Chinese Water Dragon


Adult water dragons are various shades of green depending on their environment and stressors that may affect the animal.  The body is slightly flattened with well-developed limbs that have sharp-clawed digits, 5 on each foot.  They have relatively large eyes with orange irises.  The water dragon has an additional sensory organ located on the top of its head; this “parietal eye” is sensitive to changes in light and dark and may stimulate hormone production and aid in thermoregulation.  It is sometimes referred to as a “pineal eye” or “third eye.” 


The Chinese water dragon can be found basking in the branches of trees and bushes along the riverbank or in burrows in the riverbank.  They typically live in groups with one dominant male and several females.  The male is very territorial, and when necessary will attempt to fight off other males.  If a Chinese water dragon is threatened or nervous, it will take refuge in the water, and they are capable of remaining underwater for 25 minutes or longer.

Did You Know?  

  • Chinese water dragons are also known as Asian water dragons, Thai water dragons, and green water dragons.
  • Their tail is nearly two-thirds of the entire body length, and can be used as a weapon, for balance, and to assist swimming. 

Our Animals

One male lives at PPZ.  He was born in 2006, and was a private donation to the zoo.


Scientific Name Physignathus cocincinus
Conservation Status IUCN: Not Listed
Size Adult males can be up to 3 feet in length, and females up to 2 feet.
Average Lifespan Up to 10 years in the wild and anywhere from 10 to 12 years in captivity.
Wild Diet The diet of the water dragon consists mainly of insects, supplemented with an occasional small fish, mammal or reptile.
Found in forests of India, Northern and Southern China, and Eastern and Southeastern Asia