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Eastern Water Dragon (juvenile male)

Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii (formerly Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii)


The Eastern Water Dragon is an Australian native reptile, and I'm fairly certain this juvenile is male. I doubt his overall length was any more than 40 cms, about half the size of a fully-grown adult male. This one was a bold little chap and seemed quite inquisitive, but when his curiosity was satisfied, he shot off into the undergrowth. From a previous spotting (also at the gardens but at the other lakes), this mature male was having a swim - Water dragons are true to their name and are excellent swimmers, and are quite capable of stay submerged for up to 90 minutes, particularly if feeling threatened. They also love to sunbathe. An interesting fact: Fossil records indicate that this genus has existed in Australia for at least 20 million years.


This spotting was at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, Mt. Coot-Tha, in a well-established sub-tropical rainforest section of the gardens. The Mt. Coot-Tha Forest borders this area so there's a lot of native bushland in and around the gardens, particularly around this lake. Riparian zones around creeks and ponds, etc., is usually a favourite habitat.


If in doubt, use the flash! I usually forget, but this time I had no choice because the forest canopy was so dense and whatever sunlight there was created way-too-much contrast. I was delighted to see these photos and how the flash brought out the detail of the scales. Reptiles are such amazing creatures, and to see details like this really heightens my fascination of and love for them. The flash also highlights how well-camouflaged water dragons are in their natural environment (last two photos).

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Neil Ross
Neil Ross 2 years ago

It was, Daniele. I can't get my head around time sometimes. I'm outnumbered by felines here. No water dragons at my place but they like it down by the river and over at the UQ lakes, so not far at all. I do have a resident blue tongue that pops up now and again. The cats don't mess with it.

DanielePralong 2 years ago

Can't believe it was that long ago... Both in The Gap and in Ashgrove I lived close to a creek, and I would sometimes find them in my garden. Remnants of the early Jurassic at your doorsteps! Here in Switzerland wall lizards come inside my home. A bit like geckos in Brisbane. I love that my home surroundings counts more wall lizards than humans ;-)

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 2 years ago

Yes, it's always a joy to spot them. This was a the lake on the other side of the botanical gardens. It was 5 years in April since we did the walk there and up at Mt Coot-tha. Time certainly flies.

DanielePralong 2 years ago

The scale details in pic. 4 are amazing Neil! These guys are so full of character; I miss them ;-)

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Spotted on Nov 16, 2018
Submitted on Jun 7, 2019

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