Angle-headed dragon Southern angle-headed dragon Hypsilurus spinipes

You’ll need to look closely to spot this tree-hugging reptile when you visit Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.  The southern angle-headed lives mostly off the ground, beautifully camouflaged against the mottled tree trunks.

This forest dweller is a distant relative of the well known water dragon.  It’s distinctive angular head is accentuated by crested spines and it grows up to 35cm long.  

Females tend to be mosaicked in browns and greens, whilst males are more uniformed grey-brown to dark-brown.  Both can be patterned with dark brown flecks, spots and bands across the head, top of the back and the tail. Their limbs are long and slender and have a series of spiny scales covering the upper surfaces. 

Southern angle-headed dragons live in sub-tropical rainforests along Australia’s east coast.  They feed on insects and arthropods during the day.  They lay their eggs in a small hollow dug into the soil with two to seven in a clutch.  This ground-based nest is particularly vulnerable to predators such as goannas.

When visiting, keep your eyes tuned to movement on buttress roots and sapling trees. The southern angle-headed dragon has a unique habit of moving horizontally around the tree trunk to avoid observation.