Animals / Reptiles

The Eastern Water Dragon

Синонимы и названия на других языках

Australian water dragon

Australische Wasseragame (German)


Order: squamata

Family: agamidae

Subfamily: amphibolurinae

Genus: istiurus

Species: physignathus lesueurii.


The Eastern Water Dragon is found in the Eastern part of Australia. Some of them live in the Southern Australia too. They are normally found around rivers, lakes and creeks, among the trees and bushes.  Semi-aquatic lizards.

Theses lizards thrive both in the water and on the trees. They are active in the afternoons, and they spend the nights hanging on the trees. If they feel threatened, they drop into the water and can stay submerged up to 90 minutes. At times they move their feet so fast that they actually run on the water surface! The Eastern Water Dragons feel most comfortable within the temperature range from 26 to 32 degrees Celsius and under 40 to 80% humidity.

Внешний вид

Total length up to 90 cm, the longest part of the body is the tail. An adult lizard can weigh over 1 kg.

The males are normally bigger but more graceful than females and have brighter colors.

The Eastern water dragon has a powerful body with strong legs and long nails, which makes them such good climbers. It has a well-developed row of spines and a strong tail which serves as a steering wheel when the lizard is swimming. These lizards are also excellent divers and their extremely agile legs enable them to run short distances on the water surface.  


The Eastern water dragon is a quick runner, an excellent climber and swimmer. They jump into the water from the trees and dive. Also they like staying in the sun on the large stones near the water.

The males are prone to territorial aggression, they can fight with other males in a quite brutal way.

In the wild the Eastern water dragons are quite timid, but in captivity they tend to get tamed quickly and are willing to interact with people. If handled from an early age, they like being touched and get very friendly and sociable. They distinguish people very well.

In the beginning of the interaction with this lizard it is important to be patient and gentle, not to grab it carelessly – they will never trust you if you do so. It is essential to build the relationship based on trust, then the results will be impressive.

If your Eastern water dragon has been caught in the wild, it can be very shy and difficult to tame. Often they start to panic at the sight of a human. But the ones born in captivity are much more loyal and friendly.

Содержание и уход

You will need a large enclosure with a deep water bowl or bath. The minimal size of an eclosure for two lizards is 200 litres, but the bigger the better. Sometimes they can be kept as a harem, but occasionally females get aggressive to each other, and then the harassed female should be separated or it can die.  

The substrate has to be well separated from the water. It can be soil with non-poisonous plans such as pothos or spiderwort, or otherwise bark, moss, paper towels – all of them work fine.  You can use artificial plants for hiding places, because the water dragons tend to destroy and eat the natural ones. Another possibility: to use the fish tank with water all over the bottom (you will need to change it quite often though), and have some large branches coming out of it for the lizards to climb and to rest. The basking lamp has to be directed at one of the branches.

The air temperature should be 25-30 degrees, up to 35 at the hot spot. The temperature at night should be about 5 degrees lower than at daytime. The basking lamp has to be at least 15 cm away from the lizard, otherwise it can get burnt.

The air has to be very humid, about 60-80%. You will need to mist your terrarium daily.

These lizards require at least 12 hours of light every day. UV lamps are a must.


The Eastern water dragon is mainly carnivore: it eats big cockroaches, crickets, locust, frogs and small mammals. You should see to that their menu contains about 10% of vegetables and fruit: finely cut apples, pears, bananas, berries, pumpkin, courgette and carrot. Also you should give your lizard vitamins and supplements that contain calcium. It is a good idea to rotate the food: the reptile can get live food 6 days a week and vegetables and fruit once a week. Or you can add some plants to every meal.

Normally the Eastern Water Dragons have good appetite and are willing to eat commercial reptile food. It is convenient since it already has all the necessary minerals including calcium.

You should give food to your water dragon in a shallow bowl which you have to take away after feeding in order for the food not to rot.  


Large beautiful lizards with interesting behavior.

They can be tamed and hand-fed.

They can eat commercial food.

These lizards require a large terrarium with a big pool in it.

The Eastern Water Dragon can be aggressive towards people.

In general these reptiles do not make good pets for beginners.


It is healthy species not prone to diseases. However, if caught in the wild, the lizards can have worms. You should take the lizard’s feces for a special test to the clinic, and if they find the parasites, you will have to consult your vet in order to choose a suitable medicine.


The Eastern Water Dragon lays eggs. The hibernation period gets the lizards in the mood for mating. In order to achieve this, you have to gradually decrease the temperature and the length  of daylight, and also to reduce feeding to once every five days or so. This whole process lasts about 1-2 months.  After that you have to get the lizards back to the normal routine, also smoothly. Then the male and the female have to be separated for about two weeks, and during this time you should add vitamin Е to their food.  Then the lizards have to be put together in an enclosure with a thick layer of substrate. After mating the female digs a hole about 10-15 cm deep and lays there a clutch of eggs (normally 6 to 18). After that you have to take away the eggs and put them into an incubator. The sex of the hatchlings will depend on the temperature in the incubator: if it is higher than 32, only females will hatch out. The new-born lizards eat insects of appropriate size.

The average life expectancy: in captivity the Eastern water dragon can live to 15 years.


Authentication required

You must log in to post a comment.

Log in
There are no comments yet.