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
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.
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.