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chinese water dragon vs iguana

Chinese Water Dragon vs Iguana

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Are you wanting to welcome a new reptile to your home, but cannot decide between a Chinese water dragon or an Iguana? There is so much information you can read, but we have put a quick and easy comparison between Chinese water dragon vs Iguana, focusing on important aspects to help you decide which reptile is the right choice for you in the long run.

Looks

Iguana

The iguana is a beautiful reptile complete with a row of spikes that runs along its back and tail. They have a number of skin textures, along with a scaly dewlap under the chin, making these reptiles look like small dragons. They come in a choice of colors and can change color as they age.

Chinese Water Dragon

The Chinese water dragon is smaller than the iguana with a number of colors from light greens to purples. Some may have stripes, others a band on the tail. These dragons have colorful throats.

Verdict

Both the iguana and Chinese water dragon are beautiful reptiles that look like small dragons. When it comes to looks, they are both beautiful and attractive.

Lifespan

Iguana

When you buy an iguana you are choosing a life time companion. An iguana cared for properly in captivity can live up to twenty years and sometimes more.

Chinese Water Dragon

The Chinese water dragon is also a long term companion and when you welcome one of these reptiles into your home and provide them with the care they need, you can expect their company for up to fifteen years.

Verdict

Both the iguana and Chinese water dragon are long term commitments when welcoming a new reptilian pet into your home. Ensure you are ready to give twenty years of your life to caring for your new reptile before you bring them home.

Weight

Iguana

An iguana can weigh the same as a large dog. You can expect an adult iguana to reach up to eighteen pounds in weight once in adulthood.

Chinese Water Dragon

The Chinese water dragon can weight up to 1000g (2.2 pounds) once they reach adulthood.

Verdict

The Chinese water dragon is considerably lighter than the Iguana with Chinese water dragons weighing up to 1000g and Iguanas up to eighteen pounds.

Size

Iguana

Iguanas are large lizards and can grow up to 4-6 feet in length.

Chinese Water Dragon

Chinese water dragons offer the dragon look in a smaller size and can grow up to 3 feet in length.

Verdict

The Chinese water dragon is considerably smaller than the iguana with 1-3 feet in difference between the reptiles.

Active Time of the Day

Iguana

Active during the day, sleep at night.

Chinese Water Dragon

Active during the day and sleeps at night.

Verdict

Both species are the same and are both busy and active during the day time, sleeping when night time temperatures drop.

Diet

Iguana

Iguanas are herbivores, which means they love their greens and vegetables. Fruit, leaves, and flowers are their favorite meals. In some very rare instances, they may feed on snails, insects, and eggs.

Chinese Water Dragon

These reptiles are carnivores, which means they eat insects and supplement with vegetables. Their natural diet includes small fish, reptiles and mammals along with insects, and some greens.

Verdict

The iguana tends to be easier to care for when it comes to diet. There is no need to keep insects for feeding, where the Chinese water dragon enjoys a varied diet.

Brumation

Brumation is a type of hibernation that reptiles go through during the colder months, where they tend to sleep more, but will come out for food if hungry.

Iguana

Iguanas do not go through brumation.

Chinese Water Dragon

The Chinese water dragon does go through brumation and you will notice their activity levels dropping as the temperatures drop during winter. Your dragon will come out of its sleep area to eat if it is really hungry. Never force feed a dragon that is going through brumation.

Verdict

If you don't want a reptile that is going to go to sleep for a few months during winter, then the iguana is the better choice for you.

Personality

Iguana

Iguanas will recognize their owners by sight and sound. They are an intelligent and friendly reptile that will become very affectionate over time. Remember that they are reptiles and will be territorial and can become aggressive if threatened.

Chinese Water Dragon

Chinese water dragons are very friendly and love being handled once they get to know their owners. They too can become aggressive if threatened.

Verdict

Both of these reptiles make great friendly reptile pets for any reptile enthusiast.

Tail Whipping and Aggression

Iguana

The iguana will become aggressive during mating season, when handled incorrectly or if they feel threatened. Tail whipping is normal with the reptile using its strong and long tail to whip around at predators.

Chinese Water Dragon

These reptiles can become aggressive if not handled regularly to help them get to know their owner and remain tame. They will bite and whip their tail to protect themselves against predators and they will become highly aggressive when you put two males in the same enclosure.

Verdict

While both the iguana and Chinese water dragon are very loving and friendly reptiles, they are both aggressive from time to time. Iguanas you need to keep an eye on mating seasons, anticipating their aggression, while Chinese water dragons require regular contact to avoid them becoming aggressive towards their owners.

Enclosure Requirements

Iguana

Taking into consideration the size of an iguana when it reaches full maturity a very large enclosure is required which should be 8 feet long x 4-6 feet deep x 8 feet high.

Chinese Water Dragon

The Chinese water dragon also requires a large space to ensure optimum health and reduce the risk of stress. These reptiles require an enclosure no smaller than 6 feet in length by 3 feet in width, giving the dragon plenty of room to move around.

Verdict

Both reptiles require large enclosures which take up a lot of room in the home. Ensure before making your decision you have the space to accommodate your new reptile when they reach adulthood.

Light, Heating, and Humidity

Iguana

An iguana will require heating and light for up to fourteen hours each day. They require a basking heat of 100ºF and enclosure temperature of 80ºF during the day, which can drop to 75ºF at night. They require a high humidity level of 70%. They require UVA and UVB lighting, enabling the reptile to soak up the benefits the sun provides in their natural environment.

Chinese Water Dragon

The Chinese water dragon has specific heating, lighting, and humidity needs. They require lighting for up to twelve hours per day. Using a timer can ensure the lights turn on and off at the same time, providing your dragon with a routine. These reptiles do not need a basking area, but they prefer a day time temperature of 80ºF and a nighttime temperature of 75ºF. They also enjoy a high humidity level of 80%. UVA and UVB lighting is important for these reptiles, keeping them happy and healthy.

Verdict

The Iguana and the Chinese water dragon have similar temperature, heating and humidity needs. These should be easily achievable by using a thermometer and hygrometer to monitor and maintain levels.

Health

Iguana

These reptiles are strong reptiles that are hardy and can be handled with ease. They are prone to kidney problems due to dehydration. So ensure humidity levels remain high and your dragon is hydrated at all times.

Chinese Water Dragons

With the right temperature and heating, your Chinese water dragon will be happy and healthy. They are prone to mouth rot and metabolic bone disease (MBD), which is a result of calcium deficiency. Eye infection and respiratory infection are also not uncommon in Chinese water dragons. Annual veterinary checks will ensure your dragon remains healthy in the long run.

Verdict

They are both hardy reptiles and with annual veterinary checks and care, they should remain happy and healthy.

Suitable for Beginners?

Iguana

The iguana can be a fun and wonderful pet that is easy to look after with its herbivorous diet. With regular care and attention, this can be a very rewarding reptile to welcome into your family.

Chinese Water Dragon

These are beautiful pets that have specific needs and as long as you provide the right habitat and handling, they will be a loving and enjoyable pet. Regular handling will reduce the risk of aggression.

Verdict

Learning as much about each of these reptiles and learning correct handling will ensure you have a long term and loving relationship with your reptile. Both of these are hardy reptiles, but with the iguanas mating season aggression, the Chinese water dragon may be the best option for the beginner reptile owner.

Can They Live in a Group?

Iguana

You cannot have more than one iguana per enclosure. These are very territorial reptiles that will become stressed and aggressive if they are kept in the same enclosure or room with another of their species. If you want to keep two, it's recommended they are kept in separate rooms.

Chinese Water Dragon

These dragons are able to live in small groups, as long as there is only one male per group. A few females can live together in one enclosure without any problems. Males become territorial and aggressive if introduced to another male.

Verdict

The enclosures are best suited for one reptile, in the event you want to introduce more than one Chinese water dragon, ensure you increase your enclosure size to reduce the risk of them becoming stressed.

Breeding and Egg Laying

Iguana

An iguana will only mate once it reaches maturity, which is around two to three years of age. The female will dig a burrow where she can lay up to thirty eggs. She covers the hole leaving a breathing space and the eggs then incubate for up to eight months.

Chinese Water Dragon

The Chinese water dragon will breed in late autumn and winter. The Chinese water dragon only breeds once they reach twenty inches in length or more. They are exceptionally violent when mating and the female digs a hole where she can lay up to fifteen eggs which takes up to sixty days to hatch.

Verdict

The iguana and Chinese water dragon both lay their eggs in a burrow that they dig in the substrate. While incubation periods differ, neither of them will have all eggs hatch and survive.

Chinese Water Dragon vs Iguana in Summary

With the basic information in front of you regarding the two reptiles, you can now make an informed decision on what is right for you, bearing in mind the size an adult iguana will grow to, along with their aggressive natures during mating season to the smaller size of the Chinese water dragon with more specific eating requirements.

Both are hardy and make beautiful and friendly reptile pets.

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