While the Crocodile Hunter series may have been close enough for some, here we break down travelling and viewing Australia’s scaly and slimy creatures for those out for more!
The Northern Territory of Australia is home of Crocodile territory! Do not ever call them Alligators either as they are distinctly different – being much much larger and more aggressive! We have 2 species here, the Freshwater Crocodile and the Saltwater Crocodile. The Saltwater or ‘Salties’ are ones to avoid, the largest living reptile in the world!
Either species – keep your distance! The northern parts of Australia (particularly the territory) are where you will want to stay away from waterways (unless signed as safe) as Crocodiles are ambush predators and lurk very often at shallow edges, unseen. For an action-packed show, head over to Jumping Crocodile Cruises on the Adelaide River, Northern Territory or Australia Zoo (home of the Irwins), Beerwah, Queensland.
You will find Lizards in Australia of all shapes here. Guaranteed if you head out anywhere sunny and rocky, you are likely in the company of a scaly friend or more. Some of the most well known you may see are the Frilled Neck Lizard, the Thorny Devil, the Shingleback Lizard, the Blue Tongue Lizard, Marbled Geckos and the Eastern Water Dragon.
The Blue Tongue Lizard is just like the name suggests and is found over eastern and northern halves of Australia. The Blackheath Area is just one of its’ habitats in the Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales.
The Lace Monitor is an apex predator of Australia’s wilds. They are as effective attacking as they are escaping with speed and claws to high tail it up the closest tree. When fighting competition for territory, each employs different tactics but they can choose from their whipping tails, razor teeth or their claws.
Lace Monitors make their home across eastern Australia mainland and into South Australia’s river regions. Australian Reptile Park, New South Wales does keep good examples of the Lace Monitor for public display.
Snakes have made wild Australia famous and certainly, they have the potential to be dangerous. But the fear is usually unnecessary as Snakes are more likely trying to dodge you than the other way round. Snakes typically divide into two sorts in Australia; Pythons and then everything else (which is often poisonous).
Pythons are typically harmless like the friendly Carpet Python, but an Amethystine Python is well known for being bad-tempered. Pythons don’t kill their prey through their bite but instead constrict until the prey is asphyxiated. Pythons you will need to look for up north, often at night among trees near creeks and rivers. While they are present further south, they are not as common.
While Australia is home to poisonous snakes this does not mean dangerous. Their habitat doesn’t typically cross over with towns and cities. The Inland Taipan (most poisonous in the world) lives in arid regions of central Australia. Eastern Brown snakes are more likely encountered, due to urban environments providing shelter and food (mice). These snakes cover a large territory of eastern Australia and are common in bushland too. Tiger snakes are a moody Australian species and living south of the country. Tiger snakes have band patterns (usually but not always present) and you will see healthy populations around Tasmania’s east coast. Red-bellied Black Snakes have a relaxed nature, often by water and will pass on by. Don’t be fooled though as their venom is necrotic. Any Snake enjoys habitat with access to water, food sources (frogs, rabbits or rodents), warm, sunny weather and shelter (especially long grass). Always stay still and let Snakes exit without need to think you are a threat. The best chance of seeing them is moving slowly along any bush track and looking at sunny spots. Gippsland Region in Victoria has ideal conditions for them in Spring/Summer.
If you head to any of the reefs up north of Australia, you might encounter a Turtle! There are a few species here, one of the main being the Green Sea Turtle. These picturesque Turtles are a big reason for the war on plastic bags and single-use plastic – as the plastic appears like jellyfish for the Turtles.
While they are down south too, we recommend getting up to Ningaloo, Western Australia or waters of Francois Peron National Park, Western Australia to snorkel with these Turtles. If getting in the water is a bit hard, Sealife Aquarium, Sydney have these guys on display.
There are so many Frogs among the waterways of Australia! While there are far too many to all list here, one of the more famous is the Australian Green Tree Frog. Being bright fluorescent green, you will know if you’ve found one!
Forests near the Queensland coasts, especially on the Sunshine Coast have many of these beauties lurking near water in the cover of night. Head to Angel Gabriel Capararo Reserve in New South Wales, where the nighttime reveals a haven of Frogs (including Wilcox’s Frog). Grab a torch so you don’t step on any!
So with safety tips in mind, no need to be afraid to see snakes or frogs in the vast wilderness of Australia! Those still unconvinced, a swim with a turtle is always a fun option!