Brigalow scaly-foot

Common name: Brigalow scaly-foot

Scientific name: Paradelma orientalis

Family: Pygopodidae

Conservation status: This species is listed as Least Concern in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992). It is ranked as a medium priority under the department's Back on Track species prioritisation framework.

Description

The Brigalow scaly-foot is a legless lizard that grows to approximately 16cm. It is a heavy set lizard with a round snout, prominent ear openings, fairly large limb-flaps and a tail twice the length of the body. The body is grey to greyish brown in colour and the base of the head is cream to pale brown. A distinctive black bar crosses the back side of the neck. Midbody scales are in 18 (occasionally 20) rows and are smooth and glossy.

This species is a flap-footed or ‘legless’ lizard, so called because it has completely lost its forelimbs but has a small scaly flap that is remnant of its hindlimbs.

Habitat and distribution

The Brigalow scaly-foot is found on sandstone ridges in woodlands and vine thickets, and in open forests and woodlands, especially ironbark, cypress pine, brigalow, bull oak, spotted gum and vine scrubs. Reports suggest it is a climber of small trees and it has been observed in Acacia falciformis trees on Boyne Island. Sandstone slabs, logs, dense leaf litter and grass tussocks in these habitats, provide shelter.

This species is endemic to Queensland and occurs mostly in the Queensland Brigalow Belt (QBB) bioregion, from Inglewood on the southern downs, north to Emerald and east to Gladstone. However, its distribution is highly fragmented due to large proportions of potential habitat being cleared throughout the species' range.

Life history and behaviour

This slow moving nocturnal species is mostly terrestrial (lives on the land), although it has been recorded climbing the rough bark of wattles. When alarmed, the species will rear its head and fore body and flicks its tongue, possibly to mimic venomous snakes.

Sap forms a major portion of the diet of both adults and juveniles. The species has been observed licking sap exuding from Acacia falciformis trunks on Boyne Island.

Females are thought to lay up to two eggs between late spring and early summer. Studies conducted on Boyne Island, recorded a female in captivity laying two eggs in early November with the eggs hatching in late January.

Threatening processes

The Brigalow scaly-foot is threatened by habitat loss due to land clearing and thinning operations, inappropriate road side management, and predation by feral animals such as cats and foxes. Habitat degradation from overgrazing and accidental deaths on roads and from misidentification with snakes, may pose additional threats.

Recovery actions

  • Identify key habitat throughout the QBB bioregion and priority areas for conservation in local government regions and develop management guidelines to protect these areas on private and state-controlled land.
  • Negotiate management agreements with landholders that are in line with recommended management guidelines to protect key habitat and priority areas.
  • Implement monitoring programs in key habitat and priority conservation areas.
  • Protect reptile habitat on the stock route network and shire roadsides and reserves
  • When undertaking burning use cool burns in a mosaic pattern that produces patchiness, leaving areas of ground cover unburnt. If possible, leave stick-raked timber piles unburnt.

What can you do to help this species?

  • For areas of land supporting threatened reptile populations, adhere to management guidelines aimed at protecting key habitat and priority areas for conservation.
  • Become involved in community-based on-ground projects (e.g. fencing remnants to reduce grazing impacts, weed and feral predator control, reptile monitoring) and help protect habitat across a suite of land tenures, particularly on non-reserved lands.
  • Help protect threatened reptiles in the QBB bioregion by supporting integrated pest management activities which seek to address feral animal threats (e.g. pigs, cats, foxes).
  • Report sightings of this and other threatened reptiles of the QBB bioregion by contacting the WildNet Team via email

Related information

Department of the Environment and Energy (DOEE). 2017. Paradelma orientalis Brigalow scaly-foot in Species Profile and Threats Database. DOEE, Canberra.

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities. 2011. Draft referral guidelines for the nationally listed Brigalow Belt reptiles. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities, Canberra.

Ponce Reyes R, Firn, J, Nicol, S, Chadès, I, Stratford, DS, Martin, TG, Whitten, S, Carwardine, J. 2016. Priority Threat Management for Imperilled Species of the Queensland Brigalow Belt. CSIRO, Brisbane.