Asian water dragon, Thai water dragon, Green water dragon
The Chinese water dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) is a large agamid lizard native to China and mainland Southeast Asia. They are semi-arboreal, roosting at night on branches overlooking streams, which offer an escape route when the lizards are disturbed. Due to their charismatic appearance, captured Chinese water dragons are sold as pets for both local and international markets.
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
An insectivore is a carnivorous plant or animal that eats insects. An alternative term is entomophage, which also refers to the human practice of e...
A piscivore is a carnivorous animal that eats primarily fish. Piscivorous is equivalent to the Greek-derived word ichthyophagous. Fish were the die...
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some anima...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
Oviparous animals are female animals that lay their eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother. This is the reproductive...
Predators are animals that kill and eat other organisms, their prey. Predators may actively search for or pursue prey or wait for it, often conceal...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
The body and tail of these lizards are compressed (taller than wide) while the limbs are long and muscular, each ending at five sharp claws. In both sexes, a fringe of enlarged scales runs down the length of the spine. The tympanum (eardrum) is partially exposed, with its rim covered by scales. There is a row of 8 or 9 large white plate-like scales on the edge of the lower jaw, below the infralabials (the scale row of the lower lip). The males are heavier than females and have prominent display features. An arched crest extends along the rear of the neck onto the back, and another low crest is present at the base of the tail. The head is larger and more triangular, while the cheeks are swollen into jowls with pale tubercles (prominent pointed scales). Males have a functional series of femoral pores on the underside of the thigh, while in females these pores are little more than subtle indentations. Females have smaller head and lower crests. Coloration of Chinese water dragons is usually a shade of bright green, though they can take on a brown or grey hue when stressed. In juveniles, the body has vibrant green or turquoise diagonal stripes, which may fade with maturity. Most of the tail is ornamented with thick bands of alternating light green and dark brown. In some individuals a dark stripe stretches between the eye and the ear. In most areas the undersides are pale in color, but the throat takes on a more colorful shade of yellow or orange, especially in adult males. Scales on the cheek and lower jaw may acquire a blue or pink coloration in adults.
Chinese water dragons are native to southern China and southeastern Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Burma). They live in lowland and highland forests and are most commonly found along the banks of freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams.
Chinese water dragons are social and live in groups consisting of one male and multiple females. They are active during the day (diurnal) and spend most of their time in the trees or plants (arboreal). If threatened, the dragon will drop from the trees into the water and either swim to safety or remain submerged for up to 90 minutes. Their tail can assist in swimming and can also be used as a weapon, for balance. Like many other reptiles, Chinese water dragons possess a small, iridescent, photosensitive spot between their eyes referred to as the pineal eye (or parietal eye, or the third eye). It is thought to help thermoregulate their bodies by sensing differences in light to assist with basking and seeking shelter after sunset. Since it recognizes differences in light, the parietal eye can also help the lizard avoid predation from birds and other aerial threats and can awaken from a deep sleep from even slight changes in light from overhead. When Chinese water dragons express aggression they puff up their throat, use head bobbing and arm waving, and, sometimes, chase each other.
Chinese water dragons are oviparous which means that females of this species lay eggs. After mating, the female will dig an underground nest and deposit 6-18 eggs. The incubation period usually lasts 60 to 75 days. Hatchlings are well-developed and independent at birth. They become reproductively mature at around 3 to 5 years of age.
Collecting for food and for the international pet trade are main threats to Chinese water dragons. Adults dragons and eggs are usually harvested for food, and juveniles are taken for the pet trade. Another serious threat to these animals is habitat loss due to urban development, timber extraction, agriculture, road construction, and tourism.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Chinese water dragon total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.