The Dragon Agama has many other names, including the Chinese Agama, Green Striped Tree Dragon, and Splendid Japalure. It’s native to the Yangtze River in Southwest China and is a popular pet in the United States as well as the rest of the world. If you are thinking about getting one of these pets for your home but would like to know more about it first, please continue reading while we discuss appearance, lifespan, habitat, cost, and more to help you make an informed decision.
Quick Facts about the Dragon Agama
|Species Name:||Diploderma splendidum|
|Common Name:||Dragon Agama, Chinese Agama, Green Striped Tree Dragon, Splendid Japalure|
|Adult Size:||9 inches|
|Minimum Tank Size:||20-gallon tank|
|Temperature & Humidity:||75 – 80 degrees
Do Dragon Agama Make Good Pets?
Yes, the Dragon Agama makes a great pet, but it’s better suited to an experienced owner due to the slightly challenging habitat requirements we’ll talk about soon. If you handle it often, it will get to the point where you can carry it around with you all day, which many owners like, especially children. It’s colorful, doesn’t get too large, and has a long lifespan.
The Dragon Agama usually grows to about 9-inches long when fully grown and will usually have a brown body that ranges from tan to black, and it will have a bright green head with two of the same color stripes down its back. Its scales vary in size and are especially small around the neck.
How to Take Care of Dragon Agama
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
We highly recommend a 20-gallon aquarium as a minimum habitat size, but larger is better. You can get away with a smaller 10-gallon tank while your reptile is still a juvenile, but once it’s an adult, you will need to upgrade. The aquarium will require a screened lid as your pet will spend most of its time near the top. Choose a tall thin tank over a wide shallow one.
Your Dragon Agama will also require plenty of hiding spots, so add in as many plants, rocks, and branches as will fit. We also recommend adding one or two reptile hides.
Your Dragon Agama will require some special lighting in the form of UVB light, which will help your pet get the vitamin D3 it would normally get from the sun. Without this light, your pet can develop serious health problems. The tricky part of UVB light is that they stop producing the ultraviolet light long before they burn out, and there is no way to tell if it’s working or not, so most experts recommend replacing them every six months.
Heating (Temperature & Humidity)
You won’t need to obsess over the temperature of your aquarium because the Dragon Agama will be fine at room temperature. However, we recommend adding a small basking area to the aquarium using either a heat lamp or a hot pad where your reptile can warm up.
The humidity needs to stay around 75%, which is the most challenging part of owning this reptile. We recommend manually misting the cage several times a day and using a hygrometer to get an accurate reading. However, some people have had some success with an automatic mister, and they can work well if you spend a lot of time away from home.
We highly recommend coconut fibers for your aquarium because it works well with the high humidity the tank requires. However, you can also use newspaper, paper towels, and potting soil. Avoid pine chips and sand substrates because they can cause problems for your pet.
|Tank Type:||20-gallon glass vivarium|
|Heating:||Heating pad/tape on the bottom of the enclosure|
|Best Substrate:||Coconut fiber|
Feeding Your Dragon Agama
We highly recommend feeding your Dragon Agama a diet of gut-loaded captive-bred crickets dusted in calcium. Gut loading is when you feed the crickets a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables for at least 24 hours before giving them to your pet for dinner. Gut-loading allows your pet to gain these second nutrients second-hand. Calcium is required to keep your pet’s bones strong and prevent the onset of the deadly Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). MBD causes the bones of your reptile to become soft and brittle, slowly paralyzing your pet. This condition is hard to reverse, so it’s better to prevent it by ensuring your pet gets enough calcium.
|Fruits:||0% of diet|
|Insects:||100% of diet|
|Meat:||0% of diet|
Keeping Your Dragon Agama Healthy
As long as you keep your habitat humidity levels correct and provide your pet with plenty of calcium, your pet should live a long and healthy life of ten years or more.
Common Health Issues
Metabolic Bone Disease
As we mentioned earlier, MBD is a life-threatening condition that affects many captive reptiles, including the Dragon Agama. The best way to prevent the onset of this disease is by dusting your pet’s food with calcium powder and ensuring your pet gets the vitamin D3 it needs through the lighting.
Most Dragon Agama can live ten years or more in captivity with few trips to the vet.
A male and female Dragon Agama kept in a 40-gallon tank will mate at any time of the year. Once they mate, you can keep them in the same tank, and they will continue to produce offspring. Put a lay box into the habitat filled with soil and keep it moist, and the female will put her eggs there. The hatchlings will be about three inches long and will require the same care as adults.
Are Dragon Agama Friendly? Our Handling Advice
If you start training them early, the Dragon Agama can enjoy being held and will often allow you to carry them around outside the cage. However, each one has a unique personality, and, like people, some will prefer to be left alone. While it’s better to start when they are young, they are also more likely to bite early on but settle down with age. Start slowly, keep your hand open and inside the cage until it gt used to you. Keep the sessions short at first, but you can extend them later as your pet is more comfortable.
Shedding & Brumation: What to Expect
As long as you keep the temperature up, your pet will stay awake year-round, and there is no reason to cause it to enter brumation as we do with some snakes to allow it to breed. It will shed occasionally but shouldn’t have a problem as long as you keep the temperature high.
How Much Do Dragon Agama Cost?
You can expect to spend between $20 and $40 for your Dragon Agama, depending on where you live and where you get it. It’s quite popular and easy to find at a local pet store, so you can often find them on sale during the holidays. When possible, we recommend making sure that the reptile you purchase is captive-bred and not wild-caught.
Care Guide Summary
As you can see, the Dragon Agama is attractive, inexpensive, and easy to find. It makes a great pet, and once you have the habitat set up and are in the habit of spraying it down to maintain the proper humidity, it’s fairly easy to raise, even when you have more than one. Most of them will allow you to handle them, so they make a great pet for children.
We hope you have enjoyed this short guide and found the answers you needed. If we have convinced you to give one of these amazing reptiles a try in your home, please share this guide to the Dragon Agama on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: Zonc_Photos, Pixabay
Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.