Frogs and Snakes

Frogs turn up in unusual places:

This is a female Stony-creek Frog (Litoria jungguy):



This  Common Green Tree-frog (Litoria caerulea) spent  the long dry spell in the overflow of an outdoor basin, quite safe from a butcherbird’s beak or a snake’s gaping jaws.

frog in a hole

Another frog often hopped  back to its hiding place underneath our veranda roof via the birdbath on the veranda railing, leaving behind tell-tales signs :

frog splash


After the first substantial showers, our pond hosted several frog orgies. This pair of Barred Frogs (Mixophyes coggeri) was still active after sunrise. The female was keen to get rid of the male, telling him with several deep, short grunts to release his grip on her . This is the only occasion when one hears female frogs calling.

Barred Frogs Feb2015_1

She was probably keen to seek shelter for the day, and rightly so: this large Keelback entered the pond just moments later. When I saw it emerge from the water and disappear into the forest, it did not sport a big bulging belly!

The Keelback (Tropidonophis mairii) is the only Australian snake which can eat the toxic cane toads without ill effect. Its ancestry lies in Asia, where snakes had a long time to adapt to poisonous toads.

Keelback Snake 2015_1

Named for its strongly keeled scales, which give it a “rough”-looking skin, it is easy to identify. The only other snake, which looks similar is the highly venomous Rough-scaled snake (Tropidechis carinatus), which fortunately lives at higher altitudes in North Queensland, and not around Kuranda. You can tell them apart by having a close look at the scales between their eyes and nostrils (preferably by taking a photo and zooming in, rather than approaching the snake too closely!).

Most colubrid snakes, like the Keelback, have a loreal scale between eye and nostril,

Keelback 2015_1


whereas in venomous elapid snakes (to which Death Adders, Taipans and Brown Snakes belong), the scale containing the nostril touches the scale which is near the eye:

Rough-scaled Snake2015_1



Geckos and other Lizards, October 2012

Digging a trench through the rainforest has its rewards: A northern leaf-tailed gecko (Saltuarius cornutus) fell out of the canopy close by, hotly pursued by a spotted catbird. The catbird was quite persistent in its effort to get to its prey, and human intervention was not what it had expected.

We wouldn’t have thought a catbird might be preying upon a gecko almost its own size.

This gecko’s tail is not the original one (it is smoother, not as spiky) : they can regrow a new tail after injury or deliberate discarding ( in order to distract a predator, while making a get-away – the discarded tail even wriggles around for a while).

Now that it is getting warmer, reptiles are more active. Our resident spotted tree monitor (Varanus scalaris) is clambering up and down its favourite post on the cabin every day, and we are encountering more snakes.

A female water dragon (Physignathus lesueurii) was observed laying eggs in a small sandy hill very close to a creek and  only about 1 metre above the waterline. The last 2 years we watched a water dragon digging her nest about 20 metres from the creek, and several metres higher. Could this mean that there won’t be any flooding rains in the foreseeable future? The eggs  take about 2 months to develop.