The Central Netted Dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis) inhabits a vast range of central Australia.  Central Netted Dragon distribution.  Central Netted Dragon habitat.

ORDER:    Squamata        SUBORDER:    Sauria        FAMILY:    Agamidae

GENUS:    Ctenophorus    SPECIES:        nuchalis


Appearance

A dark reticulated pattern overlays a body colour of pale brick-brown with a pale unpatterned belly.  They have rounded heads with a row of enlarged scales curving under each eye above the ear.  Central Netted Dragons have small spines around their head and nape made up of soft skin and they also have exposed ears.  Body scales are small and smooth to the touch. Limbs are short and strong with long toes and strong claws.  Central Netted Dragons are sexually dimorphic.  Males are larger and have larger heads in relation to their bodies compared to females.


Distribution

Central Netted Dragons are found throughout the desert plains of Western Australia, Northern Territory and western Queensland and New South Wales.  They are abundant in open sandy areas with sparse vegetation. The species’ numbers seem to increase substantially in areas artificially cleared of vegetation.




Behaviour

Central Netted Dragons are diurnal (day-active) and terrestrial (ground-dwelling), spending their days basking on logs, stones and termite mounds.  Central Netted Dragons are ectotherms and therefore rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature.  A dragon’s day will start basking in the sun to raise its body temperature to gain energy.  Without adequate body heat these lizards cannot digest their food.


When the desert temperature peaks in the middle of the day Central Netted Dragons retreat to their burrows to cool down.  They are known to have several burrows throughout their range, usually found at the base of spinifex shrubs or stumps.  If disturbed they will quickly retreat to their closest burrow.  At night they will also retreat to these burrows to sleep.  Males are territorial and will fight for dominance.


Size

Adult male Central Netted Dragons measure around 25cm-28cm from snout to tail, with approximately 10cm being snout to vent length (SVL) and the remainder made up of tail.





Prey

Central Netted Dragons will quite often wait for an insect to pass by before striking.  In the wild this dragon's diet consists of 75% insect prey and 25% vegetation including Hogweed (Zaleya galericulata) and small compositae flowers such as aster, daisy and dandelion.




Reproduction

Central Netted Dragons are oviparous meaning they lay eggs rather than give birth to live offspring.  Females are known to lay 2-3 clutches of 2-6 eggs during spring and summer, however females in my care under optimal conditions have laid in excess of 6-7 clutches in a season from August through to March with 3-4 clutches being fertile.


Life Span

While it is hard to estimate the life expectancy of most wild reptiles, the general consensus is that the Central Netted Dragon is relatively short lived.  Captive lizards are expected to live around 6-7 years however there are reports of some living over 9 years of age.  Individuals in the wild are subject to predators, disease and lack of food and water and therefore generally survive only 2-3 years.


Predators

Predators of the Central Netted Dragon include larger reptiles like monitors and snakes, birds of prey as well as feral animals like foxes and cats.




Common Names


  1. Central Netted Dragon

  2. Central Netted Ground Dragon

  3. Netted Dragon

 

Synonyms


  1. Amphibolurus inermis

  2. Amphibolurus nuchalis

  3. Amphibolurus reticulatus major

  4. Grammatophora inermis

  5. Macrops nuchalis

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