Nature Profiles

Lizards of the Flinders Ranges

 

Lizards of Wilpena Pound

When I went to Wilpena, me and my mate Norm did the classic hike up to St Mary's Peak.  It was hot, but there a few lizards about.  I was hoping to see Ctenophorus vadnappa, and thought I had, but all of the lizards turned out to be rusty-coloured female C.decresii!  The summit was the haunt of a very tame colony of Egernia striolata and L.margaretae.  The lizards were happy to come within 30cm or so if I was sitting still.  I love Egernias: they're full of character, and being fairly social, are good fun to watch as they interact with their neighbours.

Egernia striolata (Tree Skink)

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Juvenile E.striolata

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'Happy couple' of E. striolata

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A room with a view!

This is a common lizard in rocky areas of South Australia - you can see some other photos and more description here

The Flinders Ranges are about as far north as this lizard goes in South Australia.  Further east the species is widespread in NSW and Queensland, and can be found sparsely in far northern Victoria - this lizard has the largest range of all Australian Egernias (other more widespread species like White's Skink are now in the genus Liopholis).

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Liopholis margaretae

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This rather plain-looking skink replaces Liopholis whitii in the Flinders Ranges. 

There are two subspecies, personata and margaretae, although they may prove to merit separate species status.  Each subspecies is separate in distribution, with margaretae occurring in the far north-west of SA, extending through to southern NT. 

Ssp. personata is endemic to the Flinders Ranges, and is the species pictured here.  Even within this population there are two colour morphs: one which is plain brown with some spotting along the sides, and a second which is more brightly patterned, with longitudinal stripes down its back and more prominently spotted flanks. 

Egernia margaretae is noticeably square in cross-section, which helps to distinguish it from the more abundant and round-bodied E. striolata on St Mary's Peak.

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Ctenophorus decresii (Tawny Dragon)

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Male C. decresii, St Mary's Peak, showing orange chin and throat.

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Juvenile - note the strongly barred dorsal pattern

The Flinders Ranges population of C. decresii is different in colouration to the Mount Lofty Ranges population further south.  They are distinctly reddish in colour, and the throat and lips of breeding males become bright orange during the breeeding season, rather the blue as in the southern population found in the Adelaide Hills (see the 'Lizards of the Mount Lofty Ranges' page for photos). 

During my trip up St Mary's Peak I saw very few males (perhaps due to it being late summer rather than spring), but females were very prominent, along with little infant lizards.  The babies have a distinctly barred pattern on their backs, which can still be seen on females although it is very faded.

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Varanus gouldii (Sand Monitor)

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The Sand Goanna is one of the commonest Varanids in Australia, and certainly the commonest in South Australia.  It can be found in every state except Tasmania, although it is absent from most of the Cape York Peninsula, and the all of the cool, wet south coast of the mainland. 

I came across this beautiful juvenile on the track up to St Mary's Peak.  In fact, I nearly stood on it until it scurried out of my way!

 

 

  

Lizards of Mount Remarkable National Park

Mount Remarkable NP covers a wide area in the southern Flindes Ranges, bounded by the main Adelaide-Port Augusta road to the west, and the Melrose-Clare road to the east.  I wasn't lucky enought to see too many reptiles during the times I visited, but did just about manage to photograph this large Lace Monitor (Varanus varius) before it crawled into a road drain to get away from me!  It measured well over a metre from snout to tail.

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Lace monitors are common in the east of Australia, where they can become scavenging pests at picnic grounds, and the Mambray Creek area of Mt Remarkable represents the western limit of the species.

 

 

Pogona vitticeps (Central Bearded Dragon)

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As its name suggests, this common dragon is a species of the semi-arid and arid interior of Australia. 

Within South Australia I have seen it as far south as Para Wirra RP, in the drier northern Mount Lofty Ranges, where its range overlaps with the temperate species P. barbata (see 'Lizards of the Mount Lofty Ranges' page).  The two species can be distinguished by the patterns of spines on the flanks and head, and by range in most areas.  P. barbata is also usually grey rather than sandy-coloured, although P. vitticeps can be grey too.

 

 

Heteronotia binoei (Bynoe's Gecko)

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This little gecko, with its distinctive prickly scales, was under a rock I overturned.  It moved pretty quickly, but conveniently posed in my hand while I took its portrait! 

Bynoe's Gecko is very widespread and common across all of mainland Australia except the cool, wet, temperate south. 

Heteronotia is a small genus of only 3 species.  The two others are much more restricted in range, with H. planiceps occurring in the Kimberley region and H. spelea occurring among rock outcrops and in caves in the Pilbara region of WA.

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Lizards of Telowie Gorge CP

Telowie Gorge is right at the southern end of the Flinders Ranges.  It's a beautiful spot with a lovely creek, steep wooded slopes, and lots of river-worn boulders to scramble across.  It was here that I saw my first brown snake, moving away through the leaf litter just a couple of metres away from me!

Egernia striolata (Tree Skink)

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As in other rocky areas of the Mt Lofty / Flinders Ranges, the Tree Skink is common in Telowie Gorge.  In fact, I saw virtually no other lizard species there at all.

 

 

Morethia boulengeri

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This common, attractive skink is often seen scurrying on rocks and through leaf litter in eucalypt woodland.  Its bold pattern makes it easy to distinguish from other SA Morethia species.

I found this male in full breeding colours while exploring a little gully alongside the road on the scenic drive through Port Germain Gorge. 

M. boulengeri is the most widespread member of the genus, and occurs in suitable dry habitat from eastern WA almost to the east coast of the continent.

 

 

 

Lizards of Arkaroola

Strictly speaking, I suppose Arkaroola isn't part of the Flinders Ranges, but it's 'close' enough for me!  It was a scorching late summers day when I visited, with the temperature well above 40C, so there weren't many reptiles about.  It would have been interesting to see what appeared at night!

Cryptoblepharus pannosus (probably)

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Paralana Hot Springs, E of Arkaroola village

Cryptoblepharus species are difficult to separate without examining specimens closely to look at scalation (they are small lizards!). 

C. pannosus is among the most widespread species, and the only one to inhabit large areas of the Flinders ranges - C. australis just about enters the area.  It was a funny little lizard - moving to the opposite site of the tree rather than running away whenever it spotted me!