View Full Version : How/Where to find reptiles in Australia?

04-19-2009, 08:17 AM
Hey guys,
I am going to take part in an excursion to Australia in August [Daintree, Atherton Tablelands, Alice Springs and surroundings (Ayers Rock, Kings Canyon), Perth and surroundings, Sydney (incl. Blue Mountains)] and I definitely want so see as much reptiles (especially geckos) as possible. Now I am wondering which are the beste places und how to succeed in finding them. I guess searching in the night with a torch and lighting trees (in the rainforests), rocks, spinifex (in the arid areas) and the ground? How big are the chances to find reptiles at all? My favourites are the genera Strophurus (especially Strophurus elderi and S. ciliaris), Saltuarius, Oedura, Nephrurus, Diplodactylus and the species Carphodactylus laevis. Furthermore Varanus-Species and snakes. I would be grateful to get some hints, maybe someone has experience down there and can give me some advice?
I am also looking for literature (I already have ' A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia), but I think its better to get the literature down there?

Best regards,

04-20-2009, 05:12 PM
Hello Jan,

As you know, August is winter in Australia so the southern portions of the country are cool (Perth) to cold (Blue Mountains). If reptiles are what you want to see, you will have a much more productive trip if you can wait until late spring or early summer.

You will definitely find reptiles at Daintree and to a lesser extent in the Atherton tablelands. You may see a few snakes at Daintree on the road at night but the Atherton Tablelands will probably be quite chilly with little nocturnal activity. You might try walking in some of the parks at night on the tablelands and scanning trees for leaf-tails. Leaf-tails seem to be fairly tolerant of cool nights.

Winter nights in central Australia will be cold (near freezing) so I doubt that you will find much then. During the day, there should be a few lizards active such as some of the skinks and dragons (don't know about monitors in the winter).

Perth will be cool. If you can head north to Exmouth or Shark Bay, you may have better luck at night as well as seeing more diurnals. I visited southwestern Western Australia in late Oct/early Nov last year and found it too cool even then in Perth, Margaret River and the Stirling Ranges.

August is cold in the Blue Mountains (sometimes with snow) and I think that you would be unlikely to see any reptiles at that time of the year. The scenery is great and that alone is worth a visit.

During the warm season, I have the best success by night-driving on moonless nights in the dry areas. Walking around rock outcrops or along trees in creekbeds can also be productive. In the rainforest, night walks are about the only way to find leaf-tails (rarely on the roads). I have not yet found Carphodactylus but this species would most likely be found by night walks.

Hope this helps.


04-20-2009, 05:34 PM

Here is a link to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. You can look at long term temperature averages to get an idea what the temps/rainfall will be like when you want to visit:

Home Page - Bureau of Meteorology (http://www.bom.gov.au/)

For geckos, I try not to visit areas until the mean minimum night temps are around 17C+. When it is cooler, there may be a little activity soon after sunset but then it quickly becomes too cold for the animals and they retire for the night.

04-22-2009, 05:24 AM
Hello David,
thanks a lot for the useful information. Basically, this is a botanical excursion organized by my University in order to get to know plants and vegetation in Daintree and Atherton tabelands. After the actual excursion, which lasts 2 weeks, we students will go to the places I have mentioned above for another 2 weeks. But because I am also really interested in reptiles, I would love to see as much of them as I can.
As you have told me, this is not the best time in the year, so I should not expect too much. We will definitely go to Shark Bay, and maybe we can head north in some other cases. It is a pitty, that I won't see much geckos, but this is a good reason then to come back in the summer:)
Thanks again for the information.