About Central Netted Dragons

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

Adult male Central Netted Dragon (Ctenophorus nuchais) Photo © Shannon Wild

Central Netted Dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis) is native to arid regions of Central Australia. This individual is a male.

ORDER:    Squamata        SUBORDER:    Sauria        FAMILY:    Agamidae

GENUS:    Ctenophorus    SPECIES:        nuchalis


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.


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.


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.


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

Want to learn even more about Central Netted Dragons? Get the book!

© Shannon Wild

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