As I parked the car in front of our house, I noticed a movement under the bushes ahead. A shadow obscured the animal, but I knew something was there.

Very carefully, I approached the bush and examined the grey bark and branches lying on the ground. Soon I realised that I was looking at one of Australia’s large lizards — a dragon!

I called the girls over, and we all had a look at the eastern bearded dragon. This placid reptile uses camouflage as its main defence, and it was very good at staying still. Even from very close, it looked like a branch, and its colours blended perfectly with the mulch around it.

David came out of the house to help carry the shopping in, and the girls excitedly called him over. “It’s a lizard, Daddy!”

I am so thankful to have a husband who is good at catching wildlife because it means that we get to examine many of these beautiful wild creatures up close — and I don’t have to be the one holding them! It didn’t take long before David had the lizard in his hands, carefully holding it behind the head so it couldn’t bite him.

Eastern bearded dragon, August 2010
David held it still while the girls examined the lizard.

Eastern bearded dragon, August 2010
We all got to touch it. It didn't feel particularly rough, and even its spikes were bendy and soft.

Eastern bearded dragon, August 2010
David even turned it upside down so we could see its belly.

Eastern bearded dragon, August 2010
We released the dragon onto the grass, and it refused to move for a while.

Eastern bearded dragon, August 2010
When feeling threatened, the eastern bearded dragon extends its throat region and puffs up to make it appear larger.

This eastern bearded dragon is related to the water dragon (which we’ve seen before), and it eats leaves, berries and flowers with a couple insects thrown in for some variety. Now that we know where this one lives, we hope to see it again!