Tasmanian Lizards

Tasmania has eighteen species of lizard and seven of these have distributions that are restricted to Tasmania.  All but one of these lizards are skinks (family Scincidae), the other lizard, the Mountain Dragon, belongs to the family Agamidae. 

Endemic species are marked with an asterisk (*)

Agamidae

Mountain Dragon (Rankinia diemensis)

Scincidae

Three-lined skink (Acritoscincus duperreyi)
She-oak skink* (Cyclodomorphus casuarinae)
White's skink (Liopholis whitii)
Delicate skink (Lampropholis delicata)
Bougainville's skink (Lerista bougainvillii)
Mountain skink* (Carinascincus orocryptum)
Northern Snow skink* (Carinascincus greeni)
Southern Snow skink* (Carinascincus microlepidotus)
Spotted skink* (Carinascincus ocellatus)
Pedra Branca skink​* (Carinascincus palfreymani)
Tasmanian Tree skink* (Carinascincus pretiosus)
Metallic skink (Carinascincus metallicus)
Southern Grass skink (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii)
Tussock skink (Pseudemoia pagenstecheri)
Glossy Grass skink (Pseudemoia rawlinsoni)
Blotched Blue-tongue lizard (Tiliqua nigrolutea)
Southern Water Skink (Eulamprus tympanum)

The Tasmanian reptile fauna may not be particularly diverse but it is certainly fascinating nonetheless. Tasmania's relatively cool climate and high mountain ranges provide challenges for reptiles. Reptiles need to raise their body temperature by basking or by absorbing warmth from rocks which have been heated by the sun. Most species only become active when the air temperature is well above 15o Celcius. Consequently, some species of lizard enter a torpor over winter and most have developed strategies and adaptations to thrive in Tasmania's cooler environment.

Skinks are one of the most diverse and widespread groups of reptiles in the world, and reach their greatest diversity in Australia. Generally, the common garden lizard seen basking in the sun is a skink. Most skinks have smooth, polished scales and relatively short limbs. Skinks have a small bone in each scale which helps armour these generally small lizards. Extra defences include the ability to drop their tail if this part is grasped. The tail will grow back, but the regrown tail will never look as good as the original. 

Many smaller Tasmanian species have a transparent scale in the lower eyelid which serves two functions. As well as acting like a pair of safety goggles the transparent scale reduces moisture loss from what would otherwise be a relatively large evaporative surface. In Tasmania the largest species of skink is the Blotched Blue-tongue and the smallest is the Delicate skink. The largest Australian skink is the Land Mullet of Northern NSW and south eastern Queensland.

In this Topic

  • Key to Identifying Tasmanian Lizards
    A key to aid in the identification of Tasmanian lizards.
  • Blotched Blue-tongue Lizard
    The largest lizard species occurring in Tasmania.
  • Bougainville's Skink
    Bougainville's skink (Lerista bougainvillii) is rarely seen as it spends most of its life under the cover of leaf-litter, loose sand or thin slabs of stone.
  • Delicate Skink
    Delicate skinks (Lampropholis delicata) are a small, plain species, often found in suburban gardens.
  • Glossy Grass Skink
    A little-known lizard that lives amongst dense vegetation, usually close to water.
  • Metallic Skink
    The most common and widespread lizard found in Tasmania.
  • Mountain Skink
    Mountain skinks (Niveoscincus orocryptus), like all Tasmanian alpine species of skink, give birth to live young.
  • Northern Snow Skink
    Confined to Tasmania, the Northern Snow skink (Niveoscincus greeni) lives in alpine areas.
  • Pedra Branca Skink
    The vulnerable Pedra Branca skink (carinascincus palfereymani) has a remarkably restricted distribution, being only found on the barren, widswept island of Pedra Branca.
  • She-oak Skink
    A distinctive lizard with short limbs and a long, snake-like body.
  • Southern Grass Skink
    Found in a variety of habitats where they tend to forage amongst dense ground cover or grasses and bask on rocks and logs.
  • Southern Snow Skink
    The Southern Snow skink (Niveoscincus microlepidotus) is generally a dark lizard with small scales
  • Southern Water Skink
    This lizard is only found within Tasmania on Rodondo Island, the northern-most island in Tasmania.
  • Spotted Skink
    Usually found in rocky areas where it shelters in crevices and beneath rock slabs.
  • Tasmanian Tree Skink
    The Tasmanian tree skink (Carinascincus pretiosus) is a widespread and adaptable lizard found only in Tasmania. It is an excellent climber usually found on trees. Tasmanian tree skinks feed on small invertebrates.
  • The Mountain Dragon
    The Mountain dragon is the only member of the widespread dragon family to occur in Tasmania.
  • Three-lined skink
    The Three-lined skink (Acritoscincus duperreyi) is a strongly striped, egg-laying lizard.
  • Tussock Skink
    A small, striped lizard found only amongst grasses and sedges.
  • White's Skink
    A sun-loving species that usually makes its home beneath slabs of rock.

Contact

Wildlife Management Branch
Level 8, 59 Liverpool St
GPO Box 44
HOBART TAS 7001
Phone: 03 6165 4305
Fax: 03 6173 0253
Email: wildlife.reception@dpipwe.tas.gov.au