Caught and Coloured: Zoology Illustrations from Colonial Victoria

Tree Dragon, Amphibolurus muricatus

Image Details
  • Plate Number: 111
  • Media: Lithographic proof - lithographic ink on paper
  • Lithographer: John James Wild
  • Artist: John James Wild
  • Location: Australia, Victoria, Goulbourn and Melbourne
Transcript from the Prodromus of Zoology

Plate 111. The Blood-Sucker, Grammatophora muricata (now known as the Tree Dragon, Amphibolurus muricatus) found in the Goulbourn district

This is the commonest lizard about Melbourne, especially in the sandy districts on the south coast, where it may often be seen, as represented in our plate, on a stump of Tee-tree, which it resembles in color and marking so nearly that it is almost impossible to distinguish it, unless the sun happens to glance from its bright eyes. When seen it will remain so immovable as almost to induce a belief that it is a withered stump; if your eye should leave it for an instant, it is gone like a flash. It is fond also of basking in the sun on shady paths, &c. The eggs are laid in the sand.

Why the popular name of "Blood-sucker" should be so universally given to this harmless creature by the colonists, I cannot conceive. In confinement it feeds readily on flies, and makes an elegant little pet in a Wardian Fern-case.

Current Scientific Information

Jacky Lizard or Tree Dragon, Amphibolurus muricatus


Medium species up to 120 mm long (snout vent). Variable species, usually grey to dark brown on the back, with a series of darker, triangular patches that often tend to form cross patterning. Low crest on the neck, extending onto the back.

Habitat and range

In a wide range of habitat types, from sclerophyll forests to coastal woodland, but usually in areas with some native vegetation. The most common and widespread species of agamid lizard in the Melbourne area.


The Jacky Lizard is active during the day and is often seen basking on logs or fallen branches. Its diet consists of a wide range of small arthropods.