Eastern Water Dragon colony in Mooloolaba

Eastern Water Dragon Colony in Mooloolaba

There is a colony of Eastern Water Dragons living in the park just across the road from Northwind Beachfront Apartments. These fascinating creatures go largely un-noticed by the hundreds of people walking along the pathway leading up and over the Alex Headland. The dragon is a medium to large lizard which can grow up to 80 cm in length, including their long tail. They have large heads, with a row of spines beginning on the head and leading down along their back. These spines get smaller as they continue down the spine as they reach the base of the tail. The tail is muscular and designed for swimming. They can live for up to twenty years in the wild. They are shy creattures but adapt to continual human habitation in suburban parks and gardens. They are fast runners and strong climbers.

They seek cover in thick vegetation and drop from overhanging branches into water. They are often seen basking in the sun. Arm waving and head bobbing are indicators of dominance as the males are territorial. In high density populations males show displays of aggression which include posturing and chasing.

Eastern Water Dragons are active during the day and night time. While active they hunt. Juveniles feed on ants, spiders, crickets and caterpillars. Adults also eat baby mice, larger insects such as locusts, frogs, yabbies, water insects, fruit and berries. Here in Mooloolaba they are active all year round but in the cooler parts of their range, they experience a dormancy period. The dragons may then dig a small hole under a log or rock, seal the entrance and emerge in warmer months.

Eastern Water Dragons are semi-aquatic lizards that are found along the east coast of Australia. They are also found along creeks, rivers and lakes. They can remain submerged for up to thirty minutes and rise to the surface where they are able to breathe while they check the area for danger before emerging  back onto land.

The Breeding Season

The breeding seaon is during spring. Mating occurs near waterways, where the males defend their territories. The females lay eggs in nests away from the waterways. The nests are usually in moist soil, within rotting vegetation in November and December. Female dragons can lay ten to twenty eggs. The young hatch in January and February.

It is interesting to observe the water dragons. We have seen displays of aggression between two males and been delighted at spotting lizards basking on rocks beside the footpath, largely un-noticed by the many passers-by.

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