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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Playing with dragons

There really ARE dragons, all over Australia.

Not the fire-breathing flying beasts in story books, these are lizards in the family Agamidae, and one of my reference books says Australia has 78 species, which means I still have quite a few to find.

The dragon you see here is a bearded dragon from the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. I was out in dry country near the dingo fence, and I went off the road looking for interesting stuff.

That's a good way to find interesting things, though as you can see from the top two shots, this beastie was well camouflaged in the red soil.

While I know how to handle these animals, I don't make a habit of it, unless they are on a road and need to be moved. In this case, I wanted to show the other people in the party what one of these looked like, but more importantly, I needed pictures of how to do it for a book, so I picked it up.

The dragon didn't like it: you can't see his tail, because he was lashing my leg with it, and his spiny skin was trying to puncture my hands. I am old and tough, so I put up with it for a while.

The trick is to hold the body firmly but gently between the front and hind legs, and if you can, wear gloves!  I tentatively identify it as a Central Bearded Dragon, Pogona vitticeps, based mainly on the location, and a couple of mug shots found on the web.

My local dragons are Eastern Water Dragons, Intellagama lesueurii, and they are settling in very well in suburban Sydney. They are good swimmers,and if you have a licence, they make good pets, but I prefer to see them in the wild. I have never seen any good reason to pick any if them up.

These animals rely strongly on vision, as you can see here. With all those spines, they are probably not too worried about predators, but I rather suspect that this animal knows us when we arrive at a particular beach.

You see, we know what they like to eat, and we usually go there for a meal, and when we do, there is always some fruit in the pack.

They will eat strawberries and blueberries, but grapes are a particular favourite!

Now you know what to do.

This is part of a new series, all of which are tagged Nature Study.  Look for the tag at the end of this post and click on it to find the related pieces. I have also gone back and retro-tagged previous articles that fit.

This one was mainly written for Eabha and Eamon.

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