Beau and Monique, Dogs, Dog, Travel, Australia, Photos and Pictures

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Lizards of Australia

Lizard of AustraliaThis sun-loving lizard (Frilled Lizard) is the reptile emblem of Australia, depicted on our now defunct two-cent coin This reptile is part of the Dragon family a sub-species of Lizards They are usually active during the day and move very fast on their two hind legs.Head and Body Length: to 28cm Total Overall Length: usually 70 cm but up to 95cm The colour of the lizard matches the land on which it lives, so a frilled lizard from one region may be brighter than another. The male is more colourful than the female. They are not poisonous or harmful to man. The frill normally lies in folds around the shoulders and neck and is “activated” by the lizard when frightened by opening its mouth wideIt is supported by a set of cartilaginous rods connected to the muscles of the tongue and jaws in such a manner that, when the mouth gapes widely, the frill is extended, ruff-like around the head (like an umbrella), displaying a broad, rounded expanse of bright orange and red scales. The frill is also believed to aid in the regulation of body temperature. Tropical to warm temperate dry forests, woodland and savanna woodland, usually with an open shrubby or tussock grass understorey, this being found in Australia northern Queensland and the Northern Territory. Land clearing is reducing the area where this reptile is found. With its frill completely folded back and the head, body and tail touching the bark the frilled lizard perches on tree trunks, fallen or standing and with its pattern matching the bark so well, it is a very difficult animal to see. When approached, it circles around the trunk to the “shadow” side and “sneaks a peek” at you. It has several defence plans; If it sees danger it slowly cringes down onto the ground looking like a stout stick, relying on its natural body colours to act as camouflage; If the lizard feels threatened it will extend its legs and open its mouth widely thus erecting the frill in a blaze of startling colour; To add to the bluff, it may hiss and jump towards the threat; If the frill and hissing is not effective the frilled lizard menaces “the threat” by repeatedly lashing its tail on the ground; The frilled lizard as a last resort prefers to run rather than fight by making a sudden turn and running off, on its hind legs, to the nearest tree, which it climbs until out of reach. But if forced to fight this lizard can inflict painful bites with its large canine teeth Its fearsome bluff though is no match for feral cats its biggest enemy, brought to Australia by “European” settlement. It eats with its frill back and hunts mostly in the trees for insects but it also descends to the ground to catch other insects (including ants, which it eats in great numbers from trails and near the edges of nests), spiders and even small lizards that venture too close. Matting occurs around September, with the female laying from eight to 23 eggs per clutch in November. Some females can produce two clutches of eggs in the one season. The hatchlings start appearing usually in early February weighing around 3 to 5 gram.

Lizard of Australia

posted by Monique at 7:57 pm  

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