Water Dragon

Common Name: Chinese Water Dragon
Scientific Name: Physignathus cocincinus
Distribution: India, Northern and Southern China, Southeast Asia
Size: Females about 2 feet , Males about 3 feet
Life Span: 8-16 years

Chinese Water Dragons have become a popular species to be kept as pets.  Their striking green coloration and alert, daytime activity make them a pleasure to watch in a terrarium.  If handled frequently, these lizards become very personable and friendly with their keepers.


  • Hatchling Water Dragons can be housed in a 20 gallon tank.  A single adult should have a minimum of a 60 gallon tank.  Males should not be housed together, but multiple females or a pair could be housed in a 150 gallon tank.
  • Water Dragons prefer a vertically oriented enclosure with plenty of climbing space.  Provide a variety of branches in vertical and horizontal positions.
  • In nature, Water Dragons like to bask on a branch over a river body of water.  Place a horizontal basking branch above a large water dish or water feature to replicate this in the terrarium.
  • Live or artificial foliage should be included to provide cover and reduce stress.  Zoo Med’s Bush Plants™ are sturdy and can provide hiding and climbing places.
  • Live plants such as Ficus in the terrarium can provide cover and help maintain humidity.
  • A Habba Hut® or Cork round on the bottom of the enclosure provides security for resting.


  • Daytime Terrarium Temperature: 80-85° F
  • Basking Spot: 90-95° F
  • Nighttime Temperature: 75-80°F
  • It is important to create a thermal gradient in your terrarium.  This can be accomplished by providing a Basking Spot Lamp, Repti Halogen or Powersun UV on one side of the terrarium.  By focusing the heating elements toward one side of the cage, you will naturally provide the proper thermal gradient.
  • Use of a Nocturnal Infrared Heat Lamp or Ceramic Heat Emitter at night can help maintain warm temperatures without enough visible light to disturb the animal’s day and night cycle.
  •  Any of Zoo Med’s thermometers will help you keep a close eye on terrarium temperatures.
  • Install multiple thermometers monitor the thermal gradient or use an infrared thermometer to take temperatures at different sites throughout the enclosure.


  • Proper exposure to UVB light will allows Water Dragons to synthesize vitamin D3 which is essential for calcium absorption.  Without this essential light, water dragons may develop metabolic bone disease or other disorders.
  • Zoo Med’s REPTISUN®5.0, REPTISUN® 10.0 and Powerusn® UV provide UVB as well as beneficial UVA.
  •  These lights will illuminate your terrarium and create a photoperiod (light cycle) that will help promote natural behaviors.


  • A variety of different substrates may be appropriate for Water Dragons. A mixture of 50% Eco Earth® and 50% Repti Sand creates a substrate that will help maintain high relative humidity and allow gravid females to nest.
  • Eco Carpet or Repti Cage Carpet are non-particulate substrates that are easy to clean or replace when dirty.  These products are ideal for hatchlings and very small dragons as they cannot be accidentally ingested.
  • New Zealand Sphagnum Moss and Terrarium Moss can be added to help maintain humidity.


  • Chinese Water Dragons should be offered a variety of feeders to stay healthy.
  • Zoo Med’s Can O’ Insects are a great way to offer diversity to the diet. Can O’ Crickets, Can O’ Mini Crickets,  Can O’ Pillars, Can O’ Worms and Can O’ Superworms are readily eaten by most water dragons.
  • Feeder insects should be dusted with ReptiCalcium® and ReptiVite™ as directed.
  • Other insects such as waxworms, roaches, silkworms can be offered on occasion.
  • Always remove uneaten insects after each feeding.
  • Insect size = width of dragons head.
  • Finely shredded or chopped vegetables and fruits may be offered as well but should make up only about 10% of the dragon’s diet.

Habitats or Enclosures

Habitat / Enclosure Accessories

Heating & Heat Related Products



Nutrition & Related Products

Other Items