Australian Reptiles, large and small

Close-up of Long Nosed Dragon, Trephina Gorge NT

We began our journey with little appreciation of Australia’s reptiles. We knew the names of a few poisonous snakes, could probably recognise a Goanna, or a Frill-necked Lizard, and maybe one or two others, but that was about it  Oh, and we knew to avoid Crocodiles (see previous post).

Little did we realise that Australia has incredible herpetological riches.  At the latest count Australia was home to 864 species of reptile, though this number is constantly rising as new species are discovered.  We hope that environmental degradation doesn’t push the number downwards.



Taken in captivity, closeup of Saltwater croc at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre

Most of us have a fascination with crocodiles, probably because these prehistoric creatures have a tendency to eat people.    The stories of unsuspecting tourists and careless locals being taken by ‘Salties’ are enough to send a chill down your spine.  Saltwater crocodiles are known to observe their potential prey over many days, demonstrating cunning, patience and, something rarely acknowledged, a degree of intelligence.  They are said to observe the patterns of their would-be prey, such as the time of day they come to the waterhole in which the crocodile lurks, and other habits, such gathering water or drinking from particular spots along the bank. For example, if a camper wanders down to collect water from the waterhole at 7am daily, from the same spot, this will be duly noted!  All this information is gathered with the intent of making that violent explosion from the water all the more likely to secure their meal.