Reptile central

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by Mark Norman
Publish date
1 December 2011
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Mark is Head of Sciences at Museum Victoria. He's reporting back from Neds Corner in this series of blog posts.

With the warm weather we experienced at the start of the survey, the Neds Corner Bush Blitz team clocked up an impressive tally of reptile species. Being in the driest corner of Victoria, the desert influence is obvious in a wonderful range of skinks, dragons, geckoes and snakes.

Four of the larger lizards have been found. The Inland Bearded Dragon has the scales and scutes of the best fictional dragons and has been found sunning itself on dead logs and fence posts. From above these spikes help them blend against the background. The Shingleback with its bright blue tongue has been observed many times living up to its other name (Sleepy Lizard) by sleeping or slowly loping on the roadsides. They are often in pairs. This species mates for life and can live to up to 50 years old. Sand goannas and a large Lace Monitor have also been recorded.

Shingleback Skink Shingleback Skink
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Five gecko species (Bynoe's, Thick-tailed, Tree Dtella, Tassellated and Marbled) have already been found through night walks or searching under bark and through leaf litter. They are a mix of ground dwellers (with normal claws) and tree-climbers with their fat fleshy toes. Many gecko species store fat in their tails and our ones seem well fed. We've been finding some very pregnant females bulging with the two eggs they lay at a time.

Thick-tailed Gecko Thick-tailed Gecko
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In addition to the Shingleback, five other skink species have been found including Tree Skink, Boulanger's Skink, Carneby's Wall Skink and several yet-to-be resolved Ctenotus species.

Boulanger's Skink Boulanger's Skink
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The snake highlight has been a Curl Snake, a small species around 30 cm long. It was found while researchers Patrick Honan and Chloe Miller were searching at night for tiger beetles on clay pans. Though small, this species is highly venomous and has caused human fatalities so we handled it very carefully. It is listed as threatened in Victoria under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.

Curl Snake Curl Snake
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Bush Blitz is a biodiversity partnership discovery program between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia, that aims to document the plants and animals across Australia's National Reserve System. Museum Victoria also participated in Bush Blitz at Lake Condah in March 2011.

Links:

Parks Australia blog

Bush Blitz

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