Purchasing a Chinese Water Dragon
1. Size of the water dragon; Young water dragons 10 to 16 inches in length are your best choice. Adult dragons that are wild caught generally don't adapt to captivity well. Whereas the younger dragons seem to adjust quite well. Older dragons tend to be much more skittish, therefore have more damage to their snouts from banging into the glass in their enclosures.
Captive dragons of almost any size are always the best choice. They usually are not skittish, eat well, have less health problems that you may have to deal with and pay a vet to treat, and have less of a tendency to bang their snouts into glass and other solid objects.
2. Selecting a dragon; look for an active dragon that's eyes are bright and alert. It's body and tail should be slightly rounded, and filled out. Examine the hands, feet, digits, arms and legs of the dragon, watch for swelling or damage. Feel along the dragons body and tail for swellings, and lumps. Look at the dragons snout, it may very likely have some markings on it from bumping it into the glass but it should not appear swollen or badly damaged. To examine the dragons mouth tap the lizards snout gently (it may or may not open it's mouth for you with this method). If you can get the lizard to open it's mouth look inside for signs of swelling, bubbly mucus, or caseous deposits along the gum line (cheesy, curdy looking substance). Avoid purchasing a dragon with any of these symptoms. Don't forget to look at the dragons vent. It should not have any smeared or caked diarrhea, or swelling at the vent.
3. Colour; Take a good look at the colour of the dragon that you are about to purchase. Is it a nice green colour (relaxed, happy, warm) or a dark brownish colour ( stressed, cold, ill). The colour of the dragon could end up being as big a clue to the state of the dragons health as the physical exam will be.
4. Reptile vet; have a good one lined up to take your new dragon to for a check up and a fecal exam. Most water dragons that you find in pet stores are wild caught. They are captured in their native countries, usually kept in poor conditions, kept with sick dragons, and then shipped into the country to pet stores that know very little about water dragons and their care. The water dragon that you purchase may have damage to its snout from being kept in poorly furnished enclosures, very likely has a heavy parasite load, and surely will be underweight and stressed.
Your dragon will likely be stressed out when you bring it home and may remain under stress until it settles into your home and begins to feel safe with you. If the dragon has parasites (as an example) and it is under stress, the stress may weaken it's immune system, and the parasites may be able to take a stronger hold then they normally would, resulting in a sick dragon. This is only one example of why you should take your new dragon to a vet. It is possible for the dragon to live perfectly fine with parasites, but why take a chance on it getting sick when it's first couple of weeks or months with you will likely be stressful to your new water dragon?
Unfortunately, most pet stores do not adequately care for water dragons, often resulting in more damage, stress, and ill health for them. Most of the available dragons are wild caught, and thus, are purchased by the pet stores already in poor health. There are exceptions to the rule of course- some pet stores care for their reptiles extraordinarily well.
Many companies and suppliers that ship lizards claim that they are selling captive breed dragons, and some do, but some really don't. You must be careful wherever you buy your dragon, ask several informed question, and make your decision on whether to buy by the type of answers and guarantees that you get.
Personally, I would try my hardest to find a private breeder in the area that you live and buy directly from them. Check with your local Herp society to see if there are any known breeders in the area. You won't have to worry about the lizard being shipped, and you will be able to see how the dragons are cared for by the breeder, select your own dragon, and ask the breeder as many questions as you like. :)
If you decided to buy your lizard from a large company- ask exactly how they ship the dragons. Will they pack him in a box that is insulated, but has air holes for ventilation? Will they tape chemical hot packs to the sides or top of the container in order to provide warmth for the dragon. What company do they use to ship the dragon to you? Does their shipping company have a good reputation, for that matter does the company that you are buying from have a good reputation? Why don't you post a question on the rec.pets.herp newsgroup and ask if anyone has dealt with that company before and what kind of experience they have had dealing with them?
Green Water Dragons, Sailfin Lizards and Basilisks (General Care and Maintenance of Series) by Philippe De Vosjoli
Basic but detailed information about the care, diet, and health of green water dragons, sailfin lizards and basilisks.
Anoles, Basilisks and Water Dragons : A Complete Pet Care Manual (More Complete Pet Owner's Manuals) by Richard D. Bartlett, Patricia P. Bartlett (Contributor)
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 : A Guide to Invertebrate Live Foods for Reptiles and Amphibians by Lynn Davis
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.
Mar, 19, 2010
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