Clearing up some common misconceptions about Australian dragons

Totes real dragon not at all drawn in Paint, curled around a skyscraper.
Here, we see a European Red, also known as the St George, claiming Bourke Place, Melbourne, as its perch.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about Australian dragons, both those native to the continent, and those that were introduced — deliberately or otherwise — by human activity.  So we thought we’d throw together a quick listicle, outlining things more people should know about draconis Australis and other dragons one might find in Australia

  • Yes, a lot of them are venomous.
  • No, it’s not to compete with the snakes.
  • Surely by now everyone knows it’s a myth that dragons, snakes and lizards are closely related?  NOT ALL REPTILES LOOK ALIKE. That’s some shocking prejudice right there.
  • Okay, yes, we do have the frill-necked dragon, but that’s the exception that proves the rule.
  • It will surely not surprise even the most amateur of amateur dragon watchers to learn that there are over 150 distinct Indigenous dragon species; severely impacted by the introduction of European dragons.
  • Most dragons avoid eating koalas unless they are really hungry.  There’s not that much meat on a koala, and let’s not forget the chlamydia problem. Why are dragons susceptible to a sexually transmitted disease otherwise unique to mammals?  Our scientists would love to get close enough to find out!
  • Wombats do like to crush immature dragon eggs with their butts, because they are just that hardcore.
  • Related, most dragons also avoid eating cane toads. Whilst a single cane toad doesn’t contain enough cane toad poison to harm a dragon, it can often cause the dragon to burst out in hives. Also, they’re nasty.
  • The cane dragon, introduced in 1965 to combat the spread of the cane toad, is unfortunately no exception.
  • Chinese dragons accompanied Chinese settlers in the mid-1800s. Chinese dragons have long been important companions to Chinese travelers, lending legitimacy to journeys, and were essential to Chinese immigrants in Australia both in the goldfields and in the later established market gardens.
  • They were not so helpful in the laundries, where a flourishing trade in European dragons assisted in the heating of the washing waters whilst the Chinese dragons moved on to helping the pearl divers of Broome.
  • Tasmania used to be home to no less than four unique species of dragon. Unfortunately, deforestation and over-hunting have caused the extinction of the Tasmanian Miniature Dragon, the Pearce’s Bane and the Launceston Green.
  • On the other hand, the Tasmanian Forest Dragon responded to deforestation by expanding its territory into urban areas.  While a wonderful example of adaptation, this has not been good for tourism.
  • The North Queensland Blue, famous for its bright red scales, feeds only on bananas.  Why?  Who knows!  We try not to wonder too much, in case it figures out that people are tastier.
  • When white fellas first got to Rottnest Island, they thought the dragons endemic to that island fed on the quokkas there; actually, they co-exist, with dragons guarding quokka young and vice versa.
  • Australian dragons don’t restrict their sacrifices.  One’s sexual history has no bearing on whether or not an Aussie dragon will find you delicious.
  • It has been speculated that the drop bear is in fact a type of dragon;  although nobody has ever seen a winged drop bear and lived to tell about it, nobody has ever seen any other kind and lived, either, and some of the corpses are found lightly charred. This would also explain how one or two drop bears can cover such a wide range of territory without leaving marks on the ground.
  • (Stephanie notes that many non-European dragons don’t have wings at all, yet can still fly. So European science has let us down again.  Just say no to Eurocentricity in dragonology.)
  • The smaller, tamer breeds make great pet dragons, and they are GREAT for camping.  And for cooking damper, even in the wettest weather.
  • However, never use a dragon to boil your billy tea.  Their heat output is unpredictable and the tea quality suffers as a result.  Also, if you send a dragon to swing your tea three times, you risk never seeing the billy again.
  • A bunyip is NOT a type of dragon.
  • Due to coral bleach, many coral adjacent dragons, especially the Bombora Dragon, are now endangered. The Great Ningaloo White was recently added to the endangered species list.
  • Here is a petition against dredging and heavier industrialisation around the Great Barrier Reef.  Go sign it and save a dragon, and also some coral and stuff.


2 thoughts on “Clearing up some common misconceptions about Australian dragons

    1. You will find the Canadian stories, which we have SHAMEFULLY BUT LOVINGLY RIPPED OFF, in The Story of Owen and Prairie Fire by E K Johnston. (The best way to get them is to switch your Kindle account to the Canadian store — luckily, Amazon no longer removes all your purchases in other stores from your Kindle when you do so!)

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