What Is an Eastern Water Dragon?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
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  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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The Eastern Water Dragon, also known as the Australian Water Dragon, is a reptile that is quite common in eastern Australia. It also is sometimes referred to by its scientific name Physignathus lesueurii. These reptiles have a varied diet and are able to both hold their breath under the water and swim. This type of lizard is not endangered nor threatened in the wild. As a result, some people have chosen to keep them as exotic pets.

When including the length of its long tail, an Eastern Water Dragon has the potential to reach lengths of 24 to 36 inches (about 60.9 to 91.4 cm). Its coloring can typically be described as brownish gray. It has darker markings along the sides of its head and down the length of its back and tail. The females have a lighter colored belly and the males have a bright red underside, with the coloring often extending onto the chest. Like many lizards, the Eastern Water Dragon has spikes that form a ridge up the tail, back, and head.


Eastern Water Dragons usually try to live in areas that have plenty of water. This lizard can swim and uses the skill as a technique to avoid predators. It can propel itself through the water using its tail. In addition, it can hold its breath under water for a half hour at a time. There have even been some reports that it can sustain an underwater breath for up to one and a half hours.

Interestingly, the Eastern Water Dragon will eat many different types of food. For example, it will eat other lizards, small mammals, and frogs. It will also eat fruit, vegetables, and insects. This might include berries, crickets, and even worms.

Although it is not considered an aggressive species of lizard, the Eastern Water Dragon will fight to protect its territory. There have been reports of males dueling over a harem of females or over a particular nesting area. They are especially territorial during mating season, when the females will lay ten to 20 eggs.

Since it is not considered an aggressive lizard species, the Eastern Water Dragon is commonly kept as an exotic pet. They are considered better pets than the more widely known iguana lizard, because they are more docile. Pet owners must be aware of certain conditions such as lighting and heating, however, to successfully sustain an Eastern Water Dragon. This type of lizard must have both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B lights. In addition, it must have varied temperatures throughout the day, ranging from 75°F (about 23.9°C) to 95°F (about 35°C).


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