Caring for Your New Tree Dragon        The inside scoop from Aqualand on Calotes whatever

 
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Different Watersprite

Tree Dragon Factoids

Origin

Viet Nam, S.W. Asia, China

Maximum Size

16 to 20 inches

Sexual Differences

Males more colorful with head crests

Temperature

85o

Tree Dweller

Needs climbing areas

Attitude

Alert, observant, territorial as they mature

Substrate

Artificial turf works great

Humidity

Provide waterfall or mist daily

Foods

Insects, pinkies, ants

Supplements

Calcium and Vitamins

Lighting

Full-Spectrum or Sunlight



 
LA
When we first wrote this info, calotes versicolor were more available (and cheap).  We haven't 
had the little varmints lately, so we'll show different calotes.  Top ones called Japalura or sometimes tree dragons. Bottom one called mountain horned lizard. 

LA
Quite a bit of variety in mountain horned lizards.

Origins:  We get our calotes from Viet Nam and China.  Due to their low price, we figure most are wild caught.  As a result, we occasionally get other than the versicolor species mixed in.  Usually, we receive small ones with little color.  On the plus side, young Calotes versicolor adapt to captivity more readily than the larger adults.  

LA
Not exactly a large lizard.

 

Name Note:  You’ll see these lizards under a variety of names.  One place calls calotes bloodsuckers.  You’ll also see other lizards sold as tree dragons.  Since they run wild where they come from, various suppliers like to give lizards different names.  (That was the calotes running wild, not the suppliers.  Although ...)

LA
Calotes like to climb.  Nice tail.

Arboreal:  As their name implies, these guys live in trees.  They need limbs to climb on and plenty of room.  

LA
Different colors even within the same species.

Appeal:  Low price and bright colors (blues, bright greens, reds, purples on the versicolors) combine to make these an appealing lizard.  The dragon-like crests on the males add to their appeal.

LA
Japaluras appear to be one of the smaller Calotes.

LA
Mountain horned lizards look to be among the larger Calotes.

Maximum Size:  Most of these guys top out under a foot in length.  It will take a few years before yours reaches its theoretical maximum size.

Housing:  Give your calotes plenty of room.  They need elbow room.  Wood branches with hanging vines will make them feel at home.


LA
Calotes like their crickets.

LA
And they eat wax worms from your fingers.

 

Foods:  In the wild, this species eats lots of ants.  (They’re one of the few lizards that will eat ants.  The horned lizard eats harvester ants.)  In captivity calotes adapt easily to crickets.  An occasional pinkie will provide the calcium they need.

LA
Warm calotes move very rapidly.

Temperature:  Provide a tropical temperature for them – at least 80o.  Higher works even better.  Tropical lizards fare very poorly at cooler temperatures.  Low temps slow their digestion and metabolism.  This makes them susceptible to disease.  Healthy lizards usually fight off the effects of internal parasites and invading bacteria.

LA
Cool calotes like to nap.  Others run like a scalded dog until they get used to you.

LA
Though larger, this Calotes tamed instantly.

Temperament:  Not exactly as “handleable” as water dragons, you’ll need to move slowly around these guys – particularly at first.  Don’t expect them to sit calmly on your shoulder (except in cold weather).

LA
Calotes (like most lizards) like to plonk their hindquarters in the local swimming pool.

High Humidity:  Calotes need a great deal of humidity.  Mist them daily at a minimum.  A water bowl with a bubbling airstone works better as does a burbling waterfall.  Some fairly economical waterfalls now exist on the market.  You no longer need to build your own.

Plants:  Feel free to add live plants to their tank.  Calotes do not destroy vegetation.

LA
These ramped water bowls work great for lizards and turtles.

Water:  Provide plenty of clean water.  Dirty, unchanged water causes stress and eventual death. 

Lighting:  You’ll need a full-spectrum fluorescent bulb.  Diurnal lizards (those that work the day shift) need UVA and UVB light to make the vitamin D3 they use to build their bones.

Supplements:  You increase your chances of success when you dust their crickets with a calcium and vitamin supplement on a weekly or twice a week basis.

LA
Obviously ready for the upcoming rock concert, Cal bids you adieu.

Last Word:  You can mix calotes with similar-sized, non-aggressive lizards, IF you give them plenty of room and keep them well fed.  Hungry lizards often eat other lizards.  LA.

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