Thai National Parks

Reptiles of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Chinese water dragon

Binomial name: Physignathus cocincinus (Georges-Frédéric Cuvier, 1829)

Chinese water dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) is a species of agamid lizard native to China and Indochina. It is also known as Asian water dragon, Thai water dragon, and green water dragon.

Description

Chinese water dragons can grow up to 1 m in total length, including tail, and can live from ten to fifteen years. Coloration ranges from dark to light green, or sometimes purple with an orange stomach. Diagonal stripes of green or turquoise are found on the body, while the tail is banded from the middle to the end with green and white. Their undersides range from white, off white, very pale green, or pale yellow. But their throats are considered to be more attractive, which can be quite colorful (blue and purple, or peach), some with a single color, some with stripes. Adult males have larger, more triangular heads than females, and develop larger crests on the head, neck and tail, and are larger in general. The tail, slightly over two-thirds of the entire body length, can be used as a weapon, for balance, and to assist swimming.

Like many other reptiles the Chinese water dragon possesses a small, iridescent, photosensitive spot between their eyes referred to as the pineal eye (or parietal eye, or colloquially as the third eye) that is thought to help thermoregulate their bodies by sensing differences in light to assist with and seeking shelter after sunset. Since it recognizes differences in light, the parietal eye can also help the lizard avoid predation from birds and other aerial threats, and can awaken from deep sleep from even slight changes in light from overhead. These animals are very docile and allow physical activity.

Habitat and behaviors

Native to the lowland and highland forests of southern China and southeastern Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma), Chinese water dragons are most commonly found along the banks of freshwater lakes and streams. They are active during the day (diurnal), and spend most of their time in the trees or plants (arboreal). If threatened, the dragon will drop from the trees into the water and either swim to safety or remain submerged for up to 25 minutes. Water dragons live in areas with average humidity levels of 40–80% and temperatures ranging from 80–90 °F (26–32 °C).

Diet

Though they will also eat vegetation, the diet of the water dragon consists mainly of insects, supplemented with an occasional small fish, mammal or reptile.

Invasive species

Chinese water dragons have established themselves in Hong Kong, probably from released pet animals.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Suborder
Lacertilia
Family
Agamidae
Genus
Physignathus
Species
Physignathus cocincinus

Common names

  • German: Grüne Wasseragame
  • English: Chinese water dragon, Green water dragon, Thai water dragon, Asian water dragon

Synonyms

  • Physignathus cocincinus, Thomas Ziegler (2002)
  • Physignathus cocincinus, Ulrich Manthey & Norbert Schuster (1999)
  • Physignathus cocincinus, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Physignathus cocincinus, Edward Harrison Taylor (1963)
  • Physignathus cocincinus, Malcolm Arthur Smith (1935)
  • Physignathus cocincinus caudicinctus, Thomas Barbour (1912)
  • Physignathus cocincinus mentager, Thomas Barbour (1912)
  • Physignathus cochinchinensis, George Albert Boulenger (1885)
  • Physignathus mentager, George Albert Boulenger (1885)
  • Dilophyrus mentager, Albert Charles Lewis Günther (1861)
  • Istiurus physignathus, André Marie Constant Duméril & Gabriel Bibron (1837)
  • Istiurus cochinsinensis, Georges-Frédéric Cuvier (1837)
  • Lophura cuvieri, John Edward Gray (1831)
  • Physignathus cocincinus, Georges-Frédéric Cuvier (1829)

Chinese water dragon is found in following locations in Thailand

Please note that this non-official list is not complete nor necessarily accurate. This list is a summary of checklists from other websites, blogs, publications, photo/videos published on various websites or our own findings. We appreciate your contributions with photo proof.

Chinese water dragon

Chinese water dragon

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Thai National Parks

Physignathus cocincinus (subadult)

Physignathus cocincinus (subadult)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) - Khao Yai National Park - 2

Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) - Khao Yai National Park - 2

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) - Khao Yai National Park - 3

Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) - Khao Yai National Park - 3

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

Chinese water dragon

Chinese water dragon

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Thai National Parks

Distribution map of Chinese water dragon, Physignathus cocincinus in Thailand

Range map of Physignathus cocincinus in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are generated automatically based on very limited data we have about the protected sites, the data is not necessarily accurate. Please help us to improve our range maps by sharing your findings/knowledge.