Central Netted Dragon Fact File

Ctenophorus nuchalis








Wild 2-4 years

Captive 8 years



Insects, Vegetation

Conservation Status


Least Concern

The central netted dragon is a species of lizard found through the arid, central areas of Australia.

They spend their day perched on a termite mounds or shrubs where they can bask in the sun and see any approaching threats or food. Their diet includes vegetation and invertebrates.

Unlike many animals these dragons have benefited from the introduction of grazing animal. Large numbers remain in the wild.

Learn more about the lovely lizards by reading on below.


The central netted dragon is colored yellowish or reddish brown with a pattern of dark brown lines breaking this in to small spots of irregular shape. Running down the back is a narrow line of yellowish or reddish-brown coloration. On the underside they are colored white with some grey variegation on the throat.

At the end of the body is a medium length tail which has bars and blotches of dark brown at the sides.

This pattern of coloration allows them to blend in well with the desert environment they call home.

Around the head are a series of small spines.

In the breeding season a male will develop an orange flush across its head and throat. Males also tend to have a larger head than females.

An average central netted dragon will measure 25cm (10in) long.


Central netted dragons are omnivores which feed on vegetation and invertebrates. Vegetation consumed includes fruits and flowers.

Central Netted Dragon


Australia is the native home of the central netted dragon. Here they can be found throughout the center of the country with their range extending to the coastline in the West.

Their range takes in the states of Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland along with the Northern Territory.


Central netted dragons make their home in dry woodland, grassland and shrubland. They are often seen in open areas.

When seeking shelter they will dig a shallow burrow within sandy soil. These burrows are located at the base of a tree stump or near spinifex grass. They will backfill the entrance to prevent entry by predators.

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The breeding season runs from September to December. During breeding season the males will actively defend a territory. Other males are prevented from entering this with fierce fights occurring to achieve this.

Each year the female will deposit up to three clutches of eggs. Each clutch includes between 2 and 6 soft-shelled eggs. These eggs are deposited in a small scrape in the sand and then left alone to incubate. Incubation lasts for up to 79 days.

At hatching they are responsible for their own survival and can feed themselves.

Sexual maturity is achieved between five and six months old.


Central netted dragons are active by day. They will spend part of this perched on fallen timber, termite mounds and low shrubs basking in the sun.

During the hottest parts of the day they can escape the heat by moving in to their burrow.

These animals are equipped with strong limbs that help to carry them at high speed. They can dig burrows using their strong limbs as well.

To communicate with other central netted dragons they will bob their head or wave their legs.

Central Netted Dragon

Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the central netted dragon include large reptiles such as goannas and snakes along with birds of prey.

Introduced species such as the red fox and feral cat also represent a threat to their survival.

If threatened by a predator they will quickly run for shelter in their burrow. Often they maintain multiple burrows in their range which they can retreat to.

Currently no major threats are presented by humans. They have shown a tolerance for livestock grazing in their habitat. Some populations have even shown an increase once their habitat was grazed, cleared or burnt.

They are present in the pet trade but capture is regulated in Australia so likely not a major threat.

Quick facts

Their names from the net-like pattern of colors which covers their scales.

They are also known as the central netted ground-dragon.

Photo Credits


vaka0627, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


Tim Rudman, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


Public Domain


Swanson, S. and Parish, S., 2011. Field Guide To Australian Reptiles. 2nd ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press.

Melville, J. & Craig, M. 2017. Ctenophorus nuchalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T170386A83322472. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T170386A83322472.en. Downloaded on 04 June 2021.

Australia's Wildlife. 2021. Central Netted Dragon - Australia's Wildlife. [online] Available at: <https://australiaswildlife.com/site-contents/fact-sheets-australian-animals-plants/australian-reptiles/lizards/dragon-lizards/central-netted-dragon/> [Accessed 4 June 2021].

Australian Reptile Park. 2021. Central Netted Dragon - Australian Reptile Park. [online] Available at: <https://www.reptilepark.com.au/central-netted-dragon/> [Accessed 4 June 2021].

Territory Wildlife Park. 2021. Central Netted Dragon. [online] Available at: <https://alicespringsdesertpark.com.au/connect-with-nature/animals/animals/central-netted-dragon> [Accessed 4 June 2021].

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