Reptiles and frogs are amazing animals and learning about them, their behaviour and finding them in the wild (or even your backyard) can be very exciting. Australia is home to more than 1060 reptiles and more than 220 frog species. People often think that all small skinks are the same. In fact, there are many different species with some of the most amazing colours, stripes and scale patterns. Within a single species there may be great variety in colour and markings, males and females often have different colour patterns, and some species display brighter colours during the breeding season.
On Albury-Wodonga Nature Map you will find descriptions and photos of all 34 reptile species and 13 frog species found in the region, along with tips on how to identify each species and where to find them. More detailed information on the regions reptiles can be found in the field guide written by Damian Michael and David Lindenmayer titled 'Reptiles of the NSW Murray Catchment: A guide to their identification, ecology and conservation' CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
By taking photos and reporting sightings you will be adding to our knowledge of these animals, many of which are threatened or rare. This is why we call it 'citizen science'. It is also a great way to enjoy nature and learn about the scientific study of nature. However, there are some important safety and animal welfare issues to consider when looking for reptiles and frogs. Capturing animals by hand can only be done if you have a scientific licence or wildlife research permit. Handling frogs could cause them injury or spread the deadly Chytrid fungus. Flipping rocks or logs destroys homes for many species and is not encouraged.
Reptiles and frogs are divided into subgroups or families: Snakes, Skinks, Dragons, Legless (or flap-footed) Lizards, Geckos, Monitors, Freshwater Turtles and Frogs. It will take no time before you can tell the difference between groups and know the answer to questions such as how do you tell the difference between a Legless Lizard and snake?
Happy Albury-Wodonga Nature Mapping of reptiles and frogs.
Taking photos of reptiles - Geoff Robertson
Here are some tips on photographing reptiles.
Our aim on Albury-Wodonga Nature Map (AWNM) is to discover what species we have in the region and to map them. Hence the aim is not necessarily to take the perfectly posed photo, but to photo an animal so that it may be accurately identified. Several photos from different angles may be required to show a range of the diagnostic features. Even poor photos may be sufficient for identification in many cases.
As with any photography, knowing your subject, keeping quiet, having a good camera with a reasonable lens and having patience helps.
Knowing your subject is important. Looking at the photos and descriptions on AWCN may greatly assist your learning about groups of species and then how to distinguish closely related species from one another. Tips on identification may help you to focus on what part of the animal should be in the picture - with goannas for example, a photo of the whole animal and a photo of the tail should be sufficient for identification. Tips on the animal’s habitat will help you get a good feel about where to find particular species.
Unlike plants, reptiles often scurry off and shelter under cover. However, there is often an opportunity to take good photos. When I first observe an animal, I take a photo and then attempt to get closer and closer taking photos as I get closer. When I am out and about I am often ready with my camera and moving quietly to maximise opportunities. Knowing a little about animal behaviour and habitat also helps to look in the right places.
Caution needs to be exercised in approaching venomous animals and unless you are experienced don’t get close unless someone experienced is guiding you. Also in the excitement of seeing an animal be careful not to rush and trip or otherwise injure yourself.
Hope this helps.
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