Chinese Crocodile Lizard Lifespan: How Long Do Chinese Crocodile Lizards Live?

Lifespan is such an important factor when it comes to choosing a pet lizard. The longer the lizard would live, the more you’ll enjoy its company. But if it has a shorter lifespan, breeders wouldn’t consider investing in having it.

As for Chinese crocodile lizard lifespan, many factors contribute to either a long lifespan or a short lifespan. These factors range from good husbandry to poor husbandry.

A lifespan of 10 – 25 years is considered long enough for reptile lizards. In several cases, with proper care, some lizards will live longer than the average lifespan up to 30 years or above.

In the case of Chinese crocodile lizards, how long do they live? Relax, that’s why you’re still reading this article.

How long shinisaurus lizards live will be discussed extensively in this article. Also, the factors that can enhance or shorten their longevity will be discussed as well.

At the end of this article, you should be well informed about the lifespan of shinisaurus lizards. Also, you’ll understand what factors can shorten their lifespan and how to avoid them. Enjoy reading.

Cute Reptiles as Pets
Cute Reptiles as Pets

How Long Do Chinese Crocodile Lizards Live In The Wild?

Chinese crocodile lizards have a long lifespan in the wild. They can live as long as 15 years. In the wild, these lizards aren’t easily preyed on by other larger animals.

Since they’re semi-aquatic, they have a unique lifestyle that ensures that they escape predators fast and live longer.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, their main threats in the wild are deforestation, habitat displacement, and hunting.

All these threats to their survival and continuity in the wild are engineered human activities.

This has made them to be listed in CITES – (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) as endangered.

Chinese Crocodile Lizard Lifespan In Captivity?

In captivity, if cared for properly they can live longer. However, they sometimes don’t outlive their lifespan in captivity because of improper husbandry and cage setup.

Their semi-aquatic nature demands extra care and precaution to their habitat and husbandry for good health and longevity.

That notwithstanding, the Chinese crocodile lizards will live an average of 15 years in captivity. But if cared for appropriately, they have been reported to exceed 15 years up to 18 years.

How To Maximize Chinese Crocodile Lizard Lifespan?

Both in the wild and captivity, the lifespan of Chinese crocodile lizards can be enhanced to ensure longevity. To achieve this, we simply need to prevent all the factors that cause its shorter lifespan both in the wild and captivity.

As stated earlier, the major threat to the survival and continuity of Chinese crocodile lizards in the wild are human activities that lead to the loss of their natural habitat.

Thus, to ameliorate the present condition and maximize their lifespan in the wild, incessant deforestation should be curtailed. In this regard, afforestation and reforestation should be encouraged in these regions.

Once this is done, the animals would regain their lost natural habitat where they can thrive and multiply.

Also, since poor husbandry is majorly the cause of their shorter lifespan in captivity, a better understanding of the lizards’ needs and adhering strictly to those requirements will ensure that the animals live longer in captivity.

That said, these husbandry-related factors will be discussed in subsequent sections below.

Feed Chinese Crocodile Lizards The Right Foods

Chinese crocodile lizards don’t often have feeding problems because they have a wide variety of foods to feed on. However, it’s still important you feed it the right food, in the right quantity, and at the right time.

One of the food-related problems that can shorten their lifespan is an insufficient amount of calcium in their bones. This disease is always caused by a lack of vitamin D3.

Vitamin D3 is an essential vitamin that aids the absorption and metabolism of calcium in the body. Hence, when this vitamin is lacking in a sufficient amount, the bones suffer the effects.

That said, below are a variety of foods you should feed to your Chinese crocodile lizards in large quantities as staple foods.

Animal Produce: snails, tadpoles, and larvae.

Insects: such as crickets, worms – mealworm, waxworm, earthworm, and superworm.

Dietary Supplements: The dietary supplements to apply to their food are calcium and vitamin D3. Most brands of calcium supplements are vitamin D3 fortified.

What this simply means is that you wouldn’t be needing an additional vitamin D3 if you purchase a calcium supplement fortified with vitamin D3.

Foods To Avoid – What You Should Not Feed To Your Chinese Crocodile Lizards

Note that we haven’t kept these lizards for ourselves; thus, we can’t tell what food you shouldn’t feed to your Chinese crocodile lizards. The information contained in this article is born by pure research and a face to face interaction (interview) with breeders.

From our interaction with about 38 keepers of Chinese crocodile lizards, no specific food type was mentioned to be harmful to the lizards.

Provided you’re not feeding vegetables to these carnivorous lizards, you’re good with your care. However, to be on the safe side, follow the food types listed in this article.

8 Factors That Can Shorten Chinese Crocodile Lizard Lifespan And How To Avoid Them

chinese crocodile lizard lifespan
8 Factors That Can Shorten Chinese Crocodile Lizards Lifespan

As noted earlier, most Chinese crocodile lizards in captivity barely live to their full age or exceed their lifespan. This is because of some habitat-related factors that go against the standard of their natural habitat in the wild.

This inappropriateness in habitat setup and husbandry is what causes illnesses that sometimes leads to their shorter lifespan (untimely death). This section will expound on those factors and how to avoid them.

Wrong Habitat Set Up – Wrong Cage Accessories/Components

The Chinese crocodile lizards are semi-aquatic lizards which implies that their habitat in captivity will have to be part water and partly dry surfaces where they can get dry when needed.

The water part of the enclosure must always be kept within a temperature of 71° F – 77° F and must not be deeper than 10cm – 30cm deep for adult shinisaurus. The younger ones will drown in water as deep as that.

Thus, if your shinisaurus is a juvenile, you’ll have to make your water area at most 9.5cm deep. If you’re keeping your juvenile Chinese crocodile lizard in a terrarium where the water area is too deep for it to be able to come to the surface on its own, then the lizard will drown and die.

Similarly, keeping a fully grown adult in a water area that doesn’t cover all its body parts may lead to stress. Prolonged stress on its own can lead to some illnesses such as loss of appetite and weight loss.

Wrong Temperature And Humidity Levels

Besides the aforementioned, where most breeders usually get it wrong is with the humidity levels. Since their habitat contains water, some breeders sometimes find it difficult to maintain an appropriate air temperature.

One reason for this husbandry failure is the lack of cross ventilation. Where the enclosure isn’t adequately ventilated, there would be no free flow of air. The excess air in the enclosure once it condenses raises the humidity level beyond normal.

The effect of this on the lizards is that they’ll find it difficult to stay dry when they aren’t in the water. This means that if the lizards are always wet as a result of high humidity levels, it will lead to skin disease.

That said, skin infection has been identified as the main disease of captive Chinese crocodile lizards because most breeders make this mistake in their husbandry.

To avoid making this mistake, first, you have to ensure that your lizards’ aqua-terrarium is adequately ventilated. Secondly, ensure that you maintain a humidity level of 70% – 80%. Hence, to achieve this you’ll need a hygrometer in the cage.

Using Unfiltered Water

Another mistake in setting up their habitat is to use unclean or unfiltered water for their water area. This also contributes to skin infection and other diseases.

How then should you set up their aqua-terrarium habitat and at what temperature should the lizards be kept at all times? What should you do and what should you not do when setting up their habitat?

Find out in our article ‘Chinese Crocodile Lizards’ Habitat: 6 Tips To Setup The Best Enclosure’.

Illness And Disease

There’s no doubt that illnesses and diseases are another major cause of a shorter lifespan in captive shinisaurus. Like we stated earlier, all the diseases and illnesses listed here are a result of poor husbandry.

If the husbandry is optimal, you wouldn’t have illnesses or diseases to deal with in the first place. A few illnesses and diseases associated with these lizards are:

Fungal And Bacterial Infection

Fungal and bacterial infection is the most common disease among captive Chinese crocodile lizards.

This disease is always as a result of inappropriate cage temperature, poor ventilation, raised humidity levels, and poor maintenance of the water area. Especially when the water is always cold.

When all these factors occur to the habitat, it creates a conducive environment for these bacteria and fungi to thrive.

Skin Infection

When the cage is always wet, the animals will struggle to stay dry. The effect of fungal and bacterial infection is a skin disease. If this disease isn’t detected and treated on time it can take the lizard’s life untimely.

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

Metabolic bone disease is a diet-related disease. It is caused when the animal cannot absorb calcium from its food due to a lack of vitamin D3. As a result, the lizard suffers a lack of adequate calcium.

Calcium is for strong and healthy bones. When your lizard lacks this nutrient in a sufficient amount, it leads to weakened bones and limbs called metabolic bone disease.

To prevent this disease, you must ensure that your lizard gets enough UVB which it can use to produce its vitamin D3.

Similarly, to be on the safe side, you should always supplement their diet with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements. Metabolic bone disease if left untreated will lead to the death of the affected lizard.


This disease is often a result of an allergy to one or more components of the enclosure. It can be a dislike for a particular food. This issue needs to be addressed almost immediately before it gets worse.

Like with humans, diarrhea can kill very fast. Always ensure you have a close watch on your lizards to detect an abnormality on time and correct it.

Read our article on Chinese crocodile lizards’ health for detailed information on symptoms, how to prevent, and treat all shinisaurus illnesses and diseases.

Wrapping Up

Chinese crocodile lizards make great pets to both new and experienced herpetologists if you know exactly what to do. And they would live long provided your husbandry is optimal just like their wild habitat.

From this article, you can see that in the wild, apart from human activities that cause habitat loss, they would live even longer than 15 years.

However, in captivity, several husbandry-related factors lead to a shorter lifespan. The purpose of this article was to highlight these factors in detail, how they shorten the lifespan of Chinese crocodile lizards, and how you can prevent them.

That said, we hope that the article has been able to deliver on its promise as we desire that you make a great keeper for your pets. Keep in mind that early detection of any abnormality can make a difference between life and death.

This means that you should always keep close watch of your pets and keep records of their feeding habits, poops, shedding, sleeping habits, activity level, weight, and many others. These records will help you detect when something isn’t right.

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