Description: Water dragons are among Australia’s largest dragon lizards, with a head and body length of about 25cm and a total length of over half a metre. The long tail is flattened laterally and a crest of spines runs from the neck along the back to the tail. Males are much larger than females and have more robust heads and powerful jaws.
Distribution and habitat: They thrive on vegetated margins of lakes and streams between Gippsland in eastern Victoria and the Cooktown area in northern Queensland; introduced to areas in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. Common in Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.
Classification: Two subspecies. The Gippsland water dragon ( Intellagama lesueurii howittii) is olive-green and occupies the southern part of the range, north to the Shoalhaven River area in NSW. Males have dark undersides, with yellow and sometimes blue throat blotches. The eastern water dragon ( I. l. lesueurii) is found north of the Shoalhaven. It’s yellowish-brown with dark bars along the back and a dark band behind the eye; males have red chests.
Habits: Semi-aquatic and arboreal, they climb rocks and trees, often basking on branches overhanging water. When disturbed, they may drop into the water from great heights. Superb swimmers, they may remain submerged for minutes. On land, they can run swiftly on hind legs. Females bury clutches of 6–12 soft-shelled eggs in nest burrows. They eat insects, spiders, worms, small vertebrates, flowers, fruits and tender foliage. Large numbers have been spotted, red-lipped, under mulberry trees.