Geckos and skinks
Two of Australia's largest geckos are primitive Wet Tropics endemics. The first is the lanky 20cm chameleon gecko (Carphodactylus laevis) with its distinctive white-ringed tail. Once this tail is shed and regrown, the white-rings are absent, leaving the entire tail dark brown with black flecks. The chameleon gecko sleeps in leaf litter through the day and forages on the ground or on tree trunks at night.
Another awesome specimen is the 23cm northern leaf-tailed gecko (Saltuarius cornutus) with its shield-shaped tail. This Australian endemic lizard has a very flat body and tail with spindly arms and legs and sharp clawed toes instead of pads. The entire body is covered with a variable, reticulated pattern and the body is rough to the touch with visible, spiky scales running along the outer edges of the body. The irregular pattern even appears in its eyes! Like the chameleon gecko, the leaf-tailed gecko forages at night but it prefers to shelter in crevices in trees during the day.
There are many skink species in the Wet Tropics and they are usually small and difficult to identify. However, there is one major exception - in fact, it's called the major skink - and it reaches a total length of 39cm! It is a gold colour down the back with some dark flecking. The sides are very dark with rows of pale flecks that could be considered stripes if they were adjoined better. The eye is brown or gold. The major skink (Egernia frerei) has a diverse diet which includes snails, insects, spiders, fruit and small lizards. Although it likes to bask in the sun, it is wary so it is not often seen and darts back into a burrow dug under a rock or into a rotting log.
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News and Events
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