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  1. #1
    Elite Member SpidaFly's Avatar
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    New Eastern Water Dragon: Pics and Advice Request!

    My first time posting on this forum. Thought I'd share my new Eastern Water Dragon, and ask a couple of questions of those who might have more experience with these guys. I'm posting both to share and solicit advice, so if you have any constructive advice, please post and let me know!

    I got him from an exotic pet shop in Phoenix AZ, I'm guesstimating his age to be ~6-8 months. snout to vent length ~ 4.25-4.5". Perhaps someone with more experience has other ideas? Hard to say though, since he is significantly larger than his brother - my little guy was clearly the dominant male, and I've named him "Jefe". He has a severe injury on the last 1" of his tail, which has healed over. This apparently happened before the breeder sold him to the exotics shop. The rest of his body is in excellent condition, he's alert, active, and intelligent (for a reptile xD), so I'm not too bothered by it. I'm going to point it out to a vet at his first checkup just in case.

    Picture: Lil' Jefe sacked out on what seems to be his favorite sleeping spot.

    I had the enclosure built before I purchased Jefe by a gentleman in the Phoenix area. If anyone here in the Phoenix area would like his contact information, send me a PM. The enclosure is 6' long, 3.5' tall, and 2.5' deep. The shelf you see in the pic is about in the middle. There's a 4' long UVB 5.0 at the top, and a 4' long UVB 5.0 in the middle under that shelf. Pool is temporarily a kitty litter pan with a ramp built of river rocks, and a TetraFauna filter/pump. In the near future I'm looking at getting a 23"x29"x6" pool built for him. Ceramic heater for overall temperature stability is controlled by a digital thermostat.

    Picture: Jefe's enclosure as it stood before he came home.

    He has a warm hide up top, and a "cold" hide down below, and as you can see a climb to his shelf and a branch running over his water. I designed the basking shelf so that the hottest temps would be on the upper right (the hottest basking spot is ~105f, there's a non-powered rock there for his convenience), and the gradient wraps around to the left and back under the shelf to the right. So he's got a gradient from a ~105f spot, 90-95f ambient, down to 75-80F under the shelf. The air around his water is around 80-85f.

    As I said, I'm working on a better (larger) pool setup for him. I'm also looking for a better solution to carpeting his shelf. It's ugly to the human eye right now so I'm trying to figure out what to do there... but he loves his shelf, so it's ok for the very short term.

    Of course I understand that this enclosure will not be adequate in the very long term (ie. when he's 2'+). However, while he grows up a bit it will be ample, and keeping him indoors is absolutely necessary: I currently life in Phoenix AZ. In a couple years I'll be transferring to Fairbanks AK, and then to Washington or Oregon. But by the time I'm in the pacific northwest, I'll be able to dedicate an entire room to reptiles, so I'll be able to have a section of the warm room netted off for Jefe when he's 3' long. But I digress...

    I have been feeding him Crickets (vitamin and calcium dusted) and Dubia roaches. Unfortunately I've recently realized that I've been dusting the crickets with calcium+D, so I'm thinking that since I have full-enclosure UVB coverage, he really doesn't need calcium+D. I've offered some mango but he wasn't interested. I plan to offer mango/strawberry/yam every 6 months until he finally starts eating them, then I plan to offer daily. He absolutely LOVES the roaches. He's extremely flighty, I can't pick him up, and while he'll hunt crickets he won't eat them from my hand. But I can place a roach on my forearm or elbow, slowly extend my hand to him, and he'll run up my arm, grab the roach, and then run away. I'm hoping this will be a way for me to "tame" him a bit.

    I have a few questions:

    1. The majority of my experience with reptiles is Chinese water dragons and bearded dragons. They've all been incredibly docile, non-nervous, and I've enjoyed handling them and playing with them even as hatchlings. 12 years ago I even had an adult female Chinese water dragon that I'd nap with and take walks with on hot days. She appeared extremely affectionate, would jump to and climb on me and was a constant companion (RIP Torgie <3). Naturally, I assumed that Australian water dragons would have similar temperament, but my new little' guy is extremely jumpy and flighty, always running from me and puffing out his throat and bobbing his head at me. As described earlier I've been offering roaches by hand, and trying to slowly approach him with a single hand to just touch him gently a little before slowly withdrawing. More often than not, he runs and hides. He bit me once. If I hang back and just watch him, he's extremely active, climbing all around, bathing, hunting for stray crickets, and sacking out in his basking areas. When I occasionally slowly approach him to try to teach him that hands aren't grabby and scary like they were in the pet shop, he puffs up and runs. I don't pursue, because I don't want to stress him out. But I'm starting to wonder if flighty behavior is natural for Aussie water dragons, and perhaps he won't become more relaxed until he's much bigger? (As a side note, something that's absolutely remarkable is that while direct observation or interaction is met with his disapproval, if I sit near his enclosure and play a game on my PS Vita - ie. my attention absolutely not on him for a long period of time - he'll run over and sit on a branch or shelf near me and watch me for long periods of time. He's an incredibly curious little guy. Even after being "scared", he'll emerge from a hiding spot within minutes to get close and observe what I'm doing.)

    2. UVB: As I mentioned, I have the 4' long UVB 5.0 up top center, and the 4' UVB 5.0 back/right under the shelf. Please give your opinions: is the UVB coverage here adequate? Am I correct in my recent conclusion that I SHOULD NOT be dusting with D3+calcium with so much UVB presence? (Ie. calcium without D)...

    3. Substrate: This is my biggest worry, here. As I mentioned before, I feed him crickets and dubai roaches. The roaches I give by hand, but crickets I dust, shake a little to daze them, then let them loose near him. Now, with most of my other lizards, this seemed to work fine. Jefe however, is a messy eater and I'm really very scared by how often he misses a cricket and ends up with bits of Eco-Earth on his tongue instead of a cricket. Since I can't pick him up (I don't want to stress him out by chasing him down and grabbing him, it seems cruel), I can't feed him his dusted crickets in an isolated feeding area. I have a feeding dish I could easily leave roaches or fruit in, but the crickets escape easily so I'm back to square 1. What's worse is, sometimes I see him eyeing a little chunk of Eco Earth as if it's a bug. He'll try to strike at it a few times, and usually ends up leaving it alone or pushing it back out of his mouth. So that's good, but all it could take is one swallow and some real bad luck to kill my little guy. So I am feeling very urgent about finding a solution or a new substrate. So a few questions about substrates with messy eaters:
    -- a: Nutritionally, is it sound to forgo crickets entirely and stick just with Dubia roaches? I've heard good things about them and he LOVES them... but even so, it doesn't keep him from thinking bits of substrate are bugs.
    -- b: I've heard that sterile organic potting soil can be used, but all of the potting soil I've seen has chunks of bark or vermiculite, so I have to think he'll mistake it for bugs as well. Have you found a good fine potting soil without dangerous chunks? I know I could use carpet/AstroTurf/fake grass/newspaper, but I'm assuming these guys like to dig just like my other dragons have. I just don't want him swallowing Eco Earth fibers or chunks. I see the fibers hanging from his mouth sometimes, and it's scaring the heck out of me.
    -- c: I know people who SWEAR by Eco Earth. And then I know people who swear it killed their lizard. What are your experiences?
    -- d: I've heard that "hard" flooring is bad for developing dragons. Heard that it causes their claws to grow strangely. Is this true? Is "hard" flooring such as large rocks, slate, or astroturf viable? I'd really LIKE the environment to be pretty, but obviously I'll sacrifice eye-candy for his health.

    I really have to find a good solution for substrate and feeding with his messy habits. I'm looking for any and all advice that can be provided.

    Thanks for reading






  2. #2
    Elite Member SpidaFly's Avatar
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    Re: New Eastern Water Dragon: Pics and Advice Request!

    I'm so confused. I made a big post with a couple nice pictures, and everything keeps coming up blank here. Sorry for the uh... empty post. I must have tried half a dozen times. For some reason THIS message goes through, but the post I actually wanted to make won't show up. Hopefully that didn't create a nightmare for the mods to sort out Bleh...

  3. #3
    Technical Administrator Rich's Avatar
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    Re: New Eastern Water Dragon: Pics and Advice Request!

    As a new member your posted was tossed in the moderation que since the post was long and contains links. I got it sorted.

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  4. #4
    mld
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    Re: New Eastern Water Dragon: Pics and Advice Request!

    I just wanted to say that Jefe is gorgeous! I'm sure that someone will be by to help you out with your questions
    Michele


    Proud to be Canadian

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  5. #5
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    Re: New Eastern Water Dragon: Pics and Advice Request!

    I don't really know much about the Aussie dragons, but I do know that with crickets, if you put the in the bag you dust em with and put that bag in the fridge for a 1-2 mins they won't run around. (haha) Then you could put them in your feeding dish. I personally have 4 Chinese Water Dragons and 3 of them are just fine with Eco Earth cocofiber. 1 of them however doesn't do well with eco earth at all, so as it is truly very realistic looking, it might end up leaving your wd getting impacted. I dont know if you've managed to find anything from this website, as I know its for Chinese wds but a lot of the info is the same... This site should help you with finding organic soil and making sure it is safe for your new wd.

    Enclosures for Chinese water dragons (Green, Asian, cage, vivarium, terrarium, lighting, heating, temp, humidity, water, lizard)


    P.s. Jefe is absolutely adorable!!!

  6. #6
    Elite Member murrindindi's Avatar
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    Re: New Eastern Water Dragon: Pics and Advice Request!

    Hi, it`s a long post, I`ll try and remember as much as possible!
    The first thing is to confirm what you think; no, you shouldn`t be offering D3 as well as the UVB emitting tubes, just a calcium/multi vitamin. I like the enclosure, and I think once you put a larger pool in, it will be even better, not sure why so many bulbs, they seem to be pointing in different directions on the top shelf? Also, one UVB tube would be sufficient, they don`t need to be exposed for hours on end, so I suggest having the basking spot bulb and (one) UVB tube together.
    The diet is much the same as with Bearded dragons and Chinese water dragons. The Only two temps you need to worry about are the surface temp at the basking spot of approx 38 to 40c (100 to 105f), then the lowest ambient (air) temp of approx 24 to 27c (75 to 80f) during the day, nighttime, approx 21 to 24c (72 to 75f)....
    I don`t think you`ve mentioned the humidity level?
    The organic potting soil is o.k but without the vermiculite. You can also use ceramic tiles, or reptile carpet. I think the hide is too big, they need to feel secure, and there should be several.
    If those are analogue gauges they can be very inaccurate, a digital hygrometer and a thermometer with a probe are quite cheap, and extremely accurate (I can see something on the back wall that looks like a probe)?
    EDIT: All youngsters are very wary, they need to be, their lives depend on it, but they often do calm down as they grow, and can become quite tractable (personal experience).

  7. #7
    Elite Member SpidaFly's Avatar
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    Re: New Eastern Water Dragon: Pics and Advice Request!

    Quote Originally Posted by murrindindi View Post
    I like the enclosure, and I think once you put a larger pool in, it will be even better, not sure why so many bulbs, they seem to be pointing in different directions on the top shelf?
    I live in Phoenix AZ, so basically in the summers I live by the air conditioner, so I got a lot of "extra" fixtures put in for contingency's sake. (Also as I mentioned, I know that I'll be moving to Alaska in a few years, so... yeah. I'm just thinking ahead.) My house temperature stays around 68-74f, so this is what I have:
    - Right (day) circuit: 50w basking spot bulb pointed at his rock on his shelf (that's the ~105 spot), and a larger bulb pointed toward the open space to the left to provide heat to the middle of the enclosure.
    - Back (utility) circuit: Ceramic heater bulb on a thermostat (that's the probe you see on the back), and another plugin on the same circuit that's currently filled with a dud bulb so he can't jump in and get electrocuted.
    - Left (night) circuit: Red heat bulbs to keep ambient temperature up at night. Considering replacing one or both of these with just ceramic... he appears to be able to see perfectly well in red light and I'm not sure if it's disrupting his sleep or what.

    Also, one UVB tube would be sufficient, they don`t need to be exposed for hours on end, so I suggest having the basking spot bulb and (one) UVB tube together.
    Hmm, ok. I was wondering about that myself, I did that as sort of a "just in case" thing, thinking if it was like the forest floor, they would get some UVB on the ground as well as in the trees. Hmm. I've got a UVB 5.0 up top, I'm assuming that's sufficient? Perhaps I'll grab a UVB 2.0 for the bottom one to provide just a little UVB and keep it lit up? Would that be "overdoing" it? Like I mentioned, the cage has a pretty nice height to it (3.5'), so if the UVB 5.0's have a fall off of 18", that means he's getting UVB on his shelf, so the UVB from a 2.0 should fall off before it hits the ground, right?

    The Only two temps you need to worry about are the surface temp at the basking spot of approx 38 to 40c (100 to 105f), then the lowest ambient (air) temp of approx 24 to 27c (75 to 80f) during the day, nighttime, approx 21 to 24c (72 to 75f)....
    That's approximately what I have, yes. The in-spot temp is ~105. The air a few inches away from the spot is 90-95. The coolest part is usually 75-78, and the air around the pool is ~80. Night time temps are uniformally around 80-85, it looks like I need to bring it down a bit. I'll work on it.

    [quote]I don`t think you`ve mentioned the humidity level?[/'quote]
    Humidity is... well, an ongoing struggle. Like I said, I live in the desert. Humidity outside right now is about 25%, and that's very high (it has rained recently). I did some research on the climate of coastal Australia (hey, 30million years of evolution can't be wrong, right?) and figure that their humidity should be in the 40% to 70% range. I'm managing to keep his enclosure in the 40 to 60 range, and that's with A LOT of misting. I'd like to see it averaging in the 50 to 70 range, so I'm hoping that a bigger pool will do the trick. If not, I'll be getting a mister to keep the humidity up and more stable.

    The organic potting soil is o.k but without the vermiculite. You can also use ceramic tiles, or reptile carpet.
    I'm having trouble finding such a thing. Can you recommend a specific brand that is organic, guano/dung free, and has no little stones/back chunks?

    There's two reasons right now that I'm finding eco-earth attractive: 1. it holds moisture, so I can mist it and it releases it steadily through the day, and 2. it's stable enough to keep those branches stable. Carpet/tiles couldn't do that, so I'm leaving those as a last resort. Right now I'm considering getting decorative gravel, the kind people have in their yards down here in the desert... chunks are 1" across on average, and usually tumbled to remove most of the sharp edges. That could bring some stability, and I could get nice slate gray stuff to look like the rocks in coastal Australia. Pain in the butt to clean, but I haven't seen him defecate anywhere but his water, soooo...

    I think the hide is too big, they need to feel secure, and there should be several.
    He has two actual hides, the half-log one up top, and a smaller rock one down on the bottom. (Ie. one warm one cool). I've literally never seen him go in the bottom one. He'll run to the log one for a few seconds when startled, but always comes back out within seconds. The strange thing is that aside from the occasional few seconds in that top hide, he's out and about almost constantly. The lower branch that sticks just under that shelf seems to be his favorite "hide". I'll work on making some more options for him, thanks for the tip.

    If those are analogue gauges they can be very inaccurate, a digital hygrometer and a thermometer with a probe are quite cheap, and extremely accurate (I can see something on the back wall that looks like a probe)?
    The round ones are, yes. I've also got a couple outdoor plastic cased/mercury (he can't bite the glass, it's cased in the plastic) thermometers that I've been moving around to spot check temps. I also have a digital temp/humidity unit I put in to verify that things are still working. The probe on the back goes to the thermostat/hygrostat. Of course at this point the hygrostat isn't connected to a mister, but that's looking like a necessity.

  8. #8
    Elite Member SpidaFly's Avatar
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    Re: New Eastern Water Dragon: Pics and Advice Request!

    Couldn't edit, to add another picture, so new post... Nice picture of his chest and neck.

  9. #9
    Elite Member murrindindi's Avatar
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    Re: New Eastern Water Dragon: Pics and Advice Request!

    Another very long post, I can see you`re testing my powers of observation (I might fail)!
    O.k, first thing; I`ve almost always used infrared bulb at night with no noticable effect on the animals, but if you feel it`s disturbing the sleep, use ceramic.
    Not sure why you want to heat the middle of the enclosure, but the more heat, the less humidity.
    The humidity will obviously be lower around the basking spot, but elsewhere you need around 60 to 70%, I lived quite close to where they are found in Australia (south eastern Victoria), and so I`m very familiar with the climate. The larger pool will help, especially if the water`s heated, but for now, you could try a household humidifier (cool air), cheap to buy, and very economical to run (you can use a timer, perhaps 10mins every hour).
    You really do need a digital thermometer with a probe, or a "Temp-gun", there`s no way you can check a surface temp without, does that mean the 105 is ambient (air)?
    I`m living in England just now, so can`t tell you where to buy the soil?

  10. #10
    Elite Member SpidaFly's Avatar
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    Re: New Eastern Water Dragon: Pics and Advice Request!

    Ok thanks again for the advice. I'll make humidity my #1 priority then. Bigger pool on its way, and will research humidifiers when I get home from work.

    The 105f I'm referring to is what I believe the surface temp of the rock to be. I took the flat outdoor mercury thermometer and laid it so the back is laying directly the basking rock, right in the middle of the basking beam. It reads 105f, and the nearby thermometer reads air temp ~90-95. However I like the idea of having a temp gun so I'll look into that as well.

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