Australian Water Dragon

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Species group:

Other common names: Eastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii); Gippsland Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii howittii)

Scientific name: Intelligama lesueurii

The basics:
The Australian Water Dragon is an arboreal, semi-aquatic lizard native to Eastern Australia (Queensland to Victoria) and South Australia. There are two subspecies: the Eastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii); and the Gippsland Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii howittii). The Australian Water Dragon lives in open basking areas next to bodies of water like rivers, lakes and creeks.

Appearance / health:
The Australian Water Dragon grows to about 3 feet in length (including the tail) and about 2 lbs in weight. The female is slightly smaller than the male. The male also has a bigger head and bolder colors, which could range from gray to greenish brown. Adults show black bands across the back and tail, and a prominent horizontal black stripe behind the eye. The throat is cream to yellow, and the belly is typically reddish orange.

As a semi-aquatic lizard, it has a long, muscular, and laterally compressed tail for swimming. As an arboreal reptile, it has long and powerful legs and sharp claws for climbing. A characteristic feature is the nuchal crest or a row of spikes along its spine running from the back of the head to the base of the tail.

Behavior / temperament:
Australian Water Dragons are active and alert but tend to be shy. When threatened, they scamper into the thicket, or, if up on a branch overhanging a body of water, will jump into the water and swim away very quickly, or submerge and remain underwater for an hour. With regular handling and gentle interaction, Australian Water Dragons can become accustomed to human presence.

Because of their relatively large size, Australian Water Dragons are best kept in roomy enclosures (at least 4 ft. across) that will allow them to climb. A water vessel in the enclosure will mimic their natural habitat. The cage should be provided with sturdy branches and ledges for the lizard to climb and bask on. The recommended substrate is aspen shavings, 4-6 inches deep to allow the lizard to dig. Temperature range should be 68-102F.
Fresh water should always be provided. The enclosure should be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

The standard diet for Australian Water Dragons are insects (crickets, mealworms, wax worms) and fruits (bananas, peaches, grapes). Adults may be attracted to pinky mice.

Australian Water Dragons are egg layers. After hibernating in the winter, the female digs a burrow in sandy or soft soil to lay 10-20 eggs that hatch after 67 days. The female kicks sand and debris to cover the burrow, which becomes the home of the juveniles until they are mature enough to forage.


striking looking lizard, fascinating behaviors., playful little things, prominent scales, zoo exhibits


beginner reptile keeper, highlyvaried diet, large arboreal enclosure, large pool


outdoor enclosure, small river beds, Self sustaining foliage, stocky lizard, regulated humidity

Helpful Australian Water Dragon Review

Australian Water Dragon

From ManoftheNorth Apr 18 2014 11:20AM


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