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A lizard in snakes’ clothing!

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by Cath Dickson in Eared Worm Lizard Research Project

Topping off a busy week of NGT events, on Monday the 24th of November a team from the Millicent Field Nats, Friends of Mt Gambier Parks, SA Museum, ForestrySA, ZoosSA and NGT headed out for the annual search for one of the region’s (and state’s) rarest lizards – the Eared Worm-lizard. The Eared Worm-lizard is a small lizard masquerading as a snake, as it has no legs!


We had a good result with three Eared Worm-lizards recorded at three sites and sloughs (shed skins) at a further one, resulting in four reconfirmations (half the known sites in South Australia).  While this is down on last year’s result, for such an elusive critter in a drier than average year, we did pretty well!   As usual the Lowlands Earless Skink with the yellow and black checker bellies were the most commonly caught species, especially in those more closed in sites with lots of leaf litter – and, just to keep it interesting, juvenile Eastern Brown Snakes were also present!

There still remain many unanswered questions about the Eared Worm-lizard, including the extent of their range in the South East and whether they co-occur with the Striped Worm-lizard.  To help with the process of starting to answer these questions we also made collections of ant species that co-occurred with the lizards under the tiles and took scat samples from the lizards to look at their diet.  This will form the beginning of our collections to investigate whether there is a relationship between the Worm-lizard and particular ant prey species.

We’re definitely still interested in records of all worm-lizards (plain and striped) or legless lizards in general, so if you happen to come across one in you travels, we’d love to hear from you! And photos are even better…
If you are interested in working out what species you have at your place, Mark Hutchinson at the SA Museum has put together some great user-friendly keys (guides) – they can be found by clicking here
A huge thanks to all the people and organisations involved – it’s your passion that makes these surveys possible! The Worm-lizard project is now being run as part of the Regionally Under-represented Ecological Communities Project, as they occur in Swamp Gum Woodlands, a focal ecological community for this project – so watch this space for more news next year!
Posted on 27. Nov, 2014 by Cath Dickson in Eared Worm Lizard Research Project, News, Restoring the Underrepresented Ecological Communities of the South East and posted on wattlerangenow.com.au, with permission.


One thought on “A lizard in snakes’ clothing!

  1. Reblogged this on Eremophila's Musings and commented:
    Not all that wriggle are snakes!