Backyard Buddies

Reptiles

Reptiles are a diverse group of animals including turtles, lizards, snakes and crocodiles.

Reptiles are ectothermic, meaning that their body temperature varies with the outside temperature. They also have scales and reproduce either by laying eggs or giving birth to live young.

Bearded Dragon

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Photo credit: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Bearded Dragon

Bearded Dragons have spines under and around their throats that give them their distinguishing feature and name. These spikes are actually quite rubbery, not sharp, and fool predators into thinking that this is a dangerous lizard. Both male and female Bearded Dragons have beards. Wild Bearded Dragons only live in Australia, and right across the mainland. The Eastern Bearded Dragon lives in Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital ..

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Blue-tongued Lizard

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Photo credit: Peripitus

Blue-tongued Lizard

Australia is home to six species of blue-tongued lizards. They are usually grey with broad brown stripes across their back and tail, and of course their most unique distinguishing feature is their blue tongue. You will start to see blue-tongues in spring as they begin emerging from their winter homes to look for mates. They are only active during the day which makes them easy to spot. The reason for their blue tongues is so they ..

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Broad-tailed Gecko

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Photo credit: FNPW Image Library

Broad-tailed Gecko

This clever gecko is a master of disguise. Its distinctive tail is used as a decoy to confuse predators. A smooth tail is a sign that it has been lost and regrown. The Broad-tailed Gecko grows up to 15 cm in length including its tail. They have scales all over their bodies, which are pointed. Their rocky appearance gives you a clue as to where they live – they blend right in to the rocks. Sandstone outcrops are certain to host this ..

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Burton's Legless Lizard

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Photo credit: Matt Clancy

Burton's Legless Lizard

The Burton's Legless Lizard is often mistaken for a snake at first glance, and it's an easy mistake to make. However, the Burton's Legless Lizard is actually more closely related to geckos than to snakes. There are key differences between snakes and this deceptive looking lizard. A good one to look for is the shape of its face. A Burton's Legless Lizard has a wedge-shaped snout that sets it apart from both snakes and other lizards. ..

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Bynoe's Gecko

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Photo credit: Matt Clancy

Bynoe's Gecko

Around February and March, you may find some baby geckos around your place. They could be juvenile Bynoe's Geckos, just hatched from eggs laid from October to early January. Bynoe's Geckos are found all over most of Australia, in an amazing variety of patterns and colours, blending in easily to the environment. Despite their scaly appearance, they are soft to touch. These geckos usually sport at least two prominent colours, ranging f..

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Carpet Python

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Photo credit: Alex Butler

Carpet Python

If you hear a soft slithering in the ceiling, chances are a python or tree snake has taken up residence in your roof. There are 15 species of python in Australia, making up a quarter of all the snakes that live here. Pythons are probably the most commonly seen snake in suburban backyards, the most familiar being the Carpet Python in Queensland and the Diamond Python in eastern NSW and Victoria. Summer is python breeding time, and..

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Children's Python

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Photo credit: Matt Clancy

Children's Python

The Children's Python does not eat children – it gets its name from the scientist who first described them in 1842, John George Children, the curator of the British Museum's zoological collection at the time of the discovery. It is the common name given to 4 species of native Australian pythons. They live in northern and central Australia and have also been spotted in northern NSW and northern South Australia. This python buddy is a fair..

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Diamond Python

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Photo credit: Graysilver

Diamond Python

The Diamond Python is found all along the New South Wales coastline down into the north-eastern corner of Victoria. They are frequently spotted in Sydney suburbs that border on bushland. But like all pythons, these snakes are non-venomous. They become most active in November, looking for mates and laying eggs. The male Diamond Python will travel up to 500m a day, following a scent trail left by a female when she is ready to find a mate. ..

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Eastern Bearded Dragon

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Photo credit: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Eastern Bearded Dragon

Around March, be on the lookout for some Eastern Bearded Dragon youngsters emerging from the soil. Eastern Bearded Dragon adults mate from August to December each year, and the hatchlings emerge about 45 to 79 days later. At 9 cm long, these babies might be easy to miss, but what they lack in size, they make up for in numbers. The mother lays up to three clutches during the breeding season of 14 to 31 soft shelled eggs, which are each ab..

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Eastern Long-necked Turtle

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Photo credit: Rosie Nicolai

Eastern Long-necked Turtle

One of the more unexpected visitors to the backyard during summer is the Eastern Long-necked, or snake-necked, turtle Chelodina longicollis, one of 23 Australian freshwater turtle species. Long-necked turtles hibernate during winter and the summer rains are their cue to haul themselves out of their creeks and ponds to find food. They eat fish, tadpoles, frogs and crayfish which they tear apart with their front claws - turtles do not have..

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Eastern Water Dragon

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Photo credit: FNPW Image Library

Eastern Water Dragon

The Eastern Water Dragon Physignathus lesueurii is about half a metre long with rough scales, sharp spines and ancient features that resemble fairytale dragons. They are semi-aquatic and live along the east coast of Australia around creeks, rivers or lakes. They can remain submerged for up to 30 minutes and will rise to the surface where they need to breathe. You will be lucky to catch a glimpse of the Eastern Water Dragon who is..

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Eastern Water Skink

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Photo credit: John Tann

Eastern Water Skink

In April, Eastern Water Skinks are busy preparing for the start of winter. They will bask in the warmth of the sun and feed as much as they can to keep warm during winter. These skinks live from Cooktown in northern Queensland to south-east New South Wales, and inland to South Australia through the Murray-Darling basin. The Eastern Water Skink can be tricky to spot, even though it is a large skink and can grow up to 30 cm long. Its c..

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Garden Skink

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Photo credit: David Cook

Garden Skink

They may be shy and quick to hide when you approach, but garden skinks are some of the most common and well known buddies in Australian backyards. Male skinks are highly territorial and aggressively attack other males during spring. You might even find several skinks locked together in a big jumble, all holding on to each other. Odd to see, but this is thought to be a kind of territorial behaviour. Skinks are great backyard buddies ..

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Gecko

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Photo credit: Ken Stepnell

Gecko

Geckos are nocturnal hunters with eyes that are up to 350 times more sensitive at night than human eyes. Most geckos can't blink as they don't have any eyelids. So instead, they clean the dust and dirt away by licking their eyes with their long tongues. Most geckos spend the day hiding under the bark of a nearby tree. Australian native geckos can be found everywhere except for Tasmania. Geckos are the super communicators of the ..

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Green Tree Snake

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Photo credit: Oliver Neuman

Green Tree Snake

The Green or Common Tree Snake is one of the most commonly seen snakes in suburban backyards, parks, and even inner city gardens. It lives in northern and eastern Australia. Green Tree Snakes have no fangs and no venom. They are very reluctant to bite and would rather slither away. If provoked, a Green Tree Snake will rise up, inflate its throat and body, and make a stink from its anal glands - so best not to get too close. Look out..

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Lace Monitor

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Photo credit: Sarah Brookes/OEH

Lace Monitor

Lace Monitors live in eastern Australian forests and coastal tablelands. They spend most of their time in trees, coming down to hunt for food and to breed. They move with sudden speed when threatened. Warm weather helps reptiles like the Lace Monitor (a type of goanna) to become more active, as they're solar powered. In order to move quickly, they need sunlight and warmth to heat them up. Look out for Lace Monitors at your next picn..

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Oblong Turtle

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Photo credit: Gnangarra

Oblong Turtle

Oblong turtles live in Perth and throughout the south-west of Western Australia. They are also known as western long necked turtles or snake necked turtles. They are different from most turtles as their shell is not round. Oblong turtles are dark brown to black, with a paler undershell. They live in rivers, lakes and swamps and prefer slow moving water. Turtles may be famous for being slow and steady, but don't be surprised if you s..

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Sand Monitor

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Photo credit: Alan Couch

Sand Monitor

Also known as Gould's Monitors or Racehorse Goannas, Sand Monitors are voracious eaters and will eat almost anything that is smaller than them, including other lizards. Their exceptionally strong legs are just made for digging, and they put their sharp claws and snout to work, too. They live in burrows, often setting up a home in an abandoned rabbit warren. These burrows do double duty, as protection from the elements and predators...

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Shingleback

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Photo credit: John Spencer/OEH

Shingleback

Around November, you may see a Shingleback Lizard out and about with its mate. For most of the year, a Shingleback leads a fairly solitary life. But from September to November they spend up to 75% of their time with their partners, which is unusual lizard behaviour. Year after year, many Shinglebacks find the same mate by scent trails and remain as mostly monogamous pairs for many years. The Shingleback can be spotted in most of sout..

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Snake ID

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Photo credit: Matt Clancy

Snake ID

If you see something long, thin and slithery in the backyard, walk away from it slowly. Not all snakes are venomous and some lizards look like snakes at first glance but it's better to be safe than sorry, You are most likely to see a snake during spring, when males are looking for a mate. Most snakes spend the winter months hibernating and they are often found curled up in sheds or garages, under piles of logs and stacks of firewood..

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Tree Dtella

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Photo credit: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Tree Dtella

The tiny Tree Dtella is highly variable in colour and pattern, although their predominant colour is grey, brown or blue-grey, with darker brown markings that form a net pattern. The markings can often be so prominent that it will lend it the appearance of being blotchy or dark with light markings, rather than the other way around. It has dark markings on the sides of its head. Its underside is also much paler than the rest of its body. ..

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