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Chinese Water Dragon Care - 5

Chinese Water Dragon Care Sheet - Section 5

Feeding Intervals

Dragons at different stages of maturity get fed differently. A hatchling or juvenile needs to be fed daily; an adult- gets fed about every 2 to 3 days, although many people like myself do feed their adult dragons on a daily basis. Feed smaller portions if you would like to feed an adult dragon on a daily basis to prevent them from becoming overweight.

However, whatever size the dragon is disregard this feeding schedule if the dragon is skinny as you need to get some weight on this little guy! Feed every day in this case, offering food 2 or three times a day. Your dragon may only eat a bit in one sitting but be hungry later, and if you don't offer more food your dragon will take longer to get back in shape!

Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus)

Food Items

Crickets, mealworms (normal size, jumbo and super), waxworms, and earthworms, grasshoppers, butterworms, locusts, some people try small feeder fish like goldfish, and you may also want to offer a little bit of finely shredded veggies and fruit ( if your dragon will eat veggies this should make up about 10% to 15% of their "diet") ( if you're going to try feeding them veggies and fruit, look for Melissa Kaplan's "ig salad diet" in her Iguana Care FAQ you can find the FAQ at:, you may also be interested in viewing this page in order to select fruit and veggies with a good calcium to phosphorous ratio.

Adult dragons should be offered all of the above plus King mealworms (Zophobas). Supervise these feedings though, these worms bite back, some people squash their heads before feeding them to their lizards!), pinkies ( newborn hairless mice ) and Fuzzies ( slightly older baby mice, just starting to get hair).


Insects are fairly high in phosphorus and low in calcium, but do have nutritious value if not fed in abundance or as the soul diet. Most insects also have a hard indigestible exoskeleton that could cause a bowel impaction if fed in large quantities. All insects should be gut loaded with well balanced offerings of veggies and perhaps even some calcium and vitamins before being offered to reptiles. (See fruit and veggies below for some gut loading ideas.)

Insects that are fairly easy to purchase: crickets, mealworms (tenibrio), Super worms (tenibrio mealworms on steroids- I don't recommend these!), King mealworms (Zophobas), and waxworms (very high in fat and very low in calcium- use only as a treat!), and earthworms.

Insects that can occasionally be found locally or may be purchased by mail order: butterworms, grasshoppers, locusts, Hissing Roaches, cicadas, and silkworms ... (I'm sure there are many others!)

If you would like to keep and breed your own insects to cut the cost of keeping your water dragon or other reptiles please see:

Many people write to me asking if it is okay to feed their dragons insects that they have found in their yard. My answer is always "No". These insects may be contaminated by pesticides and or herbicides used in the area. Please do not risk your dragons life by feeding him wild caught crickets or other insects. Even if you don't use pesticides, someone in your neighborhood might, and therefore the insects will likely be affected. There have been a number of studies done to see just how far chemical contaminants can travel, and it has been shown that almost every place in the world has been touched by chemical contaminants of some kind or another.

It is not advisable to use insects that are not mentioned on this list as they may be toxic to your dragon. Over the summer a number of people were catching fireflies and feeding them to their herps- a number of these herps died. It seems that fireflies have some chemicals in them that are extremely poisonous.

Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus)


Earthworms are fairly high in calcium, and are fairly well balanced nutritionally. They are also soft so the risk of impaction is lessened.

Whole Prey

Whole prey food items are generally high in calcium and protein, and due to the calcium content should be included as part of the diet. Mader states in his Reptile Medicine and Surgery " Carnivorous lizards should be fed pre-killed whole prey. Rodents are preferable to chicks, and chicks are preferable to fish." he also goes to state " If mice, rats, rodents, rabbits and chicks make up the bulk of the diet, vitamin and mineral supplementation should not be necessary. It should be noted that newborn pinkie mice have less total calcium than do adult mice, and a calcium should be supplemented if these are used."

A selection of whole prey food items would range from pinkie, fuzzie and adult mice, rat pups, some people have offered gerbil fuzzies?, young chicks (Mader himself used to feed his dragons chicks), and feeder fish such as minnows. Some people also offer small lizards such as anoles to their dragons as a food source.


Author: Tricia Power
CWD - © Camphora [CC-BY-SA-3.0]
CWD - © Jakub Halun [CC-BY-SA-3.0]