Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Legless Lizard Lesson

I always get angry when I find animals killed on the road, immediately thinking there should have been an opportunity to avoid this. And dead reptiles always evoke feelings of suspicion - I've heard many people admit to deliberately killing snakes. However, road deaths can sometimes provide a valuable educational opportunity.

This morning I drove past Mundaring Christian College and, as you can see in the above picture, noticed a limp-looking reptile on the road. I pulled over and closer inspection revealed a beautifully marked Burton's Legless Lizard (Lialis burtonis). I considered that someone may have hit it on purpose, mistaking the long, slithering body for that of a snake. But closer inspection revealed this animal hard barely a scratch on it, and could quite easily have been clipped by accident. Here you can just see traces of blood on her head near the ear opening. You can also see the amazing scale detail and patterning on this beautiful animal:

Burton's Legless Lizards are quite common in the Perth region, living in remnant bushland and feeding on other reptiles, especially small skinks, which they crunch up in their strong jaws. They can come in a variety of colours, being a plain pale cream, grey, dark brown, or like this one, having a beautifully striped pattern on their back. They are a stunning animal to see and another part of our unique biodiverse reptile life in the Perth region.

The tragic part of my tale is that this lizard was a female carrying eggs (known as 'gravid') and was probably on her way to find a place to lay them. I could feel at least five hard shapes in her belly, which is noticeably fat in the below picture. So in this sad case, the one animal being hit actually caused the death of more than six reptiles.

I hope this provides a valuable lesson - drive slowly and keep a sharp eye on the road as you pass remnant bushland. And next time you see a 'snake' on the road, have a closer look and you might get an opportunity to see an unusual, harmless and quite beautiful animal you've never encountered before.

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