Tricia's Chinese Water Dragon, Reptile and amphibian care page Tricia's Store Herp Sites on the Net Reptile and Amphibian Care Sheets Reptile Health Care Articles Napoleon the Iguana's Home Page Care of the Chinese Water Dragon

Sexing your Chinese water dragon-
Do I have a male or female?

The Young Dragon

      All dragons have female features when they are young.

     Small, but proportional to body size, slightly triangular shaped heads. A small or low crest on the back of the neck. Slightly rounded bodies. They usually have small spikes along the crest, their backs and down their tails, but some or all spikes may be missing due to poor shedding of skin. The underside of the back legs have femoral pores. On young dragons these pores are usually small, smooth and white.

The Juvenile Dragon

      A dragon is considered a juvenile when it's body is approx. 3 inches in length from the snout to the vent, and if the tail is intact, when the dragons total length is approx. 10 to 12 inches. When they reach this size they are usually about a year old, and yes they still look female.

      As a dragon approaches approximately a year and a half in age- lets say 4.5- 6" snout to vent or 16 - 18" in total length, the secondary sexual characteristics begin to develop.

The Male Dragon

      At this time, if your dragon is a male:

  • His head will begin to get larger and wider and even more triangular.
  • The crest on the neck will begin to get higher, and the spikes much longer
  • The spikes on his back will get longer,
    •       You'll notice that below the spikes there is a ridge of bone or cartilage under the skin that points upward, just as the spikes do. I don't know if there is a proper term for this characteristic but I call them vertebral spikes. On an adult male these bony protrusions under the skin, below the spikes are approximately 1/2 inch long (1.2 cm).
      • Females do not have this at all.
  • the spikes at the base of the tail will get substantially higher, almost like a secondary dorsal crest
  • the femoral pores on the underside of the back legs will grow much wider, become darker and start to fill with a waxy like substance.
    • The femoral pores will feel bumpy compared to a females which will continue to stay small, smooth and indistinct.
  • As the male dragon approaches adulthood you should notice that his body is also more triangular shaped ... upward triangular, and that the base of the tail is much more triangular than that of a female.
    • An adult females body is more rounded or pear shaped (especially in the abdominal area), and her tail should remain rounded in appearance.

      If your dragon gets to be say, 5 inches snout to vent or longer, and it's total length is 18 or more inches and you haven't started to see some of these changes in appearance you most likely have a female dragon.

      You can compare your dragon to pictures of definite males and females in the Water Dragon Photo Gallery.

Special care is required for females!

      If you believe you have a female dragon please note that female dragons have special care requirements in adulthood. This is mainly because female dragons will develop, and lay eggs whether they have ever mated with a male or not. If they have never mated the eggs just wont be fertile.

      Anyone with a dragon that is 5" or more snout to vent, or 18 or more inches in total length that they believe might be female, should have a proper egg laying area set up for the dragon. If a female dragon develops eggs and doesn't have what she considers a proper place to lay them, she may hold them and become egg bound. This could lead to death if the problem is not discovered quickly.

      Egg development takes a great toll of the female body. The female needs to be in good shape to come through this period with a clean bill of health. She needs to be fed a nutritious diet, She needs to be kept at the proper temperatures, and while she is gravid (pregnant) she should be getting calcium supplements every day.

      To shell the eggs the female dragon needs calcium. If she's not getting enough from her diet (proper UVB fluorescent lighting is also necessary to help absorb the calcium properly!!) she will use calcium from her bones and could become calcium deficient.

      Calcium deficiency or MBD is a very serious ailment and it could lead to death if proper medical attention is not sought.

      If you think or know you have a female please read the following pages:

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
Mar, 19, 2010

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