Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wild Lizards of Australia

skink in tree at Mossman Gorge, QLD
I've just returned from Australia where we were fortunate not only to see over 185 species of birds, but we also saw at least one new species of lizard every day.

Skinks were everywhere, from the hillsides of Sidney's suburbs to the remote forests of Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territories. Skinks are the most numerous family of lizards in the world.  

We saw copperhead skinks, arboreal skink species, and tiny little species only a few inches long. At the other end of the spectrum we saw a large female lace monitor about 4 foot long.  Lizards were everywhere. Enjoying them as wild creatures was magical.

wild lace monitor
Yet many of these lizards - water dragons, skinks, geckos and monitor lizards - are heavily sought for the pet trade.  People just do not realize the important jobs these animals have to do in their habitats. None of these creatures can complete the role they were meant to fulfill if they are taken from the wild and kept in a cage.

The illegal pet trade is a black market that robs wild places of their residents and destroys ecosystems around the world. Unfortunately, the United States is one of the largest participants in this devastating trade.
gecko catching insects on the wall of our hotel
Enjoy your wild neighbors and don't rob other places in the world of their wild residents - lizards, fish, birds, amphibians or mammals. Become informed about the pet trade and how it impacts wild populations. Check out a post by my friend Sandra Cruze on the black market pet trade.

If you want to experience wild animals, create native habitat where animals live naturally of their own free will. I have a snake, two lizard species, various spiders and over 76 species of birds that visit the natural habitat in my yard. Value your wild neighbors, don't be a wildlife kidnapper and destroyer.

1 comment:

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