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Reptiles/Chinese water dragon problems


Stomach bumps
Stomach bumps  

Hard brown bump
Hard brown bump  
Hi, I have a juvenile chinese water dragon and there has been some problems. I have had him for about 1 month. He is not very big, and is in a 60 gallon aquarium with a basking spot, hiding spot, lots of stuff to climb, a big water bowl,and much more. I provide uvb lighting about 12 hours a day and use a heat light as the heat source. I mist the cage often to keep the humidity up. His diet consists of mealworms and crickets. I also change the water daily in his bowl. Lately I have been noticing bumps appearing on him... there are a few and they are hard and brown. Recently I also noticed small bumps on his stomach area... and I am very worried now. What could this possible be? Also, i do not leave the crickets or mealworms in the tank with him. I feed him daily by putting the food in one at a time and monitoring him. I have also noticed that sometimes he will make a clicking noise when breathing when I hold him. Very concerned about the brown bumps and the small bumps on stomach... what could this be? Is this a serious problem? And what can i do to fix this problem. Any help will be appreciated. (I have attached pictures of the stomach bumps and one of the brown lumps that is located on his leg.)

He doesn't look very good. I'm going to assume that what you have here is not a captive-bred water dragon purchased from a breeder, but is a wild-caught dragon, possibly purchased from a pet store.

While captive-bred water dragons are great pets, and easy to maintain, no wild-caught animal should ever be purchased by a novice keeper.  Treatment and rehabilitation of a parasite-riddled, highly overstressed animal that has been subjected to dehydration and starvation is not for the faint of heart (or shallow of pocket).

The dragon needs veterinary attention right away. I'm not a vet, and I cannot diagnose him (and couldn't do so over the internet, even if I were!)  Here are a few possibilities: The lumps may be subcutaneous encysted parasites. Or, perhaps a skin infection. The clicking sound may be a respiratory infection (or lung worms).  

His color is poor, hip bones prominant, and limbs seem slightly swollen.  Do you supplement his feeder insects with calcium?  This is crucial, as crickets and mealworms are very high in phosphorus, and must always be supplemented to balance them.  A dragon this size should be fed as much as it can eat, every other day, and should have a robust appetite.  Other feeders to use include nightcrawlers (sold for fishing), strips of tilapia fish, baby mice, silkworms, phoenix worms, and feeder roaches (if available).  

This is what a healthy juvenile dragon should look like:

Sadly, if parasites are diagnosed, you will have to break down his enclosure and disinfect everything with bleach, discarding anything that cannot be disinfected.  He will need to be kept in a minimal environment, cleaned and disinfected daily, until the course of treatment is complete and he tests parasite-free.


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Donna Fernstrom


My particular focus is on snakes and lizards, but I have a decent smattering of knowledge of turtles and crocodilians as well, plus the experience to get relevant information quickly if I don't have it on hand in my brain. I can answer questions on captive care, diet, breeding, incubation of eggs, starting hatchlings, and more. I am particularly experienced with ball pythons, Lygodactylus geckos and other small lizards with similar care requirements, leopard geckos, and garter snakes.


I am a professional breeder of ball python morphs, Lygodactylus (dwarf) geckos, and mourning geckos. I have begun working with Irian Jaya carpet pythons, and plan to expand to include more gecko species in the future. I also have a background breeding leopard geckos, and have kept several other species of small lizards, snakes, and a water turtle.

Nebraska Herpetological Society (

I have many care sheets published on my own website.

High School Graduate. Extensively self-taught due to high interest in wildlife and reptile care.

Awards and Honors
Fauna Classifieds board of inquiry Good Guy Certification

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