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Australian water dragons have long powerful limbs and claws for climbing, a long muscular laterally-compressed tail for swimming, and prominent nuchal and vertebral crests. (A nuchal crest is a central row of spikes at the base of the head. These spikes continue down the spine, getting smaller as they reach the base of the tail.) Including their tails, which comprise about two-thirds of their total length, adult females grow to about 60 cm (2 feet) long, and adult males can grow slightly longer than one metre (3 feet) and weigh about 1 kg. Males show bolder colouration and have larger heads than females. Colour is less distinct in juveniles. Species variation The Australian Water Dragon is the only species of the genus Physignathus in Australia. There are two subspecies; Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii (Eastern Water Dragon) and P. l. howitti (Gippsland Water Dragon). P. l. lesueurii tends towards white, yellow and red on the throat and possesses a dark band behind its eye; P. l. howitti lacks this and instead has dark bands on either side of its throat, which is blotched with yellow, orange, or blue. Both subspecies are light greenish grey in overall colour with black bands running across their back, tail and legs.
As its name suggests, the Australian water dragon is associated with water and is semi-aquatic. It can be found near creeks, rivers, lakes and other water bodies that also have basking sites such as overhanging branches or rocks in open or filtered sun. The species is so common in the rainforest section of Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mount Coot-tha in Queensland that a monument has been built to them there. There are anecdotal reports of a small colony living on the Sixth Creek in the Forest Range area of South Australia, which were probably introduced there during the 1980s by a local reptile enthusiast. This is many hundreds of miles outside their natural range.
Spotted on Jan 10, 2013
Submitted on Jan 10, 2013