Painted Dragon Fact File

Ctenophorus pictus

Credit: Bahudhara, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons








Wild 1 year (Males)

Captive 7 years




Conservation Status


Least Concern

A Multi-Colored Dragon!

The painted dragon is named for the colorful patterns found on each animal. This is variable across their range with each pattern helping to blend in with a different soil type.

They are carnivores which feed on small insects such as ants.

Found across Australia these lizards will spend their day sitting in the sun absorbing the rays to keep themselves warm and generate the energy needed to digest their food.

They are under threat due to the destruction of the coastal dunes they inhabit.

Read on to learn more about these remarkable reptiles.


What does the Painted Dragon look like?

Their scales are variable in color and may include a range of grey, orange and browns. A dark stripe is often present down the center of the back.

Males may be extremely bright in their coloration with a blue patch on the throat and washed along the flanks. In some individuals the throat and head are colored bright yellow. On the underside of their body they are colored white.

Females often have duller coloration across their body than the males.

This species will reach a body length of up to 7cm (3in) long without their tail. With the tail included they can reach a total length of up to 20cm (8in) long.


How does the Painted Dragon survive in its habitat?

This species has extreme variability in their scale color and pattern across their range reflecting the wide variety of soils which they can live on. This will allow them to camouflage with their environment.

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What does the Painted Dragon eat?

The painted dragon is a carnivore which will feed on a range of invertebrates.

Learn more about the Painted Dragon in this video from COOP'S Reptiles on YouTube


Where do you find the Painted Dragon?

Painted dragons are native to Australia. Here they live across the south of the country in the following states - Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory and New South Wales.


Where can the Painted Dragon survive?

Their range takes in areas of arid and semi-arid habitats. These include savanna, shrubland, grassland and sand dunes.

These animals often dig burrows in which they can shelter. These will be located at the base of a shrub.

Painted Dragon (Ctenophorus pictus)

Credit: PotMart186, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


How does the Painted Dragon produce its young?

Breeding takes place during summer. Males perform elaborate displays during which they will twist, bob and turn their head.

Females are happy to mate with any male which they come across.

An average clutch of eggs will include 4 eggs.

Studies have shown that the more brightly colored individuals of this species will die younger than adults.


What does the Painted Dragon do during its day?

This species is active during the day. They will spend their time resting in the sun to absorb the rays.

Painted Dragon (Ctenophorus pictus)

Credit: DOMENICO STALLO, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What stops the Painted Dragon from surviving and thriving?

Populations of the painted dragon are considered stable. No specific threats are facing this species.

They are present in the pet trade in Australia but most of this is supplied through the pet trade. They are protected by law across their range.

Some occur in sand dune habitats which are increasingly targeted for housing developments.

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Quick facts

They may also be known as the painted ground-dragon.

Their scientific name 'Ctenophorus' means comb-bearer and refers to the small row of comb-like scales sitting below the eye.

Painted Dragon (Ctenophorus pictus)

Credit: Ian R McCannMuseums Victoria, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


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

Melville, J., Sanderson, C., Shea, G. & Cogger, H. 2017. Ctenophorus pictusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T83488800A83488898. Accessed on 25 March 2022. 2022. PAINTED DRAGON - Ctenophorus pictus. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 March 2022].

Museums Victoria Collections. 2022. Ctenophorus pictus (Peters, 1866), Painted Dragon. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 March 2022].

Naturally South Australia. 2022. Seaside Dragons. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 March 2022].

Australian Reptiles Online Database. 2022. Painted dragon. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 March 2022].

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