All posts filed under: Australian Reptiles

Northern Spiny-tailed Gecko Broome Bird Observatory Western Australia

Spiny Tailed Gecko

Spring slipped past us rather suddenly. Wildflowers common not even a fortnight ago disappeared without a single trace while Rose-tipped Mulla Mulla (Ptilotus manglesii) have popped up almost everywhere, signalling the start of summer with its dry and hot weather. Although these conditions have restricted my outdoor activities to some extent, recent upgrades of camera gear as well as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are the main culprits for my absence in the field. While spending many hours behind a computer screen is not my favourite pastime, I’ve become to realise that my photographic collection is in desperate need of proper organisation; a task postponed too often and which now I’m trying to complete bit by bit. I guess that looking back at memorable moments is the fun bit though, and now and then I even stumble upon some almost forgotten encounters, as this Spiny Tailed Gecko (Strophurus ciliaris) which was seen during a night walk at the Broome Bird Observatory. Well-adapted to hunting in the dark, geckos’ eyes are around 350 times more sensitive to light than …

Tiger Snake Notechis scutatis Herdsman Lake Western Australia

Tiger Snake – Moyup

With the season of Kambarang in full swing reptiles are out and about again, and a walk around Herdsman Lake at this time of the year will be rewarded with an almost guaranteed sighting of a Tiger Snake (Notechis scutatis). These beautiful but highly venomous snakes call this wetland home, where they hunt mainly for frogs, although lizards, small mammals and young birds are also taken. Their live young are born in autumn and early winter, at the same time when the first baby frogs appear. They’re most active during spring and summer, although they prefer to forage at night as they dislike hot weather.

Oblong Turtle Chelodina Oblonga Herdsman Lake Western Australia

Oblong Turtle – Booyi

The Oblong Turtle (Chelodina oblonga) or Booyi is one of 8 species of long-necked turtles represented in Australia, where it can be found in the wetlands and swamps throughout the southwest region. These carnivorous reptiles use echolocation to hunt for fish, molluscs and crustaceans in low visibility water, and when identified prey is near their head strikes forward to snatch it. Although seemingly slow, large female turtles attack ducklings and even swamp hens with astonishing speed! Life for metropolitan turtles is not easy, as many ephemeral swamps have been converted in housing estates and playgrounds, leaving their habitat rather fragmented in a hostile world, and although Oblong turtles still migrate, for many their journey ends when crossing busy roads. In spring females can be spotted out of the water in search for a safe spot to lay their eggs: they can produce up to 3 clutches of 2-16 eggs that take between 26-41 weeks to hatch. Although many hatchlings are born at the end of winter, many will never find their way back to the water as …

Ornate Dragon Ctenophorus ornatus Boyagin Nature Reserve Western Australia

Ornate Dragon

Over the past few weeks I have not only been looking for Western Brush Wallaby (Macropus irma), as mentioned in my previous post, but also for the Banded Anteater or Numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus). This carnivorous marsupial has featured on my bucket list for quite a while now, and several trips have been made to Boyagin Nature Reserve to find it. Located in the Wandoo woodlands of Western Australia’s wheatbelt, Boyagin is one of the few places where Numbats can be found, as a once thriving population has been dramatically reduced due to land clearing and predation by feral cats and foxes. The translocated Boyagin population has been estimated at 50-100 animals, but as their home range is around 50 hectares, chances of casual sightings are not that high. Although my patience and luck are still tested as far as Numbats go, Boyagin is a beautiful reserve to explore with plenty of other interesting animals and plants to discover. The huge undisturbed granite outcrop that lends its name to the reserve is a prime habitat for the Ornate Dragon …

Gould's Goanna Racehorse Goanna Karda Beelu National Park Western Australia

Gould’s Goanna – Karda

When spring temperatures hit summer-like highs not only wildflowers and bushwalkers come out of hibernation. Reptiles make the most of the sunshine and soak up the heat to warm their bodies. This Gould’s Goanna (Varanus gouldii) lazily hung around the DPAW’s offices in Beelu National Park, where the dark spaces underneath the buildings provide ample opportunity to cool down again. As slow and docile as those large goannas might seem, when threatened they can rear up on their hind legs and make a dash for safety at such an astounding speed that their nickname racehorse goanna is well-deserved.

Green Sea Turtle Chelonia mydas Monkey Mia Shark Bay Western Australia

Green Sea Turtle – Buyungurra

Western Australia’s vast and remote Shark Bay is a unique region covering more than 2.2 million hectares of land and sea. It is home to a great diversity of plants and animals, some of them found nowhere else on earth. Unfortunately many of the species that live in this immense wilderness are vulnerable or even critically endangered. One of them is the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), a species that depends on the bay’s plentiful seagrass meadows – just as the more than 10,000 Dugongs (Dugong dugon) that graze in this World Heritage Area. Considering the high number of sightings of this massive turtle out in the water, it is hard to believe they are under serious threat. But although Green Sea Turtles are legally protected in Australia and hunting is restricted to traditional use by aboriginal people, they still face numerous challenges. Apart from crabs, goannas, birds and sharks that feed on hatchlings, the major threats are created by human activities. Each year thousands of turtles end up on baited longline hooks as bycatch, …

Gilbert's Dragon Ta Ta Lizard Amphibolorus gilberti Kalbarri NP

Gilbert’s Dragon

Some visitors of iAMsafari might have noticed my fascination with dragons. I guess the sheer variety of shapes, patterns and colours simply intrigues me – together with the fact that the latter can change according to gender, temperature and behaviour. But when I met this Gilbert’s Dragon (Amphibolurus gilberti) I was most impressed with its speed because this little agamid is a true sprinter – moving rapidly and agile on the rocks and branches that lined the banks of the Murchison River – and as it quickly waves its forefeet after each sprint this dragon is aptly called “Ta Ta Lizard”. Most of the time these creatures observed me carefully in a vigilant posture – arched back, tail down and head tilted towards me. Just long enough to take some close-up portraits before waving good-bye.

King Brown Snake Mulga Kalbarri NP

King Brown Snake – Mulga

Australia has no big game. Elephants, hippo’s or big cats can’t add that thrill of imminent danger when going bush – except the saltwater crocodile in the Top End of course. Sheer size and power don’t pose any threat but toxic venom does instead, subtly engineered for the smaller animals such as spiders, jellyfish and snakes. As far as the latter concerns, we had a magnificent encounter with a completely harmless, almost docile Carpet Python a few months back, but the real venomous and notoriously elusive species have been avoiding us so far. Until our last trip. Driving on the corrugated road towards the gorges of Kalbarri National Park I was focused on spotting emus instead of snakes, as all at the sudden we spotted a curled shape in the corner of our eyes. On sunny days reptiles are a common feature anywhere near warm surfaces – mainly as roadkill unfortunately. But as dead animals typically show those faded colours, the glossy black skin of this one clearly contrasted with the soft yellow sand. As …

King Skink Egernia kingii

King Skink

We have a family of King Skinks (Egernia kingii) living under the laterite blocks just in front of our tree hut. With the weather warming up significantly the entire family can be seen basking in the sun almost every day now. It is easy to observe them as long as you don’t make sudden movements or cast your shadow over them – those lizards are extremely shy and the slightest movement will make them hide in their burrow. Despite their skittish nature they’ll quickly take a peek to see if the danger has gone after being disturbed, and once your spotted they closely keep an eye on you. Smart thing to do when you’re considered a tiger snake’s favourite prey… Who’s watching? Tell me who’s watching. Who’s watching me? Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me  

Bobtail lizard

The weather is changing. May is a beautiful time of the year with mild days and crisp nights. Autumn’s chill creeps in and the first rains have started to transform the landscape with grass growing, water flowing and the first trees flowering. As soon as the sun appears on these cool days reptiles can be found on granite outcrops, absorbing heat to regulate their body temperature. When I was looking for Ornate Dragons (Ctenophorus ornatus) hiding in the cracks and crevices of the granite boulders,  I actually stumbled upon this Bobtail lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) at the side of the trail. Absolute motionless with only its eyes observing my movements, it offered the perfect opportunity for some close-up shots.  They are slow, docile and easy to pick up, and therefore often traded as exotic pets for as much as $9,000 on the Asian black market. In order to curb this practice smugglers are sentenced heavily while trying to get those reptiles out of the country stuffed in handbags or teddy bears. Sad but true. Confiscated Bobtails are …

Southern Carpet Python Beelu National Park Perth Hills Western Australia

Carpet Python – Waugal

For as long as I have been in Australia I have always wanted to see a Carpet Python. Most bush walks go through amazing country, the kind of place reminding you of the garden of Eden, unspoilt, serene and beautiful. I have a habit that at the start of almost any of these walks I see the image of a Carpet Python winding itself around the branch of a tree, just as in those biblical images. After many years of walking with this idea in the back of my mind I never really thought I would have the privilege of  actually seeing one. Until yesterday when we walked part of the Bibbelmun track, a 1000 kilometre long route named after the early aboriginal inhabitants of South-West Australia, signposted by Waugal, the rainbow serpent from Nyungar dreamtime; a Carpet Python… I caught the first glimpse of this mythical animal when we reached a clearing in the Jarrah woodlands of Beelu National Park. On a stretch of bitumen leading to a deserted airstrip we found this nearly two …