Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus)

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Chinese Water Dragon
Physignathus cocincinus
Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus)
Name Chinese Water Dragon
Name Lat. Physignathus cocincinus
Family Agamas
Family lat. Agamidae
Order Scaled Reptiles
Order lat. Squamata
Origin Southeast Asia
Habitat Shore areas
Diet Insects, vegetables, fruits
Humidity 70-90 %
Behavior ♂ territorial
Keeping Individual, pair, harem
Care Level Difficult
Reproduction Oviparous
Housing Aquaterrarium
Life Span 15-18 years
Protection EU Annex D
Metric Units
Size 80 cm
Temperature 27-30 °C
Temperature Local 35 °C
Housing Size 200 x 120 x 160 cm
US Units
Size 31"
Temperature 81-86 °F
Temperature Local 95 °F
Housing Size 80" x 45" x 65"

Distribution and habitat

The distribution area of the diurnal green water dragon stretches from Thailand over Vietnam to South China where it lives at water edges overgrown with trees and bushes.


Minimum dimensions for the terrarium, according to the size and number of animals

1-2 animals 5KRL x 3KRL x 4KRL (L x W x H)

Head-torso length (KRL) is measured on the largest animal. For each additional animal, increase the footprint by 15%. A terrarium of e.g. L 200 x W 120 x H 160 cm is recommended, which should be placed in a quiet and vibration-free place

They need a spacious terrarium, structured with strong, firmly mounted climbing branches, horizontal resting places and hiding places, with a substrate of leaf-soil-peat mixture (terrarium humus) and a generous planting (e.g. Platycerium, Scindapsus, Ficus). Absolutely necessary is a heated (approx. 25 °C), easy to clean water basin for bathing, with a water depth of 30-40 cm. Half of the substrate must be kept moist at all times. They should be sprayed with lukewarm water 1-2 times a day, but a rain or mist system is better.

Temp. day: 27-30 °C Temp. night: 20-22 °C Temp. local: up to 35 °C Humidity: 70-90

The lighting duration must be 12-14 hrs. Special lamps with high UV-A and UV-B content are ideal, because daily UV irradiation is essential.


They need animal and vegetable food. The food supply consists of large insects, fish, shrimp, shellfish meat, earthworms and the eggs of small birds, and mice for adults, supplemented with commercial ready-made food for insectivorous reptiles. In addition, they need, individually varying, tomatoes, lettuce, dandelion flowers and sweet fruit (grapes, bananas, pears, cherries, melons, etc.). It is important to regularly add minerals and vitamins (dusting the feed). Young animals should be offered food daily, adults 4-5 times a week. Drinking water must always be available

A regular and varied diet promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms.

Reproduction and breeding

Beginning at 12 months of age, males develop distinct femoral pores (glandular openings) on the inner thighs and a pronounced crest on the head, back, and base of the tail.

The female buries her eggs (5-20 eggs) in the substrate (substrate suitable for digging). The incubation period is 60-100 days at a temperature of 27-30 °C. Suitable initial food for the young is small insects such as fruit flies, flies, micro-heimies and mealybug larvae

Life expectancy can be 15-18 years.

Species protection

Species protection: EU Appendix D, monitoring of trade relevance (monitoring).

Your pet store will be happy to provide you with further information.


The green water dragon is capable of tail regeneration. Adult males behave territorially and are incompatible with each other

For the resting phase, the lighting duration is shortened by 2-3 hours and the temperature is lowered by 3-4 °C for approx. two months.

The terrarium must have good ventilation without drafts and meet the species-specific needs. Measuring devices such as thermometers, hygrometers, etc. are necessary. The lighting has to correspond to the species-specific day-night rhythm and has to be placed in such a way that the animals cannot injure themselves. The terrarium should be locked in such a way that neither unauthorized persons can open it nor the animals can escape. Contamination must be removed regularly

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: petdata; Image: Christian Zach

Source: BMELV (1997): Mindestanforderungen an die Haltung von Reptilien; ENGELMANN (2006): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Reptilien und Amphibien, Harri Deutsch Verlag

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF