Water Dragon Enclosure Constructionby George Buce
The pool was hung about 12" under the flooring level, to keep the top of the water level with the "soil layer" in the Summer Palace. I really do prefer the most natural look possible in my cages. The main section of the pool was merely a plywood box screwed into the opening in the floor, with a shallow end close to the front of the cage. The rough opening measured 12" by 48", plenty of room for the Water Dragons to have a good swim! The sides of the rectangular box were then rounded out with scraps of wood to give it a more natural look, with a ramp build in the shallow end to simulate a natural bank.
There is an area that's hidden to the reptiles (and the humans) that contains the controls for the pool. On the right hand side is a small area that's open to the main pool on the far end. In this control area is the heater, the water inlets and an overflow tube similar to the one in a toilet tank. There's also the pump for the waterfall. The pump is a submersible pump that takes the water out the rectangular opening on the far right, down under the cage, and up through a hole in the topmost waterfall pool.
The wiring for the pump and heater also exit out that opening to a remote controlled outlet mounted on the front face of the pool. To have maintenance access to the control area, a movable cap was molded to match the surrounding walls. It's painted the same color and is nearly invisible unless you know what you're looking for... The drain is certainly the most artificial looking part of the cage, it's a standard 1 1/2" sink drain. I decided to not hide the drain since proper clearing of the water and debris in the pool was more important than cosmetics in this case.
Here's the finished view. Notice that the cap over the control area is hardly visible. The change in the Water Dragon's behavior when introduced to the larger pool was quite gratifying! Unlike the smaller pool in their previous cage, here it's possible to completely submerge, explore, and actually swim. Water Dragons swim much in the same fashion as crocodilians: they use their broad, strong tail to propel themselves while the rear legs fold backward. Short of dumping them in a bathtub, I doubt I'd ever see this sort of behavior in a captive Water Dragon. The design decision to dedicate nearly half the cage floor to water was certainly the right one!