For me the Chinese water dragon is the perfect size lizard to keep as a pet. Chinese water dragons bigger than bearded dragons but not huge like iguanas. With that said, let’s discuss just how big can Chinese Water Dragons get?
Full-grown Chinese Water Dragons can grow up to 3 feet long from the tip of their snouts to the tip of their tails, and they usually weigh between 1 and 2 pounds. Female Chinese Water Dragons are usually smaller than males are, however, so they’ll be slightly less than these numbers.
The size of your lizard should play a role in a variety of decisions you make about it, including enclosure size and design and the size of accessories like water tanks and the amount of food they eat.
Keep reading to find out all about how big you can expect a pet Chinese water dragon to get, how fast it’ll happen, and what that should mean for how you care for these incredible lizards.
How Big do Chinese Water Dragons Get?
Chinese water dragons are a variety of water dragons that are native to China and central Asia. Other water dragon varieties come from Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Most of these varieties have the same size range, though they look slightly different and have different colors.
Chinese water dragons can grow up to three feet in length from head to tail, with about ⅔ of their body length being made up of their long, thin tail. Males are slightly larger than females. Chinese water dragons are usually between 1 and 2 pounds.
When kept as a pet, a water dragon’s size means its enclosures need to be pretty large. An adult Chinese water dragon enclosure should be about 6 feet tall, 6 feet long, and 4 feet wide. This is a sizeable cage, and thus, Chinese water dragons may not be for everyone.
In fact, you will likely need to get this cage custom built if you want the correct dimensions. So take into consideration the size of the tank you will need before purchasing. We talk more about that later in this article.
Size Difference Between Male And Female Chinese Water Dragons
The size is one of the quickest and easiest ways to tell the gender of your Chinese water dragon, as males can get noticeably larger than females. This only really works, however, when your water dragon is a little bit older. Until they get to about a little bit over a foot long, males and females look pretty much the same.
However, when they’re full-grown, male Chinese water dragons can reach over 3 feet in length, while female water dragons will usually only reach about 2 feet. Most of this length is found in their tails, which can grow quite long and are used for balance.
There are a number of other visual differences between males and females, including the presence of and size of the crest and the size and shape of their faces and heads.
Male Chinese water dragons will have more coloration and get much bigger than females. Though males are great for looks, the females are great for those looking for a slightly smaller lizard.
How Fast Do Chinese Water Dragons Grow?
Chinese water dragons usually reach their fully-grown size within one or two years, though they don’t reach sexual maturity until they’re around five years old. Males and females grow at similar rates.
Considering they start out at about 4 to 6 inches when they first hatch, Chinese water dragons grow their first year very rapidly, then start to grow more slowly as they approach their full-grown lengths.
Well-cared-for water dragons can live anywhere from 15 to 20 years, so making sure their dietary needs are met, and their enclosure meets their needs is critical.
How Proper Diet Can Affect Chinese Water Dragon Size
An interesting aspect of Chinese water dragon behavior is how their diet changes as they get older. In general, water dragons are omnivorous (eating both plants and animals), but as they get older, their diets will change. Younger water dragons will primarily eat small insects, but as they get older and larger, their diets will expand to include rodents, fish, and birds.
A full-grown water dragon may eat once a day, every other day, or every third day, depending on how much food you give it at a time. While they are considered omnivores, the majority of a water dragon’s diet consists of insects like mealworms, ants, crickets, and various other types of worms.
However, water dragons also will eat fruits and vegetation, though not in nearly as great of quantity, as well as small rodents like baby mice and small fish. The daily diet, however, will mainly be insects. Interestingly, water dragons may become bored with their food and stop eating if they get little variation, so giving them a variety of food will keep this from happening.
Enclosure Size For A Chinese Water Dragon
As mentioned above, a full-grown Chinese water dragon needs a relatively large enclosure to be happy and healthy. Even though much of their size comes from their tail, one reason they need such a large enclosure is that they are arboreal, spending most of their time in trees.
For this reason, the enclosure needs to be at least 5-6 feet tall. For a more in-depth article on water dragon, enclosure size check out my article: What Size Enclosure For A Chinese Water Dragon!
As such, a good enclosure needs some trees, branches, or similar structures inside to make a water dragon feel at home. They’ll spend most of their days climbing in trees and laying on branches.
Although they’ll also spend a considerable amount of time in the water too, which brings us to our next point about building a suitable habitat for a full-grown water dragon.
Chinese Water Dragons Water Bowl Size
Chinese water dragons, as their name suggests, are quite at home in the water, and they’ll spend much of their time laying in their water bowls. Because of this, you’ll need to get a water dish that not only holds enough water for them to drink but also enough to fit their body.
Since up to two out of their three feet of length can be their tail, you won’t necessarily need a three-foot-long water dish for your water dragon.
However, you’ll probably look at getting at least a one and a half or two-foot water dish, so your water dragon has enough room to move around. Many people even build an aquatic water system into their water dragon enclosure.
Though the Chinese water dragon’s enclosure size and water needs are a bit complicated, you can certainly make an amazing-looking cage to house your dragon.
Is the Chinese Water Dragon the Right Sized Lizard For You?
A Chinese water dragon will likely land somewhere between 1.5-3 feet long. Your Chinese water dragon can live for 15-20 years if you take extra good care of it and you get a healthy dragon. Its size will affect the size enclosure you need to get, the size of the water dish, and the amount of food they eat.
Now that you know all that, you can make sure your water dragon is happy and healthy. For more on the Chinese water dragon, check out our complete Chinese water dragon care guide.