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Striped Legless Lizard at Strath Creek – yes!

November 10, 2012
Legless lizard, but what sort?

In a previous post on the discovery of a rare lizard near Broadford, we mentioned that Kay had turned up a small snake-like lizard earlier this year at her and Neil’s Strath Creek property while planting trees. The lizard squeaked when disturbed, a sure indication it was a species of legless lizard. Following Kay’s discovery, we laid down roof tiles as artificial shelter at the site, which is generally lacking fallen timber and loose surface rocks where lizards can hide. Roof tiles laid in a standardised grid pattern have proved successful as a survey and research tool, but we only had a few tiles laid randomly.

Periodic monitoring of the tiles over the past few months had only turned up an occasional small skink until the other day, when we lifted a tile to reveal a legless lizard, to the delight of Neil and young son William. But which species was it ?

Although there are 35 species of legless lizard found in Australia and Papua New Guinea, in this district there are only two likely candidates: the Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar), found in native grasslands, and the more common Olive Legless Lizard (Delma inornata) which lacks stripes, is a bit larger than the SLL, and is usually found in woodlands. Identification is made more difficult by the fact that some SLLs have only very faint stripes, and Bertram Lobert, coordinator of the Upper Goulburn Striped Legless Lizard Project, was unable to make a positive id from Neil’s photo above.

Almost!

However, a few days later, Neil turned up not one but two legless lizards, one of which darted away, leaving Neil with a headless (as well as legless) lizard in his photo. But the other was clearly striped  (see photo below) and was unmistakably a Striped Legless Lizard, as confirmed by Bertram.

So, Kay and Neil (and the kids) can now proudly boast of the first confirmed sighting of the threatened species in Strath Creek. As Kay remarked, ‘It’s lucky I didn’t squash the first one I found!’. And it’s lucky for us she reported it to Focus on Fauna.

If you’d like more information on this threatened species in the catchment, visit Striped Legless Lizards in the Goulburn Broken.

Bingo! – a clearly striped SLL

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