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Chinese Crocodile Lizard Reproduction Guide For Beginners

Do you want to have a successful result in breeding your pet Chinese crocodile lizards? Then you must read this article to the end.

In this article, you’ll find information about breeding the Chinese crocodile lizards. At what age should they be bred? What other criteria or precautions should be taken into consideration before pairing them up for breeding?

All these questions including professional tips on how to breed Chinese crocodile lizards successfully will be discussed in this article.

The Chinese crocodile lizards are listed as endangered on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). According to this report, there are only about 1000 Chinese crocodile lizards in the wild.

This is a thing of concern as the shinisaurus species is likely to go extinct due to habitat loss caused by human activities. Thus, one way to preserve this species is captive breeding.

Therefore, for you to decide to breed your lizards in captivity is a great milestone in ensuring their continuity. With that in mind, we designed this article to ensure that you have great success with breeding your lizards.

Chinese Crocodile Lizard Breeding Upfront Knowledge

Chinese Crocodile Lizard Breeding Upfront Knowledge
Chinese Crocodile Lizard Breeding Upfront Knowledge

Below is a list of what you should know before breeding your Chinese crocodile lizards.

Can A Male And Female Chinese Crocodile Lizard Live Together?

Chinese crocodile lizards are territorial in nature. In the wild, they aren’t known to cohabit. Usually, only a single shinisaurus occupies a certain pond to itself. But this tends to change during the breeding season.

Shortly after brumation between July and August (breeding season), males and female shinisaurus lizards can be found living together for the purpose of breeding. This is to imply that you can only pair your lizards together if you intend to breed them.

If you’re keeping more than one lizard, ensure that you give them separate enclosures to provide security and privacy. Although you can still house two or more shinisaurus lizards together in a single cage, you should only ensure that the enclosure is big and large enough to provide all the lizards space for roaming.

Also, when planning to keep two or more Chinese crocodile lizards together in a single cage, avoid keeping males together. The like likelihood of two male lizards fighting each other in the same cage is high and this confrontation may lead to injury.

On the other hand, housing two adult Chinese crocodile lizards of the opposite sex may lead to unwanted breeding. In a nutshell, the best time to house two Chinese crocodile lizards together is when they’re still babies or juveniles. 

How Old Do Chinese Crocodile Lizards Need To Be To Be Bred?

Chinese crocodile lizards become adults between 2 – 3 years. But they attain sexual maturity both in the wild and captivity, at the age of 3. Therefore, for your breeding pair, ensure that they’re at least 3 years old and weigh normal.

If you suspect any sign of illness in Chinese crocodile lizards, do not breed the lizard. Keep in mind that they have a long period of gestation of about 9 – 12 months. Thus, an unhealthy lizard may barely make it through the pregnancy successfully.

Do Chinese Crocodile Lizards Have A Breeding Season?

Yes, Chinese crocodile lizards have a breeding season. Their breeding season is usually around July and August shortly after their annual hibernation period.

During this period, the males usually become more active sexually and colorful with vibrancy in body color and patterns becoming more prominent. This color vibrancy often serves to attract females to mate and be interested in mating.

Do Chinese Crocodile Lizards Give Live Birth?

Yes, Chinese crocodile lizards are oviparous. This means that unlike other lizards that reproduce by laying eggs, They Reproduce By Giving Birth To Live Babies.

These babies at the time of birth are precocial. What this means is that the babies are born in an advanced state and with the ability to fend for themselves immediately after birth.

The precocial nature of the baby Chinese crocodile lizards tells us about the fact that adult Chinese crocodile lizards don’t care for their young.

How Long After Mating Will Chinese Crocodile Lizards Give Births?

When it comes to reproduction, the Chinese crocodile lizards are similar to human beings. They are similar in the sense that they give birth to live babies after a-nine month pregnancy period.

In some cases, the gestation period can last longer than nine months up to 13 months. This is normal except when it exceeds 13 months which indicates that something is wrong.

In most cases when a gravid lizard has difficulty giving birth on its own successfully, induced labor is recommended to aid the process and save the lives of both the babies and the mother.

Chinese Crocodile Lizard Reproduction In 7 Steps

Chinese Crocodile Lizard Reproduction
Chinese Crocodile Lizard Reproduction

Baby Box Preparation For Your Baby Chinese Crocodile Lizards

What you’ll need to house your baby Chinese crocodile lizards is a standard habitat and Not A Box. Chinese crocodile lizards are semi-aquatic which means that their habitat Must Have Water In It.

In captivity, they’re reported to make use of the water area of their cage more than the dry area. They eat, poop, mate, sleep, and give birth in water. Thus, there’s no best way to care for the newly born babies than to provide them an aqua-terrarium habitat that simulates the wild.

Being that the babies aren’t yet strong and big in size, their habitat especially the water area should be shallow enough to allow them to swim and come out on their own.

Refer to our article on habitat setup for more information on how to set up the habitat for baby Chinese crocodile lizards.

Prepare The Female For Brumation

As a breeder, the first thing you would do before pairing your breeding lizards together is to get them interested in mating.

Achieving this means taking them through a cooling period of hibernation. It is after this hibernation period in the wild that they would usually mate and breed.

What then does it mean to hibernate or brumate? Brumation in the wild is that period of the year between December and March or June to August where the general atmospheric temperature drops resulting in cooler weather conditions.

It is also that period of the year called winter where the sun is lowest in the sky leading to shorter days. During this period in the wild, the Chinese crocodile lizards will normally eat less, become less active, and sleep more.

With this in mind, what does brumation mean in captivity? It means that you’ll need to reduce the length of daytime by turning off the light and heat in their cage. Once this is initiated, it helps signal to them that it’s time to brumate.

Since they are cold-blooded which means they require heat to digest food, you must reduce the amount of food given to them.

This is because during brumation when all heat sources have been turned off, the amount of heat supplied wouldn’t be enough to aid in food digestion. And because the food cannot be digested, this can cause the food to rot in their intestine.

In the next section, we’ll learn how to brumate captive Chinese crocodile lizards.

How To Hibernate Captive Chinese Crocodile Lizards

Depending on your geographic location, brumation starts in winter and lasts for about 4 months. This is usually between December to March or June to August respectively.

Take for instance your winter period is between December to March, in mid-November, start reducing the quantity and frequency of food given. The essence of this is to give the lizards enough time to digest the food before you start reducing the heat.

By the first week of December reduce the daytime length to 6-8 hours and gradually reduce the heat supplied. Once this is initiated, stop giving them more food. (Typically give food once every two or three weeks).

After the first two weeks of daytime reduction, reduce the daytime light again to 4 hours a day. At this time, maintain a 4-hour daytime length throughout the hibernation period.

Once the brumation period is over around February, restore the lights and heat in the order in which you reduced it. This process will usually put the lizards in the mode to breed.

Introducing Male Chinese Crocodile Lizard To Female(S) For Breeding

Always keep in mind that only cool shinisaurus lizards that have gone through brumation will be ready to mate. Failure to brumate your breeding pair translates to failed breeding.

For optimal results, introduce your male to the female(s) 2-3 weeks after brumation. This is usually between mid-March or march ending. This gap is necessary to get the lizards back in a good state before pairing.

Always pay close attention to the health condition of your lizards especially the females. If you suspect any illness or weight loss as a result of brumation, ensure the lizard is in good condition before breeding.

When you introduce the male into the female(s) enclosure, the female(s) may initially fight with the male to show less interest in mating. This is normal and should last for just a few minutes.

However, if you notice any serious fight that may lead to serious injuries, intervene by removing the male from the cage. You can try mating them again the next day or another time.

A successful coupling session lasts between 18 to 90 minutes. This would include the male trying to get the attention of the female. He would approach the female lizard with a vertical bead bobbing.

Once the female had consented to mating by lowering her head, the male would grab the female by biting her nape and at the same time grabbing the female’s tail base with both hind legs to lift her vent.

Do Chinese Crocodile Lizards Fight When Mating?

It is inevitable for the female shinisaurus lizards to fight the male once it is introduced into her cage. For a female that would eventually mate, the fighting usually lasts for a few minutes after which she’ll give in for the male to mount on her.

However, in most cases, the female lizard may bite the male till injury is sustained. When this happens to your lizards, separate them immediately.

How To Tell If A Chinese Crocodile Lizard Is Gravid (Pregnant)?

After a successful mating session, you are expecting your female(s) to become gravid. The first and most obvious way to tell if your female Chinese crocodile lizard is gravid is to observe its stomach area.

Its stomach will become bulky and push out indicating that it got some babies developing in her. Besides this sign, a gravid Chinese crocodile lizard will typically exhibit some behavioral change during this period.

A gravid female Chinese crocodile lizard during pregnancy will tend to bask under the heat lamp more often. With preference only to the peripheral warmth of the beam.

They’re also observed to spend a good amount of time in the water area of their cage when the temperature is between 68° F to 80° F.

One mistake most breeders often make is that, since Chinese crocodile lizards are semi-aquatic in nature, they believe that the gravid females should be kept entirely aquatic with constant low water temperatures.

This mistake is what often causes the death of pregnant females during gestation.

Chinese Crocodile Lizard Giving Birth

As stated earlier, after a period of about 8-months to 13-months, your gravid female shinisaurus lizard will deliver a set of live babies that can swim and fend for themselves immediately after birth.

Transferring Your Babies To Baby Habitat Boxes

As earlier stated, Chinese crocodile lizards love to stay in the water. Hence, your baby Chinese crocodile lizards would be deprived of this nature simulating habitat if not housed in a standard habitat with all care requirements provided.

Besides, Chinese crocodile lizards do not care for their young, which means that if after birth, you do not transfer them to an already setup habitat on time, they can get drowned.

The ideal way to care for your baby shinisaurus lizards is to set up a standard habitat for them and not in a box. While doing this, make sure the water area is about 7cm – 9cm Deep. This will ensure that the lizards don’t drown.

Do Chinese Crocodile Lizards Give Birth Without Mating?

It’s a common experience to see female reptile lizards become gravid and reproduce without mating. This is made possible by the fact that their body systems can retain the seminal fluid of the male from the previous mating session that they had.

Chinese crocodile lizards that give birth to live babies, reproduction is achieved through mating
Chinese crocodile lizards that give birth to live babies, reproduction is achieved through mating

However, this is only true for reptiles that reproduce by laying eggs. For Chinese crocodile lizards that give birth to live babies, reproduction is achieved through mating.

In Chinese crocodile lizards, there is no provision for the females to store the male’s seminal fluid in their bodies till when they need it in the future. Every time the Chinese crocodile lizards become gravid is as a result of a recent mating session with a male.

What To Remember When Taking Care Of Baby Chinese Crocodile Lizards

When taking care of your baby Chinese crocodile lizards, one important thing to remember is to set up their habitat to standard and avoid making mistakes that’ll put their lives in danger.

Most importantly is the water area of its habitat. Refer to this article for details. Besides this, there is no difference in what to feed your baby and adult shinisaurus lizards.

The babies feed on what the adults feed on as well. However, keep in mind that since they’re young and growing, they would likely eat every day but in small quantities.

Will Chinese Crocodile Lizards Eat Their Young?

No, Chinese crocodile lizards do not and will not eat their young.

What Do Baby Chinese Crocodile Lizards Like To Eat?

Chinese crocodile lizards are carnivores both in the wild and in captivity. They eat mainly invertebrates in the wild and also feed on insects, ants, and freshwater animals such as snails, worms, tadpoles, and larvae.

In captivity, they’re often given insects, crickets, snails, different types of worms such as mealworm, superworm, waxworm, and calciworm.

Thus far, there isn’t any difference in food preference between the adults and babies of Chinese crocodile lizards.

Nonetheless, care is only given to the frequency and quantity of feeder insects based on age. While the babies and juveniles are to be fed more often, the adults will have to be fed less frequently.

Wrapping Up

As noted at the beginning of this article, captive breeding of Chinese crocodile lizards is one of the most reliable and fast ways to conserve these species for the future.

Currently, in the reptile market, the Chinese crocodile lizards are out of stock which indicates how seriously endangered these species are.

Aside from the fact that you’d enjoy the adventurous part of breeding these lizards, being a part of solving a big problem is much more fascinating.

To ensure that you get optimal success in your breeding we design this article specifically to guide you through.

Thus, we believed that you’ve gained value reading this content? We’d love to hear from you especially about your breeding experience.

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