About animals

Australian Water Agama (Physignathus lesueurii)


Water agamas (Physignathus cocincinus) first met me on a Moscow bird. I wandered between the rows and my bored look settled on a drawer with babies looking like green iguanas. Small striated lizards of bright green color, well-developed paws with long fingers, tails twice as long as the body. But there was something unusual in the behavior of these kids.

As a rule, newborn iguanas are phlegmatic and sit quietly in carriers, huddled together, and these kids scurried along the terrarium cheerfully, constantly tasting everything around - from artificial leaves to their own tails.

Photo water agama (male on the left)

I noticed the peculiarities in the appearance of these fidgets - the eyes are larger and are shifted forward, the head is more angular, the muzzle is slightly shorter.

The seller, seeing that I was interested in his product, introduced the lizards as “Indian water dragons”, I could not get any more information about these animals from him (the usual situation for “Bird”).

The definition of “Indian” and insignificant differences in the structure and behavior of reptiles indicated that before me was not an ordinary iguana (Iguana iguana) - a native of South America - but a beast that was previously unknown to me. The price seemed moderate, and I bought 8 nimble kids.

Arriving home in Lower, I, burning with curiosity, made inquiries regarding my acquisition. My dragons turned out to be water agamas (Physignathus cocincinus) from Indochina, where they lead a semi-aquatic-semi-woody lifestyle in moist forests.

The identity of the living conditions of the water agama in Southeast Asia and the common iguana in South America made them very similar in appearance, this is one example of convergent evolution. The kids were no more than 20 cm in length, and so I put them in a small water area with a bottom area of ​​70x70 cm and a height of 90 cm.

The bottom was covered with a 4-centimeter layer of water, many branches of medium thickness for climbing were installed along the entire height of the tank. I put an aquarium heater of small power in the water, mounted a 40-watt incandescent lamp in the lid for heating, and as a light source and UV rays, the energy-saving Repty Glo 5 lamp, which is switched on through a time switch with an exposure time of 14 hours.


The conditions for the water agama were as follows: air temperature during the day 28 ° C, at the heating point - up to 34 °, at night 23 °, water temperature - 26 °, relative humidity - 90%. Good ventilation is very important: for this I make the upper third of one of the side walls of the grid.

Small water agamas were not at all shy in keeping animals, modesty of manners did not differ. As I approached the terrarium with a cherished bowl of food (you should feed the kids daily), a friendly crowd rushed to the sight glass, and when I opened it, in an attempt to get to dinner as soon as possible, all eight were on my shoulders, arms, head.

Photo water agama egg incubator

An important task facing the terrarium-maker is to provide small water agamas with various feeds in the required quantity. Mostly it is food of animal origin: crickets, cockroaches, locusts, newborn rat pups and mice, vegetable salads should be given 1-2 times a week.

Water agamas grow pretty fast. To prevent rickets from developing, I need to use vitamin and calcium supplements when feeding, as I use ReptoCal and ReptoLife from Tetra (I sprinkle insects before feeding).

Water agamas eat a lot, and therefore, defecate in a heroic way and, as a rule, in water, so the reservoir in the terrarium will have to be cleaned no less than every other day. After 10 months, my “physicists” pretty much grew up, five seemed larger and more active, bright green, the dorsal crest was higher, the throat was painted in a beautiful orange color, and my lips turned blue, especially when the lizards started a brawl. These five bulls turned out to be males, 3 females remained a little smaller, dark green, with brown transverse stripes on their tails, the dorsal crest is slightly noticeable, and they never quarreled.

Photo water agama male

By the year the males reached a length of 50 cm, and the females 40 (most of it was tail). By this time, I had prepared for my dragons a permanent and spacious dwelling - a plastic aquaterrarium with a length of 170, a width of 100 cm and a height of 125 cm. More than half of the bottom area was occupied by a 25 cm deep pond. I placed a thick, branched driftwood 50 cm above it from the water .

I will not describe the manufacturing technology of this tank, since each terrarium operator has its own priorities in the choice of materials and structures. The main thing is that the temperature and humidity regime is maintained at the proper level. Nevertheless, I will allow myself one piece of advice: do not skimp on the volume of the dwelling, since this lizard is quite large and mobile.


I equipped my terrarium for water agam with an aquarium heater, three slots above the snag and three Repti Glo 5 fluorescent lamps.

From the moment of housewarming between the males, a real war began. Representatives of the stronger sex rose on outstretched paws and made oscillatory movements of the head, on this the bloodless part of the duel ended. Further, the rivals rushed at each other, clutching their jaws and delivering terrible blows with clawed paws. Moreover, the smallest of the males became the victim at first.


The wounds inflicted during the battles are very serious, it’s enough to mention that the first victim I found at the bottom of the pool with a torn belly. The very next day after the first victory, the leader began to destroy another competitor, while the rest of the males and females calmly sat on their favorite branches and indifferently watched the brutal beating.

It became clear to me: the male in the terrarium should be left alone. From the experience of breeding American cichlids, I knew that the largest and most aggressive male is unsuitable for breeding — he is too concerned about the protection of the territory, and excessive aggression is often directed subsequently against the females. Based on this knowledge, I left myself the second male in the hierarchy, a little smaller than the leader, but more calm. He distributed the remaining three to his hobby comrades.

The female water agamas lived together among themselves, and I decided to save them all. An idyllic relationship reigned in the existing family group. Each animal most of the time lay on its favorite piece of driftwood or basked in the pool, only the male from time to time jerked his head, straightening his throat sac. This was his marriage behavior and limited.


I fed adult water agam 4 times a week - not abundantly, but varied. The basis of their diet was insects, frogs and hairless mice (the latter were often given to stimulate reproduction, usually I feed this delicacy once every 2 weeks).

When the agam was 15 months old, I noticed that the noses of the females were broken into the blood. Having watched carefully, I noticed an interesting feature. The male became more active and, in attempts to mate, from time to time chased females throughout the terrarium.

Those fleeing from him, jumping on the branches of driftwood. The extreme branch was located only 10 cm from the sight glass, and the lizard jumping on it, moving by inertia, hit its nose hard against the glass. It became apparent that physignati did not see transparent walls. I pushed the dangerous branch 25 cm away from the glass, and similar injuries no longer appeared.

One evening I changed the water in the terrarium and, by mistake, did not close the door. When he drew attention to this, the male agama was not in the lizard's house. Having examined the apartment, I did not find anyone, which caused me extreme surprise: the large (by that time 65 cm long) lizard seemed to have evaporated. He re-searched all corners - and again to no avail.

The next day, the wife made minced meat for cutlets, left the kitchen to answer the phone, and when she returned, she saw such a picture - riding on a meat grinder, our fugitive with genuine pleasure and loud champing ate a fresh semi-finished product. When they tried to tear him from a plate with chopped meat, discontented grunts and powerful claws hit him. Delicious food for these gluttons is more important than freedom.


After some time, I noticed that the two females were noticeably rounded - this was a good sign. As a nesting box, I adapted a large deep cat tray, filled it with wet vermiculite mixed with sphagnum and fixed it on a free land area. Every day I checked the box in the hope of finding the masonry, but, alas, in vain. But a week later, with amazement, I discovered 7 small white eggs in the pool water.

Photo of this baby water agama for several days

Lost in guessing why the female threw eggs into the water, and did not lay them in a box on the ground, I turned for advice to my friend and hobby companion Alena Rasskazenkova. She advised replacing the vermiculite in the tray with peat and increasing the thickness of the substrate layer to 30 cm. Following this tip, I managed to succeed.

The first clutch was small - only 6 eggs, the next was four days later, and from another female - 10 eggs. I collected them, put them in two plastic containers filled with moist vermiculite, 8 pieces each, and put all this wealth in an incubator. At a temperature of 30 ° C and a humidity of 95%, the first babies came out after 64 days (in total, I received 12 agam from these clutches).

The youth of the physical signatures is much more nimble and nimble than the parents: a fly flying in the room or a butterfly can cause a terrible commotion in the terrarium with the kids - everyone wants to eat it so much.

I try to implement the resulting offspring within a month after it was born, as this eternally hungry all-consuming flock is easily able to gobble up the feed supply in the house as soon as possible, leaving other inhabitants of my collection hungry.

According to various literature data, the water agama makes 3-4 clutches of 20 eggs per year. I do not presume to say that this information is exaggerated, but from my “physicists” I receive annually 2 clutches from 7 to 11 eggs each. In this case, only two females give offspring, the third did not participate in breeding even once.

During mating, the male holds the female by the teeth by the neck, because of which torn skin can remain here. These wounds, as well as those inflicted during the clarification of relationships, heal quickly - it is enough to treat them with any antiseptic, but the fingers bitten off in the heat of battle do not heal, the broken tail partially grows, but the regenerated part is gray and often deformed.

During pregnancy, the females must comply with the content parameters at the optimal level. One winter I had to move to another apartment. There were severe frosts, and one of the females was in position. Despite all the precautions, we cooled the animals.

At first glance, everything worked out, no one got sick, and the heroine of the story safely laid down 9 normal eggs, which I transferred to the incubator. However, after the due time, not a single cub left the masonry. After waiting to no avail for another 10 days, I opened the eggs. All embryos were well developed, but dead.

As you understand, creating optimal conditions for detention for “physicists” is not so simple. But, my friends, is it really the price for the great pleasure that you, as a naturalist, will get from talking with this beautiful and surprisingly interesting dragon ?!


Body length: male 60 - 80 cm. Female 45 - 60 cm.

Life span: 8 to 12 years old.

Water Agama is a motile lizard found in Australia, Thailand, Indochina and China. Despite its rather large size, this reptile managed to win the sympathy of lizard lovers, and therefore it is often kept as a pet.

Two-thirds of the body part of the water agama is the tail, which is usually used by the reptile for self-defense.

External description of the water agama

Males have a dorsal crest that extends from head to tail. Females have the same crest, but they are less developed in them. Males have a larger and more massive head, as well as pronounced femoral pores.

Fingers and limbs are strong, well developed, on the fingers there are long, tenacious claws that allow the water agama to easily move along trunks and trees. The parietal eye, which reacts to a sharp change in illumination, is also very well developed.

The color of the water agama is green, with dark green or brown stripes on the tail and trunk. The throat and chin are white. Color intensity may vary as a result of exposure to various environmental factors. If the air temperature is high, then the lizard acquires a brighter light, and during danger, on the contrary, the water agama becomes pale.

Water agama, caught in nature, are particularly shy, after they move to the terrarium, they begin to rush and can even smash their faces in the blood. Agamas that were bred in captivity do not behave so aggressively and fearfully, however, damage to the tip of the muzzle is always present.

Agam maintenance and care

Water agamas are kept in terrariums, as a rule, in a group consisting of one male and two females. Too many females are not recommended to be planted, as this is fraught with fights between them.

The terrarium should be 150 x 50 x 60 cm in size, at least a meter high. The water part should make up most of the area. Purified filtered water is used; it needs to be regularly updated.

As decoration, tree bark and dense branches are used, which are set at different levels of height, and large plants with dense leaves are planted, such as: dracaena, monsterra, philodendron, ehmeya. You can also use artificial plants, they look no less beautiful in the terrarium.

A coconut substrate or chips is recommended as a litter, and a layer of expanded clay is poured under it. However, the use of a substrate is not always necessary, especially if water agamas are kept in a vertical terrarium, since in them the entire bottom area is occupied by a reservoir in which lizards swim with pleasure. But, in this case, you need to take care of good water filtration in advance, since reptiles will defecate in it.

The water temperature in the terrarium should be approximately 24-25 ° C. The air humidity in the terrarium should be 80-90%, so the terrarium is regularly sprayed with water from the spray gun. In addition, it should always have good ventilation, air stagnation must not be allowed.

The optimum temperature in the terrarium during the day is 26-29 ° C, in the heating zone - 35 ° C. The air temperature at night is 22 ° C. Terrarium with water agamas must be constantly heated with fluorescent lamps. It is also extremely important to have an ultraviolet lamp.

Australian water agamas stop eating if daylight hours are reduced or if the ambient temperature is too cold. This type of agam is not picky about food. In captivity, agamus are fed various insects, for example, crickets, larvae of mealworms, earthworms. In addition to insects, water agamas are fed leafy vegetables, newborn mice and berries. A balanced diet is the key to good agama health. Periodically, in addition to the main diet, vitamins and calcium are given to agamas. Make sure that strong plants are planted in the terrarium that can support the agamas when they climb them.

In captivity, Australian water agamas breed reluctantly. Reproduction begins with courtship of the male: he whirls around the female, inflating his chest.Eggs are artificially incubated, since natural incubation threatens to infect eggs with bugs and other parasites.

Advantages of water agam:

Despite its name, the water agama does not spend most of its time in water, but is only close to the water. Also, water agamas are tamed over time, and become tame. You will not wait for aggressive behavior from a water agama either; it is more fearful, and in case of danger it will try to run away, and not bite.

Water Agama Content:

Main characteristics: Water agamas come from warm tropical forests, so the daytime temperature should be in the region of 25-28 degrees Celsius, and at the "warming point" it should reach 32 degrees. Water agama needs a nighttime drop in temperature to 22-24 degrees. The water temperature in the water agama terrarium should be near the 25 degree mark. Agamas are also quite hygrophilous, and humidity should be maintained around 80-90%, which is achieved by installing a reservoir and spraying the terrarium.

Terrarium: The water agama is a rather large animal, and putting it into small terrariums is a mockery. Different sources give various examples of terrariums for water agamas, where they are of a horizontal type, and somewhere of a vertical type. The main requirement for a terrarium for a water agama is that it should be quite spacious. For example, a horizontal terrarium for 2-3 individuals 150x90x90 centimeters (length, width, height), or a vertical terrarium for 2-3 individuals 120x90x150 centimeters (length, width, height). It should also be remembered that reptiles often do not notice the glass of the terrarium and hit them, receiving serious damage.

Terrarium decoration: Usually in terrariums for water agam all or almost the entire bottom area is allocated under the reservoir necessary for water agam. If not the entire area is allotted under the reservoir, then the rest can be covered with a moisture-resistant substrate, for example coconut, small or large fractions. Also, a large number of snags and branches are installed in the terrarium, along which the agamas will move. In the terrarium, you can also plant live plants. For example: scindapsus, tradescantius, monstera, dracaena or ehmei. You can also install artificial plants, which, unlike living plants, will not suffer so much from the claws of a water agama.

Water Agama Terrarium Equipment: As you can understand from the above, the water agama does not need the most ordinary living conditions, and it will not be so easy to maintain them. For uniform heating of the terrarium from below, you can use a thermo-mat, and an incandescent lamp may be suitable to create a "heating point". You should also take care of filtering the water into which the water agamas will defecate, filters or frequent procedures for replacing water may be suitable for this. Still water agamas need a UV lamp, without which agamas can hurt. You can read in detail about heating the terrarium in this article.

Water Agama Feeding:

In nature, the main diet of water agam is small vertebrates, such as mice and large insects, as well as plant food in the form of succulent leaves, plant fruits, and more. At home, water agam is most often fed feed insectssuch as large species of cockroaches, crickets, zofobasy and many others. They also offer plant food, which some water agamas do not eat very readily. It is possible to feed a water agama only during the day, as at night the temperature in the terrarium drops, and a fed-up water agama may not have time to digest food.

Feed crickets, canned crickets from ONTO for reptiles:

Present to your attention canned food with crickets from ONTO Biotechnology. Crickets are fresh, clean, whole. There is no jelly or liquid in the jar. Agamas and other lizards will appreciate such food. We met with food recently. Preservation takes place without chemistry, without preservatives. Pure, natural product. Household crickets, a dietary, healthy product - a lot of protein, calcium, chitin, amino acids and OMEGA-3 polyunsaturated fats, vitamin B12, oligosaccharides. Crickets are low in fat, so animals will not gain excess weight.