Australia’s reptile diversity is incredible, with over 940 species currently formally described. Open woodland habitats are areas of particularly high reptile diversity, given the available niches and the suitability of these areas for ectotherms. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the species we find here at Sheoak Ridge.
(Banner photo above: Amethystine ‘Scrub’ Python – Photo by Daintree Wonder Tours http://www.daintreewondertours.com.au)
Most of our visitors get very excited when we mention the snakes we find on Sheoak Ridge Nature Reserve. For some people it’s a nervous kind of excited and for others it’s the excitement that comes with understanding. Snakes, like all native animals in Australia are protected by law. Despite the often irrational fear people have for snakes, they play a very important role in our ecosystems.
Keel-back snakes, for example are the only snake in Australia able to eat cane toads without dying from the poisons secreted from large paratoid glands behind the toad’s eyes. There are only a handful of native animals that have worked out how to kill and eat a cane toad without dying (eg water rats, crows, ravens).
Many snakes are completely harmless to humans (ie they either are not venomous, their fangs are too small to inject venom or their fangs are located at the back of their mouth, making it difficult for them to get venom into something large) and most snakes simply want to continue on their way without being disturbed. Having said that, if a snake is cornered or feels threatened in some way it may strike out, but given a normal situation, snakes will always retreat quickly from humans. Just watch where you put your feet, respect that wild animals don’t want to be touched or poked (or killed for that matter!) and you’ve no reason to be afraid. We love seeing snakes on Sheoak Ridge!
Some of the common snakes we see include the stunning amethystine pythons, common tree snakes, brown tree snakes, red-bellied black snakes… here’s the full list we’ve sighted on the property thus far, with additions more than likely:
Common/northern tree snake
Brown tree snake
Eastern brown snake
Eastern small-eyed snake
Red-bellied black snake
North-eastern blind snake
Slaty grey snake
Black-bellied swamp snake
Northern dwarf crowned snake
Northern death adder
Northern tree snake
We’ve identified only one species of turtle on Sheoak Ridge, the saw-shelled turtle. We commonly see them along the banks or on logs in Rifle Creek, in our dams or in the numerous natural billabongs around the property. One of the really neat things about this turtle is it’s ability to ‘breathe’ through it’s bum, giving it the common name of a ‘bum-breather’. This turtle has evolved a mechanism to flush
water through it’s cloaca and absorb oxygen through thin tissue, allowing it to respire through it’s rear end. This presumably means the turtle saves energy it would otherwise expend on surfacing to breath normally.
Australia has an incredibly high diversity of lizards. Ectotherms are particularly suited to the fluctuations in weather conditions and thus associated food availability, as they can slow down or speed up their metabolic rate to suit.
We’re lucky enough to have rainforest habitat perfect for the boyd’s forest dragon, a striking animal that looks like it’s a relic from the dinosaur age. Other favourites include the frilled-neck lizard (a rather iconic species in Australia) that we sometimes see up on the dry ridge, lace monitors and geckos.
Below is our list of lizards as it currently stands. You’ll see it’s surprisingly short… It’s far from complete yet!! If you’re a keen herpetologist, we’d love some field assistance identifying all the rainforest and open woodland skinks and blind snakes. Otherwise, we’ll add it to our never ending to-do list and will get onto it sometime in the foreseeable future. 🙂
Eastern water dragon
Boyd’s forest dragon
Northern Leaf-tailed gecko
Asian house gecko (pest species we are actively eradicating)
Blue tongue lizard
Lined rainbow skink
Black-throated rainbow skink
**We are yet to do a comprehensive survey of our lizard fauna. Click on the link below to download our species list:
Click here to go to the other animal pages on our website (or use the tabs above under Nature-Fauna):