Eastern Water Dragon-HIDDEN IN THE HILLS

By Lachlan Turner

Some of the most interesting bushland can be found along the tracks that follow a watercourse. Not only are there spectacular rock formations and tree ferns but there can be found creatures that thrive in the wet conditions.

On exposed rocks near water, usually those in the sun, it is possible to see, if you look carefully, an Eastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii) warming itself.

Sometimes, where a log may have fallen across or into the creek, there may be one subtly camouflaged, soaking up the warmth of the sunshine.

As these reptiles may grow up to about 800 mm you may think that they are easy to locate. However, it is important to proceed along creekside tracks in a slow and quiet manner as this reptile is quite wary of any disturbance that comes within earshot.

When disturbed they scurry to nearby protective crevices, or into a deep pool of water, in which they may remain submerged for up to 30 minutes.

At times one may be seen climbing a rock face, or even a tree, using their strong and sharp claws to retain their grip.

Their diet can be other smaller reptiles, earthworms, frogs and insects, as well as fallen ripe berries.

Mature Dragons may exhibit black and red markings on their body. Females may lay around 12 eggs in an excavated hole in sandy soil above the flood line. They will hatch in approximately three months.

Newborn Dragons, who are miniature replicas of their parents, must fend for themselves immediately after hatching from their egg, as the parents do not nurture their young offspring.