What Do Water Dragons Eat?

Basking Australian Water Dragon (Intellagama lesueurii)

Written by Lisa

When not researching and writing about weird and wonderful animals, Lisa enjoys spending time with her 'two' families: her husband and 3 kids, and her 3 dogs, Sooty the cat, Frank the terrapin, and Bob the bearded dragon.

Last Updated on November 25, 2020

There are a number of things to consider when taking care of a water dragon. Making sure it is getting the right food is just one. Water dragons eat live food, which when in captivity means things such as mealworms, crickets, grasshoppers, earthworms, and feeder fish.

In addition to live food, a water dragon will also need various minerals and nutrients, particularly calcium. It is essential then to dust the food with such a supplement. It is best to dust food with pure calcium carbonate five times a week and then use a supplement that contains vitamin D, A, and calcium on the other two days. It is important though to not provide a supplement with vitamin A every day as this could cause liver problems.

Do Water Dragons Eat Vegetables?

As well as live food, water dragons also eat some fruit and vegetables as they are omnivorous creatures. While they will get their protein from worms, crickets, and fish, they should be provided with fresh fruit and vegetables as well, from which they will get various nutrients and minerals. There is a whole range of items that you can potentially offer the dragon, but whatever you do end up feeding it with should be of a high quality.

So to ensure the health and wellbeing of the water dragon, ensure that any fruit and vegetables are washed and pesticide free. You can also offer things like kale, collard, carrots, cucumber, green peppers, parsley, peas, squash, sweet potato, and green beans.

However, note that a water dragon’s diet should consist of between 90-95% meat and the remainder fruit and vegetables.

Eastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii)
Eastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii)

Can Water Dragons Eat Bananas?

While water dragons can and should eat fruit and vegetables, they should probably not eat all types. For example, we are often asked if water dragons can eat bananas and the answer is yes, they can. However, bananas are high in sugar as well as phosphorous, so if you want to give bananas to your water dragon then think of these as a treat not to be given more than once a month.

As a sidenote, the best fruits for a water dragon are apples, mangoes, cantaloupe melon, and papaya.

How Often Do Water Dragons Eat?

The frequency with which you should feed your water dragon will depend very much on whether or not you have a juvenile or an adult. Juvenile water dragons will need to be fed every day whereas adults can be fed every two to three days.

There may also be times when an adult water dragon needs to be fed more often, such as if it is recovering from an illness or an infection.

Why is My Water Dragon Not Eating?

It is quite normal for water dragons to forego eating for short periods of time. However, if this trend continues, you might be right to be concerned as a loss of appetite could signify a problem. Before fearing the worst though, there are a few things to consider if your water dragon is not eating as much as normal.

First of all, it is vital that the temperature of the reptile’s enclosure is not too low as this could be the reason for the loss of appetite. A water dragon requires a variety of temperatures in different areas of the enclosure. For example, the basking area should be around 95F while the day temperature of the rest of the tank should be between 80F and 86F. At night, be sure the temperature drops by around 10-15% to between 70F and 77F. Water temperature should be between 80F and 85F. If the temperature is too low, it can affect your water dragon’s ability to digest food, which can then make it lose its appetite and become lethargic.

The flip side can also be an issue. Temperatures that are too high will also cause problems and could, in fact, be dangerous for the animal. Temperatures in excess of 95F can be fatal, especially if there is no cooling spot. The water dragon will need a place to thermoregulate or else its muscles can become very weak, leading to lethargy and death in some cases.

Constipation and impaction can be caused when a water dragon eats something it should not, such as substrate. When this happens, the dragon will become uncomfortable and will not want to eat.

It is therefore important not to feed the water dragon in its tank if you are using a loose substrate. Alternatively, place large bark pieces on top of the substrate as these will be too big for the dragon to swallow. Also be sure to not feed any insects that might be too large for the water dragon to swallow as this can also lead to impaction.

The water dragon will also need water to drink, which will help with some of these issues. In addition to having water to swim/soak in, it will need fresh water at all times. Water should be provided fresh every day and, if it becomes soiled, will need to be changed as soon as possible.

Something else worth considering if the water dragon is not eating is the fact that it may be bored with the food you are providing. These reptiles like variety in their diet, so if you are feeding live prey, mix it up a little bit and do not provide the same foods each time you feed your pet. Likewise, try to provide different types of fruit and vegetables for variety.

A gravid (egg carrying/pregnant) water dragon will also not eat food, particularly if she is near to laying. She will begin digging shallow nests in which to lay her eggs and may go off her food during this time.

Is Your Water Dragon Ill?

The above are all reasons why a water dragon might stop eating, but the most worrying of all is that the reptile may be ill. Like all animals, water dragons will lose their appetite when not feeling well.

Look for signs of illness such as gasping for air, wheezing, or mucus around the nose, mouth, or eyes, which could all indicate a respiratory infection. If your water dragon has a parasite infection, you are likely to also see a loss of appetite coupled with weight loss and abnormal feces.

If you suspect your water dragon is not eating due to illness, it is best to contact an experienced exotic vet. Your dragon may need some antibiotics to help with recovery.

How Long Can a Water Dragon Go Without Eating?

A healthy water dragon can usually go without food for one-to-three days, but this will depend on age. As mentioned above, juvenile water dragons require food more often. It is a good idea to develop a good feeding schedule for your dragon as this will help to ensure it thrives.


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