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Mountain horned dragon
- Acanthosaura capra

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The Mountain horned dragon is a beautiful lizard that is also called asian chameleon, due to its color changes and its arboreal habits.
Acanthosaura capra
Acanthosaura capra, Cat Tien National Park – Roy Bateman, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Distribution and habitat

The range of the species is Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

The Mountain horned dragon lives in dense forests on top of tall tree trunks. These lizards prefer the shady area under the treetops, and they rarely look for sunny places.

Like many other arboreal lizards, only flowing water is seen and they would even like a lake.

It is a kind of calm lizard that prefers to remain motionless rather than run away.


The Mountain horned dragon has a thorn above each arch of the brow. They can lose this column, which does not regenerate. Otherwise, this spiny lizard has no thorn on the back of its head, although all other species show it..

The nuchal ridge is quite high and clearly separates from it in a uniformly flattened dorsal ridge.. The eardrum is clearly visible. Body markings are a brown web on an olive background. When they are stressed, these animals only show dull brown colors.

The eyes are surrounded by a light green ring followed by a dark green ring.

Strong toes correspond to being in trees.

The tail is slightly flattened.


Males reach a total length of 30,5 cm.. Females appear larger, 32 cm..

Sex differences

The species has a sexual dichromatism. The male has a large throat pouch, yellowish with a green stripe. The head is also yellowish with a green band under the eye ring.
Females appear more robust in body structure.


Mountain horned dragon
Mountain horned dragon (Acanthosaura capra) at the Prague zoo, Czech Republic – Pavel Hrdlička (Czech Wikipedia user Packa), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The species is shy in nature and tends to run away.

The terrarium should be thickly covered and deep enough to provide security. Vertically anchored branches are especially important, since animals do not like to stay horizontal.

Otherwise, they are a calm species that does not change position for many hours. Animals are not sun worshipers at all, rather they avoid bright light and remain under the treetops.

Although they are native to the rainforests, I can describe an aversion to direct irrigation. They like running water and prefer swimming pools.

Courtship and mating

The male woos with a beautiful tilt of the head. He also shows his yellow throat bag. Here a tall trunk is important for the female to recognize this beautiful presentation. Neck bite is immediately followed by mating.

Clutches and incubation

Clutches mature in a few 4 weeks and are carried out by the female in a sufficiently high and moist substrate. Dig a hole of about 10 depth cm, put there between 12 and 15 eggs and compacts the substrate with strong head blows.

At 21-25°C the embryo develops in 190 days to hatch.


Simply turn off the power and reduce lighting to a minimum for a few 8 weeks.

Nutrition and supplements

Mountain horned dragon
Mountain horned dragon (Acanthosaura capra) photographed at Chester Zoo – Nabokov at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Mountain horned dragon has a very diverse nutritional spectrum, in which he does not disdain the lizards.

Earthworms and other worms are preferred. Fish are active prey, young rodents from the nest are also on the menu. Of course, all insects can be offered. Meadowsweet plankton should be preferred, as well as various species of crickets, grasshoppers and cockroaches, and even waxworms and black beetle larvae.

It is essential to guarantee a moderate feeding of the animals according to their calm way of life. How they live in a rather cool climate, tend to become obese quickly if fed too much.

As an example, just to illustrate the amount, they can feed 2 common earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris) big and one Dubia roach (Blaptica dubia) average size per week. If the lizard also actively catches a fish, this is enough.


Insects must be well fed and, of course, continue to be dusted with a multivitamin and mineral supplement. Range is recommended Herpetal or Korvimin ZVT with a mixture of calcium.

Keep in mind that neither fish nor earthworms can complement each other, but they have a very good nutritional value. Earthworms, in particular, they are rich in calcium, and that's why they are so important.


The Mountain horned dragon can be kept in a paludario.

Paludarium already indicates that it is a terrarium with a large basin of water and a waterfall.

Dimensions must not be less than 140 cm x 70 cm x 170 cm. (length x widht x hight). Height is especially important because animals live under a canopy of leaves. But, above the dense vegetation there must be lighting, that animals largely avoid.

The distance to the substrate must also be maintained, since to him Mountain horned dragon he likes to stay on tree trunks.


Presentation terrarium of Sin, mon Acanthosaura capra

The habitat is the subtropical jungle and must be recreated in a terrarium. You should focus on the essentials, that is to say, a basin with fish, a great waterfall, plants and soil.

The back walls are designed so that many plants can thrive there. Can be designed using Xaxim or humus, as this material also retains moisture well. The substrate is filled high enough and moist. Plants and many branches offer the freedom of movement of a tree.

The sunny areas are rather secondary, since the Mountain horned dragon prefers cooler and shady places. Lighting is mainly for plants.


Plants not only regulate the climate in the terrarium, they also serve as protection, residence and welfare for animals.

Planting with ficus species, as the “oak leaf ficus” Ficus quericifolia and Ficus scandens, is the most sensible option. It also, a variety of other plants can be chosen, all of which must tolerate high humidity and be small-leaved. These may include, the Chirita Tamiana, the Pellionia daveauana, the Hemigraphis repanda, and the Parthenocissus inserta they are suitable, but it is also enough to choose the ivy Epipremnum pinnatum.


The choice of substrate is important because it must retain a lot of moisture, must not become moldy and must have good egg-laying properties. An unfertilized soil is recommended, preferably from deciduous forests.

The substrate must have 15 cm in height so that the female has optimal conditions for laying eggs. If the female feels insecure, if the substrate is too poor or not moist enough, this can lead to an egg-laying drought.


Lighting in a forest terrarium plays a subordinate role for animals, not for plants. The Mountain horned dragon they are not usually sun worshipers, rather they avoid a light level. It is important to avoid excess heat through good lighting. Fluorescent tubes have been successful.

Example: for a terrarium of 140 x 60 x 170, 6 BioVital full spectrum tubes, T5, with 54 high output watts, have proven their effectiveness. It also, UV lamp can be offered for a few hours.


In the terrarium a basic temperature of 23-25°C should be offered. A spotlight can also be used to provide a temperature of 30°C, but this should not raise the base values. It is important to keep the temperature at 18°C ​​at night.


Relative humidity should be 50-60% during the day and increase to about 90% At night. Due to the cold night, to the plants, to the moist substrate and to the walls, plus a water basin, humidity inevitably increases at night.

For sale "Mountain horned dragon"

The price of a "Mountain horned dragon" ranges between 35 – 45 EUR.

Alternative names:

1. Indo-Chinese spiny lizard, Green pricklenape (English).
2. Dragon cornu des montagnes, Lézard cornu des montagnes, Dragon de montagnes (French).
3. Berg gehörnten Drachen (German).
4. Dragão com chifres da montanha, Lagarto espinhoso indo-chinês, Pinheiro verde (Portuguese).
5. Acantosaurio, Dragon cornudo de Vietnam, Camaleón asiático, Lagarto Jesucristo (español).


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