Little green dragons
On a visit to the live animal department of a pet shop you are increasingly likely to come across green water agamids – also called Chinese water dragons. And indeed, with their sentry-like eyes, their crested backs and the cone-shaped scales on the lower jaw, they do look somewhat primeval. The experts from Maxi Zoo know the ins and outs of keeping and caring for these rain forest inhabitants.
Where do they come from
These green water agamids originate from the so-called “Old World” – those continents which were already known before the discovery of the Americas. Their native habitat is the tropical lowland rain forest in south-west Asia. In the wild they always search out the vicinity of water into which they can quickly dive when danger approaches. They are wide awake during the daytime – sitting on the bough of a tree and soaking up the sun.
A little bit about green water dragons
Green water dragons love warmth and humidity. They don’t hibernate, as the temperatures in their homeland stay relatively constant throughout the year. They need a temperature of 26 to 28 degrees Celsius, sinking by 5 to 7 degrees Celsius at night and an air humidity of 60 to 80 percent. You can achieve this using a water nebuliser or a sprinkler system. The night-time humidity must be increased to 95 percent. Another must is the large heated pool for the little dragon. A waterfall should ideally be incorporated into it. This again increases the air humidity. The lighting and also the heating lamps are just as important. In order to warm up, the animals need sun spots so they can adapt their body temperature to the ambient temperature. In addition, the necessary UV-B and UV-A radiation has to be provided.
Keeping green water dragons
In the wild, water agamids live together in small groups. In captivity, it is recommended keeping one male together with two to three females. Males don’t get on with each other. These saurians grow up to 100 centimetres long, including the tail, of which the head and torso make up only about a third of this length. The females are smaller and much lighter than the males. However, because of their length these agamids need a very large terrarium or aqua-terrarium. For a small group of two to three fully grown animals you will need housing of at least 2 x 1 x 2 metres (L x W x H) A rain forest terrarium should be luxuriantly furnished with real non-poisonous or artificial plants. For climbing, resting and soaking in the warmth agamids need thick, horizontally arranged branches. The sides and back wall of the terrarium should be glued and the terrarium structured in such a way that these stress-sensitive creatures can take refuge in the back part. A mixture of turf and earth makes a suitable litter but shavings, cork or sand are other options. It is important, however, that the litter doesn’t go mouldy from the high level of humidity.
They are insect eaters. They can be fed with live insects such as house crickets, crickets, cockroaches and grasshoppers as well as the occasional beetles and mealworms and even small fish or fruit. To ensure an adequate supply of nutrition, agamid keepers first dust the feed animals with a vitamin preparation. It’s important for the animals’ health that you don’t over-feed them. Green water dragons can live for up to 20 years. Once or twice a year, you should take them to a vet who treats reptiles for a check-up because more often than not you won’t notice illnesses in these creatures.
Call into your local store today to discuss your reptile’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts.