Reptiles

Sydney hosts about 60 species of reptiles – lizards, snakes, freshwater turtles and larger reptiles such as eastern water dragons and red-bellied black snakes.

Blue-tongued lizard (Tiliqua scincoides)

Our native bushlands and gardens, including ponds, provide a home for many native reptiles.

As cold-blooded animals, reptiles like to bask in the sun, but they are shy and will hide under logs and rocks so you might not always see them.

All native reptiles are protected in New South Wales under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. It's illegal to kill any native reptile, including snakes.

 

Reptiles you might find in your garden

Lizards are perfect garden residents or visitors – they eat insects and pests, keeping them in check.

Garden skinks are small, fast-moving lizards that you’re most likely to see in your garden in the warmer months when they are more active. There are many species of skink found in Sydney:

Brown delicate skink, Lampropholis delicata, on a rock

  • delicate garden skink
  • common garden skink
  • weasel skink
  • wall skink
  • water skink
  • blue-tongue lizard (our largest skink).

 

Blue-tongue lizards are a great asset to have in your garden as they like the slugs and snails that eat your garden’s flowers and vegetables.

Protect your garden’s cold-blooded friends

Our reptiles are threatened by habitat loss and illegal collection by reptile enthusiasts.

Simple ways you can protect them:

  • Leave existing rocks from bushland in your garden and don’t collect more.
  • Keep cats and dogs inside or restrained when in areas where reptiles might be, including gardens.
  • Create a lizard-friendly garden with rocks, logs and plant cover.
  • Leave twigs, leaves and branches in your garden, if you can, as cover for reptiles.
  • Avoid using pesticides and herbicides so there is plenty of insect food for lizards.
  • Map sightings of feral animals in your area.
  • If you get a visit from a snake, don’t provoke it, most snakes are shy and will move on.
  • Help gather data for TurtleSAT and learn more about our freshwater turtles.
  • Take part in the Dragons of Sydney citizen science program and collect data on water dragons to help improve their habitat.

Broad-headed snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides), threatened species

A teetering balance: broad-headed snakes need bushrock

The broad-headed snake is only found in the Sydney basin. Once common, it is now endangered, and is only found in rugged areas in national parks.

This small snake grows to about 60 centimetres and feeds mainly at night on small reptiles and mammals.

The broad-headed snake is highly venomous so take care. Don’t move rocks when you’re in the bush. Treading on loose rocks can also disturb or crush them.

The popularity of bushrock for garden landscaping has been devastating for the broad-headed snake. Building mounds of rocks (cairns) for memorials or landmarks has added to this.

Numerous pieces of sandstone bushrock piled together, with one large rock, to create a sculpture or rock cairn.

Illegal collection of bushrock from our parks and reserves has left this snake without its vital shelter. It uses bushrock to escape high temperatures, hide from predators and to give birth to live young.

Help out broad-headed snakes:

  • Don’t buy bushrock for your garden.
  • Don’t collect bushrock in parks and reserves.
  • Leave bushrock in place when hiking.

Watch this video about the effects of bushrock removal on the broad-headed snake.

Read more about threats to the broad-headed snake and the damaging effects of illegal bushrock collection.