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Chinese Water Dragon Complete Substrate Guide

Chinese Water Dragon Complete Substrate Guide

What is the Best Substrate for a Chinese Water Dragon?

Chinese Water Dragons are arboreal and spend most of their time in the top portions of their enclosure, or swimming in a water source. The ideal Chinese Water Dragon substrate will be moisture retentive to aid in keeping the humidity in the enclosure high. Options like sphagnum moss, peat moss, coconut fiber, and coco chip are all great options since they hold humidity very well. Creating a mix of all of these options will give you a moisture retentive, yet airy layer of substrate that will hold humidity without becoming compacted.

Substrate (Bedding)

Chinese Water Dragons are arboreal and spend most of their time in the upper levels of their enclosure. When they’re not climbing high in the trees- they’re swimming. That being said, the substrate itself isn’t super important since they will likely not spend very much time on the substrate itself, but if the “pool” doesn’t take up the entire floor of the enclosure, adding substrate can help with humidity maintenance. A fluffy 4″ / 10cm layer of moistened coconut fiber or damp sphagnum moss will do the trick, and it also helps act as a cushion if your Dragon takes a fall. Change the substrate at least once a month to maintain good hygiene.

Alternatively, you can go bioactive, which helps maintain humidity and reduces substrate waste. However, note that bioactive enclosures require a much thicker substrate layer and as a result, are much heavier.

Decorating the Terrarium

Decorations play a vital role in your Water Dragon’s enclosure as a source of environmental enrichment. These items provide climbing opportunities, hiding places, encourage exercise, stimulate your pet’s natural instincts, and help promote overall well being. And, of course, they make the enclosure look nicer!

fish tank in a Zen Habitats 4x2x4 PVC Chinese Water Dragon enclosure, reptile habitat, reptile terrarium

Branches, cork hollows, thick vines, ropes, shelves/ledges, and live or artificial plants work well as décor in a Chinese Water Dragon terrarium. Branches, vines, and other climbing materials should be large/thick enough to support the Dragon’s body and securely anchored to the sides of the enclosure. Large potted and hanging plants are a great way to add foliage. Any live plants should be sturdy enough to withstand occasional trampling. Dracaena, hibiscus, ficus, pothos, philodendron, spider plant, staghorn fern, bromeliad, croton, and air plants are all great options for a Chinese Water Dragon enclosure.

What Type Of Reptile Habitat Would Be Best For Chinese Water Dragons?

emzotic chinese water dragons in a Zen Habitats 4x2x4 PVC Chinese Water Dragon enclosure

Emzotic was able to help answer this question for us! Be sure to check out the full article where we cover even more topics pertaining to Chinese Water Dragons.

“As their name suggests, the Chinese Water Dragon benefits greatly from the presence of water. In order to meet their needs, I would highly suggest that potential keepers invest in an enclosure which can hold the weight of a filtered aquarium that is large enough for a lizard to fully submerge itself in, and deep enough that the Dragon won’t injure itself when diving into the water.”

“Chinese Water Dragons thrive when they are able to climb, perch, and also dive (or belly-flop) into a body of water to escape predators. I keep my Chinese Water Dragons in a 4’x2’x4’ PVC panel Zen Habitats enclosures, and I’ve chosen to elevate it a further 2ft off the ground, using the Zen Habitats 4’x2’x2’ deluxe cabinet stand. This allows my Dragons to be 6ft off the ground, and far enough above my head that they can look down on me, survey the room, and feel safer.  They also have a 20-gallon aquarium with a filter and plants, to enable them to soak, drink, and enjoy as enrichment.”

About the author: Maddie Smith Maddie has been keeping reptiles as pets for more than a decade. She has a passion for educating others about animals, and currently works with over 50 different species including reptiles, amphibians, and birds!

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