New CWD showing aggression

Discussion in 'Water Dragons' started by Fearow, May 13, 2014.

  1. Fearow

    Fearow New Member

    Hiya! My name is Victoria but ya may call me Vicky. I have recently got my hands on a beautiful male Chinese Water Dragon (CWD) and currently need help. I recently joined this forum not to long ago in hopes of receiving some help. I have worked with reptiles many times in the past but never owned one myself. Now that I finally own one my doors into the reptile world has opened and a new journey has begun. if ya have any tips or advice please feel free to message me it would much be appreciated. His name is Dimitri he is a 6-8 month old boy whose has been living with me for 3 days now and has started to show aggression. The day I got him he seemed to be fine and loved being held. He is a very healthy boy minus the fact that he had a lil beat up mouth due to banging on the glass tank he used to live in. Although it has only been 3 days his mouth is thankfully doing a lot better and I have contacted a vet about getting the medicine for him. He was not bought from a petstore but from a breeder. I know due to a new environment it can cause stress especially since he used to live with a couple of his siblings and now he is alone. He has been eating and doing everything fine just when it comes down to being handled he becomes a little iffy and begins puffy out his throat and opening his mouth at me. He does seem to get along with my dog though she likes to check up on him and he doesnt mind being licked by her or having her near him at all. It is basically just aggression towards me. I have taken him out put him on my bed and let me him free to go where he please ( with no dog in the room ) safely. My only concern to this is that he may hide under my bed ( which has nothing under it big empty space that he can crawl ) but my concern is that he may hide there and refuse to come out and maybe get stuck. he does let me pick him up but as soon as I pick him up to put him back he starts to puff up and open mouth and stare into my eyes like I have said something to upset him. I know big sudden fast movements can concern them and get them to do that but I am taking things slow and not making sudden fast movements around him. I know he is still too new into this new home and that this is a long process that takes time to built trust I was just wondering if there is maybe some helpful tips or things I can do to maybe help him relax when getting stressed. Thank you so very much for your time I hope to make new friends and be able to help one another :)

    JEFFREH Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Vicky, welcome to the boards =)

    It's good to hear that he is eating and otherwise behaving normally. Sometimes a change to a new environment can induce stress which can sometimes influence feeding.

    To be honest with you, I'd just give him more time. We usually recommend leaving your new pet alone for a good week or so so that they may adjust to their new home. It's not uncommon for a herp to seem 'tame' or tolerant of handling at the breeder's facility, show, or after receiving them in the mail on the first day just to find that this is short-lived. I would wager this is at least partly due to their comfort level. When they enter a new home, they are exposed to a suite of new stimuli. A new cage, new decor, new smells, new sights... all of which can seem scary until they have realized that this new home is 'safe.' While it was living with the breeder, it knew what the day-to-day routine was. Now at your home, he is being exposed to a totally new environment that he has not yet figured out. The first associations he is making are that he is being moved from a totally new enclosure to a vast, unexplored area... being touched, picked up, and licked by a person and furry animal that he has likely never encountered before. Until he figures out that these things aren't going to cause him harm, he's going to be a little on-edge.

    I would leave him be and let him settle into his enclosure for the next week or so. I would still maintain regular 'indirect' interaction with him... make it a point to hand-feed treat items in the enclosure, and once you do start taking him out again reinforce being out of the enclosure with a reward of his favorite food or treat. Change the water and spot clean daily so that he learns your hand is not something to be feared and that it is 'normal' for it to be entering his home.

    After he adjusts, we can at least rule our stress from the adjustment period and we can start working with him more. Be patient, and don't let his defensive behavior discourage you. Even if he is puffing up at you, you should pick him up and hold him until he calms down and stops, THEN 'reward' him with a treat and/or by placing him back into his enclosure. He will need to learn that acting that way will not get him what he wants. If you stop handling him or back away while he is displaying, it will only reinforce that behavior and he will continue to do so to keep you away.

    Time often helps with most reptiles as well. Typically, younger animals are more flighty and skittish. Adults usually develop a more naturally laid-back attitude (sometimes). Be patient, stay consistent, and eventually I'm sure he'll come around. It has only been 3 days, there is plenty of time for you to build a relationship =)

    As for the bed situation - I would keep him in a room where you are certain he cannot get stuck in anything or hide in a place that you cannot easily retrieve him. I would be worried about the same things you are... such as just hiding and refusing to come out, only making the retrieval process that much more stressful for the both of you.
  3. Fearow

    Fearow New Member

    Thank you so much for getting back to me. I have been changing his water daily and cleaning his spot and will continue to do so it seems like he doesnt mind me moving things around just any contact upsets him. And I can understand new environment can be scary especially since where he came from and where he is now is such a huge difference. I was beginning to feel worried and discouraged because you see so many beautiful reptiles that have such a beautiful bond and trust between them and their owners and I was maybe worried we may never have that. But thank you so much for your words it has helped calm my heart. Like i said i've worked with reptiles before just never from the beginning like this. Its very different then what I am used to but I am ready to do what it takes to make him at least feel comfortable and happy even if it means he may never learn to like me. He has started to kind of go to the back of his housing and start scratching like he wants out. And from what I understand thats usually how they get their mouth hurt due to banging trying to get out or something of that sort. Is there any specific way if he starts doing that more violently or more often to distract him from doing so? His mouth is doing better but I just don't want to risk it getting any worse than it once was. Now as for the part you said to pick him up even if he starts puffing at me I am not scared of getting bit by him or anything but do you think that if he were to do so there are chances of him hurting his jaw or injuring himself? Im going to hold off on that until I really feel that he is ok with me after a few weeks of just cleaning and feeding but I just want to be safe then sorry ya know? but again thank you so much for getting back to me! I really appreciate it! :D
  4. Fearow

    Fearow New Member

    Proud to say that Dimitri ate from my hand today! :D he ate about 4-5 crickets and didn't seem to mind at all that i was pretty close to him. He ended up getting a lil dirt on his head and I was able to gently pet it off and he didnt puff up or anything just looked at me and yeah! Thank you so much again I am going to continue to follow your advice and keep you posted thank you so much!

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