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Chinese Water Dragon Care - 6

Chinese Water Dragon Care Sheet - Section 6

Veterinarian Q&A - Dr. Douglas Mader

The April 1999 issue of Reptiles Magazine, Veterinarian Q&A by Dr. Douglas Mader, M.S., D.V.M., D.A.B.V.P. Page 18 states in reference to bites and injuries inflicted by rodents.

"Now for the first question. Why is it that this is often a very serious and sometimes fatal wound? There are two reasons. The first is that rodents carry a number of very infectious bacteria on their teeth. Some of these bacteria are associated with rat-bite fever in people. When these bacteria are inoculated into the skin from the bite wound, certain types can produce a toxin that can be lethal to snakes. It doesn't take long for these toxins to be produced, and that is why time is of the essence in getting the snake to the veterinarian for treatment. Even if the offending bacteria are killed with antibiotics, the antibiotics will not kill or remove the toxin that the bacteria have produced. Any toxin that is produced will be absorbed by the host animal. If the bitten animal is strong and healthy, and only a small quantity of toxin has been produced, then there is a chance of recovery."

"The second reason these wounds are often fatal is due to the actual mechanical nature of the wounds themselves. Rodents have a habit of gnawing when they eat. When they attack the predator, they usually make their first bite over the backbone region and then continue either toward the head or the tail of the snake with each successive bite. These bite wounds will often puncture the spinal cord. If this happens, an often fatal spinal meningitis will occur."

Mader is discussing the fatal wounds on a correspondents' snake, but I'm 100% sure that the information he has states applies equally well to live rodents being fed to lizards.

Chinese Water Dragon Eats Cricket (Physignathus cocincinus)

Fruits - Veggies

Some dragons will eat fruit and veggies when it's offered, but many dragons will not take fruit and veggies at all! Keepers that have success with this find fruit is preferred. Unfortunately fruit tends to be very high in phosphorus and very low in many other nutrients with the largest benefit being additional fluids and vitamins.

Fruit that have good calcium content include figs, raspberries, cantaloupe, strawberries and blueberries ... starting to slide now on the amount of calcium ... I think mangos and papaya's are ok too?

Veggies that have an adequate calcium to phosphorus ratio: Greens such as collards, dandelion (flowers edible too), and mustard greens. (Kale, spinach and other greens of this variety are high in oxalates which bind to calcium making it unusable) leafy veggies of the lettuce family have almost no nutrients thus are very low in value other than for their water content. Yellow squash, sweet potato, parsnips, green beans, and occasionally carrots ... Veggies such as broccoli contain oxalates and as stated above that binds to calcium rendering it unusable.

Please NOTE that all of the well balanced fruit and veggies listed above can be used when gut loading your insects!

Healthy Diet Combinations - Ratios

I believe a healthy diet would be a combination of all of the above diet items, using as wide a variety of each item as possible, in the ratio of:

  • Insects 40% - 50%
  • Earthworms 10% - 20%
  • Whole Prey 40% - 20%
  • Fruit & Veggies 10% (If possible, otherwise increase % of whole prey)

Insects and earthworms should be gut loaded, and dusted with calcium supplement approximately every second day, dusted with vitamins once a week; It couldn't hurt to add some supplementation to the fruit and veggies if the dragon is eating them; unless it's pinkies that is being offered as the whole prey food item calcium supplementation shouldn't have to be added to these food items.

Dragons receiving diets lower in whole prey food items should of course be getting more calcium supplementation than dragons getting higher quantities of whole prey.

Rep-Cal Calcium - Vitamin D3
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RepCal Pink Label Calcium Supplement

Rep-Cal Herptivite Multi-Vit
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Herptivite Vitamin Supplement


Crickets, mealworms and waxworms should be dusted with a vitamin supplement (shake and bake method- put crickets in bag, pour in small amount of vitamin supplement and shake, then feed to dragon!) supplement approx. once each week. You should also be giving him a calcium supplement at least every second feeding- as metabolic bone disease (MBD) will occur if your dragon does not get enough calcium in his diet, he will also need UVB lighting in order to metabolize the calcium, more on this later. Food sources such as insects should be gut loaded with nutritious food items, vitamins and calcium.

Many people use commercial calcium products such as repcal as a calcium supplement, human calcium supplements may also be used (grind them to powder in the coffee grinder!), commercial vitamin supplements such as mineral-all and herptivite are also commonly used, again human vitamin supplements (centrum) could also be used after being crushed to powder.

I give my dragons two or three drops of liquid Calcium-Sandoz once a week, you can buy this in a drug store. I use an eye dropper to drop one drop onto their snouts and they just lick it off. I also use a powdered calcium supplement for every second feeding.

Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus)

Commercial Diets - NOT

Please don't feed your dragon dog food, cat food, monkey chow, or other commercial diets made for lizards that are carnivores or omnivores. There is no proof that they are good for dragons, and may in fact be harmful! They are definitely not as complete as the food items listed above, especially if you are using all of the above food items to vary the dragons diet.


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