Cradle Mountain Wildlife - Lizards, Snakes and Frogs
In spite of our generally cool climate, Tasmania is home to a number of reptiles and amphibians. At Cradle Mountain, these range from small, jewel-coloured skinks to a variety of frogs and three species of snake. All Tasmanian reptiles are mainly active during the warm summer months.
Reptiles love warm weather, and never more so than in alpine regions, where the average daily temperature is cooler, and sunny days are fewer.
All lizards in Tasmania, with the exception of the mountain dragon, are skinks. The sixteen species of skink range from the tiny delicate skink, which grows up to 55 mm in length, to the 30 cm-long blotched blue-tongued lizard, Tasmania’s largest lizard.
Several species of skink are found around Cradle Mountain, including the blue-tongued lizard, northern snow skink, metallic skink, southern snow skink, Tasmanian tree skink, ocellated skink, mountain skink, glossy grass skink and grass skink.
Tasmania has three of Australia’s venomous snake species—the tiger snake, lowland copperhead and white-lipped snake, all of which are found in in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Tiger snakes can grow up to 1.8 metres in length and range in colour from black to pale yellow or olive green—with or without obvious stripes! They have highly toxic venom, but are generally timid in nature. Tiger snakes are found in most habitats in Tasmania, and feed on small mammals, reptiles, frogs, birds and bird eggs.
Lowland copperheads are slightly smaller than tiger snakes, growing up to 1.5 metres in length. They are most often found in marshy areas where their preferred prey of frogs, lizards and smaller snakes is abundant. Copperheads range in colour from dark grey to black, or deep, coppery red. Like tiger snakes, they are shy animals but also posses a powerful neurotoxic venom.
White-lipped snakes (also called whip snakes) are Tasmania’s smallest species of snake, measuring between 20-40 centimetres in length. These active hunters mainly feed on skinks and frogs and are most often found in grassland and open woodland. White-lipped snakes are venomous, but possess small fangs and venom sacs, and so pose less of a risk to humans than the larger tiger and copperhead snakes.
There are eleven species of frog in Tasmania, including three endemic species—the Tasmanian tree frog, the moss froglet and the Tasmanian froglet.
You’re far more likely to hear a Tassie frog than see one. Common frog species around Cradle Mountain include the brown tree frog, whose call is a repetitive ‘reee-ree-ree’ sound; the Tasmanian froglet, whose unusual call sounds just like a lamb bleating, the smooth froglet, which has a slow, creaking call, and the Tasmanian tree frog—a pretty green and brown frog with a call than sounds rather like a duck!
When you hear a frog calling, you are only hearing the male of the species—singing to attract a female or declare his presence to rival males.