Species: Dendrelaphis punctulatus
Common names: Common Tree Snake; Green Tree Snake
I nearly walked on this lovely inoffensive non-venomous snake but it was fairly conspicuous with its head held high on its thin bright yellow body. It feeds mainly on frogs and skinks but these are both in very short supply in the bushland. It was about a metre long and in good condition so it must be finding enough food.
The Fort Bushland seems to support very few lizards. I suspect that this may be a legacy of the site being totally overrun by cat’s claw and ochna that provide nothing for insects to eat. I am hoping that as the site regenerates the insect population at ground level will increase, providing a food source for more reptiles. Over the years I have noted a steady decline in the population of bearded dragons so that now it is quite rare to see one. I wonder if this decline can be attributed to the cane toad. Are bearded dragons being killed by eating small cane toads? Conversely there seems to have been a steady increase in the numbers of eastern water dragons. These big lizards are now very common and I often see one in the Fort Bushland.
Species: Lialis burtonis
Common names: Burton’s Snake Lizard
While doing some clearing last week I heard a loud hissing sound coming from the undergrowth. It was just like the noise that the large Stag beetles make. I was amazed to discover that the noise came from a Burton’s Snake Lizard (Lialis burtonis). It was about 30 cm long with a snakelike body but a very lizardlike head.
Species: Morelia spilota
Common names: Carpet Python, Carpet Snake
The warmer weather has heralded the emergence of our carpet pythons. This one that I found beside the southern firetrail was about 2.5 metres long. This snake is non-venomous and feeds on frogs, lizards, birds, and mammals.
Species: Pogona barbata
Common names: Common Bearded Dragon
We do still have a few bearded dragons in the Reserve. This one puffed itself up and let out a loud warning hiss when it was right in my path and I nearly trod on it.
Over recent years I’ve found that the common bearded dragon does not seem to be as prevalent as it once was, while the population of the eastern water dragon (Intellagama lesueurii) has increased. However I’ve seen several common bearded dragons in the last few months. This handsome fellow (below) supervised my weeding in the north-east corner of the Reserve. When I got too close, the dragon put on a formidable display with a puffed out torso, darkened skin and a most impressive “beard”.
Species: Pseudonaja textilis
Common names: Eastern Brown Snake
My illusion that the Fort Bushland Reserve was free of venomous snakes was shattered recently when I nearly walked on a pair of very active Eastern Brown snakes that appeared to be in an amorous mood and preparing to mate. They were about 1.5 metres long and just inside the reserve beside the eastern firebreak. These snakes prefer dry rather than swampy ground and because they feed on rats, mice, birds and lizards can often be found around barns and farms. They lay between about 10 and 35 eggs and the young brown snakes are banded in dark grey or black with a broad band on the back of the head – quite unlike the adults.
The Eastern Brown snake is one of the world’s deadliest snakes and is in the top three or four most venomous snakes in the world. So a little care should be exercised while we are doing our bushcare. However they are generally reluctant to bite and I suspect would only do so when threatened. I’m hoping that the noise we make doing our bushcare will ensure that they slither away unseen before we get too close and threatening. The only snakes that I have seen previously in the Reserve were a Yellow-faced Whip snake and a large Carpet Python.