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Chinese Water Dragon Not Eating: Top 8 Reasons And How To Treat

It is imperative to keep your Chinese water dragon healthy and happy. And, feeding them a good diet is a major contributor to their good health. But what if your Chinese water dragon is not eating?

Many Chinese water dragon enthusiasts get stressed when their pets refuse to eat. And, several reasons contribute to the Chinese dragon’s poor appetite.

Therefore, we came up with this article to help you understand your Chinese dragon’s reasons for not eating and how to prevent and treat these problems. Continue reading to stay knowledgeable.

Chinese Water Dragon Not Eating: Top 8 Reasons That Cause Chinese Dragon Not Eating

Chinese water dragons not eating is a common problem that many owners face. When Chinese water dragons are sick, gravid, constipated, in a new environment, or a bad habitation such as inadequate temperature and humidity they may refuse to eat. Also, picky Chinese dragons stop eating when they are bored with their diet.

Here are some of the reasons why your Chinese dragon is not eating.

Your Chinese Water Dragon Is New and Needs to Acclimatize 

 Chinese water dragons are habitually shy, especially in a new environment. Therefore, it is common for Chinese water dragons not to eat when you bring them to a new environment.

Chinese water dragons require at least 1-2 weeks to get acclimatized to their new environment. During this time, Chinese water dragons tend to hide and avoid any interaction.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

When you introduce your Chinese water dragon to a new environment, they may also show some of these symptoms that indicate stress.

  • Hiding
  • Inactivity 
  • Nose rubbing 
  • Running into glass or walls

 What Should Owners Do?

When introducing a Chinese water dragon in a new environment, you should avoid handling it for at least 2-3 weeks. During this time, you should ensure there are enough hideouts for your Chinese water dragon.

Also, you should ensure to cover the sides of the tank to provide maximum privacy for your new Chinese water dragon.

Chinese water dragons may fail to identify their food when put in a dish in the beginning. Therefore, offering moving insects outside their food dish would be better to entice your Chinese water dragon.

Chinese Water Dragon Not Eating
Chinese water dragon refusing food from its owner

Humidity in Tank Is Low

Chinese water dragons typically live along water banks where humidity is high. Therefore, low humidity can cause tremendous stress to Chinese water dragons.

As a result, they may stop feeding, especially because they are forced to stay hidden at the cool spot.

Spending magnificent time at the cool spot can cause other problems such as indigestion and thus lack appetite.

Therefore, it is necessary to provide adequate humidity to keep your Chinese water dragon healthy and happy.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

You can only help your Chinese dragon to start eating well only when you understand the underlying causes of their lack of appetite.

Therefore, here are some other signs and symptoms that may indicate low humidity in your Chinese water dragon cage.

  • Not moving much
  • Not shedding well
  • Turning  brown
  • Hiding at the cool spot

What Should Owners Do?

If your Chinese water dragon is not eating and you suspect low humidity is the underlying cause, you should do the following to rectify the situation.

  • Ensure to provide a higher humidity that is 70-80%.
  • Mist the cage using foggers or misters to increase the humidity.
  • Use good quality soil as a substrate to maintain high humidity.
  • Use live plants and branches to maintain humidity and also keep the Chinese water habitat natural.
  • Use a digital hygrometer to monitor humidity at all times.

Temperature in the Tank is Incorrect: Low or Very High

Very low or high temperatures can affect Chinese water dragon’s appetite. For instance, when the temperatures are too low, it can cause indigestion, thus not eating.

Also, when the temperature is too high, Chinese water dragons become weak, and lethargic causing them to lose their appetite. 

Therefore, it is paramount to provide adequate temperature in your Chinese water dragon cage to maintain good eating habits. 

The proper temperature for Chinese water dragon is 81-870 ambient temperature, 88-950 basking temperature, 75-800 cool spot temperature, and 80-850 soaking temperature. 

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

If you suspect that your Chinese water dragon is not eating due to inadequate temperature, look out for these accompanying signs and symptoms.

  • Avoid basking area
  • Spending magnificent periods at the basking spot
  • Digging
  • Chinese water dragon seems weak and lethargic

What Should Owners Do?

 The only way to help your Chinese dragon to eat again is by providing enough temperature in your Chinese water dragon cage.

You can ensure the temperatures are correct by:-

  • Using multiple heat lamps to create enough basking space.
  • Use a higher wattage bulb to heat the basking area and a plug-in lamp dimmer when it’s excessively hot.
  • At night, use a lightless heat source to maintain a suitable temperature.
  • Use a temperature gun to track your Chinese water dragon’s cage gradient temperature.
Your Chinese water dragon might be refusing to eat because of inappropriate cage temperatures

Chinese Water Dragon Can Slow Down a Little During Winter Months

Typically, Chinese water dragons live in tropical areas where the temperature remains constant throughout the year.

However, some originate from Australia and Canberra and thus tend to hibernate during winter.  In captivity, a sudden drop in temperature slows down their metabolism, causing them to brumate.

During brumation, Chinese water dragons may stop eating as they spend most of their time sleeping. Chinese water dragons can hibernate throughout the winter period.

It would help if you did not force your Chinese water dragons to eat during the brumation period. However, you should always ensure to include a light diet for them during this period.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms 

  • Sleeping more
  • Eating less
  • Hiding in the shade
  • Defecating less 

What Should Owners Do?

Chinese water dragons do not require you to brumate them in captivity. However, during winter, they are mostly inactive and do not eat much. 

As a Chinese water dragon owner, please do not force them to eat. But, you should ensure to provide a light diet meal to keep them healthy.

Your Chinese Water Dragon is Constipated or Gut Impaction

Constipation or gut impaction is a major reason that can lead your Chinese water dragon to stop eating. 

When Chinese water dragons ingest loose substrate or large feeder insects, they are more likely to get impaction.

Additionally, parasites can also cause impaction in Chinese water dragons. Therefore, it is necessary to occasionally check your Chinese water dragons and treat them against parasites. 

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms 

Here are some other symptoms that can tell when Chinese water dragons are suffering from impaction.

  • Lack of appetite
  • Failure to poop properly
  • Smelly poop

What Should Owners Do?

To prevent or treat impaction in Chinese water dragons, follow these simple rules.

  • Feed your Chinese water dragon outside the cage if you are using a loose substrate. 
  • Cover loose substrate with large barks to prevent your Chinese dragon from ingesting it.
  • Don’t offer whole prey to your Chinese water dragons
  • Always provide drinking water to your Chinese water dragon to prevent them from dehydrating.
  • Visit a vet immediately if you notice a strange smell or difficulty in pooping.

Your Chinese Water Dragon is a Picky Eater or Sheer Boredom with the Diet

Chinese water dragons can be picky eaters. Also, they can easily get bored with a certain diet and fail to eat. 

Therefore, if you notice your Chinese water dragon refusing to eat, you should first try a different diet to see a change in their eating habits.

Chinese water dragons are omnivorous. Thus, they enjoy a variety of insects such as roaches, worms, and snails. 

However, some are very high in fats, and thus you should only feed them occasionally. 

For instance, snails, mealworms, and super worms are high in fats. Thus, they are only best when fed once a week.

Other Accompanying Sign/Symptoms 

You can tell your Chinese water dragon is picky if

  • They eat a certain meal and ignore others
  • Refuse to eat what is available on their food dish and rather hunt crawling insects in their cage.

What Should Owners Do?

If you are a Chinese water dragon owner and you find your pet picky or getting bored with a certain diet, you should-; 

  • Try to find out what your pet seems to enjoy most by trying different diets.
  • Since Chinese water dragons are natural hunters, offer live prey such as roaches and bugs.
  • Please wash your hands thoroughly before feeding your Chinese water dragons, as they are very sensitive to smell.

Your Female Chinese water dragon is Gravid.

Chinese water dragons tend to have a deteriorated appetite. Thus, if your female Chinese water dragon is older than two years old and seems to lose its appetite suddenly, it could be gravid.

Even though your mature female Chinese water dragon did not mate, it can still lay unfertile eggs.

Also, Chinese water dragons can retain sperm for several months and later get gravid.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms of a Gravid Chinese Water Dragon

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Roundness around the belly
  • Digging

What Should Owners Do?

Suppose your Chinese water dragon is gravid. It becomes more irritable, less active, and may refuse to eat. 

Please do not force it to eat. However, you should ensure a suitable enclosure with adequate humidity and temperature to comfort your Chinese water dragon.

Also, provide a diet that is rich in proteins and enough water to soak and drink.

Your Chinese Water Dragon is Sick

Lack of appetite is a common symptom for sick Chinese water dragons. Therefore, it is critical to find out the underlying issues when your Chinese water dragon refuses to eat. 

Many illnesses affect Chinese water dragons, such as mouth rot, metabolic disease, and others.

Other Accompanying Sign/Symptoms

  • Lethargic
  • Wheezing
  • Gaping
  • Mucus around eyes, nose, or mouth.
A sick Chinese water dragon will not be able to eat

What Should Owners Do?

If those other symptoms accompany the lack of appetite we highlight above, the best way to solve the problems is by taking your pet to a vet immediately.

Some illnesses are dangerous and can be fatal if left unattended.

How Long Can a Chinese Water Dragon Stay Without Food?

Chinese water dragons can go for up to two months without food as they store plenty of fat in the wild. However, this only happens when they are on brumation as they spend most time sleeping and thus use less energy.

In captivity, it is unnecessary to make your Chinese water dragons go for long without food, and you should feed adult Chinese water dragons at least once every 2-3 days.

It would help if you fed juveniles every day as they are quite active and need more energy to grow. The main diet for juveniles should be proteins, as they tend to be carnivorous when young.

However, as they grow older, they become omnivorous, and thus you may feed them animal proteins and vegetables.

What Should You Do If Your Chinese Water Dragon Won’t Eat?

Chinese water dragons are relatively active and won’t have problems eating in normal circumstances. However, if your Chinese water dragons suddenly stop eating, it means they are stressed and need your attention.

You need to do two things to help your Chinese water dragon eat again and stay healthy.

 Identify the Correct Cause

Identifying the correct cause why your Chinese water dragon is not eating is the only way you can solve the problem.

It is because there are many reasons that can cause your Chinese water dragon to stop eating. For instance, if inadequate temperatures cause, you need to fix that to help your Chinese water dragon eat again.

Help Your Chinese Water Dragon Eat Again

Once you identify the underlying reason why your Chinese dragon is not eating, it becomes easy to help them start eating again. 

To help them regain their appetite, you can start by offering them their favorite snack to entice them.

Also, since Chinese water dragons are picky and only eat a small portion in one sitting, offer them different meals each day and in small portions.

Avoid insects that are too high in phosphorus such as mealworms, as they can cause indigestion. Instead, offer your Chinese water dragons a diet that is high in calcium to keep them healthy.

Wrapping Up

Chinese water dragons make perfect reptile pets as they are friendly and beautiful. Keeping them healthy is not difficult as long as you provide a good habitat and a proper diet.

But, since they are picky eaters, you need to provide them with various meals each day to keep them interested.

We hope our article will help you take better care of your pet.

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