Water Dragon (Chinese) / Physignathus cocincinus

Did you know...

70% of their length is made up of tail

They have a third eye or pineal body on top of their heads which helps them sense changes in light levels

When in the water they can stay submerged for up to 25 minutes

As their name suggests, this member of the Agamid family of lizards lives in areas close to rivers, lakes and ponds in hot humid swamps and rainforests in S.E. Asia. They are good climbers and are often found in trees using the long claws to grip branches and the long tail to help them balance. They are also strong swimmers.

They are active by day (diurnal) and live in groups consisting of a male and several females.Sometimes aggression between males and females is shown by a characteristic head bobbing, arm waving and throat puffing display.

Chinese water dragons are mainly carnivorous feeding on a range of insects, small fish, amphibians reptiles and mammals. Their sticky tongue is a useful adaptation designed to help them hold their prey. They will also eat vegetation such as the leaves which surround them in their forest habitat. Chinese water dragons are hunted in the wild by snakes and birds of prey and often drop in to the water from branches to make their escape. Their green coloration also provides camouflage in the trees.

Water dragons are oviparous or egg-laying animals. A female will lay 5-20 eggs in a shallow nest which has been excavated in the ground. The eggs hatch after about 60 to 75 days, and the hatchling lizards are about 5-6 inches at hatching. There is no parental care and the youngsters have to fend for themselves.

The Chinese water dragon is not considered to be endangered in the wild but continued collection for the pet trade and habitat destruction poses a threat to their future survival.