Chinese water dragon
|Chinese water dragon|
Chinese water dragons can grow up to 1 m (3.3 ft) in total length, including tail, and can live from ten to fifteen years. Coloration ranges from dark to light green. Diagonal stripes of green or turquoise are found on the body, while the tail is banded from the middle to the end with green and dark brown. Their undersides range from white, off white, very pale green, or pale yellow. But their throats are considered to be more attractive, which can be quite colorful (blue and purple, or peach), some with a single color, some with stripes. Adult males have larger, more triangular heads than females, and develop larger crests on the head, neck and tail, and are larger in general. The tail, slightly over two-thirds of the entire body length, can be used as a weapon, for balance, and to assist swimming.
Like many other reptiles the Chinese water dragon possesses a small, iridescent, photosensitive spot between their eyes referred to as the pineal eye (or parietal eye, or colloquially as the third eye) that is thought to help thermoregulate their bodies by sensing differences in light to assist with basking and seeking shelter after sunset. Since it recognizes differences in light, the parietal eye can also help the lizard avoid predation from birds and other aerial threats, and can awaken from deep sleep from even slight changes in light from overhead.
Habitat and behaviors
Native to the lowland and highland forests of southern China and southeastern Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma), Chinese water dragons are most commonly found along the banks of freshwater lakes and streams. They are active during the day (diurnal), and spend most of their time in the trees or plants (arboreal). If threatened, the dragon will drop from the trees into the water and either swim to safety or remain submerged for up to 25 minutes. Water dragons live in areas with average humidity levels of 40–80% and temperatures ranging from 80–90 °F (26–32 °C).
Though they will also eat vegetation, the diet of the water dragon consists mainly of insects, supplemented with an occasional small fish, mammal or reptile.
Chinese water dragon babies that are only 4 or 5 inches long may be kept in a 10-gallon aquarium, but they will eventually need to be moved to a larger terrarium. Sand is a recommended substrate material, as both male and female Chinese water dragons will dig burrows. All cages should have a hide-box area to provide a sense of security for the water dragon. Chinese water dragons are highly arboreal and should have branches within their enclosures. Chinese water dragons are also avid swimmers and need water containers that are large enough for them to immerse themselves and possibly swim in. The Chinese water dragon is carnivorous, but will sometimes accept vegetables. Chinese water dragons may feed on adult mice, goldfish, earthworms and various insects. Day temperatures in the Chinese water dragon's cage should reach the 80 Fahrenheit, dropping to the mid 70 Fahrenheit at night. Additional heat (up to 90 Fahrenheit) can be supplied as a focal basking spot.
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Head - Khao Yai National Park, Thailand
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Physignathus cocincinus.|
|Wikispecies has information related to: Chinese water dragon|
- "Chinese Water Dragon". World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
- "Reptiles & Amphibians Facts Sheets: Chinese Water Dragon". National Zoological Park. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
- To, Allen (2005). "Another alien has landed: the discovery of a wild population of water dragon, Physignathus cocincinus, in Hong Kong". Porcupine 33 (November): 3–4.