Willa the eastern water dragon
Australian water dragon, creek water dragon, or water dragon.
Hello. I'm Willa, one of the eastern water dragons at Calamvale Creek in Brisbane, Australia.
Although I get around all areas of the creek, I have a few favourite branches and rocks that I lie on to rest and sunbake. You can see me basking in the sun in the photo below.
How I live
Eastern water dragons are the only agamid lizards that centre our lives around the water.
I have sharp claws, which are ideal for climbing trees, and I like to laze safely on branches overhanging the water. That's because I can drop into the water very quickly if someone gets close. I usually know you are coming long before you know I am around.
Males are more colourful
Male eastern water dragons are more brightly coloured than females.
You can see Dazza, another Calamvale Creek dragon, modelling in the photo above to show his brighter red underbelly. Males also have larger heads than females, with stronger jowls and stronger crests.
This summer I laid a cluster of 10 eggs, and you can see one of my babies, Whispa, in the photo below. She is 15 centimetres (6 inches) long from nostrils to tail.
I deposit my eggs in a burrow that is like a sort of tunnel on the creek bank. In the first week of October, I dig a nest about 13 centimetres deep (5 inches) in soft soil in a sunny position. I cover it with soil, leaf litter, and twigs. When the babies are born they stay near the entrance of the burrow for some time before venturing out.
When the young ones leave home they usually group together, and the older dragons group together at a completely different place. It gets us away from the kids.
Here's another of my babies — Shimmy. Shimmy gets up early and waits on one of the creek rocks for her brothers, sisters and friends to arrive so they can play “Last one in the water is a bald kookaburra”.
By the way, a group of dragons is called a weyr (it rhymes with cheer).
The adult water dragons around our creek are inquisitive. So even if we jump in the water before you reach us, we still like to keep an eye on you to see what you are doing.
So we will pop our heads up after a few seconds just to watch you. Most people hear the splash and think they won't see us after that. But if you look around carefully you may see our little eyes watching you just above the water's surface. Our nostrils are perfectly placed on the top of our snout to allow us to breathe while the rest of our body stays under water.
You can see Shazza in the photo above. She saw a ball in the water and surfaced behind it, statue-still, thinking the photographer wouldn't see her. Instead, the photographer got a photo of her and the ball.
What do I eat?
I eat worms, insects, berries and fruit, small fish in the creek, some flowers, and various other small nutritious critters and vegetation.
When I walk, I get around on all four legs. But if I have to run fast to get away from you I sometimes skitter on my two back legs. They are stronger, and help me move fast.
— Willa the eastern water dragon