Squirt’s Palace

As many of you know, we have a Chinese Water Dragon here as part of our family. Our Dragon, Jackie, whom we affectionately call Squirt, previously resided with my younger sister-in-law and her family. When we began to take care of her, we realized that she was going to live quite some time and should probably have some room to roam. Water Dragon’s have been on record to have lived as long as 17 years. Originally from the area of Cambodia, they are arboreal (climb trees) and live in a soggy, humid, jungle atmosphere where they enjoy swimming and basking in high heat.

Here is a very happy, green Squirt in her new pool.

After much research, we realized it was going to be very expensive to have an appropriate habitat made for her. So I got on the phone with my Dad, an experienced and skilled furniture maker, and asked for his help. Through many conversations about what Squirt needed, my father built her her very own Palace. She now resides in our front entrance room in an amazing habitat designed by Dad and I. He built it at his home over the past few months and transferred it to our house a week ago. The actual enclosure is about 4′ x 3′ x 2′ deep and sits on a separate stand about 2′ off the floor. Made of plywood walls and glass dual-paned doors, it is finished inside with several coats of polyurethane and aquarium sealant to keep in heat and moisture. The outside has been painted a creamy white to go with the trim of the room and has a long surge protector mounted to the back where all the lights are plugged into timers.

The interior has two shelves for basking on one side and black trellis going up the other side so she has multiple ways of reaching the different levels.There is a flat and safe laptop fan, thanks to my Dad’s neighbor, attached to the wall on the right to gently circulate the air and her higher wattage, hotter, basking light clamped to a small piece of wood. The black lattice is for the Pothos that has been planted in a large round pot below as well as for Squirt to climb. Pothos is a hardy plant that likes light and humidity and will happily vine all over the trellis. I have cuttings started in another vase on the other wall and eventually hope to have a very full jungle atmosphere going on. I potted spider plant babies in little pots on both shelves and we added black trellis that goes down into the pool for her to get in and out and still have plenty of room to swim. The Pool is a 15″ x 18″ kitty litter pan that has about a gallon of fresh water and a heating pad underneath to keep the chill off. An additional black light is clamped beneath the top shelf for more warmth and a nighttime atmosphere. The shelves and bottom are lined with green reptile turf-easy to clean and safe since she eats her dinner off of it. Above the top shelf there is a screened vent that we can open or close to help regulate the air temperature. She also has a long Fluorescent UVB bulb attached to the ceiling. UVB is essential for her bone growth and digestion. There are two temp gauges, one at the top and one at the bottom as well as a humidity gauge. I spritz the whole Palace down when I feed her in the morning to help keep the humidity around 80%. The upper basking temp is about 85-90 degrees and the lower temp is about 72-78. We have been playing with different wattage bulbs to see what temp she is most comfortable (green) in.

Here is a pic of her hiding on the first shelf.

She needed a little help getting up and down the trellis at first but now every  time you look in there she is somewhere else. She has spent time in the potted plant, a lot of time in the pool and the first shelf and every evening she gets up against the glass door and just stares out. We aren’t quite sure what she likes best because she is just all over the place. She sleeps in the pool for the most part and turns a fabulous speckled light green. Although we found her sleeping balanced on the rim of the flower pot last night. And she slept hanging on the trellis another night. I know she has been up to the top shelf because I found molted skin up there. We think she is happy. We hope she is. She is so docile you can pick her up and she will just perch on your hand.

I have always loved reptiles. Lizards in particular. And I think when my Dad got the call for his help, he knew that this really meant a lot to me. He did a fantastic job. So wonderful that I just felt teary all weekend as we worked to get everything in place. So happy for Squirt. And so thankful for my father.

Thank you Dad! I am sure if Squirt could smile she would be smiling right now. You’re the best!

Jennifer and Princess Squirt

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