Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii syn. Intellagama lesueurii

Eastern water dragon

Family: Agamidae

Origin: Australia

An eastern water dragon with a spiny ridge along its back resting on a rock.
Eastern water dragons spend most of their time in trees. When threatened, they will drop in to the water to escape.
Photo credit: Margaret Stanley

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Aotea — Exclusion
  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Large lizard with brown-grey body and black stripes along ridge of back, tail and limbs. Males have a bright red chest and upper belly when mature. Males can be up to 1 kg and 80-90 cm long, females shorter and lighter.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not release any eastern water dragon from containment within the Auckland region.
  • You must not move any eastern water dragon to Aotea/Great Barrier Island group.
  • You must not breed, distribute or release any eastern water dragon on Aotea/Great Barrier Island group.
  • From 1 September 2022, you will not be allowed to breed, distribute or sell any eastern water dragon within the Auckland region.
  • You are however still allowed to retain any existing individuals you already own. You can also take these animals to the vet, they can move with you if you move house, and you can take them to stay with someone else while you’re on holiday. You just need to keep them securely contained so they can’t escape into the wild.
  • If you pet-sit / provide temporary accommodation for other people’s animals, you’re also covered for receiving them, as long as you keep them securely contained while they are staying with you. However, if you receive animals on a more permanent basis, such as rescue centres, where ownership is changing hands, then you need to apply for an exemption for this activity. You can apply for free using this application form.


Streams, rainforests, flowing waterbodies, urban areas.

Impact on environment

Likely to prey on small terrestrial, freshwater and inter-tidal fauna, may impact plants through herbivory. May spread disease to other reptiles.



If you have pet water dragon, make sure they’re securely contained to avoid accidental escapes. If you are no longer able to look after your pet eastern water dragon, find someone who is prepared to give it a lifetime home, or contact a relevant pet shop or animal rescue organisation to get it rehomed.

Never release an eastern water dragon into the wild – your pet may be unable to find the food and shelter it needs, and it also puts our native species at risk.

If you see an eastern water dragon in the wild, please report it to Auckland Council at