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11 Sep 2010

A Dragon In My Garden

I finished my book, finished my blog and was about to log off after a quick check of my emails. I heard leaves rustling in my backyard. I figured it must be a possum. It sounded a little less heavy but it was definitely the sound of a short sprint. I turned to find a giant black and white lizard. He took a quick sprint, like a little puppy and stopped, looking upwards at the sky. I grabbed my camera and hoped he would not go away. He stayed still like a rock for a few minutes. Looking through my lenses and trying to place him, I almost thought I was pointing at a dried root or a small rock. I looked away, placed him in his surroundings and went back to my lenses. The rock was him. Click!

Ring-tailed Dragon (Ctenophorus caudicinctus)
He stayed in that position for another few seconds while I turned and came back inside. Another few quick steps, like a puppy that could only be a few days old, and he stops. Looks up. Stares at something for a few seconds. I stare at him. He does not have the flat face of a lizard, it is shaped like a more developed animal, almost like a dog if you stared long enough and tried to match it. Then he takes off again, I hear the rustle of leaves and silence but I can't see him. 

Who is he? I am not even sure he is a 'he'. So, I turned to my best friend, Google. I had thought it might be easy enough to find a picture with a name to it, if I searched for a black and white striped lizard. Not so. First of all, it could be a lizard, gecko or something with an entirely different nomenclature. Second, I had forgotten about creatures that could camouflage against the colours of the garden. I had simply assumed that this fellow could not because he was black and white against the brown and green of the garden. Looking at some of the features listed, I realized that my picture was not good enough to tell me. I could not even say for sure that this one had lidless eyes. I tried to narrow down my search to Queensland garden lizards. Better but still not enough. 

I plodded on. I had to find out what roams in my garden! I found out that skinks and dragons are the most common ones that prowl the gardens in summer. Brilliant! I kept changing the criteria of my search until I finally arrived at a website called the Aussie Photo Guide. There was a picture of a lizard (at least I had that right) that was Aussie and looked like the one I had seen a few minutes ago. The tail was a definite match. The body, well, close. This was it! My guest was the ring-tailed dragon. Scientific name Ctenophorus caudicinctus.

While I was on my search, I chanced upon something that was unique to Queensland. The world's most beautiful lizard, the stunning Golden Tailed Gecko. I am pretty confident I will never see one of these in my garden but I felt it deserved a mention anyway. Pretty as it can get.

I am getting to know the friends in my garden better. It is lovely to see animals wander in your garden. Of course, only as long as the doors are kept closed so they do not decide to visit me inside the house. Like the big sticks-for-legs spider I found in my sink the other day. It is a pity I identified him as a pest and chucked him out, without as much as a picture or a mention in my blog. It took a dragon for that.

Noisy possums, the graceful turkey, bees & other insects, pretty butterflies, spiders, dragon and a whole range of unidentifiable but loud and noisy birds. Who next? There must be something else I cannot see, for I can still hear my dragon friend slinking around among the dried leaves. Good luck to him. Or her.

If you are interested, there is a lovely list of Aussie lizards and frogs, with photographs, compiled by one John Sullivan in February 2003, here


  1. I am not a fan of reptiles!! They seriously creep me out and I'm really not afraid of many things. My dad says that lizards are the only thing that really freak him out too so I guess it's a genetic thing!

  2. I love them all, as long as they stay in their space (i.e. the garden). I'd be pretty freaked out if any of my garden friends invited themselves to my home!