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Chinese Water Dragon Profile

Chinese Water Dragon

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Iguania
  • Family: Agamidae
  • Genus: Physignathus
  • Species: Physignathus cocincinus

Quick Overview

The Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) is a fascinating reptile renowned for its striking appearance and aquatic lifestyle. Belonging to the Agamidae family, this species is native to Southeast Asia and is a popular choice among reptile enthusiasts due to its vibrant coloration and engaging behavior.

Fast Facts

  • Scientific Name: Physignathus cocincinus
  • Lifespan: Chinese Water Dragons can live for an average of 10 to 15 years in captivity.
  • Size: Adult Chinese Water Dragons typically reach lengths of 2 to 3 feet, with the tail accounting for a significant portion.
  • Diet: Omnivorous, with a diet consisting of insects, small vertebrates, fruits, and leafy greens.
  • Habitat: Semi-aquatic, commonly found near freshwater sources, such as rivers, ponds, and lakes in tropical and subtropical regions.

Did you know?

Chinese Water Dragons have a distinctive behavior of “arm-waving,” which is believed to signal submission or establish territory among individuals.


Chinese Water Dragons are characterized by their vibrant green coloration, adorned with subtle patterns and markings. Their long bodies, equipped with a powerful tail, contribute to their streamlined appearance. Young dragons often display more vivid colors, while adults may develop a more subdued hue.

Size and Weight

Adult Chinese Water Dragons typically measure between 2 to 3 feet in length, with the tail accounting for about two-thirds of their total size. Despite their length, they are relatively lightweight, with adult dragons weighing around 1 to 1.5 pounds.

Temperament and Behavior

Known for their docile nature, Chinese Water Dragons can become accustomed to human interaction, especially with regular handling. They are skilled climbers and swimmers, spending a significant amount of time basking, climbing branches, or swimming in their aquatic environments. While they may initially be shy, they can become more comfortable with proper care and a suitable habitat.

Fun Fact

Chinese Water Dragons are known for their distinctive arm-waving behavior, where they raise one of their forelimbs and move it in a circular motion. This behavior is thought to serve communication purposes, such as signaling submission or establishing territory.

Habitat and Distribution

Indigenous to Southeast Asia, Chinese Water Dragons inhabit a range of environments, from tropical forests to riverbanks. Their semi-aquatic nature leads them to thrive in areas with access to freshwater, where they can regulate their body temperature through basking and swimming.

Chinese Water Dragon

Care Guide

For those interested in keeping Chinese Water Dragons as pets:

  • Enclosure: Provide a spacious and vertically oriented enclosure with climbing branches, a basking area, and a freshwater source for swimming.
  • Temperature: Maintain a basking spot temperature around 90-95°F (32-35°C) and an ambient temperature in the mid-80s°F (around 29°C). A cooler area should be available for thermoregulation.
  • Diet: Offer a varied diet, including live insects, small vertebrates, fruits, and leafy greens. Dust prey items with calcium supplements.
  • Health Check-ups: Regularly monitor your pet’s health, including skin, eyes, and overall behavior. Seek veterinary care when needed.

Chinese Water Dragons make captivating and rewarding pets for those willing to provide the appropriate care and environment. Understanding their semi-aquatic lifestyle and incorporating it into their captive setup is essential for their well-being.

Three Fascinating Facts About Chinese Water Dragons

  1. Mimicry Masters: Chinese Water Dragons are known for their exceptional ability to blend into their surroundings, utilizing both coloration and behavior to mimic their environment.
  2. Tail Autotomy: In response to threats, Chinese Water Dragons can shed their tails (tail autotomy) as a defense mechanism. The tail regenerates over time.
  3. Arboreal Acrobats: These dragons are skilled climbers, using their strong limbs and prehensile tail to navigate branches and foliage in their habitat.
Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team