Around Victoria today, the soaring heat made it impssible to do much outside. It even seemed too hot for the cats to be bothered doing much, until Clio ran past us with something large dangling out of her mouth. My first view of the Jacky Dragon was the underside of the tail and one leg – a pale beige colour. Clio let the lizard go underneath our bed, making it clear that we were not invited to ‘play’ with her catch. At the first sign that we were going to take the lizard away from her, Clio quickly took it outside again.
Luckily, once outside, she did let the Jacky Dragon go again. Part of its defence routine is to freeze – not very helpful when you have an inquisitive cat on your tail. However, it did enable Richard to come to the rescue.
As far as we could tell, there were no puncture marks, and none of the limbs or the tail looked to be damaged, so the lizard seemed unharmed. We took it out of the cat enclosure and released it near a tree stump with some bushy growth surrounding it. Hopefully it will find a home where it can be safer.
We consulted our trusty field guide to Australian reptiles and amphibians, and discovered that Jacky Dragons like to eat ants, skinks, and worms, which means our back yard must seem like one big larder to them! They lay eggs in November, which usually hatch in January. Adults can grow up to 35cm in length. This one looked large enough to be an adult, rather than a hatchling, but if it was living in the fernery, then chances are we will have more Jacky Dragons in the cat enclosure before long. I just hope they crawl underneath the canvass and wander out of the enclosure so they can be safe from the cats.
The bush part of our property is also ideal habitat for Jacky Dragons, which like to live in holes in the ground, beneath fallen timber. They do climb trees, and they also display on tree stumps to attract mates. The description of the display reminded me of footage I have seen on a documentary – waving feet, open mouth showing yellow-orange mouth lining. I would love to see one doing this in real life!
Jacky Dragons can fight and bite each other, but as far as I know are not harmful to humans or cats.
What an interesting find! Without Clio, we would never have know they were there.