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Reptiles/Chinese Water Dragon-Brown


Me and my husband bought his 9 yr. old son a Chinese Water Dragon for 2012 Christmas.  He is an enthusiast when it comes to reptiles.  He begged for it.  I have just talked to him and he says he has been brown colored.  When I originally researched this reptile, that doesn't sound too good, especially after all of this time.  I'm worried, no disrespect, but his mother has 3 children and I'm not sure if she's able to assist in taking care of this reptile.  What does the color brown really mean?  How long is too long for him to remain this color?  I'm considering bringing him to our home....

Hi Katie,
You don't say how long the CWD has been brown.  If it is recent, many times they turn brown before shedding. It can also be normal colors, to an extent.  It is generally a sign of illness and/or stress or improper care.
I'm sure you knew all this already!!
Temperatures are one of the biggest causes of brown color. They darken to absorb more heat. If the cwd doesn't have the proper temperatures in a basking area, he will remain brown.
A good site for all the cwd care is at   Also, they do need a proper uvb source.  on the link above, the info is a bit outdated on uvb lighting so I do recommend that you read for the best info on uvb lighting.  If you are unable to pull up either site, let me know and I will give your the "condensed" version of the info.
Stress.. if the dragon is in a high activity area, it may be stressing him out.
If he is being handled too much, it can stress him out.
Too small of an environment... improper diet, temperatures, etc call all cause stress which causes the dark color but can also cause illness.  I am not a fan of a child having full care of any pet if the parent is not 100% behind them, and watching/helping out.
I like your idea of taking the dragon to your home.
If the dragon is acting ill, then of course a vet is needed to find the cause.
Make any corrections in temperatures, lighting, etc and see if that helps.
One other thing... if they are using a white light at night for the dragon, that will stress the heck outta him.  They need darkness at night.  Make sure there is no lights on at night that the dragon would see..this includes tvs, monitors, etc..


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I am well versed in all aspects of the care and keeping of green iguanas, leopard geckos and bearded dragons. This includes all husbandry issues pertaining to the above species. I am not a vet so I cannot answer medical questions. I research other reptiles and am able to give general information on other species of lizards. I prefer not to answer snake questions as that I have not researched them enough.


I own 3 green iguanas, two of which are rescues. I own two leopard geckos, both rescues. I've had my reptiles for 11 years. I spend many hours researching the care of my reptiles to keep up to date on all information pertaining to keeping reptiles that I have. I own a yahoo group dedicated to raising healthy iguanas.

Scales and Tails Exotic Pet Rescue (one of the founding members)

One of the Co Authors of the Book "The Iguana Dens Care and Keeping of Giant Green Iguanas"

I was a Vet Tech for 6 years. Research, experience and learning from the experience of others that have raised reptiles for many years.

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