Dragon Lizards are some of the most popular sightings in Australia, with most living in dry areas and active during the day. The Frilled Lizard is renowned for its spectacular display of its frill and tendancy to run using only two hind legs, especially when threatened. They can be seen up in Kakadu & Arnhem Land. The Thorny Devil is also a must-see for visitors, common amongst the spinifex grasslands of Uluru and the Red Centre, and feeds almost exclusively on ants. It’s rows of spikes along its body and head and remarkable patterns is an awesome sight against the rich ochre sands. The Eastern Water Dragon is common to East Gippsland and can be seen lining creeks as it looks for small vertebrates to eat, whilst the beautiful Painted Dragon is seen in the Flinders Ranges, with breeding males in October and November illuminating their bright colourations.The Wet Tropics outside of Cairns is home to one-third of Australia's frog and reptile species, with the Boyd's Forest Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon and Frilled Lizard popular sightings.
Australia is home to many species of monitor lizard (goanna), with 25 of the world’s 35 species found on the mainland. Goannas have long forked tongues, which they use to sense prey and will lay eggs in tree hollows and termite mounds. Rosenberg’s Goanna is found along the south coast of Australia and is a common sight across Kangaroo Island and the Eyre Peninsula whilst Sand Goannas are the most abundant across the mainland known for their extreme speed and tree climbing. The Lace Monitor is found on the eastern coast and are particular active in breeding season across Spring and early Summer. Up in the tropics, the Merten’s Water Goanna is amphibious can be found along the billabongs and streams around Kakadu & Arnhem Land.
Australia has more than one hundred species in the gecko family, characterised by their gravity defying, padded feet. The Bynoe’s Gecko is the most common and widespread lizard in Australia, usually seeking protection under logs and rocks during the day, before coming out to hunt in the evening. Distinctive, loud barking calls can be heard across the Flinders Ranges area from the Thick-tailed Gecko (also known as the Barking Gecko), that serves as a warning when disturbed. The Rough Knob-tailed Gecko have beautiful heart shaped tails and spines all over its body, common to the Kakadu and Arnhem Land area.
Skinks are the most abundant of the lizards, with many species giving birth to embryos rather than laying eggs. The Masked Rock Skink is endemic to the Flinders Ranges and give birth early Spring, whilst further north the Desert Skink makes its burrows with an entrance under a shrub or grass clump around Uluru & the Red Centre. The Blue-tongued Lizard is quite large and common across the entire continent, with it’s eye-catching and hissing sound used to defend itself when alarmed.
Search for tours including Lizards, using the seasonal viewing opportunities calendar further down the page or by using the map button directly below:
Autumn: Mar-May, Kakadu & Arnhem Land
The renowned Frilled-neck Lizard is more active during the wet season, but can still be seen at this time with it’s spectacular frill that encircles its neck when alarmed. Males are larger than females and can reach up to a metre in length. Mertens’ Water Goannas have their young at this time and are a common sight along the billabongs and streams, where they forage for extended periods underwater, feeding on fishes, frogs and crustaceans. Sand and Yellow-spotted Goannas are found further inland across the Savanna woodlands, searching for reptile and bird eggs, invertebrates, lizards and birds.
The beautiful Dahl’s Aquatic Frog is commonly seen on the floodplains at the end of the wet season where they float during the day and bask on lily pads. They are typically green with a beautiful emerald stripe down the middle of the back and are common prey for the Merten’s Water Goanna. The Northern Dwarf Tree Frog, Little Green Tree Frog and Brown Tree Frog are also common sightings across the region.
Green Tree Snakes, Children Pythons, Banded Tree Snakes and Olive Pythons are more active along the billabongs and floodplains during this time, commonly sighted from the airboats, as are the regions most famous resident, the Saltwater Crocodile.
Winter: Jun-Aug, Kakadu & Arnhem Land
As waters begin to recede, Saltwater Crocodiles can be spotted in greater volumes, with small mammals and birds falling victim to ambush attacks along the waters edge, along with region’s most famous fish, the Barramundi. Freshwater Crocodiles are typically found further up the escarpments with females laying a clutch of 4-20 eggs in the sand in August. Unlike Saltwater Crocodiles the females do not guard the nest, however, they will return and excavate the nest when the eggs have hatched around November.
Green Tree Snakes, Children Pythons, Banded Tree Snakes and Olive Pythons are active along the billabongs and floodplains until the end of June, when they become more lackadaisical due to increased heat and dry conditions. One of the most intriguing smaller lizards seen at this time is the Rough Knob-tailed Gecko, with their beautiful rich purple coloured eyes and spiny rosettas across their body a remarkable sight. The Desert Tree Frog, Rocket Frog, Tornier’s Frog, Roth’s Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog and Little Green Tree Frog are some of the more common of the 26 frog species found across the region.
Spring: Sep-Nov, Kakadu & Arnhem Land
The largest of all living reptiles is the Saltwater Crocodiles. They are most active at this time due to males and females engaging in courtship. Females will lays eggs between November and March in a nest mound made up of mud and vegetation, typically laying from 30 to 70 eggs. The dry season is the best time to see these prehistoric creatures as their numbers concentrate in shrinking pockets of water.
Freshwater Crocodiles feed on many small animals including fish, frogs, lizards, snakes, rats, bats and birds. ’Freshies’ prefer to stay clear of their Saltwater cousins at this time and inhabit areas above the escarpment in Kakadu.
There are numerous lizards active including the alluring Fire-tailed Skink, with its bright-red tail a beautiful site against the ochre coloured rocks. Sand and Yellow-spotted Goannas, can be seen stalking through the woodlands, with some laying their eggs into the cathedral termite mounds to protect their eggs from the high temperatures. The Copland’s Rock Frog inhabits the rock escarpments and is particularly active along the edges of creeks, with breeding commencing in October.