Eastern Water Dragon - Rescue help and Licensing QLD

Lizard_Wizard

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Hi, I'm new here and need some advice on an Eastern Water Dragon hatchie that I rescued a few months ago.

I found him in Kmart, on an outdoor chair that I was purchasing. He was half dead, could barely open his eyes and clearly starved. I took him home, fed him some mealworms and did some research on how to care for him. Within a week I had my QLD reptile license, a 90x60x45cm ReptileOne vivarium, 75w basking bulb, UVB lighting, crickets, water bowls, temp gradient between 24-28 degrees approximately. My husband thinks I'm a little crazy, but I always wanted to keep frogs as a child, and we had a mini zoo in my school, so I had some background knowledge and took it seriously.

The thing is, I assumed that since I rescued him from a shop, he wasn't "wild caught" and therefore I could legally keep him with a category 1 license.

Now he is getting bigger. He has shed his skin. He is clearly a male as he has a beautiful bright red chest. I've started handling him occasionally and he doesn't mind a little scratch on the chin, but he does get a bit stressed if I pick him up or move his things more than once a day. His tank has been enriched with logs, plants etc. and he has plenty of room to climb and hide. I really have invested in him.

So, I have been trying to get some advice on how to create a better water feature for him. I was thinking of using a Turtle Cliff and sectioning off half of the tank for a pond, building up the other side and making a background with lots of branches for climbing. Then I could get a fish vacuum & siphon for cleaning and probably keep him in this enclosure for 6months to a year before building an outdoor aviary and pond.

Although, with all my research, I have discovered that it is probably not legal for me to keep him ?

So I need some advice on whether to:

1. Call my local snake catcher and ask him about how and where to release him
2. Keep him (illegally?) until he gets to a more viable size (6months?) then call snake guy for advice
3. Find a wildlife centre that can take him until he is ready for release (I haven't come across any local ones through google yet, so any suggestion in Greater Brisbane area would be appreciated)
4. Embrace the grey area and invest more money into his enclosure so that he can have a decent swim

And please be nice. I don't want to break the law and I have tried to do everything to the best of my knowledge. He is healthy and as happy as a lizard can be (if they can indeed be happy). But I also don't want the little guy to die. He is only about 20cm, and that includes his gorgeous tail. Plus being a male might get him into trouble if released with an existing group that he doesn't belong to.

Oh and one more thing - if I do have to rehome/release him somehow, I would like to do up the enclosure and get a small python or blue tongue as the kids and I have thoroughly enjoyed our herping experience so far. If you have any extra advice in relation to this alternative, please let me know!
 

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