Friday, 5 January 2007

#2 A Dragon's New Clothes

Meet Scruffy the Dragon, one of my delightful Christmas visitors

Don't be fooled by what appears to be a cheeky grin. This is one of the dragon's agressive poses, but more about this reptile's defense strategies later.

Eastern Bearded Dragons, Pogona barbata, are large robust lizards found in dry woodlands in the east from Cooktown in far north Queensland to the southeastern corner of South Australia. Luckily, for nature lovers, the Bearded Dragon's territory often extends into urban and rural areas.

I was surprised to find a visiting dragon lounging on the garden bench in my backyard. Dragon lizards can often be seen basking on top of roadside fence posts in the sunshine and once you learn to recognise their distinctive pose with flattened head pointing skyward, their normally well camouflaged shape will stand out.

A Bearded Dragon's typical basking posture

If approached slowly and quietly, these lizards are easily observed. I sat on the garden edge a metre from this lizard to check out it's features, but they'll let you know if they feel threatened by your presence.

A Bearded Dragon's defense strategies

The Bearded Dragon is so called because of it's ability to flare out the skin in the throat region to produce what appears to be a rigid spiny plate or 'beard' when it feels threatened or is showing dominance in territorial or mating disputes. The defending lizard will also raise it's head high and open it's mouth wide to display a bright yellow mouth interior.

Once my backyard visitor showed me who was boss, we got along just fine

A Bearded Dragon will also raise it's body in an arch on outstretched legs in an attempt to intimidate whatever creature is menacing it.

A smaller Bearded Dragon in my backyard in an upstretched defensive position

After Scruffy got used to me pointing my camera at him, he just lay there sunning himself like a lizard. He even allowed me to share the seat with him.

Flat out like a lizard in the sun

A small patch of flakey opaque skin on the back of the neck indicated that the lizard was beginning to moult. It was still wandering around my backyard late in the afternoon so I was lucky to observe it's 'before and after' appearance.

Shedding the skin

Bearded Dragons are quite leisurely about shedding, dropping patches of old skin as they move about. This fellow left a trail of skin fragments as it negotiated my garden.

The Dragon's skin clearly shedding in patches

Humidity and water can aid a lizard's shedding process, so perhaps the dragons were attracted to my yard by the dish of water I have burried to ground level in my herb garden. Rocks half fill the dish so that no small creatures will find themselves in water that is too deep. There were plenty of remnants of lizard skin in and around the dish of water.

I was almost tempted to give his scruffy face a good scratch under the chin like a dog

As the Bearded Dragon's habitat shrinks due to urban and suburban sprawl, you might find that these charming characters visit you regularly.

Enjoy their company if they wander into your yard, ensuring their safety by supervising pets and children.


Anonymous said...

Hi there HV,

Nice work, it looks a good site.

I'd better get hard at work and get my blog back online...


Gaye from the Hunter..... said...

hi Woolly,

Thanks. It's been a challenge for me as I'm not too computer savvy, but perseverance has got me on the way.

I'll be looking forward to seeing your site.


Mrs Crooze said...

Hi Gaye,

As on the forum, very much enjoy reading your informative posts - and the pictures which always tell a story in themselves. Looks fantastic - well done!

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Serena,

Thank you for your comments - feedback is always welcome.

I hope you continue to enjoy my local nature observations and images. I know I am going to enjoy sharing them.


Gaye from the Hunter said...


A Bearded Dragon has taken up residence in a small elevated wood heap in my backyard, so now I have a wonderful opportunity to observe this lovely creature at leisure.

The lizard's wandering presence has necessitated the closing of garage and shed doors at all times so as to avoid nasty accidents with the car or mower.

I have noted that the dragon changes colour to suit it's surroundings or needs: it is black as it soaks up the morning sun, and yellow/brown as it wanders around the yard in the dead grass.

V. said...

Love, love, love those pictures!! Some of the best I've seen!
~V. of

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi V,

glad you like 'Scruffy' :)

If you're a lizard-lover like me, you might also enjoy my Water Dragon:

and my Rainbow Skinks:

With spring in the air here, I am hoping for more visiting lizards.

Thank you very much for leaving a comment.


Anonymous said...

HV, great site, excellent images, love your wildlife images.


Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hi Holdfast,

thank you. For the time being, I am now posting my nature observations on my journal site Snippets and Sentiments.

I have another lizard entry that you might enjoy: