Aug 31 2020

August 2020’s Animal Of The Month – Chinese Water Dragons

They can be found in the trees, in the water and – throughout August – on our Twitter account. But since it is the last day of August, we must say good-bye to the Chinese water dragon as our Animal of the Month. We hope you enjoyed following us on Twitter @ExoticPetVets as we tweeted throughout the month about these fascinating reptiles. But if you mssed any of our tweets, you can find a summary of them right here. Did you know?:

  • The Chinese water dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) is a medium-sized lizard with many other commonly known names, including the Asian water dragon, Thai water dragon and green water dragon.
  • In the wild, the Chinese water dragon can be found in parts of China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam.
  • There are reports of introduced populations of Chinese water dragons in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It’s believed these populations originated from pets who escaped or who were released into the wild.
  • Chinese water dragons are primarily arboreal, meaning they live in trees. But as their name suggests, the trees they live in are around bodies of water; namely, freshwater lakes, rivers and streams.
  • Chinese water dragons are usually found in swamps and rainforests. They like habitats with temperatures ranging from 26-37 Celsius (80-100 degrees Fahrenheit) and high humidity.
  • Adult Chinese water dragons are mostly green with diagonal light blue or turquoise stripes on their bodies. The underside of their bodies is usually paler – a lighter green or cream colour.
  • Chinese water dragons have large round eyes and a short snout with white scales along their jawline. They can also have some pink, orange or yellow tones on their throats.
  • Chinese water dragons have long thin tails with beige or brown-coloured bands. Their tails are used for balance, swimming and to defend themselves. Their tails are so long that they make up more than half of their entire body length!
  • A very dragon-like physical characteristic that Chinese water dragons possess is a crest of soft spines that starts on the backs of their heads and necks and runs all the way down their backs and along their tails.
  • Chinese water dragons are sexually dimorphic, meaning you can tell the difference between females and males just by looking at them.
  • Adult male Chinese water dragons are about three feet (about one metre) in length tip-to-tail, while their female counterparts are smaller at about two feet (60 cms).
  • Male Chinese water dragons also sport more vivid skin colouration and have larger crests than the females.
  • Chinese water dragons have a pearly spot between their eyes on the tops of their heads. This spot is known as a parietal eye, third eye or pineal eye.
  • The parietal eye is not actually an eye, but it’s a photosensitive gland. Chinese water dragons can’t see out of it, but it does help them distinguish light from dark which aids in thermoregulating their bodies based on time of day.
  • It’s believed the parietal eye also helps Chinese water dragons evade predators. If they detect sudden changes in light, it could signal to them that an avian predator is overhead and they can take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.
  • Because they are arboreal, Chinese water dragons have strong legs and five-toed clawed feet, which helps them climb trees.
  • The front legs of Chinese water dragons are smaller and slimmer than their back legs, which are quite muscular. The back legs are not only instrumental for climbing, but they are also key for swimming, leaping and running.
  • Did you know that Chinese water dragons can run on two legs? They usually run on four legs, but they can increase their speed by lifting their front legs off the ground, arching their backs and only using their back legs for running.
  • We have already discussed that Chinese water dragons live in trees around freshwater bodies and that’s because water plays an important role in their lives.
  • When Chinese water dragons feel like they’re in danger, they will dive into the water to escape whatever is threatening them.
  • Chinese water dragons can remain underwater until the threat has passed. They can remain submerged from anywhere between 30 to a reported 90 minutes!
  • Chinese water dragons are excellent swimmers. Their long tails have flattened sides which act like oars when they swim. They can also sleep almost completely submerged in water, leaving their snouts above the surface so they can breathe.
  • In addition to diving underwater, Chinese water dragons will whip their long tails back and forth in order to defend themselves against predators.
  • The main predators of Chinese water dragons are large snakes, birds of prey and humans.
  • People are the biggest threat to Chinese water dragons thanks to habitat destruction, hunting and the pet trade.
  • Because so many Chinese water dragons in the pet trade are still wild-caught, if you are interested in bringing one into your family please do your research and ensure your new pet comes from a reputable breeder.
  • Chinese water dragons are diurnal, meaning they are awake and active during the day and sleep at night.
  • Chinese water dragons will spend their days basking in the sun and hunting for food. They are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter.
  • In the wild, the Chinese water dragon diet consists mostly of insects, but aquatic animals, fish, small mammals, small reptiles and forest vegetation are also on the menu.
  • With proper care, Chinese water dragons can live between 10-15 years in captivity.

 

lracadmin | Blog

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