The Dragons Among Us

Contributed by: James Baxter-Gilbert (PhD Student from Macquarie University, NSW)

The Australian Water dragon (Intellagama lesueurii) is a large lizard species common along the eastern coast of Australian ranging from Queensland to Victoria. There are two subspecies described: the Eastern Water Dragon (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii) living in the northern extent of the range, and the Gippsland Water Dragon (Intellagama lesueurii howittii) living in the south1.  The males of this species are larger in size and will defend a territory, displaying a bright red chest coupled with head-bobbing and arm-waving to communicate to other males to stay away. Females will regularly mate with multiple males to ensure genetic diversity of her eggs; a single clutch of eggs may have 2-3 different fathers2 divided between 6-18 eggs.