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Australian Water Dragon Care Sheet
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Australian Water Dragon

Physignathus lesuerii

AKA: Brown Water Dragon & Eastern Water Dragon 


Housing & Substrate:

The minimum size enclosure for an adult Australian Water Dragon is four feet tall, four feet wide, and two feet deep. The ideal enclosure size for one adult is six feet tall, five feet wide, and three feet deep. They need a tall enclosure as they are arboreal lizards and spend most of their time up high. These are some appropriate bedding options; paper towels, newspaper, reptile carpet, AstroTurf, shelf liner, tile, organic soil, or compressed coconut fiber. Other options such as sand, gravel, pine and cedar shavings need to be avoided.


Humidity & Water:

The humidity can be maintained by misting the enclosure at least 3 times daily, providing a reptile fogger, reptile mister, or water drop mechanism. The ideal humidity should be kept between 70% and 80% to low or two high can cause medical problems. Do not let the humidity fall below 50 or be over 85. Water Dragons defecate in their water and it needs to be cleaned out regularly at least every other day. They need a large water dish for swimming, no deeper then twelve inches. You will want this water dish to have a slope so that your dragon can get out without any problems. A young dragon can drown if they can not get up. If you water is ten gallons or more then you need to use a submersible water heater (burn free) to heat the water. You can also supply a small drinking water dish.


Temperature & Lighting:

The enclosure needs to be kept between 78˙F (26˙C) and 90˙F (32˙C) during the day and between 70˙F (22˙C) and 80˙F (27˙C) at night and a basking temperature (near the heat light) of 97˙F (36˙C).  Like with all other diurnal (awake during the day) lizards. They will need a UVB producing light. This light needs to be on for 10-12 hours a day. During this time, the light will provide enough UV rays for proper digestion and release appropriate amounts of vitamin D3 to allow for calcium absorption. Without a UVB light it is extremely likely for your pet to get a medical condition called MBD. This stands for Metabolic Bone Disease which is fatal if not caught early enough.


Feeding and Supplements:

Juveniles and adults can eat a staple of crickets (no bigger then the space between their eyes) with a variety of feeder fish, butter worms, super worms, silk worms, and earth worms. They are omnivorous and can also eat, collared greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, yellow squash, sweet potato, and an occasional fruit treat. The adults can also eat pinkie mice.  The adults should be fed every day to every other day and juveniles daily. Dust the insects with a calcium/multivitamin supplement. This is crucial to your pet’s health and needs to be done to all food items every other feeding. Dust the insects with a calcium/D3 supplement at least once a month.



Males have much longer spikes, a larger head and crest, and they will have dark pronounced femoral pores on their underside near the vent. Females have smooth femoral pores that are white or cream colored. The females have shorter spikes, a smaller head and a smaller crest at the back of their neck.  Males also have a red underside and stomach as the females’ stay cream colored or white.


Shopping List / Minimum Requirements:


  • You will need a large enclosure (see above for dimensions)
  • Plenty of fake plants and branches logs and items to climb on. (real plants will get broken and damaged easily by your Water Dragon)
  • A UVB producing fluorescent light
  • A heat light or ceramic heat emitter (this basking light should be outside so the pet does not get burnt
  • A digital Hygrometer (humidity gauge)
  • A digital Thermometer (the stick on plastic dials can be up to 20 degrees inaccurate )
  • A reptile mister (spray/mist bottle for water) or a water drip mechanism
  • A large water dish and a small one
  • Substrate (above)
  • A nocturnal/red heat bulb if you are not using a ceramic heat emitter to maintain night time temperatures


Not Appropriate:

There are many items that Water Dragons should not have. Heat Rocks and Heat Caves can severely burn your lizard’s stomach and feet and should be avoided for all lizards. The only advantage to using a Heat Pad is to keep the substrate warm for humidity purposes they use over head heat not ground heat to stay warm. Do not use any Sand, Gravel, or Repti-Bark substrates.  Do not feed mealworms, their hard exoskeleton can easily cause impaction they are also very low in nutrients and aren’t healthy.


Other Information:

Australian Water Dragons are brown in color and have dark brown patches. They can get up to three feet long and females are usually smaller. Water Dragons sit in the trees basking and when felt threatened will jump from their tree into a lake, river, or creek below to escape predators. They can stay underwater for up to fifteen minutes. Females will lay eggs with or without a male to fertilize them. It can be very stressful on them and they require special care while gravid (carrying eggs) these unfertile eggs can be frozen and discarded. Water Dragons are also excellent swimmers and climbers.

For more Water Dragon information please visit:

Tricia's Water Dragon