Chinese Water Dragon Diet | What Do Chinese Water Dragons Eat?

What do Chinese water dragons eat?

A Chinese water dragon diet should consist of a variety of live prey, leafy greens, veggies, and some fruit. Understanding what to feed your Chinese water dragon before purchasing one is vital to proper care. But what are the best foods to include in a Chinese water dragons diet? 

A Chinese water dragon’s diet mainly consists of live prey, such as crickets, roaches, worms, pinkie mice, and goldfish. Water dragons can also eat some leafy greens and certain fruits. After all, Chinese water dragons are Omnivores. 

It’s important to care for them and feed them the right foods to ensure they thrive. Like most  reptiles, Chinese water dragons have specific dietary needs owners need to meet. The right foods and schedules are vital to caring for the healthiest and happiest water dragon. 

When caring for your water dragon, you need to plan out a set feeding schedule. Feed it the best foods either daily or every few days, depending on its age. Feeding times and frequency depend on the age of the reptile. If need be, Chinese water dragons can take vitamins to supplement their diet. 

Chinese Water Dragon Diet Overview

When cared for correctly, Chinese water dragons can live up to 20 years, so be sure to give them the best foods possible! They are omnivorous creatures (they eat living things and vegetables), but their diet is 90-95 percent living things consisting of mostly insects. 

Only about 10 or 15 percent of your dragon’s diet should be vegetables and fruit. That said, not all fruits and veggies are good for your Chinese water dragon and some can even be harmful.

In addition, some Chinese water dragons will refuse leafy greens and fruit. This is especially true when they are younger. This is similar to the diet they have in the wild

Best Proteins Sources For A Chinese Water Dragon Diet

As noted above, Chinese water dragons love insects, worms, goldfish, and pinkie mice. Insects should be sized to your dragon and gut-loaded, meaning they were fed nutrients no more than 24 hours before feeding). 

Best protein sources for your water dragon 

  • Crickets
  • Worms (mealworms, waxworms, earthworms)
  • Roaches
  • Grasshoppers
  • Locusts
  • Small goldfish
  • Pinkie mice (adult dragons only)
  • Fuzzy mice ( adult dragons only )

Gut-loaded insects are a water dragon’s most important meal. Pinkie mice and small goldfish are an occasional great addition but shouldn’t be the bulk of the dragon’s diet.

Feed worms in moderation (another good reason to vary the diet). Worms’ exoskeleton is indigestible. Consuming too much at once can cause some severe stomach illnesses. Don’t feed your dragon wild-caught insects – they don’t have the right nutrients and can carry potentially fatal diseases.

What Fruits and Vegetables Do Chinese Water Dragons Eat?

Chinese water dragons mostly eat proteins, but a diet consisting of about 10-15 percent of fruits and vegetables is beneficial. Many dragons refuse to eat them, but you can trick your dragon into thinking it’s moving by wiggling the food in front of its nose.

While vegetables are a great diet addition, you should only feed your dragon fruits as a special treat. Also, note that not all fruits and veggies are safe for Chinese water dragons. 

The Best Vegetables To Include In A Chinese Water Dragon Diet

  • Collard and mustard greens
  • Red tip leaf lettuce
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots 

The Best Fruits To Include In A Chinese Water Dragon Diet

  • Figs
  • Kiwi
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Melons

Only feed your dragon the high-quality fruits and vegetables that you would eat yourself. Wash all produce and make sure it’s pesticide-free. Chop up leafy greens and bulky produce to make it easier to digest.

Discard any uneaten fruits or vegetables within 24 hours. The decaying produce can cause intestinal issues if the dragon eats them. 

How Often Should You Feed A Chinese Water Dragon?

Feeding schedules mainly depend on the age of the Chinese water dragon. A baby’s diet will vary significantly from an adult’s food schedule. Implementing the best feeding schedule for your reptile will ensure it grows and flourishes.

Age Meal Frequency Restrictions
Juvenile/Hatchling Daily No mice, fewer fruits and vegetables
Adult  Every 2-3 days None as long as it is an approved food. 

Have you ever gotten sick of eating the same thing over again? Water dragons are the same way. Be sure to vary your water dragon’s diet, so it doesn’t get bored with its meals.

For example, feed your dragon mealworms one day, then change it up with crickets or roaches the next day. This does not have to be every day but switching it up can help. Probably the go-to for most days are gut-loaded crickets dusted with calcium. 

Chinese Water Dragon Diet and Feeding For Babies and Juveniles

Baby water dragons eat a lot more than adults in comparison to their size. Hatchling and juvenile dragons need daily meals to grow and prosper. Young water dragons need a lot of protein. Feed them a lot of insects and worms. Don’t feed pinkies or fuzzies until your baby dragon has grown. Mice are slightly bigger and more challenging to digest for young water dragons.

Insects should be a smaller size, so consider investing in baby crickets or locusts. They’re small in size and make it a fun game for the dragon to hunt them. A good rule of thumb would be feeding them insects no larger than the space between their eyes. 

Feeding An Adult Water Dragon

As Chinese water dragons age, some dragons eat more vegetables and become more omnivorous. Fruits and veggies, however, should still account for only about 15% of their diet. Adults don’t need to eat as often as their juvenile counterparts, either. Expect to feed your water dragon every two to three days. 

Some dragon owners feed their adult dragons smaller portions daily instead of waiting a few days. If you decide to take this approach, make sure your water dragon doesn’t gain a lot of weight. Weak or ill water dragons should be fed daily. 

Picking The Right Size Food For Your Chinese Water Dragon

Chinese water dragons enjoy eating smaller particles of food. Chop up fruits and vegetables to make it easy to chew and digest. Feed juvenile and baby dragons small insects. Graduate to larger insects as your reptile gets bigger.

To test if an insect is an appropriate size, it should be no more the length than that between the dragon’s eyes to the tip of its nose. Some also say a good size is equal to or smaller than the space between their eyes. 

As for portion sizes, give your water dragon the number of insects it can eat in three to five minutes and discard uneaten live prey. If you’re worried about leaving insects in your dragon’s cage, feed it in a separate area that’s free of anything where an insect may hide 

Vitamins and Supplements

As noted above, gut-loaded insects are fed nutrients at least 24 hours before feeding to Chinese water dragons. If you care for insects, look for high-calcium foods, such as cricket food. Fruits and veggies are good options as well. Simply feed your crickets fruits and veggies that you would feed your dragon. 

Also, you can add calcium supplements to your Chinese water dragons. There should be minimal phosphorous, as it promotes kidney disease.  Dust your insects with calcium a few times per week. Many pet stores also sell a reptile multivitamin that you can feed to your dragon once a week. 

Juvenile and hatchling water dragons need more supplements than adults. Consult your vet for the best calcium supplements to feed your growing reptile. In general, you should consult your vet before giving your water dragon supplements. 

Watering For Water Dragons

While adult water dragons only need food every few days, every water dragon needs fresh water daily (it is in their name, after all!). Clean the water dish every day as well – some dragons like to use it as a bathroom in addition to a watering hole.

Water dragons also love to hang out in their water dish. Make sure it’s deep enough for your reptile to soak in it. 

Water needs to be chlorine- and metal-free. Never give your dragon unfiltered tap water; bottled spring water is the best to ensure there aren’t any added chemicals in the water. You will also want to avoid using distilled water as well. 

Some people also choose to build a watering system into their Chinese water dragon enclosure. This would include a filtration system and the whole 9 yards. That way you don’t have to rely on changing out your bowl with drinking water every day.


Chinese water dragons are a fun and unique pet to add to your home. Feeding them the right foods at the right time will ensure it grows, prospers, and lives a happy life.

The best proteins for water dragons are worms, insects, small goldfish, and baby mice. The best fruits and vegetables are leafy greens, squash, sweet potatoes, apples, kiwi, melon, and a few berries.


Recent Posts