Nature conservation

Threatened species

Bathurst Grassland Earless Dragon - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Tympanocryptis mccartneyi
Conservation status in NSW: Critically Endangered
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 11 Feb 2022
Profile last updated: 29 Jun 2022


The Grassland Earless Dragon is a small dragon, with a maximum adult head and body length of around 7 cm, and a maximum overall length of 16 cm. It has three thin white lines running from the neck, along the body and down the tail. These lines divide an irregular pattern of light and dark brown or reddish cross-bands on the back. This patchy pattern gives it very good camouflage in its grassland habitat. This species has no external ear openings. Dragon lizards are characterised by rough spiny body scales and an erect stance, clear of the ground.
Tympanocryptis mccartneyi is part of the T. lineata species complex (which includes T. lineata, T. mccartneyi, T. osbornei, and T. pinguicolla), however differs from both T. lineata and T. osbornei in having enlarged tubercular scales scattered on the thighs and keeled rather than smooth throat scales. This species differs from T. pinguicolla from Victoria in having more acutely pointed dorsal tubercles directed more posteriorly than vertically and keeled rather than smooth gular scales (Melville et al. 2019). 


Tympanocryptis mccartneyi is endemic to New South Wales (NSW), Australia where it is restricted to the grasslands and open country on the alluvial plains around Bathurst in the Central Tablelands of NSW (Melville et al. 2019). The grasslands occur at altitudes up to approximately 1200 m and are naturally treeless or sparsely treed, with native tussock grasses being the dominant vegetation (Melville et al. 2019).

Habitat and ecology

  • Tympanocryptis mccartneyi is a grassland specialist, inhabiting treeless plains and open grasslands. The species has been found along railway tracks, with weedy Paspalum grass thickets, and in vacant paddocks with tall pasture grass (Melville et al. 2019).
  • Within its habitat, apparently prefers areas with a more open structure, characterised by small patches of bare ground between the grasses and herbs.
  • Little is known about habitat requirements of this species, but other species of grassland earless dragons have been discovered beneath rocks in either burrows, rock crevices or depressions
  • Burrows excavated by wolf spiders (Lycosidae sp.) associated with partially embedded surface rocks are of critical importance to T. mccartneyi. These burrows provide shelter sites for overwintering, refuge from trampling by livestock and predation and as locations where eggs can be laid
  • Fidelity to these burrows is known to increase with the onset of winter and the species is reported to be torpid in winter between May and September
  • Like the other grassland earless dragons, Tympanocryptis mccartneyi is likely to be a sit-and-wait predator, feeding mainly on small invertebrates including ants, beetles, spiders and moths

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
South Eastern HighlandsBathurst Predicted None