Quest 250

After my last fauna survey, I tallied up my list to count all the reptile species I’ve seen over the last couple of years. I was surprised to find that I’d seen only 244 species*. That may sound like a lot, but I’ve got a long way to go given that there are about 923 species of reptile currently recognised in Australia. 244 is such an untidy number. I’ve decided to try to take my tally to 250 species before the end of the year. This leaves just twelve days to tick six species. A challenge, certainly, but one I’m happy to take on.

Without even leaving the house I managed to tick three new species. I’d taken some pictures of a gecko on a recent field trip, but I didn’t get around to identifying the species. Today I got out the books and studied the photos. Gehyra purpurascens: tick!

Gehyra purpurascens
245: Gehyra purpurascens

I had some other pictures from a survey I was on back in 2006. At the time we’d identified a skink as Cryptoblepharus carnabyi, but in 2007 Dr Paul Horner of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory published a review of Australian Cryptoblepharus skinks. In it, he showed C. carnabyi to be a junior synonym of a species that contained numerous cryptic species. As such, the C. carnabyi I found in 2006 no longer existed. The species that C. carnabyi referred to was broken up into multiple species. I used my photos and Paul’s distribution maps to figure out that the C. carnabyi I saw in 2006 was now called C. pannosus. Another tick!

Cryptoblepharus carnabyi
246: Cryptoblepharus pannosus

On my most recent survey, we found a blind snake that I couldn’t identify at the time. With some help from the Queensland Museum, I figured out that it was Ramphotyphlops diversus. Tick! Of course, being a blind snake, I didn’t get any photos of it. Those things just refuse to sit still!

So that’s another three species, all from the comfort of my desk. But the remaining three species will require some good old fashioned field herping. I’m not planning on venturing too far afield. I’ve come up with a list of local species that should be fairly easy to find:

Lampropholis couperi – supposed to be fairly common up at Mt Nebo.
Egernia mcpheei – a few of my friends have seen this recently at a particular spot in Lamington National Park.
Oedura jacovae – found on the northside of Brisbane
Eroticoscincus graciloides – supposed to be common in parts of the Sunshine Coast

I’ve also come up with a few species that I might be able to stumble across while looking for the above:
Saproscincus challengeri, S. spectabilis, Eulamprus tryoni and Lampropholis amicula – up at Lamington National Park
Ophioscincus ophioscincus – known from Mt Glorious/Mt Nebo and Lamington National Park.
Lampropholis guichenoti – around Cooloola on the Sunshine Coast.

So my goal for the next week or so is to get out and find some of these species. I’ll post regular updates along the way.

* I’m quite picky with my list. I don’t count species that I’ve only seen dead or dying. I don’t count species if I’m not there (or nearby) when it was seen (so I won’t count it if someone brings a reptile to my house).

Click the following links to read the follow-on stories.
248/250: Lampropholis couperi
249/250: Egernia mcpheei
249/250: my luck runs out
250/250: Lampropholis amicula

About Stewart Macdonald

I'm a wildlife ecologist living and working in Queensland, Australia. I spend most of my time in the bush finding and photographing wildlife.
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2 Responses to Quest 250

  1. Kerry Geddes says:

    Hi Stewart,

    I’m sitting in an empty lab with nothing constructive to do, so I thought I’d make my own construction by reading a few thoughts that had been slow-cooked with carrots, celery and onions. But ’tis with trepidation that I put finger to keyboard, and I may be wrong, but I see an apparent anomaly with your ‘Quest 250′ total count:

    If Cryptoblepharus carnabyi used to be counted in your list of repticks (identified as this species ‘back in 2006′, as you point out), but then it was renamed C. pannosus, it seems to me that the renaming has the effect of leaving your 2006 total count unchanged – still the same animal, but just called something different. Is your end-of-2009 total therefore 249 (I must say I’m aghast at the thought), or have I (very hopefully) missed something obvious and got this wrong?


  2. Stewart says:

    Nice to see you’re checking up on me! Cryptoblepharus carnabyi wasn’t simply renamed, it was invalidated. So I had unchecked C. carnabyi from my list a while back. Thus, it wasn’t contributing to my total of 250.