It’s been raining and/or overcast in Brisbane pretty much continuously since early December. This is great for our drought-stricken city, but not particularly great if you want to get out and look for reptiles. Yesterday, there was a break in the rain in Brisbane (though other parts of South-east Queensland continued to receive rain). It was a stinking hot, humid day, so Alecia and I decided to head up to one of our favourite snake-spotting haunts, Mt Glorious. (You can see pics from our other trips here: Two nights at Mt Glorious, More Mt Glorious, Simply Glorious!.)
We collected Ben and Leah, some fellow biologists, and headed up the mountain. We had a surprisingly slow start, but eventually found the first snake of the night, a white-crowned snake.
We continued up the mountain to find a carpet snake on the side of the road.
Not too much further up we found another carpet snake slithering across the road.
After moving him to safety we moved on. Mt Glorious is a rainforest, so there are heaps of sticks and leaves littered across the road. Every so often a ‘leaf’ will move. On closer inspection it will turn out to be a gecko such as this one.
We found four blind snakes on the roads over the course of the night, but they’re really hard to photograph without disturbing them (it’s illegal to interfere with wild reptiles in Australia), so we have no pics to show. We’d stopped to move a blind snake off the road (which is technically illegal, but we’re obviously not going to leave a snake on the road to be run over) and found a bandy-bandy just near it.
Bandy-bandies eat blind snakes, so we got the feeling that he was stalking his prey when we found him. We took some pics of him and moved him off the road.
We got all the way to the other side of the mountain (seeing nothing but cane toads), turned around and headed back home. Our return trips back across the mountain are generally much less fruitful than our initial drive across. I’m not sure if that’s because there are fewer critters active later in the night, or if we’re just so tired we don’t notice anything. Luckily we did notice this next snake.
Golden-crowned snakes would have to be one of my favourite snake species. They have really gorgeous colours and patterns, they very photogenic, and they don’t tend to bite when you move them off the road.
Night-driving Mt Glorious is really good for finding snakes, but there are a number of nocturnal lizards that you can see (in addition to the gecko above). The pink-tongued skink is closely related, and looks similar, to Australia’s well-known blue-tongued skinks (with one very obvious difference!). These semi-arboreal skinks are often found (and killed) while crossing roads at night. They like to hang out in moist areas such as rainforests and well-watered backyards. They tend to be very bitey, and Alecia was bitten as she was moving this one off the road.
Another skink commonly seen at Mt Glorious is the three-clawed burrowing skink. We don’t see these every trip, but when they are out, we usually see more than one. Unfortunately we only found road-killed ones last night, such as this large female with eggs.
The last snake of the night was a road-killed brown tree snake. I was surprised we hadn’t seen any live brown trees, as they’re normally quite common up there.
While Mt Glorious is a great place close to Brisbane to find cool critters, it’s also very popular with young males who like to drive their hotted up little cars around the winding mountain roads very quickly at night. This is quite a hazard for people parked on the side of the road taking pics of animals, and of course for the animals themselves.
Our total haul for the night (including all the critters mention above) was:
- White-crowned snake (Cacophis harriettae)
- Coastal carpet python (Morelia spilota mcdowelli) x 2
- Eastern small-eyed snake (Cryptophis nigrescens) x 2 alive and 2 dead on road
- Unidentified blind snake (Ramphotyphlops sp.) x 4
- Southern spotted velvet gecko (Oedura tryoni)
- Bandy-bandy (Vermicella annulata) – 1 alive and 1 dead on road
- Pink-tongued skink (Cyclodomorphus gerrardii)
- Golden-crowned snake (Cacophis squamulosus)
- Three-clawed burrowing skink (Anomalopus verreauxii) x 2 dead on road
- Common tree snake (Dendrelaphis punctulata) – dead on road
- Brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) – dead on road