Tasmania has eighteen species of lizard and seven of these have distributions that are restricted to Tasmania (endemic species). All but one of Tasmania’s lizards are skinks (family Scincidae), the remaining species is the Mountain Dragon, which being a dragon (or dragon lizard) belongs to the family Agamidae.
Whilst the Tasmanian reptile fauna is not particularly diverse it is 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.
Dragon lizards - family Agamidae
Dragons are a diverse group of lizards with a great many species on mainland Australia including such well known animals as the frill necked lizard and bearded dragon. The only species present in Tasmania – the mountain dragon (Rankinia diemensis) – is the most southerly distributed dragon in the world and occurs locally in dry vegetation from the coast to the Central Plateau.
Skinks - family Scincidae
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.
Species Present in Tasmania
Additional information is included for those which are endemic.
- Mountain Dragon (Rankinia diemensis)
- 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 orocryptus)
- Northern Snow skink* (Carinascincus greeni)
- Southern Snow skink* (Carinascincus microlepidotus)
- Spotted skink* (Carinascincus ocellatus)
- Pedra Branca skink* (Carinascincus palfreymani)- Threatened species
- Tasmanian Tree skink* (Carinascincus pretiosus)
- Metallic skink (Carinascincus metallicus)
- Southern Grass skink (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii)
- Tussock skink (Pseudemoia pagenstecheri) - Threatened species
- Glossy Grass skink (Pseudemoia rawlinsoni) - Threatened species
- Blotched Blue-tongue lizard (Tiliqua nigrolutea)
- Southern Water Skink (Eulamprus tympanum)