can also choose your substrate with care to ensure that it isn't small enough for your dragon to ingest. Impaction can also be caused by feeding insects that are too large for your baby dragon.
When you first bring your new baby Chinese water dragon into your home, you are also moving it to a new enclosure, a place it doesn't know. Dragons can take a few weeks to settle into their new homes. Give your dragon a few days to settle in before you start trying to handle it, you don't want to add to the stress. Continue offering food, but remove uneaten food until your dragon is ready to eat again.
It's a fact that some Chinese water dragons can be fussy when it comes to their food. They should be offered a wide variety of foods as they get older adding insects, worms, veggies, greens, and fruit into their diet.