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Eastern Water Dragon

Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii (formerly Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii)


A beautiful water dragon I spotted recently, and I'm fairly certain it's an adult male. This is an arboreal agamid species native to eastern and south-eastern Australia, of which there are two sub-species - the eastern water dragon (I. l. lesueurii) and the Gippsland water dragon (I. l. howittii). Water dragons have long powerful limbs and claws for climbing, and are excellent swimmers. Strangely enough, they don't have webbing on their feet, relying instead on their laterally-compressed tail. They can actually stay submerged for up to 90 minutes, particularly if feeling threatened, so they're really well adapted to water environments. 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.


This spotting was by one of the freshwater lakes on the University of Queensland Campus, Brisbane. Recent heavy rains have started to break up a serious algal bloom that has affected water quality during the recent drought I don't know how this bloom will affect the health of resident water dragons at the lakes.


The last two photos show a very young water dragon, and it was no more than 30 cms in length. It's colour and markings provide the perfect camouflage amongst the grass and low foliage. Small juveniles like this fellow are vulnerable to predation by kookaburras, currawongs, butcherbirds, magpies and other carnivorous birds. Snakes also pose a risk, as do adult water dragons which have been observed cannibalising hatchlings and young juveniles in some wild populations.

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Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thanks, Mark. I appreciate the nomination.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway a year ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Didn't flinch an inch. I didn't rush him though, and he was probably hopeful of a handout. A campus veteran, no doubt. The little ones were no where near as confident.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway a year ago

Looks like he was fairly cooperative.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thanks, Zlatan. He was a nice big fellow too. I love how agamid lizards stand tall on their forelegs. Imagine how terrifying monitors would look if they did the same thing :/

Zlatan Celebic
Zlatan Celebic a year ago

Great series Neil!

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Spotted on Jan 19, 2020
Submitted on Jan 23, 2020

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