Crickey! Australia’s Reptiles & Amphibians!

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!

Chris with a young Saltwater Crocodile at a Wildlife Sanctuary in South Australia.

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!

Best spots for these prehistoric predators are Cahill’s Crossing, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory or the Daintree River, Queensland.

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.

Found in dry climates over southern Australia, Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia is a haven for these docile reptiles.
The Shingleback has many fond nicknames and gets it’s name from their rough, gravel-like skin.

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.

Mainly near the coast in northern Australia, look out for them on highways, on fence posts or trees (particularly near Mareeba, Queensland).
The Frilled Neck Lizard is anything but slow when actively defensive, standing on its hind legs, flaring its frill and opening its mouth. Photo courtesy of Margot Oorebeek.
Chill out with the Eastern Water Dragon or have a swim in the wild at Kondalilla National Park, Queensland.
Eastern Water Dragons are in plentiful numbers on Australia’s east coast and do so well at Brisbane Botanical Gardens, they’ve become something of a pest!

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory is a great place to see these guys in the day time or Alice Springs Desert Park have them on display too.
The Thorny Devil is a lizard of unforgettable appearance, not too different from a cactus on legs – these are desert dwellers.
The Marbled Gecko is one creature that strikes terror and fear into the most unsuspecting traveller! But they have no fierce artillery instead, these fellows will show up, unannounced and scare you half to death by sheer surprise.
However, Marbled Geckos are completely harmless and you find them right across the southern Australian mainland – anywhere that might be home to tasty insects.
The Lace Monitor, safely up a tree near Obi Obi, Queensland.

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.

The Murray River from Renmark to Robinvale sees plenty of Lace Monitors sunbaking on the shorelines, so grab a kayak and head for a cruise.

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.

A Carpet Python, near the Mary River in Queensland at night.

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.

A Red-bellied Black Snake sunning itself in the grass.

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.

Find Green Sea Turtles at either Ningaloo or Francois Peron National Park, Western Australia in the wild.

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.

The Wilcox’s Frog at Angel Gabriel Capararo Reserve in New South Wales.
Range of the Wilcox’s Frog, in Australia.

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!

Published by Kiri Borgas

Curiosity has guided me, travel has grown my dreams and the natural world has inspired and excited me. This is how I've become a tiny home lover and van dweller - learning all I can with my fiancé to share a passion for the world around us.

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