Aussie dragon drops in to disrupt doze

Woman sleeping with lizard on lap. | Newsreel
Jean Bray dozes away while water dragon Oliver waits for a snack. | Photo: Graeme Wilson

By Graeme Wilson

Enjoying her golden years in the leafy western suburbs of Brisbane, nature lover Jean Bray is a living angel when it comes to the local wildlife.

A visiting neighbour captured visual proof this week when he snapped Jean snoozing under a lamp, with a reptilian friend patiently waiting for her to awake.

Only in Australia!

With their townhouse nestled on the edge of bushland, Jean and husband Don enjoy daily close-up encounters with the local fauna, including two-metre carpet snakes and vocal sulphur-crested cockatoos.

But without doubt, Australian water dragon “Oliver” is their most constant caller, wandering in daily to be hand-fed a few juicy blueberries.

The ritual dates back to this time last year when Jean caught Oliver stealing newly ripened strawberries from the garden next door.

“So, I started throwing a few blueberries onto the driveway and gobble, gobble – they disappeared in a hurry,” she said.

Undeterred by warnings that the lizards should be treated with caution because of their long claws and sharp teeth, Jean soon had Oliver literally eating out of her hand.

And she’s never had a moment of concern that he might cause her any harm.

“No, never, not at all. He’s very placid and loves a scratch under the chin or a stroke along his back (of course avoiding the sharp barbs forming part of his protection against predators.)

“I started out by putting a blueberry on my shoe and he came in and took that, and then before I knew it, he was up on my lap and wanting more.

Hence the name Oliver.

“I haven’t tried it, but I’m pretty sure we could rub noses if I wanted to. He’s very relaxed with me.”

Jean limits Oliver to three berries a day and he seems happy enough with the rationing, quite content to then just sit and relax with her in the sun as they both catch up on a little rest.

When last winter came, Jean thought that may be the end of their contact, with water dragons hibernating for about three months.

Don jokes about that possibility being music to his ears, as he was starting to calculate the rising cost of the blueberry supply.

“But no, as soon as the weather warmed up, he was back,” Jean said.

“And he has visited at least once a day almost every day since. He might go missing for a couple of days, but then he’s back for more – that’s Oliver!”

Jean has no idea of Oliver’s age, but with a potential lifespan of over 30 years, she looks to have found a friend for life – and Don will need to get more comfortable with the family budget coping with another mouth to feed.

Woman sleeping with lizard on lap
Patient water dragon Oliver watches Jean Bray sleep, | Photo: Graeme Wilson