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Australian Water Dragon Care Guide  

Australian Water Care Guide, (Physignathus lesueurii) is an amazing lizard that is docile, and can be easily tamed. Water dragons eat a lot, but their friendly personalities make them worth it. They require a large cage, but can wander around with you all day. Water dragons originated from Southeast Asia and the rainforests of Australia. They eat many large insects and even other lizards. Australian water dragons, especially the males may even eat hatchling and juvinile water dragons.

Appearance
Male water dragons are larger than females and can reach 2-2.5 feet long. Females normally stay below two feet. The tail makes up a majority of their length. Males are also more colorful than females. In the wild, females need to be able to blend in to foliage to protect their eggs. Males have red chests, making them pop out a little more.

Their tails are very wide, and have power to them. If they feel threatened, they will whip you with the tail. Being whipped by a tail will make you bleed way more than a bite. Tails also help when moving through the water. If kept healthy, water dragons can live a long life of up to 20 years. Chinese water dragons look similar in size and shape, but are greener.

Handling/Aggression
Baby Australian water dragons are a little jumpy at first, but as they mature, they will adjust to being handled, and you may see them clawing at the door if they want to roam around.

They will sit across your shoulder watching television, and as long as you don't make sudden movements, they will be fine for up to hours.

Diet
Give your water dragon a couple of days when you get them to adjust and start eating. Appropriately sized crickets, cockroaches, and super worms should make up their main diet. You do not need to worry about them being picky eaters and they will eat anything from lettuce to the occasional pinkie mouse. Some vegetables that are edible include yellow squash, sweet potato, or green beans.

Water dragons may love, or hate sweet food like cat food, bananas, peaches and strawberries. These are healthy choices and if they take fruit, switch up insects and fruit so they get the most out of their food.

Be sure to dust and feed any live insect you feed to your dragon so their bones stay strong and healthy. 100% calcium dust should be used.

Housing
Water dragons need a minimum of 4 feet long, 3 feet high, and 2 or 3 foot deep enclosure. Hatchlings can be kept in 10 or 20 gallon tanks, but will grow quickly, and will need to upgrade. They will use all the space provided. You will need a tree branch thick enough so they can comfortably rest. Other foliage is welcome and more places for them to climb and rest will be used and enjoyed.

Substrate
Non-fertilized potting soil, bed-a-beast, and other moisture absorbing substrates should be used. Paper towels are fine, but will be pushed around and ripped by them when walked on. Do not use sand because it does not release moisture, and is easily swallowed.

Shelter
Provide a couple hides on the ground for them to easily crawl into. They can be basic cardboard boxes or expensive, interesting hides your water dragon will not care. They will spend most of their time in the foliage though.

Temperature
A basking spot of 95F is needed, and the rest of the tank should be 80F. If your Australian water dragon stays in the heat all day, you may need to raise the air temperature of the rest of the tank.

To heat the tank, a bulb is preferred over under tank heaters because water dragons stay off the ground most of the day. You can also use a heat emitting UV bulb because UV is essential so they absorb enough vitamin D. Be sure to read the instructions that come with the bulb because a couple inches off can be the difference of life or death.

Humidity/Water
Hence their name, water dragons need a pool of water at the bottom of the tank that they can easily get in and out of. They go to the bathroom in there, and it is a pain to clean every couple of days so you can buy a filtration system at a hardware store, and you will not have to worry about cleaning water daily.

Water dragons require high humidity of 60-80% throughout the cage. Misting the entire cage down a couple times a day is a chore, and automatic misting systems are a wonderful alternative. You can get them with timers so they spray throughout the day. Hook the system up to a couple gallons of water, or attach it through the wall to your main water way and you won't have to worry about refilling it.

To help with keeping the humidity up, have live plants in the cage, and in pots on the sides. They will help increase up to 10% humidity.

Cleaning
Plants in the cage need to be watered, and remember to refill and provide water for the day. Loose substrates will want to be replaced every couple of months and paper towels when they get soiled. If you use a filtration system, replace the water once a week.

Breeding
For the best chance of breeding, bring the light down to ten hours a day. This will get water dragons "in the mood". During this time of shorter light, bring up the humidity level. The temperature should be dropped to 75F, and to 65F at night. Feeding should also be reduced to once every five days or so. This whole process should be a total of 2-3 months.

A male will signal when he want to breed with another female. He may pop out his crimson chest, and bob his head. Once the female accepts the male, the will start breeding. Keep them in the cage until they have successfully bred, but separate them afterwards to avoid another session because this may make the female egg-bound.

Before you breed, make sure the male is over a year old, and the female should be over two years old to make sure they are fully matured. After they have mated, and the female has laid her eggs, there will be about 20. They will hatch after 60-70 days. The eggs should be kept in an incubator with temperatures of 77-82F.

Once they hatch, place them in a separate enclosure from the parents. For every dragon, there should be 10 gallons of space to start off with. They can be kept together until they can be sexed. Increase the amount of space per water dragon as the get older.

Hatchling Care
Keep the temperatures for hatchling Australian water dragons at about 85F, and drop 10F at night. Provide everything adult water dragons have including a large water dish, stuff to climb on, and UV lighting.

Australian water dragons may not eat for a week or two, because they still have their yolk reserves. When they start eating, feed them small crickets. Make sure they all get enough food to eat. If one is not eating or is being bullied, separate it into their own enclosure until he or she catch up in length and weight. As they get bigger, the insect size they receive should increase in size as well.

Conclusion
Australian water dragons are like miniature iguanas. They are a great alternative if you don't want a 6 foot beast, but a lizard similar in shape. They grow to a little over two feet, and have interesting personalities. Be sure to do your homework before ever purchasing any pet.

 

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