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Ctenophorus fordi facts for kids

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Mallee dragon
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Ctenophorus fordi distribution.png
Distribution of Ctenophorus fordi
  • Amphibolurus fordi
    (Storr, 1965)
  • Phthanodon fordi
    (Storr, 1965)
  • Phthanodon hawkeswoodi
    (Wells & Wellington, 1985)

Ctenophorus fordi, commonly known as the Mallee dragon, Mallee military dragon, or Mallee sand-dragon, is a species of agamid lizard occurring in the arid parts of southern Australia. The Mallee Dragon was named after Dr. Julian Ralph Ford (1932-1987). Dr. Ford was an ornithologist, herpetologist, and chemist who work at the Western Australian Museum. He collected the lizard holotype and many of the paratypes.


Ctenophorus fordi is a small endemic Australian lizard that grows to a maximum size of 5cm snout-vent length .C.fordi display a dark reddish-orange coloration with a pale dorso-lateral stripe extending from the posterior region of the neck to the anterior portion of the tail. The pale stripe is bordered by a thin, black strip. The dark orange-brown region enclosed by the pale stripe is flecked with small pale spots.


It is commonly found in south-eastern Western Australia and through southern South Australia. Some populations are also found in occupying western Victoria and New South Wales. Lizard species richness is higher in arid Australia than anywhere else globally. Pianka (2012) states that infertile soils of central Australia contribute indirectly to promote high reptile diversity

Ecology and behaviour

The main habitat type for Malee Dragons include shrubs and hummock grass The Mallee dragon lives in sandy arid to semi-arid areas of Mallee woodland and spinifex, as well as vegetated sand dunes. They prefer areas of Mallee that haven't been burnt for around 30 years, when spinifex cover is at its maximum.

Mallee Dragons emerge from dormancy in August, males appear about four weeks earlier than females. Active even on very hot days, they forage in sandy, open areas, and will dash for cover into nearby grasses or low bushes if disturbed or pursued. Males are territorial.

The signaling behaviour of C.Fordi is composed almost exclusively of head bobs, which both males and females produce when they encounter another individual


The Mallee Dragon's diet would largely consist of ants


Mallee Dragon reproduces sexually, with an oviparous and dioecious reproduction method. Mating occurs in spring. Females produces sequential clutches of two to five eggs over the reproductive season and the offspring hatch from December to March. Males are not territorial and there has been no evidence of male-male aggression.

Conservation actions

The species is currently not listed as a conservation concern according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Mallee Dragon is protected in various national parks. These include the Mallee Cliffs National Park, Yathong Nature Reserve in New South Wales, the Currawinya National Park in Queensland, and the Murray-Sunset National Park in Victoria


The Mallee Dragon is vulnerable to various threats. These include:

  • Habitat loss from land clearing. Between 1997 and 1999 in Queensland, 89 million reptiles were killed each year due to land clearing.
  • Habitat degradation by introduced species such as cattle and rabbits
  • Habitat modification caused by climate change
  • Death on roads
  • Feral predators such as dogs, cats, pigs, and foxes
  • Threats from introduced cane toad
  • Threats from emerging diseases
  • Sadlier, R.A., Shea, G.M. (1989). "The reptiles of Mungo National Park and the Willandra Lakes region". Herpetofauna, 19(2), pp. 9–27.
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