Black Dragon Lizard: Morph Profile & Care Guide

| Updated: May 30, 2023
Black Dragon Lizard in its enclosure

This rare and stunning color variation of the Asian water monitor, known simply as the Black Dragon monitor or Black Dragon lizard, creates a lizard with a nearly jet-black appearance. Asian water monitors are the second largest lizard species. Despite their size, though, they actually make pretty cool pets; some will even cuddle with you. In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the black dragon lizard, including its scientific name, appearance, behavior, diet, lifespan, and proper care. So are you ready to meet one of the coolest rare lizards in the world?

Species Overview

Scientific Name
Varanus salvator
Common Names
Black Dragon Lizard, Black Dragon Monitor, Black Dragon Water Monitor, CB Black Dragon
Adult Size
Up to 10 feet in length, average 6′
Life Expectancy
Up to 25 years in captivity
generally docile and tameable with regular handling
Minimum Tank Size
Large, minimum 8′ x 4′ x 6′
Captive Breedable

What is a Black Dragon Lizard?

The black dragon lizard is not its own species or subspecies of lizard. It is actually a hyper-melanistic version of the Southeast Asian water monitor (Varanus salvator). This means that it has an excess of dark pigment in its skin, making it completely black. This color mutation is similar to albinism, or the exact opposite, since albinism causes a lack of pigment.

Genetically speaking, naturally occurring hyper-melanism is significantly more rare than albinism.

The black dragon lizard is also known as the black Asian water monitor or the black dragon water monitor. It belongs to the family Varanidae and the genus Varanus, which includes over 70 species of monitor lizards. Some of these are the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), the Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus), and the Savannah monitor (Varanus exanthematicus).

Asian water monitors are native to southern and southeast Asia, where it lives in mangrove swamps, wetlands, forests, and city canals. It has a wide distribution and can be found in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

Even though the gene responsible for the black dragon color morph is naturally occurring, it is highly unlikely to find one in the wild.

The black dragon lizard is one of the most sought-after pet monitor lizards because of its exotic and striking appearance. However, it is not a beginner’s pet. It requires a lot of space, specialized equipment, and expert care. It is also very expensive and hard to find.

Black Dragon Lizard Appearance

The black dragon lizard is a large lizard that can grow up to 9 feet long and weigh up to 110 pounds. However, most specimens are around 4 to 6 feet long and weigh between 35 and 60 pounds. Males are usually larger than the females.

The black dragon lizard has a long, muscular body with a flattened head and long neck. It has powerful jaws with sharp teeth that can deliver a painful bite. It also has long claws that can scratch and tear flesh. Its tail is longer than its body and is used for swimming and balance.

The most distinctive feature of the black dragon lizard is its black coloration. Unlike other water monitors with dark brown or gray skin with yellow spots or bands, the black dragon lizard has no markings. Its skin is smooth and glossy with small scales.

The black dragon lizard has small eyes with round pupils that can see well in low-light conditions.

Like many reptiles, they have a forked tongue that they use to smell their surroundings. They will flick their tongue in and out of their mouth to pick up scent particles from the air or the ground. They are able to do this because of a highly developed Jacobsons organ, just like you’d find in many snakes.

Black Dragon Lizard Behavior

The black dragon lizard is a diurnal animal, which means that it is active during the day and sleeps at night. It spends most of its time basking in the sun to regulate its body temperature or hunting for food. It is also an excellent swimmer and can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes.

The black dragon lizard is a solitary animal that only interacts with other lizards during the breeding season. It is territorial and will defend its home range from intruders. It communicates with other lizards using body language, vocalizations, and scent marking.

Black dragon lizards are not very aggressive towards humans unless provoked or threatened. However, it can be defensive if handled improperly or if it feels cornered or trapped. It will almost always try to escape or hide first before resorting to biting or whipping its tail.

The black dragon lizard is very intelligent and curious. It can learn to recognize its owner and respond to its name or voice commands. It can also be trained to accept handling and feeding from its owner’s hand. However, it takes time and patience to tame a black dragon lizard and establish trust.

Black Dragon Lizard Diet

The black dragon lizard is a carnivore that feeds on a variety of prey items. In the wild, it eats rodents, frogs, turtles, snakes, crabs, young crocodiles, crocodile eggs, fish, birds, and carrion (dead animals). It can even scavenge human corpses from graves or funeral pyres. Gross, right?

In captivity, the black dragon lizard should be fed a balanced diet that mimics its natural food choices. This can include mice, rats, rabbits, quail eggs, chicken parts (such as necks or wings), fish (such as tilapia or trout), shrimp, crickets (dusted with calcium powder), earthworms (gut-loaded), snails, and occasional fruits (such as bananas or grapes).

The amount and frequency of feeding depends on the age and size of the lizard. Young lizards should be fed daily or every other day with small portions of food. Adult lizards should be fed two or three times a week with larger portions of food. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and health problems.

The black dragon lizard should always have access to fresh water for drinking and soaking. A large water bowl or tub should be provided in its enclosure. The water should be changed regularly to prevent bacterial growth.

Black Dragon Lizard Lifespan

The black dragon lizard can live up to 25 years in captivity if given proper care and husbandry. However, most lizards live between 11 and 15 years on average. Their lifespan may be shorter in the wild due to predators, parasites, diseases, and human activities (such as hunting or habitat loss).


Black dragon lizards are fascinating creatures that have captivated many reptile lovers with their exotic appearance and intelligence. However, they are not easy pets to keep and require a lot of commitment and responsibility from their owners. If you want to own a black dragon lizard, do your research well before buying one. And remember: always buy from reputable sources that follow ethical practices and respect animal welfare.

More Lizards

If you’re interested in learning about similar lizards, check out:

Or, browse our entire lizard collection!

Black Dragon Lizard FAQs

How big do black dragon lizards get?

Black dragon lizards can grow up to 9 feet long and weigh up to 110 pounds. However, most specimens are around 4 to 6 feet long and weigh between 35 and 60 pounds. The males are usually larger than the females.

How much do black dragon lizards cost?

Black dragon lizards are very expensive and hard to find. They are not commonly available in pet stores or online. They are usually sold by specialized breeders or importers with permits and licenses for exotic animals. The price of a black dragon lizard can range from $1,000 to $10,000 or more depending on its age, size, quality, and rarity.

Are black dragon lizards good pets?

Black dragon lizards are not good pets for beginners or casual owners. They require a lot of space, specialized equipment, and expert care. They are also very powerful and potentially dangerous animals that can inflict serious injuries if handled improperly or if they feel threatened. They are only suitable for experienced and dedicated reptile enthusiasts with enough time, money, and knowledge to provide optimal conditions and welfare.

How do you take care of a black dragon lizard?

To take care of a black dragon lizard, you need to provide it with a large enclosure that mimics its natural habitat. You need to maintain high temperatures, humidity, and lighting in its enclosure. You need to feed it a balanced diet that consists of various types of meat, insects, and occasional fruits. You need to provide it with fresh water for drinking and soaking. You need to clean its enclosure regularly and check for signs of illness or injury. You need to handle it gently and carefully and respect its personality and preferences.

Are black dragon lizards venomous?

Black dragon lizards are venomous but not deadly. They have venom glands in their lower jaws that secrete a mild venom when they bite their prey. Their venom can cause pain, swelling, infection, and allergic reactions in humans, but it is unlikely to be fatal unless there are underlying medical conditions or complications. However, their bite can still be very painful and damaging due to their sharp teeth and strong jaws.

Shane Elliot Author Image
Shane Elliot

Shane Elliot is a pet lover and a coral enthusiast. He has been keeping saltwater aquariums for over ten years and enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with other hobbyists. He writes about coral care, fish compatibility, aquarium equipment, and more. He also covers topics related to other animals, such as dogs, cats, horses, and reptiles. Shane works as a freelance writer and editor when his menagerie of pets allows it.

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