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Reptiles/Chinese water dragon not eating


I have an almost 2 year old CWD that I recently moved into a large terrarium (5.5 feet wide, 5 feet tall, and 2 feet deep). The basking spot sits around 87F with a branch allowing her to go closer if need be. The overall ambient temperature typically sits between 77-83F depending on the overall temperature of my house. The humidity stays between 70 and 80% (I have a humidifier hooked up and also mist once or twice a day). Her basking bulb is a mercury vapor bulb, and the rest is lit by two 48" repti-glo tropical lights. I fed her right before moving her and her appetite was normal, but now it's been a week and she is showing no interest in crickets, when she is normally a voracious eater. She looks right at my offering and then closes her eyes. Today it seems like she hasn't moved from a ledge on the opposite end of the tank from her basking spot, although I've been at work so it might just seem like she hasn't moved. I can't find a concrete answer on how long a water dragon can go without eating? When/how should I force feed?

On a side note, her head sometimes twitches when she turns food down. I've read this can be a sign of MBD but I think I've been supplementing properly. I dust with plain calcium powder every feeding, and add a multi-vitamin with D3 once or twice a week.

Hi Jordan,

You mentioned that you just recently moved her and I suspect that is the cause. It is likely relocation stress. It does not matter how ideal the new enclosure is, the fact that it is new will cause stress which results in failure to feed or behave normally for a time.

The eye closing is a common stress reaction that iguanas also display and the head twitching is likely part of that. Tetany, which is the type of twitching caused by low blood calcium levels is typically seen in the feet and legs. Your husbandry and supplementation does not suggest a  calcium deficiency.

The one thing I would recommend is trying to bump up your basking temperature a bit to the mid 90'SF. Reptile appetites are very temperature dependent.

I really think she just needs time to settle in. It can take 10 days to over two weeks for some reptiles to adjust to a move.


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I can answer questions on the proper husbandry and diet of Iguanas, bearded dragons, geckoes, skinks, chameleons, tortoises, box turtles, treefrogs, non-venomous snakes and tarantulas. Also the breeding of some species of feeder insects. I have no experience with venonmous snakes and only limited experience with aquatic turtles.


I have been keeping and breeding reptiles for over 30 years. In addition to my regular job in the medical field I also worked for several years in a pet store that specialized only in exotics. The job entailed both caring for and answering questions on innumerable species. It required constant, extensive research into a wide range of reptiles. I have been called to appear on televised national media (CBC, CTV and Life Channel) as well as CBC radio to discuss the proper care of reptiles and other exotics in captivity. I currently own one or more species of those listed under my expertise with the exception of chameleons. I owned chameleons for years but keep none currently. I keep over 20 snakes comprising 5 species, both Colubridae and Boidae. I bred corn snakes for several years. I have a particular interest in treefrogs and currently have 5 different species. I've raised redfoot tortoises for 10 years and have two iguanas, one for 12 years.

A small and now defunct local magazine called "Pet Vue"

Diagnostic medical microbiology with some parasitology experience.

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