Friday, January 21, 2011

Bowra Station - Central Bearded and Central Netted Dragons

As it got warmer and the birds disappeared, the dragons came out! Having grown up in the northern end of Europe I am fascinated by reptiles. They are not at all common in Denmark and hence I count them as exotic creatures. My Australian friends usual smile when I am trying to get photos of skinks here in Sydney and I have been told that I will only be proper "integrated" when I start loving cricket and stop taking photos of lizards .. I am working on the cricket bit! :-) This warm October day in the south western end of Queensland I was in for a real cold blooded treat.

I saw the little Central Netted Dragon, Ctenophorus nuchalis while driving slowly along the main dirt track. It is a fairly small dragon probably not even 25 cm from head to tip of tail, but very beautiful! The little feller sports some great colors and an interesting "netted" pattern on its back, hence the name. The tail is very different to the rest of the animal, being less well camouflaged, maybe to diverge the focus of attacking predators away from the dragons main body by exposing a less vital extremity?

At least the Netted Dragon sports a body color that arguably makes them blend into the landscape, the Central Bearded Dragon Pogona vitticeps in contrast seems to do everything possible to be noticed!

During the warm afternoon they will climb almost everything to get in a position, where they can expose their impressive beard. Mature males will have midnight black coloration on the upper chest and beard as a little extra eye catching feature, probably designed to attract an extra look or two from those fashion-conscious females that probably are the reason for this dangerous(?) behavior.

Somehow those bearded dragons have managed to establish a very healthy population up around Bowra, so they cannot be as easy picking as I envisioned in the previous paragraph. The spines constituting the "beard" along with a generally rugged and spiky appearance makes them look like a tough meal and they are apparently capable of delivering a good solid bite if needed.

A wet outback delivers all the ingredients needed for the food chain. Plant life easily sustain an army of insects that again becomes a smörgåsbord for our dragon friends - easy living! No doubt that it will be a very different experience to visit Bowra in the end of a dry summer - All those "easy living" species will be gone, and left is only the truly desert loving creatures, that have learned to survive the scorching sun assisted by very little water .. A late summer trip might not be a bad idea :-)


Lauren said...

Hi Allen

I really enjoyed hearing about your experience with the bearded dragon. They truly are amazing reptiles! Australia is a unique place indeed! Anyway, I've learnt that they are very attention seeking and love to show off their beards. Thanks again for the update.

AGL said...

Hi Lauren,

Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment. Your "Understanding Bearded Dragon Behavior" is excellent reading. I will edit my post and include a link to your site in the text.

Cheers Allan