Be careful about touching a fire-bellied toad… it can ‘burn’ you.
- Fire-bellied toads, also known as ‘firebelly toads’, are amphibians, and a toad of smaller size, native to central to northern Asia and across Europe.
- Fire-bellied toads typically grow to be 4 to 7 centimetres (1.6 to 2.8 inches) in length and weigh 20 to 80 grams (0.7 to 2.8 ounces).
- The scientific name of a fire-bellied toad is Bombina, that is one of two groups in the family Bombinatoridae, and there are eight species in the genus.
- Depending on the species, the skin of fire-bellied toads contains numerous bumps, and ranges from green, black and brown in colour, while the underside is yellow, red, orange or black, and the bright colour acts as a natural warning that it contains toxins which can be harmful to animals, and can cause a rash in some humans.
- The diet of fire-bellied toads consists primarily of flies, worms, shrimp, beetles, larvae, spiders and other insects.
- Unlike most frogs, fire-bellied toads do not produce a croaking sound, but instead a bark, which is used by males to find a mate.
- Female fire-bellied toads lay around 50 to 300 eggs at a time, laid onto vegetation that is situated above a small body of water, and they develop into tadpoles, and eventually toads, that have an average lifespan of ten to fifteen years.
- Triangular or heart shaped pupils can be found in the eyes of some fire-bellied toads, and they can arch their backs and flip upside down to show their bright coloured bellies to scare away predators like birds, lizards, foxes and snakes.
- Some fire-bellied toad species are listed as vulnerable or endangered due to habitat loss, and disease is also a possible cause of the decline in numbers in some species.
- Fire-bellied toads generally live alone near fresh water ponds and streams, in forest and swamp habitats, and some species are kept as pets.
Do not be fooled! Slow worms are not worms or snakes!
- Slow worms are lizards, found across Europe and Asia, that do not have legs, and move using body muscles.
- ‘Slow worms’ are also known as ‘slowworms’, ‘blindworms’ and ‘blind worms’, while the scientific name is Anguis fragilis, from the family Anguidae, a family of lizards.
- Slow worms are commonly found in urban gardens, as well as grass plains and farming areas, where areas are damp and warm, and they are often hidden under objects.
- The length of a slow worm typically reaches 20 to 50 centimetres (8 to 20 inches) in length and it can weigh 20 to 100 grams (0.7 to 3.5 ounces).
- The colour of slow worms is generally a combination of black, grey, brown, tan and yellow, while males are occasionally spotted blue.
- Despite similar appearances, a slow worm can be distinguished from a snake, as the lizard has blinking eyelids; ears that are typical of a lizard; and it discards only portions of its skin at one time.
- The diet of slow worms consists primarily of insects, worms, spiders, snails and slugs.
- A slow worm can break off its tail to escape predators like birds, that will regrow to a shorter length, although this escape method is not always effective against other predators such as cats and dogs.
- Female slow worms produce an average of around 8 young at a time, and the babies form inside eggs in the mother’s body, although they are born live (the process known as ovoviviparity).
- Slow worms can move at speeds of up to 0.5 kilometres per hour (0.3 miles per hour), and have an average lifespan of 10 to 30 years.
Although small, common garden skinks are great garden helpers!
- Common garden skinks are lizards native to forests, and grassy or woody habitats in southern and eastern Australia.
- ‘Common garden skinks’ are also known as ‘pale-flecked garden sunskinks’ and ‘garden skinks’.
- The scientific name of a common garden skink is Lampropholis guichenoti, and it is from the family Scincidae, the family of skinks.
- The colour of the skin of a common garden skink is mostly a brown-grey colour, and it usually has a black or dark coloured stripe down either side of its body and a copper coloured head.
- The diet of common garden skinks generally consists of insects and vegetation, and can include caterpillars, spiders, slugs, cockroaches, crickets, worms and ants, and fruit and vegetables.
- Small and enclosed spaces, such as rocks or trees, are the sought after home for common garden skinks, and they are commonly found in urban gardens, hiding in among plants or leaves.
- Common garden skinks generally grow to a length of 9 centimetres (3.5 inches), and they have five toes on each of their four legs, as well as a long tail.
- Common garden skinks can release their tails when caught by predators, such as birds, cats and larger reptiles like snakes.
- Female common garden skinks generally lay their small white eggs in a communal location, each contributing two to six eggs to the nest of up to 250 in total.
- Common garden skinks have tiny teeth, and the lifespan of the reptile generally ranges from two to three years.
Australian water dragons are the dragons of Down Under.
- Australian water dragons are semi-aquatic lizards native to Australia’s eastern states, and they can be found near various water sources.
- Two subspecies of Australian water dragons go by the name of ‘eastern water dragon’ and ‘Gippsland water dragon’.
- The scientific name of the Australian water dragon is Intellagama lesueurii, and it has been previously known as Physignathus lesueurii.
- Australian water dragons are from the family Agamidae, the family of dragon or iguanian lizards, and they are the solitary member of the Intellagama genus.
- Australian water dragons are adaptive swimmers and climbers, and they feature a long tail that they use to swim in the water.
- Australian water dragons grow to lengths of 60 to 100 centimetres (24 to 40 inches) in length and they weigh between 0.5 to 1 kilogram (1.1 to 2.2 pounds).
- Australian water dragons are typically coloured a combination of black, green-grey, yellow, and brown, and they have obvious spikes at the back of the head, that become smaller and less obvious down the back and the tail.
- Eggs of Australian water dragons are laid in quantities of six to eighteen, in holes they dig in soil or sand, and temperature determines the gender of the young.
- The diet of Australian water dragons consists of insects, spiders, worms and occasionally rodents, fruit and vegetation.
- Australian water dragons can stay under water for 30 to 90 minutes without needing air, and often camouflage themselves among foliage or escape into the water, to hide from predators.
Admire the beauty of radiated tortoises.
- Radiated tortoises, sometimes called ‘sokake’, are reptiles native to the southern areas of Africa’s island of Madagascar.
- The scientific name of a radiated tortoise is Astrochelys radiata, and is from the family Testudinidae, the family of tortoises.
- The diet of radiated tortoises consists primarily of grass, but fruit and cacti and other plants are also consumed.
- Radiated tortoises can grow to be 30 to 41 centimetres (12 to 16 inches) in length, and weigh 2.2 to 16 kilograms (4.8 to 35 pounds).
- The humped shell of a radiated tortoise is generally a dark brown or black colour, that is patterned with prominent yellow coloured star-like shapes.
- Female radiated tortoises lay and deposit eggs in holes that they dig, numbering 3 to 12 eggs at a time, and they leave them to incubate and hatch 4 to 8 months later.
- Radiated tortoises have a mostly yellow coloured head and legs; and on average, they live for 30 to 90 years, although one has been recorded to live to around 188 years old.
- While radiated tortoises are protected, they are ranked as critically endangered, due to habitat loss and illegal hunting for the shell, meat and pet industry.
- Radiated tortoises can produce grunting and hissing noises, as well as screeching sounds to scare off predators.
- Radiated tortoises are preyed on by snakes and large birds, and they can protect themselves to some extent by withdrawing into their shell.
Hide among the vegetation like leaf-tail geckos.
- Leaf-tail geckos are a reptile, or specifically, a gecko, native to Africa’s tropical Madagascar.
- ‘Leaf-tail geckos’ are also known as ‘leaf-tailed geckos,’ and ‘flat-tailed geckos’.
- There are at least 14 species of leaf-tail geckos and their scientific or genus name is Uroplatus, and they are from the family Gekkonidae, a family of geckos.
- Leaf-tail geckos can grow to be 10 to 30 centimetres (4 to 12 inches) in length, and weigh 10 to 30 grams (0.35 to 1 ounce) in weight.
- The skin of leaf-tail geckos can be a combination of green, brown, grey and black; and they usually have coloured patterns that mimic their surroundings, and depending on the species, they will look similar to either leaves or bark that they hide among.
- Leaf-tail geckos have digits or toes, some of which have small claws, that can be used to grip onto numerous surfaces; and they have a leaf shaped tail.
- During the day, leaf-tail geckos camouflage themselves from predators in trees or bushes, and they become active hunters during the night.
- The diet of leaf-tail geckos primarily consists of insects, as well as worms and spiders, while other reptiles and rodents are sometimes consumed.
- Female leaf-tail geckos generally lay between two to four eggs at a time; and the reptile has an average life span of two to nine years.
- Leaf-tail geckos are threatened by illegal hunting for the pet industry, along with habitat loss, and some species are listed as endangered, vulnerable and near threatened.