Australian Wildlife

  Gippsland Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii howittii)

Gippsland Water Dragon | Physignathus lesueurii howittii photo
Gippsland Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii howittii), Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Image by JJ Harrison ( - Some rights reserved.    (view image details)


The Gippsland Water Dragon is a large lizard. It is grey-green and brown with black banding on back and a row of spines from the crest of the head to the tail. The chest is olive green. Males often have patches or stripes of orange, blue and yellow on chest. It is a good swimmer and dives into the water when disturbed. It can remain submerged for around half an hour.

Total length up to 80 cm including tail. Head and body length 20-25cm.

Near creeks, river and lakes in forests, woodlands, grasslands and also parkland in urban areas. Usually seen on rocks logs or overhanging branches.

insects, molluscs and crustaceans as well as small vertebrates including fish, hatchling tortoises and small mammals. Also eats fruit and berries.

Clutches of 6-18 eggs are laid in burrows. The female digs a shallow nest about 10-15cm deep in a sunny open position in a sandy soil. The female lies above the burrow and deposits the eggs into the chamber below. She then back-fills the burrow by scraping the soil with her back legs and then packing it down with her snout. Loose debris is then scattered over the nest area.

eastern Victoria and far south-eastern NSW

The Gippsland Water Dragon and Eastern Water Dragon are sub-species of the same species. The Eastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii) has a dark stripe from ear to eye, that the Gippsland Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii howittii) lacks. The Eastern Water Dragon male has a red flush on its chest and darker bands. The Gippsland Water Dragon male has an olive-grey chest, with patches or stripes of orange, blue and yellow.

Order:Squamata (Sauria)
Species:lesueurii howittii
Common Name:Gippsland Water Dragon

Relatives in same Genus
  Eastern Water Dragon (P. lesueurii lesueurii)