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 (*)
Mountain Dragon (Rankinia diemensis)
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.