Living with lizards
Posted on 25 June, 2020 by Ivan
We recently received an excited email from a local landowner who had discovered a water skink in their garden. They were wondering if Connecting Country had any ideas on improving the habitat potential of their garden, and what tips we would suggest to ensure reptiles have a place to call home. It is always a pleasure to see wildlife in your garden, and there are some tried and tested measures to improve your garden and help our local wildlife. The landowner asked particularly about installing some kind of water feature, that may ensure reptiles have access to water over the warmer and drier months.
After some discussion between staff in our virtual office, we thought it timely to publish a few ideas for attracting and sustaining reptiles in our gardens, and creating safe places for our marveled but often misunderstood reptiles. Here are our top five suggestions to attract skinks and other reptiles that you can try in your garden, plus some useful resources that provide further information and actions to consider.
Top tips for a reptile-friendly garden
- Leaf litter and branches: To provide habitat for reptiles, it helps to leave leaf litter, mulch, fallen branches and rocks around your garden. This will attract insects for them to eat and provide places for them to shelter and sun themselves on, plus places to hide from predators such as birds and cats.
- No pesticides: It’s best to avoid using pesticides, as poisoned insects could be eaten by skinks and other reptiles.
- Shelter: As well as rocks, old bricks and roof tiles can provide places for reptiles to shelter and warm up in the sun.
- Water: Bonnie (our Landscape Restoration Coordinator) suggests installing a shallow water dish with rough edges or rocks so that skinks can climb in and out, with shelter or cover close by and possibly with a water plant such as Water-milfoil (Myriophyllum crispatum) in it to keep water cooler. A pond is a good way to increase biodiversity in your garden.
- Vegetation: Planting low growing tussocks and berry-producing plants such as Grey tussock-grass (Poa sieberiana), Silver tussock-grass (Poa labillardieri) or Kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) and also something like Australian saltbush (Atriplex semibaccata) or Climbing saltbush (Einadia nutans). Skinks also like foliage and flowers, including Austral stork’s bill (Pelargonium austral), Cut-Leafed Daisy (Brachyscome mulitfida), or try indigenous herby or daisy species.
There are many excellent guides and booklets on wildlife-friendly gardening, but one of our favorites for reptiles is the ‘Backyard Buddies’ guide on creating a lizard- friendly garden. It provides many useful actions to implement at your place, but also things to avoid if you are keen on reptiles enjoying your garden. It lists plants some that are beneficial and important for the reptiles in our region. Click here to view the backyard buddies webpage.
Identifying the many varied and beautiful reptiles can be challenging. Connecting Country has published an excellent brochure on how to identify the numerous reptiles and frogs in our region. Click here to view the brochure or email us to arrange the purchase of a hard-copy printed version for a gold coin donation.
One of our favorite videos was aired on ABC’s Gardening Australia a few months ago, and features how to create a habitat corridor and refuge for reptiles. This habitat corridor is absolutely teeming with life, thanks to the native plantings that attract and sustain wildlife, including birds, bees, butterflies and insects. The video shows landowners how to construct a ‘lizard lounge’ – a lizard friendly location with shelter, basking rocks and plants. Click here to watch the video and get productive in your garden.