Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

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MonarchzMan
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Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by MonarchzMan » October 18th, 2016, 8:40 am

I have taken a bit of a delay as life has unexpectedly made me busy so I have been unable to devote time to my photos. But now, I have found some time and here we go with the Australia series. As many of you are no doubt familiar by now, I have spent January through June in Australia doing research on the Australian brood frogs (Pseudophryne). I won't go into great detail here as I do both on my website blog (http://www.JP-Lawrence.com) and in the previous excerpts from my adventures. If you haven't followed my journeys or want to relive them, you can find the previous parts here:

Australia 2016 Part 1: Sydney and the Snowy Mountains
Australia 2016 Part 2: (Tasmanian) Devils Walk Among Us
Australia 2016 Part 3: The Victorian Victories

*I should note, too, that I am probably 90% sure on my IDs, but if you know I'm incorrect, please let me know. I find that the small skinks and brown frogs are often harder to ID than Desmognathus salamanders.

At this point in my journey across the Australian continent, I was left with a bit of a problem. For those not familiar with doing research in Australia, the bureaucracy of it is a pain. Without going into great detail on something that caused me great frustration and stress, I found myself without permits for other states in which I needed to sample. I was in the process of getting them to be sure, but they were still likely several weeks off. So how could I be productive and not just sit around Sydney waiting for the paperwork to go through?

I had not applied for permits for Queensland because the permits are quite onerous, take a long time to get (I'm told), and are restrictive on the amount of sampling they typically allow. This means I wouldn't have Pseudophryne covacevichae, P. raveni, or P. major represented in my sampling. But I could be a tourist and go herping in southeast Queensland and get photos of all that I find including the standardized photos (see previous threads) of the Pseudophryne that I do find. In that way, I'm still collecting data as well as being able to add to my herp list. So off I went.

And that would start perhaps the best unintentional string of luck with snakes that I have had in recent memory. I'm not a hardcore snake guy like some herpers, but I definitely appreciate them when they pop up. They're much harder for me to target than other herps, so I don't generally look for them and just get pleasantly surprised when I find them. Part of the 11 hour drive north took me through some back country roads, and I fortunately found myself on a quiet one when I rolled up on this beauty of a Carpet Python. They're dirt common, supposedly, but this is the first I've seen, and it's a species my labmate has kept as pets (I always get a kick out of seeing common pets in the U.S. in their natural habitat). So it got what star treatment I could give it. It is, perhaps unsurprisingly difficult to hold an angry python and try to put your camera together to get photos, but fortunately I managed with only getting pooped on (the smell of success).

ImageCarpet Python by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

And as an added bit of humor and intrigue, my FitBit managed to capture the moment as well.

ImagePython heart rate by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

And from that night on almost for the whole two weeks that I would be driving around QLD, I would find at least one snake a day, often of a new species for me.

For the first couple days, I traveled around Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast looking for herps, mainly picking areas based on historical records for Pseudophryne, though. Unfortunately, it being an exceptionally dry austral summer (Thanks Obama El Niño), most of the places I went were parched earth, which is decidedly not good for breeding amphibians. That said, I did manage to get a number of other herps.

ImageRed-Bellied Black Snake by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageRose's Shadeskink by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageFletcher's Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageStriped Marsh Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageGreat Barred Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImagePobblebonk by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImagePobblebonk by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

And when I went into the rainforests of Lamington National Park where it was raining/drizzling, I did find some frogs, just not the species I was targeting (but I'll take an endangered Fleay's Barred Frog as consolation).

ImageFleay's Barred Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

I also had to appreciate some of the beautiful scenery in Lamington.

ImageCascade at Lamington by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageElabana Falls by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageSunset at Lamington by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

There were also some crazy invertebrates like this large blue crayfish that like to walk around on rainy night and this female Giant King Cricket that was not much smaller than the crayfish.

ImageLamington Crayfish by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageGiant King Cricket by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

And because I was in the area, I had to stop again at the Australia Zoo.

ImageFlirting with Death by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageFlirting with Death by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

While waiting for the zoo to open, I spent the morning (and evening) around the Glass House Mountains where I got to see my first goanna! A legitimately large Australian lizard, finally! And in the evening, I managed a few more snakes.

ImageGlass House Mountains by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageLace Monitor by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageYellow-Faced Whipsnake by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageRed-Bellied Black Snake by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageBrown Tree Snake by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

I spent the following night and day in the Brisbane area looking for herps before heading south. I did manage to find a few.

ImageWilcox's Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageCarpet Python by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageGolden-Crowned Snake by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageElegant Snake-Eyed Skink by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageUnknown Skink by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageGreen Tree Snake by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

At this point, I would like to make a shout out to Jasmine (Jazz) and Jannico for helping me with sites, but they also took me out to the Springbrook area to help me look for frogs and show me some of the good herping sites in the area. I spend the day in the area visiting the natural wonders there, and then we went herping at night. We weren't successful with Pseudophryne (despite it drizzling all day, it wasn't enough to really soak the soil), but we did get a number of other species including a personal favorite in the Southern Leaf-Tailed Gecko as well as more Fleay's Barred Frogs.

ImageRobust Rainbow-Skink by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageUnknown Skink by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageDark Bar-Sided Skink by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageNatural Bridge by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

This is a male Giant King Cricket. About 3 inches long, the mandibles are probably about half an inch long. Utterly terrifying. I've never so gingerly handled an insect.
ImageGiant King Cricket by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageWilcox's Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageOrange-Eyed Tree Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageRose's Shadeskink by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageSouthern Leaf-Tailed Gecko by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageSouthern Angle-Headed Dragon by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageFleay's Barred Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageFleay's Barred Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

We even found a little Antechinus, which is a shrew-like marsupial whose claim to fame is that they will have sex until they literally fall apart and die. What a way to go out.
ImageUnknown Antechinus by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

At that point, I was faced with a decision to shoot way north to Cairns (1500km/900mi) to try to find P. covacevichae or to stay south and focus around southeastern Queensland. After talking with some herpers, they told me that I'd likely be wasting my time heading north as that species is an austral summer breeder and would not likely be calling this time of year. I decided, instead to head to Kroombit Tops which I was told was a good P. raveni site (plus being home to the endemic critically endangered Kroombit Tree Frog). It was still a bit of a drive, so I stopped for the night in Cooloola to try to find some wallum frogs. Just before the skies opened up, I managed to find an endangered Cooloola Tree Frog.

ImageCooloola Tree Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

By the time I got back to my car (2km hike), the rains let up and I decided to start my way back to my campsite. Not two minutes in the car when I heard the distinctive "reekt" croak of a Pseudophryne. And sure enough, with a little digging, I finally got my first P. raveni!

ImageCopper-backed Brood Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageCopper-backed Brood Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

And then onto Kroombit Tops. The maps are not entirely clear on how to get to the park, but after much searching and looking at two different atlases and Google maps, I finally figured out where I wanted to be. Unfortunately, what was not clear was that it was 70km of dirt road to get there. Once I got there, I waited for night fall and started looking for frogs. While I did hear some P. raveni, it was only a couple way off in the distance. Finding Kroombit Tree Frogs went much better, though it did take me a little bit of time. Oddly, I found probably more than 10, but all but one were in one little tree that was the only one of its kind around. The night went well for other herps including another tree frog species and a couple of TDC gecko species. Perhaps the most frustrating thing was driving back and hearing a couple of P. major calling, but when I got close, they stopped and would not start up again even with playback.

ImageKroombit Tops by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageKroombit Tree Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageKroombit Tree Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageWilcox's Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageEmerald-Speckled Tree Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageWood Gecko by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageThick-Tailed Gecko by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageUnknown Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

I went back to Cooloola the next day to try to get some more raveni and maybe some more wallum frogs. While I did get a few more Cooloola Tree Frogs and one more P. raveni, I think my favorite find of the night was a quite cooperative Carpet Python which was crossing the road right next to my car when I got back from looking for wallum frogs. I also found a Golden-Crowned Snake which did its absolute best to convince me that it was the most venomous snake in the world.

ImageUnknown Skink by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageCooloola Tree Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageGolden Crowned Snake by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageGolden Crowned Snake by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageCarpet Python by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageCarpet Python by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageCopper-backed Brood Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageSmall-Eyed Snake by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

At this point, I needed to find P. major and after consulting historical records, I decided to try around Toowoomba. It wasn't long before I heard the first chorus in a small, dried creek bed. I ended up hearing a number more choruses, but all on fenced/private property. But with a bit of searching, I did get a couple of "Large" Toadlets, which in reality, are the same size as all the other Pseudophryne.

ImageLarge Toadlet by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageLarge Toadlet by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

I also found some more frogs.

ImageOrnate Burrowing Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Burrowing Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Burrowing Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageBroad-Palmed Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

I spent the following morning around Crows Nest National Park and found a few more herps before I had to head south.

ImageEastern Two-Lined Dragon by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageEastern Two-Lined Dragon by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Bar-Sided Skink by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageDark Bar-Sided Skink by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Bar-Sided Skink by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

I took the next couple days heading back to Sydney looking for Pseudophryne spots along the way. I stopped by Springbrook once more to try to find some more leaf tails and I found one little baby.

ImageSouthern Leaf-Tailed Gecko by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

In heading back into NSW, I did find some interestingly colored P. coriacea, I think. These are the only Pseudophryne that I've come across, other than the Corroboree, with yellow, rather than white, bellies.

ImageRed-Backed Toadlet by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageRed-Backed Toadlet by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

ImageRed-Backed Toadlet by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

And ubiquitous Dwarf Tree Frogs

ImageEastern Dwarf Tree Frog by J.P. Lawrence, on Flickr

My trip to Queensland wasn't as nearly as successful as I would have liked it to be I terms of finding Pseudophryne, but my Australian herp list grew considerably while there! Stay tuned for the next segment, the Red Centre where I hope to find the gem of Australian herpetology: Moloch horridus.

Herp species so far for this trip, asterisks denote lifers, red are new since the last update: 58
Frogs
Crinia signifera (no photo)
Litoria caerulea*
Litoria verreauxii
Limnodynastes dumerilii*
Pseudophryne dendyi*
Pseudophryne semimarmorata*
Geocrinia victoriana*
Mixophyes fasciolatus*
Litoria peronii*
Lechriodus fletcheri*
Litoria wilcoxi*
Mixophyes fleayi*
Litoria chloris*
Litoria cooloolensis*
Pseudophryne raveni*
Pseudophryne major*
Litoria kroombitensis*
Limnodynastes peronii
Platyplectrum ornatum*
Litoria latopalmata*
Litoria fallax



Turtles
Emydura macquarii*

Lizards
Cryptoblepharus pulcher
Ctenotus taeniolatus*
Egernia cunninghami*
Eulamprus kosciuskoi*
Eulamprus tympanum*
Eulamprus quoyii
Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii*
Pseudemoia pagenstecheri*
Rankinia diemensis*

Niveoscincus metallicus*
Niveoscincus orocryptus*
Egernia whitii*
Lampropholis delicata

Eulamprus heatwolei*
Amphibolurus muricatus*

Varanus varius*
Saltuarius swaini*
Hypsilurus spinipes*
Saproscincus rosei*
Underwoodisaurus milli*
Diplodactylus vittatus*
Diporiphora australis*
Concinnia martini*
Concinnia brachysoma*
Lampropholis guichenoti*


Snakes
Australeps ramsayi*
Drysdalia coronoides*
Pseudonaja textilis
(no photo)*
Morelia spilota*
Boiga irregularis*
Dendrelaphis punctulatus
Cacophis squamulosus*
Demansia psammophis*
Pseudechis porphyriacus*
Cryptophis nigrescens*
Vermicella annulata*
(no photo)

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Berkeley Boone
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by Berkeley Boone » October 19th, 2016, 9:14 am

This is awesome. I am loving your series (and have been reading your blog as well), thanks for documenting it so well. Very cool!
MonarchzMan wrote:And as an added bit of humor and intrigue, my FitBit managed to capture the moment as well.
That is hilarious! I can only imagine what mine would have shown had I found something like that!

Looking forward to the next installment!

--Berkeley

MonarchzMan
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by MonarchzMan » October 19th, 2016, 11:05 am

Thanks, Berkeley! In my downtime, I was sure to write on my iPad so that essentially all I'd have to do is upload the photos and post it. I don't think if I had done that, I don't think I would have been able to post nearly as detailed accounts. And actually probably would have forgotten it all by the time I did get around to it.

As for the FitBit, I got the idea from a news story that I saw a while ago about someone logging his "broken heart" when his partner unexpectedly broke up with him. I personally think my logging when I caught a python was cooler, but apparently not as newsworthy.

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krisbell
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by krisbell » October 25th, 2016, 5:22 am

Great post and series.

I'm sure I'll get roasted by proper Aussie herpers but that shot of the red-bellied under leaf litter looks quite like a small-eyed. Did you get a better look at it than that pic?

weigi
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Joined: March 19th, 2013, 2:04 am

Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by weigi » October 25th, 2016, 6:47 am

Fantastic Post.
krisbell wrote:Great post and series.

I'm sure I'll get roasted by proper Aussie herpers but that shot of the red-bellied under leaf litter looks quite like a small-eyed. Did you get a better look at it than that pic?
I very much agree with krisbell on the Small-eyed snake. The
unknown frog is also another Ornate burrowing frog, they are incredibly variable.
Cheers

MonarchzMan
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by MonarchzMan » October 25th, 2016, 7:09 am

Thanks, guys. The "red-bellied" snake did have a pinkish belly, which is why I thought that's what it was. But that said, it does seem similar to the other Small-Eyed Snake. And thanks for the ID on the other burrowing frog. That one frustrated me to no end since I couldn't place it anywhere.

Chadwick McCready
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by Chadwick McCready » December 7th, 2016, 9:18 pm

Hey Dude!

Any chance you can put me in contact with the folks that you went out herping with in SE Queensland? I'm still trying to find someone to go herping with while I'm out there this month!

-Chadwick

MonarchzMan
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by MonarchzMan » December 8th, 2016, 12:30 pm

Jasmine is on the forum (her username is Jazz), but currently she and Jannico are in Madagascar herping. If you send her a message, she may be able to give you some spots at least!

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Muchobirdnerd
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by Muchobirdnerd » December 8th, 2016, 7:42 pm

Great pics.

Chadwick McCready
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by Chadwick McCready » December 9th, 2016, 3:07 pm

Turns out I've already talked to Jasmine on Facebook concerning herping. Small world! Well it looks like I'm going solo unless I run into a friendly herper during my trip. Thanks for being so helpful Dude!

MonarchzMan
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by MonarchzMan » December 9th, 2016, 5:03 pm

Chadwick McCready wrote:Turns out I've already talked to Jasmine on Facebook concerning herping. Small world! Well it looks like I'm going solo unless I run into a friendly herper during my trip. Thanks for being so helpful Dude!
No prob! Best of luck! Post photos!

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Field Herper
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by Field Herper » December 23rd, 2016, 6:01 pm

I can confirm that the jet black snake amongst the leaf litter is a Small-eyed Snake (Cryptophis nigrescens) and not a Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus). Distinguishing features are relative eye size, with the former having a much smaller eye diameter than the latter, as the common name suggests. Also P. porphyriacus has a distinct canthus rostralis compared to the more rounded head of a C. nigrescens. The temporal scales are also quite different, with P. porphyriacus having a large lower temporal in contact with the postocular scales.
C. nigrescens also tends to have a shinier head than P. porphyriacus, the high gloss head scales characteristic of the somewhat fossorial habit of nocturnal foraging for inactive skinks

By the way, beaut pics mate, especially of the Pseudophryne sp. It great to see someone interested in these fascinating little frogs. It's also commendable that you've taken the time to photograph them and and the small skinks species as you have because they are often overlooked by many herpers.

- Patrick

MonarchzMan
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by MonarchzMan » December 24th, 2016, 5:36 am

Field Herper wrote:I can confirm that the jet black snake amongst the leaf litter is a Small-eyed Snake (Cryptophis nigrescens) and not a Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus). Distinguishing features are relative eye size, with the former having a much smaller eye diameter than the latter, as the common name suggests. Also P. porphyriacus has a distinct canthus rostralis compared to the more rounded head of a C. nigrescens. The temporal scales are also quite different, with P. porphyriacus having a large lower temporal in contact with the postocular scales.
C. nigrescens also tends to have a shinier head than P. porphyriacus, the high gloss head scales characteristic of the somewhat fossorial habit of nocturnal foraging for inactive skinks

By the way, beaut pics mate, especially of the Pseudophryne sp. It great to see someone interested in these fascinating little frogs. It's also commendable that you've taken the time to photograph them and and the small skinks species as you have because they are often overlooked by many herpers.

- Patrick
Thanks! Now that I look at my photos of Small-Eyed and Red-Bellieds, I do see the difference. I think I had assumed it was a red belly because when I was trying to manipulate it, I saw a pinkish belly.

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Field Herper
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by Field Herper » December 27th, 2016, 6:58 am

My pleasure mate. The two species are often mistaken for one another, as they're superficially quite similar.

For those interested, another difference between the two species is that C. nigrescens sometimes has a distinct greyish coloration on the body scales, especially laterally, with the posterior edge of lateral body scales quite pale grey on some specimens), whereas P. porphyriacus is invariably jet black, apart from a brown snout (to varying degrees, with Qld specimens tending to have more).

Also, the brightest red coloration on a "Red Belly" is actually on the paravertebral scale row, not the belly as the name suggests. So the bright red colouration comes up the sides a little in Red-bellies but not in Small-eyes. Whilst the ventral scales are more pink than red in both species, the edge of each ventral scale is black in P. porphyriacus, giving it a strongly banded effect on the underside, whilst C. nigrescens never has a black banded belly, although it may have occasionally have dark spots.

Red-bellies grow a lot larger too, so if it's a big snake (over ~1 metre) then it's most probably a Red-belly.

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Field Herper
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by Field Herper » December 28th, 2016, 5:20 am

By the way, the specimen that you've labelled as a 'Robust Rainbow Skink' looks more like a Lampropholis delicata to me, as apart from colour and pattern being more like the latter, Carlia schmeltzii has two or three keels on dorsal scales, which this specimen does not appear to possess.

MonarchzMan
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by MonarchzMan » December 28th, 2016, 6:20 pm

Field Herper wrote:By the way, the specimen that you've labelled as a 'Robust Rainbow Skink' looks more like a Lampropholis delicata to me, as apart from colour and pattern being more like the latter, Carlia schmeltzii has two or three keels on dorsal scales, which this specimen does not appear to possess.
Great, thanks! Any idea on the unknown skink?

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Field Herper
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by Field Herper » December 31st, 2016, 12:43 am

MonarchzMan wrote:Great, thanks! Any idea on the unknown skink?
My pleasure mate. Happy to help with ID's.

Re the unknown skinks, you've labelled three as unknown, so I don't know which one you mean.
Assuming you ideally want all three identified, I'll try my best with the photos supplied, which I'll snatch and post here so that we can be sure we're talking about the same lizard (if you don't mind).

Image

I'm confident that this is Carlia vivax, based on colour, pattern, general morphology and locality/distribution; although image quality does not allow one to see whether the dorsal scales are keeled or not to confirm this.

MonarchzMan
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by MonarchzMan » December 31st, 2016, 8:36 am

Excellent, thanks! IDing all three would be great! I'm guessing that's the last one that's partially obscured by some grass (the photo didn't work) is Carlia vivax?

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Field Herper
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Re: Australia 2016 Part 4: The Queen's Land

Post by Field Herper » December 31st, 2016, 8:12 pm

Yep, that's the one. The photo is working now. I hope you don't mind me posting it up (let me know if you do and I'll delete them).

The next one that I feel confident about is this one, which is a Cryptoblepharus pulcher pulcher.

Image

They are great little climbers, able to move quickly across even vertical surfaces (as long as they are rough) like brick walls. They have a flattened body and head enabling them to fit into tight gaps and crevices. They are arboreal in habit.

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