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Zer0tonin

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Hello my dudes. I’ve taken an interest in water dragons recently and I’ve been wondering about living situation for them. People seem to cohab both Easterns and Gippslands quite frequently when they have multiple.
My question being, is it necessary? Are the a social species like garter snakes? Do they prefer cohabitation, or do they prefer isolation? If they prefer it, is it bad to keep them alone? If anyone has any experience keeping these reptiles, I’d love to pick your brain.
Cheers!
 

longirostris

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You will get some people who are ok with it and others who are not. I am in the latter camp. Whilst there is no doubt of crossbreeding occurring in the wild naturally along the geographic boundaries of the two subspecies ranges, the Shoalhaven river in NSW being the natural boundary, my view is that genetically pure animals from each of the subspecies are more valuable in the hobby than cross bred animals when talking about EWD's and same for Bearded dragons etc. When I say valuable, I particularly refer to the purity of the genetics of the two different subspecies. For this reason I would not put them together and never have. When I have kept all three forms of Frilled dragons in the past at the same time I have always made absolutely sure to keep them separately, and Frilled dragons are not even considered as separate subspecies. Water dragons of the same subspecies are best housed individually, especially in smaller enclosures. Males housed together will tend to fight to the point where you will see tails, toes and other body parts being damaged. In extreme cases domination will occur to the point where the dominated individual is bullied, gets less food and can very easily start to emaciate and eventually die if not picked up before the point of no return. A lot of people keep EWD's in outdoor pits and in these types of enclosures where there is plenty of room several animals housed together can and usually do well together, however you still need to be vigilant for signs of a dominant male, because once dominance is established usually through fighting the dominated animals can start to deteriorate. I have 4 3/4 grown sub adult EWD's currently and keep them all in indoor enclosures by themselves, they cannot even see each other. They are all doing extremely well and have been growing rapidly. I am going to put them into indoor pits in pairs once I got them built over the next few months to see how they go. Hope this helps with your query.

Mark Hawker
 

Zer0tonin

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You will get some people who are ok with it and others who are not. I am in the latter camp. Whilst there is no doubt of crossbreeding occurring in the wild naturally along the geographic boundaries of the two subspecies ranges, the Shoalhaven river in NSW being the natural boundary, my view is that genetically pure animals from each of the subspecies are more valuable in the hobby than cross bred animals when talking about EWD's and same for Bearded dragons etc. When I say valuable, I particularly refer to the purity of the genetics of the two different subspecies. For this reason I would not put them together and never have. When I have kept all three forms of Frilled dragons in the past at the same time I have always made absolutely sure to keep them separately, and Frilled dragons are not even considered as separate subspecies. Water dragons of the same subspecies are best housed individually, especially in smaller enclosures. Males housed together will tend to fight to the point where you will see tails, toes and other body parts being damaged. In extreme cases domination will occur to the point where the dominated individual is bullied, gets less food and can very easily start to emaciate and eventually die if not picked up before the point of no return. A lot of people keep EWD's in outdoor pits and in these types of enclosures where there is plenty of room several animals housed together can and usually do well together, however you still need to be vigilant for signs of a dominant male, because once dominance is established usually through fighting the dominated animals can start to deteriorate. I have 4 3/4 grown sub adult EWD's currently and keep them all in indoor enclosures by themselves, they cannot even see each other. They are all doing extremely well and have been growing rapidly. I am going to put them into indoor pits in pairs once I got them built over the next few months to see how they go. Hope this helps with your query.

Mark Hawker
Thanks for the reply! So essentially they do better isolated as they might attack each other or cause weird interbreeding. I suppose you’d only put a males and females together when you actually want some eggs anyway. I’ll keep that in mind when I get one.
My partner wants a beardie, but I always felt that was fairly cliche, so I was looking into other Australian lizards, and landed on the dragons because I see them everywhere and quite enjoy the colourful look of them. Can they be friendly or are they fairly skittish? Are they better or worse to keep than say your average beardie? What’s your setup like? (I know it involves a lot more space, and a huge water area)
 

Bluetongue1

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@Zer0tonin I second what Mark has said. Just recently I replied to a question about crossing these two types: https://aussiepythons.com/forum/threads/ewdxgwd.227506/post-2539484.

Given that males can attain a total length of 1m and females almost 2/3 of that, and that they are reasonably active, these animals are not suited to small enclosures as adults. In order to keep more than one, you would need quite a sizeable indoor cage or pit, or a good-sized outdoor pit. With regard to keeping them outdoors, I have seen GWDs from the far south of NSW do very well outside in Sydney. If intending to house them in a backyard pit, your choice of subspecies should be based primarily on the suitability of your local climate, and then on your personal preference.

You do not have to provide a huge water area, just sufficient for the animals to be able to totally immerse themselves. If you can provide more water, maybe even a swimming area, that would be great but is not essential. They do have a habit of defecating in water and this will need to be addressed.

In nature, dominant males establish a section of a water-way as their territory. They will chase off any other males that enter this. If the intruder challenges the reigning male, then a fight is likely to ensue, and this is where bits of the body can go missing. A dominant male will allow several females to take up residence within its territory. However, the females will establish their own pecking order of dominance and are restricted to smaller areas within the male’s territory. Visual blocks within an enclosure are very important for reducing the negative effects of dominance interactions. Grasses, reeds and shrubs at appropriate intervals, that block the vision of lizards sitting on rocks or overhanding branches along the waterway, will allow different individuals to get along a lot better.

Just like Bearded Dragons, Water Dragons have developed a complex system of sign language. They communicate by head bobbing, arm waving, push ups and tail flicking. The rate at which they perform these movements, and the context in which they are performed, are part of defining their meaning. This sort of social communication is not at all uncommon amongst agamid lizards.

There also seems to be a measure of overlap between different species. While I cannot recall which specific forum it was, a member involved had an EWD and a EBD in cages that were placed on opposite sides of his reptile room, such that each lizard was fully visible to the other. After he had rearranged his cages this way, he noticed a downturn in the well-being of the EWD. It showed signs of stress, not eating and becoming listless, instead of its usual perky self. It then began to lose body condition and he became concerned it might die. Given that it had previously been doing fine, I enquired as to what had changed in its environment. After a bit more questioning it was revealed that the EBD was performing behaviours that the keeper had not previously seen. It was therefore suggested that he change things so that these two lizards could no longer see each other, so he did so. It took a couple of weeks but the EWD began to improve and start eating again, and ended up getting back to normal. Clearly a salutary lesson in the potential effects of dominance behaviour. This example underscores the wisdom of Mark having placed his EWDs so they cannot see each other.
 
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