Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Dragon fight

Two Common Bearded Dragons Pogona barbata face one another off
The reptiles in Canberra are becoming more active every day as the weather warms. I found a gecko on the front doorstep this morning and a blue-tongued lizard has taken to sunning itself on the edge of the drive. Then while out in the woodlands I came across these two bearded dragons fighting in the middle of the path.

The dominant dragon gains the high ground
I stopped and watched them from a few metres off to follow the outcome, although by the time I found them they appeared to have settled most of the dispute as one seemed to be dominant and the other subordinate. The dominant dragon was circling around the other, always clockwise, spreading out his body and tilting it to show a broad back artificially widened, with spines along the edges. And he blew up his throat to make that look large, again with spines frilling the edge. Meanwhile the subordinate dragon lay low, with its body held slim, his throat non-extended and spines held close, but still showing his teeth and in his bright yellow mouth as if ready to defend. The two, reminded me of red deer stags rutting, facing off to one another, adopting postures that threaten, by exaggerating their size and height.

The inside of their mouths is bright orangy/yellow
 which I am sure when seen from close contact is a formidable threat display
They fought for several minutes, strutting, biting, chasing and tumbling into the grassy verge, knowing I was there, but ignoring me as they were locked in a combat each wanted to win. Then it soon became obvious that one had won the contest. He held his head high and the other lay low. As with stags, they seemed to hold back from inflicting serous injury to one another. Each had a few scales knocked off and even the winner had a bloody smear below one eye. The two seemed evenly matched in size, about 500mm long, and neither looked stronger to me, so how the contest was decided I do not know, strength in endurance perhaps.

The victor posed with head up high and his throat inflated

The loser cowered low with his spines retracted and body held thin
I photographed a more aggressive fight back in 2011, to see those shots follow this link:

In the end, the loser lifted up on his hind legs and ran into the bush, spreading out his belly and neck to look big from behind - a final act of defence in case the other dragon might still attack.

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