I can still vividly recall the first time I laid eyes on a series of head illustrations of the Bronzeback Legless Lizard Ophidiocephalus taeniatus. They were drawn from the type specimen by B.C. Cotton, in Waite (1929). I was ten years old and sitting quietly in the school library. I likened the large head plates and protrusive, wedge-shaped snout as bearing a striking resemblance to that of the Archaeopteryx, the earliest and most primitive bird. In line with most fanatical herps, I already had a solid grounding with Dinosaurs, my own considerable book collection now competing for shelf space with the ever-growing titles devoted to modern day reptiles. I remember day-dreaming of a time when I had my own car, and of finding anOphidiocephalus taeniatus in the desert myself....
One of my most treasured reference works still parked on the bookshelf, is a complete set of Australia’s Wildlife Heritage Encyclopaedia. I can still remember the ad plugging the first issue of the series, as it flashed up on the Black-and-White Rank Arena in the lounge. It was way back in 1973 when I was a Prep. Grader.
That ad sparked much excitement from yours truly. My mum copped a spate of nagging before the ad finished, which continued until I had feedback- that my immediate plans of owning every one of those issues had registered. The series was available weekly at the local newsagents and ran for a whopping 105 weeks. I am happy to say that mum did not let me down. In retrospect, my knowledge and love for every facet of Australian nature was greatly enhanced by the Wildlife Heritage. Its content triggered an inner desire to not just read, but comprehend each issue. Armed with a dictionary and thesaurus, I worked my way through every article with an enthusiasm unmatched in any classroom.
Partial or full tongue loss among snakes is rare, with Hopgood (1980) providing the only published account I could locate. The account did not relate to tongue regeneration. The following observation records a gradual and complete regeneration of the severed portion of a tongue-tip.
On the 19/01/95 a sub-adult female Death Adder Acanthophis antarcticus was collected from mallee habitat to the west of the Middleback Ranges in South Australia (33°11’S X 137°02’E). A take permit was kindly issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in order to begin a breeding program which would allow accurate data to be compiled on genetically compatible Death Adders obtained from one specific locality. The following note details the initial capture of the Acanthophis antarcticus above, with additional reptile species observed during the search and subsequent captive notes until the unfortunate death of the adder on the 11/02/97.
While anecdotal accounts exist, well documented cases of invertebrates preying on reptiles and frogs in Australia are few. The common and scientific names of spiders mentioned below follow Main (1984). The Sydney Funnel-web Spider Atrax robustus and Brush-footed Trapdoor Spiders (Barychelidae) have been documented preying upon frogs (Brunet, 1994). A photo depicting a Barking Spider Selenocosmia sp. preying on Litoria lesueri appeared in ’Australia’s Dangerous Creatures’ (Underhill, 1993). Mascord (1993) wrote of an adult female Selenocosmia crassipes that killed and ate a young Litoria caerulea in 6 hours. Main (1984) also lists examples of spiders eating frogs. Orange (1990) recorded a Redback Spider Latrodectus mactans preying upon Parasuta monachus, a small elapid species. Two other references relating to spider predation on snakes are also cited in the paper. Danny Goodwin (pers. comm. 1996) has noted several cases of Latrodectus sp. preying on Weasel Skinks Saproscicus mustelinus. A large species of preying mantid Hierodula werneri has also been observed catching frogs at Darwin (Ridpath, 1977). Nash (1963) refers to a large brown mantid consuming a juvenile Litoria raniformis (referred to as a Golden Bell Frog). Nursery-web Spiders Dolomedes spp. ‘capture tiny fish, tadpoles, insects and skinks’ (Brunet, 1994; McKeown, 1943).
The Yellow-spotted Monitor Varanus panoptes panoptes is a large, predominantly terrestrial monitor, widespread and favouring heavy soils in humid areas of northern Australia (Wilson & Knowles, 1992). Indeed, anyone who has witnessed an adult erect on its rear legs in the hot expanses of an alluvial floodplain will testify that it is a formidable sight. The following report is based on a single adult specimen that was followed for several hours as it foraged in and around our makeshift camp in the ‘Top End’ of the Northern Territory.
Spencer’s monitor, Varanus spenceri, is a moderately large robust monitor lizard endemic to the black-soil plains of western QLD and central-eastern NT (Dale 1973, Wilson & Knowles 1988, Ehmann 1992). Relatively little has been published on the natural history of this species since its original description by Lucas & Frost in 1903 (e.g., Dale 1973, Green & King 1993). Pengilley (1981) provided details on the species’ diet and reproduction (timing and clutch size) based on the dissection of specimens from the Barkly Tableland region, NT. Ehmann (1992) provided notes on the species habits and diet. Other than these works the remainder of the published material is mostly anecdotal or derives from captive lizards and includes the successful captive breeding of the species (Peters 1968, 1969ab, 1971, 1986 see also Christian 1979). In this note we provide additional details on diet and reproduction through the dissection of a single road-kill V. spenceri.
Ehmann (1992) gives a maximum total length of 540mm for Parasuta dwyeri and states that specimens from more eastern rocky areas are usually slender to strong bodied in comparison to specimens associated with the inland drainages west of the dividing range. The largest specimen recorded to date in the literature is a male from Queensland (Qld) with a snout-to-vent length (SVL) of 456mm (Shine, 1988; 1994). Shine (1988) presents a table showing a sexual size dimorphism in favour of males in the species with a SVL range of 233-456mm for males and 235-345mm for females of P. dwyeri (NSW and Qld specimens combined). Coventry and Robertson (1991) give a total length of 600mm presumably for Victorian specimens of S. dwyeri and S. nigriceps, although it was not established whether these are formal measurements or only estimates. Both Cogger (1992) and Wilson and Knowles (1988) give total lengths of 400mm for P. dwyeri. The following note provides details of an adult male P. dwyeri from the Putty Road within the Sydney Basin exceeding the maximum SVL recorded by Shine (1988) and possessing an extremely robust build.
One doesn’t need to be trekking through a remote sandstone gorge in the Kimberley or crawling through a dark cavern in the Black Mountain to make herpetological observations. The following report is a perfect case in point and was taken while I was eating a hamburger with the lot outside a take-away food store in coastal Queensland.
Lampropholis mirabilis was recently described in 1981 by Ingram and Rawlinson. Saxicoline in habit, the species has been recorded from Magnetic Island (Queensland) and the adjacent mainland from Cape Cleveland to Mt Elliot (Ehmann, 1992; Patrick Couper pers. comm.). The purpose of this paper is to report the discovery of L. mirabilisapproximately 110km northwest of the nearest documented mainland localities at Jourama Falls National Park (18°51’S, 146°07’E).
Diurnal basking has been documented for the following hylids (tree frogs): Litoria aurea (Cogger, 1992; Hero et. al., 1991), L. meiriana (Cogger, 1992; Tyler, 1992), L. moorei (Cogger, 1992), L. raniiformis(Cogger, 1992; Hero et. al., 1991), L rothii (Tyler, 1992) and L. spenceri (Hero et. al., 1991). The purpose of this paper is to report on an observation of diurnal basking in L. gilleni and L. rubella. Both species were found sympatrically around the margin of a waterhole of the Kings Creek system, Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park, Northern Territory (24°16’S, 131°33’E).
Michael Anthony has reported two Prickly Forest Skinks Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae in the open during a rainforest walk at Lamb’s Head, north Queensland (Anthony, 1994). The lizards were observed on January 16th at approximately 10:00hrs and 17:00hrs respectively. It is assumed by myself that Anthony’s observations were made during fine weather as he stated: ‘These animals (referring to Lampropholis coggeri) were commonly sighted active in sunny patches of leaf-litter along the edges of the track’. The authors of some recent works wrote the following of the activity patterns of G. queenslandiae - “crepuscular and nocturnal” (Wilson and Knowles, 1992); “a nocturnal, cryptozoic lizard” (Cogger, 1992); “it forages secretively by day and more openly by night” (Ehmann, 1992). The following part of this note reports an observation of five individual G. queenslandiae seen in the open during the early afternoon at Josephine Falls, Bellenden Ker National Park, north Queensland (17°19’S, 145°51’E).
Two species of the genus Tiliqua have been documented as prey items for Pseudonaja textilis; the Pygmy Blue-tongued Skink T. adelaidensis (Armstrong and Reid, 1992) and the Shingleback T. rugosa aspera (Roberts and Mirtschin, 1991). Another lizard of comparable size, the Pink-tongued Skink Cyclodomorphus gerrardii, is also recorded as a prey item (Shine, 1989). The following field note is based on an adult P. textilis regurgitating an Eastern Blue-tongued Skink T. s. scincoides.
The Black-palmed Monitor Varanus glebopalma is a moderately large, streamlined monitor confined to tropical far northern Australia. Saxicoline, the species inhabits sandstone (also quartzite rock e.g. Mt Isa district, Qld) ranges and escarpments, particularly those adjacent to watercourses within gorges (pers. obs.). The following account is based on an adult specimen running down and subsequently consuming a sub-adult female Gilbert’s Dragon Amphibolurus gilberti.
“Most snakes can swim” (Ehmann, 1992). The larger frog hunting elapids (e.g. the Red-bellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus) are conspicuous and efficient swimmers (Jenkins and Bartell, 1980). The following report is based on a small terrestrial elapid species that appears in my opinion to be an unlikely candidate for a swim.
In their review of the Ctenotus uber orientalis complex (Storr, 1971), Hutchinson and Donnellan (1999) recently elevated orientalis to full species status. In relation to the diet of Ctenotus; Greer (1989), citing other references, stated; “Ctenotus appear to be opportunistic predators, although some species are known to take more than 10% plant material by volume.” Ehmann (1992) wrote that the diet of Ctenotus uber consists of insects, spiders, centipedes and small lizards. Bennett (1997) recorded the diet of presumably ACT populations of Ctenotus orientalis as insects and occasionally smaller skinks. Bedford (1992) reported an interesting field observation of an adult C. orientalis ascending and consuming berries from fruiting salt bushes. Whilst commenting on the paucity of published information available on the biology of most Ctenotus species, Ehmann (1992) stated; “any field naturalist with a keen eye and interest could add materially to our knowledge of these skinks.”
The following account provides details of an adult C. orientalis expelling a recently ingested hatchling Mallee Dragon Ctenophorus fordi.
A variety of reptile and frog species have been documented sharing the same cover (Rankin, 1975; Maryan and Robinson, 1987; Orange, 1992; Valentic 1993). This report details the discovery of a Spotted Tree Monitor Varanus scalaris, Giant Tree Gecko Pseudothecadactylus australis and a Green Tree Frog Litoria caeruleautilising separate hollows within a single standing Broad-leaved Paperbark tree Melaleuca viridiflora.
Pogona henrylawsoni is a medium sized Pogona confined to the black-soil plains region of central and western Queensland, from Gregory Downs to Longreach and Aramac (Witten 1994a, Shea 1995). The species has had a somewhat unstable taxonomic history. It was originally described by Wells & Wellington (1985) as Pogona henrylawsoni in their taxonomic revision of the Australian herpetofauna. Following (unsuccessful) moves to have this work suppressed (ASK 1987, ICZN 1991), the species and species name, failed to gain acceptance by most authors. The species was present in live captive collections since the early 1970’s in both the USA and Germany where it was known as Amphibolurus ‘rankini’. It was only briefly referred to in books by Wilson & Knowles (1988) and Ehmann (1992), and treated as an undescribed species in both; it was not referred to in Cogger (1986, 1992). Witten (1994a) described the species as P. brevis on account of a failure to locate the holotype and the claimed inadequacy of the Wells & Wellington (1985) diagnosis of P. henrylawsoni. Shea (1995) subsequently claimed these actions were invalid and proposed the retention of the original name (P. henrylawsoni) on the grounds of stability.
Report on an adult pair of Little Whip Snakes Parasuta flagellum observed copulating in the field on the afternoon of the 14th October 1985 at 15:36 hrs (Eastern Standard Time).
There is a paucity of information in the literature concerning the reproductive biology of the Pygopodidae, with the most comprehensive records from Patchell & Shine (1986). The authors present one record of a gravid Delma inornata collected in January and state that pygopods typically ovulate in spring and early summer, females are gravid until midsummer. The following report is consistent with these findings.
As of 1995, there were no published records of the occurrence of the Eastern Blue-tongued Skink Tiliqua scincoides on Magnetic Island, north Queensland (Low, 1978; Various authors, 1977). Furthermore at the time of writing (1995), there are no specimens of T. scincoides lodged at the Queensland Museum from Magnetic Island, although specimens have been found on nearby parts of the mainland (Patrick Couper, pers. comm.). This paper reports the finding of an adult male T. scincoides from the vicinity of Endeavour Creek, western Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island (19°7' S, 146°51' E).
Observations of multiple species of reptiles and frogs occupying the same retreat are of interest because they represent examples of site-specific compatibility, indicate preferential retreat site selection, or the existence of a retreat site shortage in area. There have been numerous reports of Australian reptiles and frogs occupying the same retreat however only a few describe aggregations of more than one species (e.g., Bustard, 1970; Covacevich & Limpus, 1972, 1973; Cogger, 1973; Covacevich, 1974; Rankin, 1975; Maryan & Robinson, 1987; Valentic, 1993, 1996).
In this note we describe two separate occurrences of multiple lizard species occupying the same retreat. In both instances lizards occupied arboreal crevicollous retreats formed by decorticating bark around the bole of dead Eucalypt trees.
Nocturnal activity and nocturnal basking have been reported in some species of Australian agamids which are otherwise known to be diurnal in habit. In particular these behaviours have been reported in the following species (denote A=active, B=basking, ?= not specified): Diporiphora sp. (A) and Tympanocryptis lineata (A) (Fyfe 1981), Amphibolurus nobbi (A), Ctenophorus fordi (A?) (Morley & Morley 1982), Pogona minor (A) and unidentified spp. (B) (Bush 1983), Diporiphora bilineata (A), Diporiphora magna (A) and Amphibolurus gilberti (A) (Bedford 1991), Pogona minor minor (B) (Orange 1992), Moloch horridus (A) (Niejalke 1994), Diporiphora bilineata (A), Amphibolurus gilberti (A) and Pogona vitticeps (A) (Valentic 1995), Ctenophorus caudicinctus (?) (Sonneman 1996). Thus to date nocturnal behaviour has been recorded in seven genera of Australian agamids suggesting it is more widespread than previously thought in this family. However the function of this behaviour is not always apparent and so there is a need to carefully document the circumstances under which observations take place, and where possible, the details of specimens involved.
We report on nocturnal behavior in two gravid female Ctenophorus nuchalis lying on bitumen road surfaces at night and a single gravid female Tympanocryptis tetraporophora apparently active on a bitumen road at night. Some additional brief notes on nocturnal activity in Chlamydosaurus kingii, Tympanocryptis cephalus, C. nuchalis, C. cristatus and Diporiphora lalliae are also described.