6308 Monona dr, Monona WI 53716
MOUNTAIN HORNED DRAGON Caresheet
Common Name: Mountain Horned Dragon
Scientific Name: Acanthosaura capra
Origin: Southeast Asia
Size: 10" to 12" head to tail (females smaller)
Lifespan: 5 to 8 years
You will find many ways on the internet, on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our years of experience of caring for this species.
In the wild, the natural habitat for Mountain Horned Dragons in the high canopy of rainforests near water sources. They are tree dwellers, spending most of their time above ground. They are very well adapted to living in trees and can climb "like monkeys."
They are an intermediate care reptile and will need a large and tall custom enclosure when they are adults. Young dragons can be kept in something like an Exo terra 18" x 18" x 36" for about the first 6-8 months of life.
Note: You cannot keep them from growing by housing them in a small cage. That's a myth. It won't make for a happy, well adjusted lizard.
After your Mountain Horned Dragon out grows its starter enclosure, or if you begin with one 6 months or older, you need to have a larger enclosure such as the Exo Terra med tall (36" x 18" x 36"). We don't recommend screen enclosures for these dragons as it can be very difficult to keep the humidity right. There are many suggestions online for making an enclosure, as well. If you have space, go bigger than the minimum. Designing an enclosure for your Mountain Horned Dragon can be fun. Add branches or structures for climbing on.
For substrate, you want something that holds humidity well, like Zilla jungle mix or Zoo med eco earth.
If you want two or more of these, make sure there is only one male. Multiple males can fight, especially if females are present. Also increase the size of teh enclosure.
LIGHTING & TEMPERATURES
Mountain Horned Dragons come from a tropical climate. They need a basking area and a cooler section within the enclosure so they can regulate their body temperature. All the heat elements should be located on one side and the other will be the cooler side.
A basking area of 87-95 degrees should be provided. The rest of the enclosure can be in the 75-80 range. At night, temps can drop to as low as 75 degrees. Use a good quality temperature gauge, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer.
In addition to heat, dragons need UVB lighting to help absorb calcium and to synthesize vitamin D3. Since they are removed from natural sunlight in our homes, we must provide UVB light in the form of a special fluorescent bulb designed to produce UVB rays. Do not use heat rocks. Dragons are especially adapted to basking, getting heat from above. They can be burned badly on a heat rock because they don't realize it's too hot until too late.
The best bulbs are the mercury vapors such as Exo Terra's Solar Glo bulbs, ZooMed's Powersun, or Solar bright bulbs. These provide heat and UVB all in one bulb. You can also use separate basking (heat) bulb and UVB bulbs. If you use these you will want the Zoo Med 5.0 or Exo Terra UVB 100 variety.
Always provide a nice sized water dish with fresh water. These lizards need some kind of moving water in their enclosure, so they recognize it as a water source. A bubbling water bowl, dripper or waterfall works for this. It's nice to have a water area big enough for them to sit in. Remember though, you will need to change the water out regularly. Even if you install a filter. Also scrub the bowl at least once a week to keep bacteria slime from building up.
Maintain humidity around 80%. Unless you are in a very dry area, misting the enclosure a few times a day will usually provide enough moisture. A nice humidity gauge can help you in this area. Hand misters are usually sufficient, but if you don't want to hand mist, an automatic mister like the Exo Terra monsoon, reptile fogger, or Zoo meds reptifogger are a nice options. Exo terras reptile fountain provides bubbling water which also helps to raise humidity levels. Exo Terra bowls, Flukers rock dish are nice naturalistic non-porous water bowls.
Dragons are mostly insectivores and should eat everyday. If your adult has good body weight, you can possibly feed every other day. Variety is important. Don't feed them the same things each day. They can get bored and picky if you do. Mix it up. They can eat crickets, dubia roaches, mealworms, hornworms, and other bugs.
Make sure to dust your lizard's food with calcium and vitamins such as Repashy calcium plus or Rep-cal calcium with D3.
Mountain Horned Dragons are intelligent, and can make great pets. However, they are not for everyone. Baby dragons usually do not bite, but excessive handling should be avoided until your lizard gets used to you. Your first impulse will be to hold your new lizard and pet it. We strongly suggest you do not do this. It takes time to tame your lizard. The best way is to be patient and proceed slowly. Give him at least a few days to acclimate to his new environment before starting short periods of handling. Also, their tendency to freeze first (instead of running) when a predator is near by, can make you think that the stiff dragon in your hand likes being held because he's not running away from you. Once he is not stiff (but relaxed) in your hand or running away, you know he is used to being held and not stressed out. Most dragons tolerate handling well if acclimated to it.