Scientific Name: Hypsilurus spinipes
Southern forest dragons are also known as angle-headed dragons because of the shape of their head. The spines and skin flaps found in this species are even more exaggerated in a close relative, the Boyd's forest dragon (H. boydii) found in the tropical rainforests of far northern Queensland.
A superb master of camouflage, the southern forest dragon's imposing appearance belies its placid nature and inactive lifestyle. Ranging from a mossy greenish-grey to mid-brown in colour, they are characterized by a raised flap of skin adorned with spines on the neck which merges into a row of smaller spines along the middle of the back. The toes are long and thin and terminate in a sharp claw designed to assist with climbing. Total length is around 35cm, over half of which is tail.
The southern forest dragon is restricted to the rainforests and wet sclerophyll eucalyptus forests of coastal eastern Australia between Brisbane and the New South Wales Central Coast. Thick vegetation with plenty of vines and saplings are preferred. These lizards will sit motionless for hours on a branch or sapling trunk relying on their camouflage for protection. If approached they will discretly circle around their perch keeping it between themselves and the apparent threat.
Although appearing slow and sluggish, forest dragons can move with speed and agility when pursuing potential prey items such as beetles, cockroaches and spiders.
Living in thick forest means open sunny areas to lay eggs are in short supply. For this reason many female forest dragons will congregate at a suitable nesting site to deposit their clutch. Two to seven eggs are laid in a shallow depression dug into the soil. These hatch some two to three months later.