What does Chinese water dragon eat? These lizards have become extremely popular in the last few years. You can keep Chinese water dragons in a terrarium. They are easy to keep and feed, and you will hardly have any trouble taking care of them.
Table of Contents
Chinese water dragon Habits and biology
Chinese water dragons, also known as green water dragons, are semi-aquatic reptiles. These lizards usually live on trees, but they often venture into the water to look for prey. They are indigenous species that can be found in Southeast Asia.
You can easily recognize a Chinese water dragon by its vivid green color. In addition, they have several stripes visible on their sides. Males have much larger jowls, body and heads compared to their female counterparts. Besides that, you can differentiate males by the crest on the back of their necks.
The tail is the biggest part of the Chinese water dragon. It makes for 70% of their total length, whether we’re talking about females or males. The animal uses the tail for balance and leverage; it allows them to swim and climb. On top of that, the tail is crucial for defense from predators.
Here are their most common habits and fun facts:
- These animals will eat almost anything as long as they can chew it.
- Commonly, the lizard can live up to 20 years in captivity (usually much less in the wild). The Chinese water dragons reach their sexual maturity after 4 years.
- Besides being great swimmers, these animals are great divers. They can remain underwater for up to 90 minutes allowing them to escape predators.
- This animal hibernates during winter
- Chinese water dragons are very capable in the water. They can sleep in it with their nostrils going up. In fact, they can even spend their entire hibernation cycle in water. On top of that, they can also eat while fully submerged.
- When they want to speak to each other, these reptiles bob their heads, wave arms, inflate throat pouches, or do push-ups. This behavior is especially common among males during mating season.
- Green water dragons have existed for more than 20 million years.
What do Chinese water dragons eat in the wild?
Experts categorize Chinese water dragons as omnivorous reptiles. They eat various rodents and insects, but they slowly transition to plants and a diverse diet as they get older. Even though they will start eating vegetables and fruits, their preferable source of nutrition will be meat.
They are very voracious. They can eat various foods, and they love switching things up every day. They try to diversify their diet in the wild, but that also depends on the territory. In general, a Chinese water dragon will eat 80 to 90 percent meats, and the rest is reserved for fruits and vegetables.
Here are some of the things they commonly eat in the wild:
- Butter worms
- Various vegetables and fruits depending on their particular location.
- They can also eat smaller fish and juvenile/baby rodents (usually mice and similar species).
Chinese water dragons rely heavily on proteins. The best example of this is baby rodents. However, they don’t eat them that often and instead, they usually focus on insects. As they get older, they slowly start substituting proteins with vitamins and minerals.
Besides proteins, this species requires a lot of calcium. They usually get it from rodents’ bones. Calcium gluconate and calcium carbonate are especially important for these lizards. Chinese water dragons don’t need that much phosphorous. Food with a large quantity of this mineral is usually counterproductive for their digestive tract.
Vegetables and fruits are a good way to introduce the necessary vitamins. Unfortunately, they need to avoid plants with a lot of vitamin D as it can cause toxicity. Although they have a very versatile diet, there are also numerous things they need to avoid.
What do Chinese water dragons eat as a pet?
Given that green water dragons are mainly carnivorous, you will have to focus on insects (especially worms). An important thing to note is that the species cannot eat many things. A few nutrients are toxic for them, so you need to be very careful about what you’re serving them.
As mentioned, Chinese water dragons love diverse diets. If you give them the same thing over and over again, they might even refuse to eat. Here are some of the things you can feed them with:
Meat and proteins
Meat is the basic part of the Chinese water dragon’s diet. The animal eats things such as butter worms, small fishes, cockroaches, king worms, gut-loaded crickets, mealworms, earthworms, pinkie mice, and wax worms. You can also give it supplements.
If you wish to have a Chinese water dragon as a pet, you need to buy it in a store. Feeding a wild animal can be dangerous as it could have a disease. It is crucial to feed the insects with a nutritious substance for 24 hours before feeding it to the Chinese water dragon.
The general rule is that an insect shouldn’t be larger than the distance from the pet’s eyes to its nose. Also, the food shouldn’t have a hard exoskeleton as it can cause issues to the lizard. So, pick the insects that have already molted.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are not that important for younger lizards, but they are crucial for older ones. You can give your pet various vegetables such as kale, mustard greens, collard greens, parsley, clover, broccoli, green beans, grated carrots, sweet potatoes, and peas.
You can give the pet things such as apples, raspberries, figs, kiwi, melons, strawberries when it comes to fruits. Unlike vegetables, you should limit the fruit intake. You can use them as occasional treats. Whatever you give your Chinese water dragon, make sure it is properly cut.
Things Avoid to Feed Your Chinese water dragons
The most dangerous food for Chinese water dragons is lightning bugs. They are extremely toxic and can cause a quick death. You should also be wary of ladybugs, centipedes, scorpions, spiders, queen and monarch butterflies, lubber grasshoppers, and a few other species.
Make sure to feed your pet with insects 2 to 3 times every week. The rest of their meals should be vegetables. When feeding insects, give them as much as they can eat in 5 minutes. If your lizard doesn’t eat some of the bugs, you should remove them from the terrarium as they can attack it and cause injuries.
Tips to feed Chinese water dragons
You should give diverse pet food every time. Make sure there are at least 3 types of bugs or vegetables whenever you feed it. This is especially important for young lizards who are less than 12 months old. Even if a dragon is a bit older, you should switch up its diet every day or so.
It is much better to buy insects from specialized stores. If you give the animal flowers or bugs from your garden, there is a that some of these insects were in contact with fertilizers or pesticides, which can be really dangerous for the lizard. Furthermore, a lot of insects are toxic to Chinese water dragons as it is.
Some owners prefer having their pets in a separate space. Unless you’re keeping the reptile in a terrarium, removing surrounding items can be a good idea. That way, you can rest assured that insects will not hide in nearby objects. That way, the lizard can catch them and eat them as intended.
Nowadays, there are a lot of companies that sell specialized food for Chinese water dragons and other reptiles. However, you shouldn’t give this food too often. This animal is a natural hunter, so it is much better to give it a live pray. If you do decide to give it premade food, it should be a small part of their diet.
These pets are very sensitive to strong smells. They can easily get confused, making them unpredictable. So, when you feed them, make sure to do so with clean hands but without having strong perfume on yourself or scents. Otherwise, the lizard might avoid eating food altogether. They are very picky as it is, so you shouldn’t complicate things.
The Chinese water dragon requires fresh water every day. They also need a large area for swimming and bathing. Keep in mind that this animal has a common habit of defecating in water. So, make sure to remove it every day and clean the pool.
Some people even give their pets dog and cat food. The lizards can easily utilize all the nutrients within these products without experiencing any issues. However, you will have to be careful regarding the quantity as these foods are highly nutritious.
Chinese water dragons make for great pets. They are beautiful and highly sociable (especially for reptiles).
Before buying the animal, keep in mind that they’re very picky. Sometimes, it can be a real hassle to rotate all these meals and provide something new and interesting every day. If we neglect this fact, the Chinese water dragon doesn’t require that much attention.