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Cats and Dogs, other Herps, and
Water Dragons!

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Cats, and Dogs and Water Dragons

      I've been asked if water dragons have an innate fear of dogs? of cats? and of people? Of people or any living thing that is larger than them, yes! :) Can this fear be overcome? In the case of humans- in most cases it is, in the case of dogs and cats etc. ... well I think it would be foolhardy to try. It is just too dangerous! :) If you own a dog or a cat it would be in the dragons best interest if you tried to keep the dog or cat in another room when the dragon is loose, you don't want any terrible accidents to happen. (:

      If the dog is in the room that you keep the dragon in, and the dragon seems extremely stressed out then I would keep the dragons enclosure in another location. I think a cat would probably notice and bother a dragon when it is in it's enclosure more than a dog would, but use your observation skills!

      You should also be sure that the door of the enclosure is secure so that the dragon can not get out without your knowledge. If your dragon is being kept in an enclosure with a screened lid please be sure that both the lid and the screen material are strong and secure. I have heard of two cases where a cat has broken through the fine screening of the lid and injured the lizards within.

      However, there are exceptions to every rule. I get letters from some dragon keepers who tell me that their dragon, and their dog or cat are best friends. So yes it is possible for them to get along just fine- but I wouldn't count on it, and I would not leave your dragon loose in a room with a dog or cat unsupervised.

Water dragons housed with Basilisks and Sailfins

      I've also had a number of people ask me what other lizard species might be able to cohabitate well with water dragons. Unfortunately, in most cases I have to answer that no other species should really be kept with water dragons.

      Perhaps Basilisks and or Sailfin lizards might be able to cohabitate with water dragons because they do have similar enclosure requirements, size, diet, and personalities, but these are the only lizards that I can safely recommend.

Before housing two or more animals of the same species or even different species together you should read New Reptile- Quarantine, and signs of Illness.

      If you are seriously considering housing a basilisk(s) or sailfin(s) with your water dragon(s) then you should have a very large enclosure equipped with several basking areas, and many hiding areas in the form of leafy plants and shelter. A large enclosure set up as suggest above will help reduce the stress of multiple animals living together.

Iguanas and Water dragons

      Many people ask me if they can keep iguana's and water dragons together. Just because iguanas and water dragons are often seen housed together in pet stores it doesn't mean that it is right, or healthy for either of them.

      A full grown healthy iguana can reach a size of six to seven feet in total length and weight as much as twenty pounds. A full grown healthy male water dragon can reach a length or approximately three feet and will weight about three pounds. Iguanas are generally much more territorial and aggressive than water dragons, particularly during breeding season.

      Several people have written to me and told me that they were keeping iguanas and water dragons together successfully. In most of these cases the iguanas were still young and thus of a similar size to the water dragon. Often months after first writing to me about their success, these same people have written to me telling me that their iguana was acting aggressively towards their dragon and that they had to separate them.

      I have only heard of a few people who have successfully kept adults of both species together for an extended period of time. I'm not saying that it can't be done- just that it is difficult, and because of the differences between the species it is often impossible.

      Here are some more facts:

      Iguana's like to pile on top of one another while basking. A large iguana could injure or accidentally suffocate a water dragon of any age if it were to lay on it for an extended period, not to mention the fact that iguana's do have sharp claws that combined with the weight of an iguana might cause the water dragon to be scratched when the iguana climbs on or over it.

      Iguanas have large, powerful jaws equipped with serrated teeth. If the iguana was in an aggressive mood it could seriously injure a water dragon by biting it.

      Iguana's are herbivores, water dragons are insectivores and or carnivores. I've heard of many iguanas that when housed with an insectivorous or carnivorous lizard began to eat the other lizards food items.

      Iguanas should not be eating crickets, or pinkies! They should be eating salads made up of a variety of vegetables, fruits, and greens. It is not okay, or even cute to see an iguana eating a pinky or chasing a cricket. A diet consisting of even small amounts of animal protein can be very harmful to your iguana. It can cause kidney disease and lead to an untimely, slow, painful death from kidney failure.

      On the other hand, it is perfectly fine for a water dragon to have some of the iguanas vegetarian food items. In fact water dragons apparently do eat some vegetation in the wild. Some keepers have had success getting their water dragons to eat veggies or fruit- most keepers that I hear from however cannot get their dragons to eat any vegetation. Therefore it would be a welcome sight to see a water dragon eating from the iguana's food bowl, but not the other way around.

      If you do decide to try your hand at keeping iguanas and water dragons together please keep in mind that while they have similar housing requirements their diet is entirely different from one another. Please feed the water dragon separately from the iguana.

      Now, if you still can't see why I don't think it's a good idea to house them together ... what more can I say?

Other lizards and amphibians with Water dragons?

      Okay, we've covered water dragons living with Basilisks and Sailfin lizards, and water dragons living with large lizards such as iguanas ... what about other species of lizards and amphibians?

      As I said above, Basilisks and Sailfins are of similar size and temperament to water dragons and have similar housing and diet requirements. They are the only lizards I can recommend with any confidence.

      Yes, there are other lizards, or herp species that require similar habitats and diets however in most cases these animals are much smaller than water dragons and I fear they would quickly become a meal for the lizard.

      Many people write to me and ask if they can keep leopard geckos, African fat tail geckos, or even bearded dragons with their water dragon. I'm sorry, but I have to say NO to all of you with this idea in mind. These species are all desert species requiring a drier, and usually a much warmer environment than water dragons can tolerate. Not to mention the fact that the geckos are usually less than half the size of water dragons and could easily become injured or become a meal for the water dragon.

      Anoles, in most cases have similar housing needs as water dragons, but again these lizards are usually very small and could easily become a snack. Don't do it!

      Many species of amphibian could theoretically be housed with water dragons but again these species are usually quite small and could go missing one day. Another point to ponder ... most amphibians secrete toxins from their skin that could make a water dragon quite ill if it decided to taste the amphibian.

Turtles and Water dragons

      Water turtles and even land turtles are another species of reptile that I'm often asked about. If you have a very, very large enclosure, possibly with two water areas then you might be able to house these two different kinds of reptile together. However most people are not able to create a large vivarium with two separate ponds for their animals use and often have water turtles swimming about in the same water area that the dragon must use to bathe in.

      Turtles are very curious creatures, and many water turtles will eat or attempt to eat just about anything! I'm sure those long slender water dragon toes or tail tips look quite appetizing to a water turtle when they see them. In fact I know they must look wonderful or else I wouldn't get so many letters from people asking me how to heal a lacerated toe or foot, or the end of a tail after the owners pet turtle decided to chomp down on it!

      Both land and water turtles have very very strong jaws that can cause serious injury to a water dragon if the turtle were to bite it. Turtles also have a bad habit of clamping down and not letting go when something it is biting is struggling to get away from it. Believe me, If you've never been bitten by a turtle you are lucky. One of my box turtles bite me once and wouldn't let go for about five minutes! The pain was excruciating and my hand was badly bruised.

      Now after hearing that, think about your turtle biting your dragons toe, foot, or even the tail. Depending upon the size of the turtle, and how intent it is upon biting the above mentioned body parts, a toe can be severed, as can a portion of the tail, it is conceivable that a portion of the foot could also be severed, but in most of the cases that I have heard of the foot has been broken. I'm sure a leg or arm could also be broken if bitten by a large turtle.

      In light of what I have stated above I can see no reason to risk housing a turtle and a water dragon together.

Water Dragons and Snakes!?!

      The only other reptiles that I have not mentioned up to this point are snakes. I should tell you that water dragons are apparently absolutely terrified of snakes. I have not seen their reaction to snakes first hand ... but that is what I am told. As with many of the other species that I have mentioned earlier the combination of the lizards fear of snakes, and likely very different housing and basic care requirements make housing these two reptiles together a very risky proposition.


      Whenever more than one animal is housed with another, whether it is the same or of a different species, the owner should always observe for signs of stress, and aggressive behaviour.

      If one or more of the animals exhibits signs of stress or is injured by an aggressive cage mate that animal should be housed in a separate enclosure until it recovers. All owners keeping more than one herp in an enclosure should be prepared with an alternate enclosure for temporary or permanent housing if things don't work out.

      Precautions should always be taken whenever a reptile is kept in a house that also is the home of a cat, dog, or even a bird for that matter. It is nice when we can allow are herps some free roaming time outside of the cage. however It is wise to not let our reptiles out when our other pets are in the same room.

      Many intermediate or advanced herpetoculturist will likely find the information on this page quite obvious and would not ever think of housing many of the species listed above with a water dragon, however many novice herps need to be informed. For those of you who find this page or this topic odd, you'd only have to read a sample of the letters that I get on a weekly basis to understand why I've written this article. Novice herpers do not always understand that different species often require very different housing in order to thrive. It is very easy to make serious mistakes when just starting out and this page is an attempt to prevent injury to the animals involved, or even the novice herpers eventual heartbreak when something goes terribly wrong.

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Water Dragon Books

Green Water Dragons, Sailfin Lizards and Basilisks (General Care and Maintenance of Series) by Philippe De Vosjoli

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      Basic but detailed information about the care, diet, and health of green water dragons, sailfin lizards and basilisks.

Anoles, Basilisks, and Water Dragons Anoles, Basilisks and Water Dragons : A Complete Pet Care Manual (More Complete Pet Owner's Manuals) by Richard D. Bartlett, Patricia P. Bartlett (Contributor)

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     Discussion of the general care of many species of anole, basilisks and water dragons. Excellent information regarding enclosures, cage building, and insect care and breeding.

Eat this Bug Eat This Bug : A Guide to Invertebrate Live Foods for Reptiles and Amphibians by Lynn Davis

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      This book is a guide for owners of reptiles and amphibians who feed insects and other live foods to their pets. Advice is offered for selecting , ordering and raising your own supply of live invertebrate foods. More than a dozen species of live foods are discussed. The book includes instructions on keeping cultures of insects, and recipes & diets for insects.

Last updated
April, 10, 2012

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