In spite of the island’s generally cool climate, Tasmania is home to a number of reptile species, ranging from small, jewel coloured skinks, to frogs and three species of snake. Tasmanian reptiles are active mainly during the warm summer months.
On hot days, you’re likely to see small, fast-moving lizards basking in the sun or scampering across your path as you walk on bush trails throughout the west coast.
All lizards in Tasmania, with the exception of the mountain dragon, are skinks. The sixteen species of skink range from the tiny delicate skink, which grows up to 55 mm in length, to the 30 cm-long blotched blue-tongued lizard, Tasmania’s largest lizard.
The island is home to three of Australia’s venomous snake species—the tiger snake, lowland copperhead and white-lipped snake.
Tiger snakes can grow up to 1.8 metres in length and range in colour from black to pale yellow or olive green—with or without obvious stripes! They have highly toxic venom, but are generally timid in nature. Tiger snakes are found in most habitats in Tasmania, and feed on small mammals, reptiles, frogs, birds and bird eggs.
Lowland copperheads are slightly smaller than tiger snakes, growing up to 1.5 metres in length. They are most often found in marshy areas where their preferred prey of frogs, lizards and smaller snakes is abundant. Copperheads range in colour from dark grey to black, or deep, coppery red. Like tiger snakes, they are shy animals but also posses a powerful neurotoxic venom.
White-lipped snakes (also called whip snakes) are Tasmania’s smallest species of snake, measuring between 20-40 centimetres in length. These active hunters mainly feed on skinks and frogs and are most often found in grassland and open woodland. White-lipped snakes are venomous, but possess small fangs and venom sacs, and so pose less of a risk to humans than the larger tiger and copperhead snakes.
All of Tasmania’s frogs are believed to have evolved on the ancient supercontinent Gondwana. There are eleven species of frog in the state, including three endemic species—the Tasmanian tree frog, the moss froglet and the Tasmanian froglet.
You’re far more likely to hear a Tassie frog than see one. One of the most unusual frog calls is that of the Tasmanian froglet, which sounds just like a lamb bleating!
When you hear a frog calling, you are only hearing the male of the species—singing to attract a female or declare his presence to rival males.
Image credit (frog): Tourism Tasmania and Will Horan.
Image credit (skink): Tourism Tasmania and Kathryn Leahy.