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Australian Geographic - - Wild Australia -

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.

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