the largest group of
reptiles in Australia,
with at least 375 species.
They are also very
common to see
in Cape York - if there is a little lizard walking in the
litter, most likely
it is some kind of skink.
The largest, and best known, are of course the blue tongue skinks, but
there are many, many more smaller ones.
The best known Australian skinks, blue
tongue skinks are found in
northern Australia, and the eastern blue tongue skinks Tiliqua scincoides
are found in
north Queensland and on the southern Cape York peninsula,
between Cooktown in the north and Cardwell in the south.
by Pip_Wilson via Flickr.com
Similar to blue tongue skinks, these beautiful Australian skinks are
found along the eastern
coast of Australia, in the areas in and around Cairns, Ingham and
Mackay in north Queensland, and even Sydney in New South Wales. Pattern
and looks similar to the species above; juveniles can have stronger
by Arthur Chapman via Flickr.com
Both stocky, with almost stumpy tails, and no cross banding or quite as
triangular heads as the species above. Major skink is found in
rainforests, woodlands and open forests from Torres Strait in the north
and New South Wales border in the south. Yakka skink is found in dry
open forest from eastern Cape York peninsula to south east Queensland.
Eastern water skink Eulamprus
found between Cooktown and Mackay in Queensland, as well as in Victoria
and South Australia. Related Australian skinks we have in Queensland
are Eulamprus tigrinus,
frerei, and Eulamprus
Bill & Mark Bell via
There are two species of dwarf Australian skinks in tropical north
Queensland - Menetia
and Menetia timlowi.
from north eastern to southern Queensland, the first on
Magnetic Island outside Townsville, and the second near Mt Garnet in
the southern Cape York peninsula.
By Jeff_Black via Flickr.com
Fire tailed skink, Morethia
taeniopleura, some of the most beautiful Australian
a brown body, red tail
and a darker stripe, surrounded by narrower, white stripes, along the
sides of its body. It lives in woodlands of north Queensland,
from Cooktown in the north to Bowen in the south.
skinks belong to Lampropholis
species, and in north
eastern Queensland we have Lampropholis
delicata (Mt Molloy to Mackay), Lampropholis robertsi
(south of Cape York); as
well as Lerista
Lerista zonulata (south of Cape York peninsula).
beastiepix via Flickr.com
Shade skinks are Saproscincus
species and the ones found in Cape York area include Saproscincus
basilicus (Roaring Meg Falls to Cape Tribulation),
lewisi (Helenvale to Cape Tribulation, and Saproscincus
tetradactylus (Mossman Gorge to Paluma Range National
Striped skinks belong to Ctenotus
species, and in Cape York area we have Ctenotus monticola
robustus (Cooktown area), Ctenotus spaldingi
(Cooktown, Laura, Black Mountain, Shipton's Flat) and Ctenotus taeniolatus
Rainbow skinks belong to Carlia
species, and in Cape York area we have Carlia jarnoldae
Longipes (Cooktown), Carlia
mundivensis (Chillagoe), Carlia pectoralis
(Mt Molloy), Carlia
rostralis (Laura), Carlia
(Black Mountain), Carlia
and Carlia vivax
Litter skinks belong to Lygisaurus
species and and in tropical north Queensland we have Lygisaurus aeratus
Coen), Lygisaurus laevis
(Cooktown to Bramston Beach), Lygisaurus
tanneri (Cooktown, McIvor Ranges) and Lygisaurs zuma
(Paluma to Mackay).
By teejaybee via Flickr.com
Worm skinks belong to Anomalopus
species, and what they have in common is that they have very small,
short or absent limbs. In north eastern Queensland we have Anomalopus
gowi (Mt Garnet, Townsville area), Anomalopus brevicollis,
and Anomalopus verreauxi
in Mackay and Clermont area).
tongue skinks are the largest of all Australian skinks.
slow moving and
easy to get close to - they don't run away but stick out their impressive tongue
You may well see one on your travels, basking
in the sun in the mornings or foraging in the midday heat
They could bite
when picked up,
but they are not
Skinks is a very large group of reptiles in Australia, with 300
members, and blue tongues
the largest members of the group. There are
six species of blue
tongue skinks in Australia: Eastern(Tiliqua
scincoides scincoides, aka Common), Western(Tiliqua
occipitalis), Northern(Tiliqua scincoides intermedia), Blotched(Tiliqua
nigrolutea), Pygmy(Tiliqua adelaidensis)
and Shingleback(Tiliqua rugosa).
a large head,
legs and feet, and
a bulky body
that can grow up
to 45cm in length (but most often less).
They have a fat tail
their spare food and water is stored.
Their body is creamy to grey with a pattern of brown stripes on their
smooth, overlapping scales.
famously, they have a bright
mouth and a bright
which emerges when the animal feels threatened.
Behaviour of Blue
other reptiles, they
don't produce own body heat but
depend on the outside temperature.
That is why you see them sun
early in the mornings, when the air is not too hot and not
When it gets hotter
middle of the day and early afternoons they
become more active and get around foraging.
When it's cool
at night time,
they become inactive
in their hideaways.
Food, Prey and Predators
They eat both plant
parts and small
animals, such as insects, caterpillars and smaller lizards, whatever
they can get.
Snails are their favourites (probably because they are slow and easy to
catch), and blue tongue skinks have got strong jaws to break their
Blue tongue skinks are
birds of prey, kookaburras, and poisonous snakes (King
Bellied Black Snake), but also feral cats and dogs.
They like to live in open country with long grass, logs, rocks, leaf
litter and other ground
they can hide from predators.
When threatened they stick
blue tongue, which will confuse some predators.
If it does not help, they may hiss
and make themselves look bigger by flattening out their body.
If grabbed by the tail,
they can drop
it as many other lizards do. The tail grows back but as it
their food and water storage they need good supplies meanwhile.
If they can avoid predators, they can live up to 20-30 years.
that we have in Cape York is the Northern
Blue Tongue Skink(Tiliqua
It is the largest and
the heaviest of
all the six species of blue tongue skinks in Australia.
They also have a different pattern and tend to be more yellowish, even
orangeish, in colouring.
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You get to make early-stages desicions such as when to go, how long time you
should take, how to get
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to stay (general info), what
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and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.
This complete 300 pages
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background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks, at least 30 guaranteed FREE camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to the Cape), at least 40 best swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things - from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception, how to deal with the national parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery gear by my partner Mark who is the recovery guy on northern Cape York and the Old Telegraph Track). Not to mention locals' tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)
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