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Reptiles/aggressive water dragon


QUESTION: Hello Tracie,
i have a Chinese water dragon that i have named Taz. I'm not sure if it is a he or a she. i purchased taz 2 weeks ago, taz is just now being aggressive. this has just been the last 2 days. yesterday i noticed taz was waving, but I'm going to assume its at the glass because of its reflection. i didn't think much of it because i went in there and stood in front of the cage and taz stopped and just looked at me. after i left, taz resumed his waving until i showed back up. my cage is 3 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and 18 inches deep. the cage is kept at 70% humidity and 95 basking spot and 80 along the top of the cage and between 70-75 at the bottom. half of the bottom is water with a custom made waterfall. i don't know if all that is relevant in why taz is acting like this but I'm just going to tell you everything i can think of. the TV is in another room, the only people are me and my fiance in the house and taz acts like this when we are watching TV. taz cannot really see us or the TV with how the cage is facing. but just today i went to pick taz up after i showed up and let him cool off and he just puffed his throat stood up really tall, stuck out his tongue and waved. he didn't do this until today and yesterday. i try to handle him regularly after work. i would try to pick him up but i don't want to stress him if hes being this aggressive. thank you for your time and thoughts,

ANSWER: Hello Brandon,

Taz is a great name for her.  
How old is he or she?  Do you have any pictures?
Your setup sounds fine to me though.  Are you using a digital probe or temp gun to measure the temperatures.
They can't really see glass so the reflection could be stressing him a little bit.  You could try covering some of the glass with paper to see if that helps to calm him down some.  
The arm waving is the way that they communicate with you.  Has he tried to bite you when you attempt to pick him up?  
Have you changed anything in the room or tank recently that could be making him react differently?  Did you just add the water fall recently?
I wouldn't back down though, go ahead & try to pick him up.  Let him know that you wont hurt him but that you aren't scared of him either.  
Is he eating pretty well right now?

Let me know how things are going!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


QUESTION: Hello Tracie,
I'm not sure how old taz is, but he is around a foot long.  I use a digital probe and 2 different analog temperature gauges. Along with an analog hygrometer gauge. The first day he started doing that I went to pick him up and he didn't care really so I held him for a bit. But the next time taz was not having it. I put my hand in there and I go up to her slowly so she knows I'm not trying to harm her, and then about 5 inches or so away she stands up real tall, puffs her throat and sticks her tongue out, then runs away from me. I took that as a sign of not touching her because of stressing. Maybe I should just go for it? And nothing has changed in any of my rooms. The waterfall is built into the tank. It's plumbed from inside, goes outside then back inside, so it has been there since taz has been in it. He loves the waterfall. I will try to post pictures from my phone in this post, if it doesn't work I will post some from my computer at home. He eat eats well, I never have a problem with him eating. The even more weird thing is he will eat out of my hand sometimes. Or if I bring up the food bowl he won't freak out but if its just my hand then he starts going crazy. Ill try the paper idea when I get home from work. He seems to only do this around his bedtime too. He has a set bedtime which he surprisingly sticks to very well. So I set all my timers to accommodate the way he acts. Right around 8:45 pm he goes and lays on this vine and that is where he stays untill the morning. And at about 7pm until about 9 he was being aggressive. After that he went to his vine and just laid there like he was dead tired from all the action haha. Thanks again for the help! I really appreciate it all!

Hello Brandon,

He is a cute thing!  
Water dragons can be quite fiesty though!  We have a female who at first was very spastic & would not really let us touch her much.  So it did take awhile for her to tame down.  She is fine now, but spoiled & pouts a lot if she doesn't get her way.  LOL
You have had her for 2 weeks now?  It may just take a little longer for him or her to tame down but it will eventually happen.  Some adjust more quickly than others.  
The waterfall looks great, I am sure he loves it.  He will gradually get to the point to where he will give in & want more attention.
Each day, increase your time that you have your hand in the tank by a minute or two or to where you have contact.  It sounds like he likes you but is still a little skittish.
Which UVB light are you using for him?

Your tank setup looks nice so that definitely is not the problem.
Let me know how things are going with Taz!



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Tracie Kretzschmar


I can answer questions pertaining to health, UVB specifics, overall husbandry care & supplementation, analysis of blood test results, and behavioral problems & handling. I can answer questions pertaining to bearded dragons, leopard geckos, iguanas, uromastyx & ball pythons. I can answer adeno virus related questions in bearded dragons, & then specifically about the testing methods as well. I am beginning an Pogona Adeno Testing Society in 2008 which will help to begin to start some standardization within the bearded dragon colonies of the breeders who choose to test.


I have been working with bearded dragons for over 5 years now, as well as leopard geckos, too. I am currently doing rescues, as well. I hope to be able to educate people prior to them purchasing an exotic pet in order to avoid any health crisis with them.

I have a master's degree in sports medicine & physiology, & 1 year of vet tech schooling, & am currently working on a reptile certification through the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

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