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HomeDear VetBabbleWhy is My Chinese Water Dragon Acting Strange and Not Eating?

Why is My Chinese Water Dragon Acting Strange and Not Eating?


Dear VetBabble,

I have a Chinese water dragon who is staying on the bottom of his vivarium and recently found him upside down in his water. He hasn’t been right since, and when I touch his tail, he shakes it – which he hasn’t done before. His back legs seem very floppy, but he doesn’t appear to be in pain. He’s not moving around and hasn’t eaten for two days, even though I provide good UV lighting and calcium-dusted food. What could be wrong with my water dragon and how can I help him?


I’m sorry to hear about your Chinese water dragon’s condition. It sounds quite worrisome! There are several possible issues that could be affecting your pet, so let’s look at potential causes and solutions for each one. The three sections we will cover are metabolic bone disease, kidney disease in reptiles, and other possible illnesses.

Metabolic Bone Disease

The signs you’ve described make me concerned about metabolic bone disease (MBD), which can occur in reptiles when they don’t receive the proper balance of nutrients and lighting. It’s important to ensure that you’re providing your water dragon with adequate amounts of both UVA and UVB light. If the UVB light is more than six months old, it might not be effective anymore, even if it still appears to be working. To learn more about properly caring for reptiles like your water dragon, check out our article on how to care for a bearded dragon.

Kidney Disease in Reptiles

Another possible issue is kidney disease, which can lead to imbalances in calcium and phosphorus levels (and their electrolytes) in lizards. This can result in symptoms similar to those of MBD. While kidney disease is more commonly seen in cats (learn about kidney disease in cats here), it can also occur in reptiles. As with any health condition, early detection and intervention are crucial, so it’s important to have your water dragon examined by a veterinarian if you suspect kidney disease.

Other Possible Illnesses

While MBD and kidney disease are common issues that could be affecting your water dragon, there are other potential causes of his symptoms. For example, various infections or parasites can lead to health problems in reptiles. One such issue to be aware of is mange in dogs; although it doesn’t affect reptiles directly, it’s a useful example to keep in mind when considering the variety of health issues that can trouble our pets. Learn more about mange in dogs here.

Another example that may seem unrelated but is still pertinent is frog care. Just like any other pet, frogs require specific care and attention to remain healthy. To learn more about frog care and the potential issues that can arise from improper care, read our frog care guide.

Given the variety of potential issues that could be affecting your water dragon, I strongly recommend taking him to a veterinarian for an examination as soon as you can. They might need to perform blood work and radiographs to ensure a proper diagnosis. Early intervention is crucial for your pet’s well-being, and a veterinarian will be best equipped to guide you through the appropriate care and treatment options for your water dragon.

Good luck to you and your Chinese water dragon! If you need any further help or information, don’t hesitate to consult with a veterinarian or seek out more resources online. Remember, with proper care and attention, your pet can lead a healthy, happy life.

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