Originally published in HERPTILE 9 (1) 1984, pp. 12-13.
TEMPERATURES OF NOCTURNAL REPTILES IN THE SYDNEY AREA
BY RAYMOND T. HOSER
Then of: 170 Lawson Street, Redfern N.S.W. 2016 Australia
1996 address: 41 Village Avenue, Doncaster, Victoria, 3108, Australia.
It's a well known fact that different reptile species are often active
at different temperatures. Within a given area different nocturnal species
of reptile will as a general rule be active on nights of different temperature,
although because of their ectothermy
reptiles have a tendancy to be most active on warm summer nights. Within
the Sydney (Australia) area the above is certainly true. Nocturnal reptiles
are most active on above average temperature nights during the summer months.
It is very hard to actually specify a preferred air temperature for
activity of a reptile species due to the importance of other factors such
as time of year, warmness or coolness in general that year, cloud cover,
air pressure movements, humidity, moon position, etc. Over the past four
years I have done well over 100 night hunts (usually by driving down deserted
bush roads) in the Sydney area. The table (below) though not based on any
hard data is based on my experience. The air temperatures given for each
reptile species are those at which most specimens are found active at night.
Most species will (on occasions) be found active at air temperatures up
to 6'C lower and more than 10'C warmer than those preferred although in
general as temperatures move further from those preferred, less individuals
of the given species are likely to be found active. Most activity by nocturnal
reptiles around Sydney at air temperatures widely deviant to those preferred
tends to occur in association with the arrival in Sydney of cold Fronts
and the hot then cold temperatures on either side of them. The temperature
of an active nocturnal reptile is also invariably higher than that of the
air around it. Another interesting fact is that species of reptile directly
dependant on one another for food are active in similar weather (e.g. Typhlopids
and Vermicella annulata).
PREFERRED ACTIVITY TEMPERATURES OF SYDNEY'S NOCTURNAL REPTILES
(Based on experience of R. Hoser, mainly from collecting in the West Head
area of Kurringai Chase)
Air temp. 'C Species
26 Acanthophis antarcticus (Death Adder)
25.5 Pygopus lepidopodus (Common scaly-foot)
25 Diplodactytus vittatus (Stone Gecko)
24 Notechis scutatus (Tiger snake),Hemiaspis
signata (Swamp snake), Lialis burtonis
(Burton's legless lizard), Underwoodisaurus
mili (Barking gecko), Cacophis squamulosus (Golden crowned
snake), Morelia spilotes
23.5 Cryptophis nigrescens (Small-eyed snake)
23 Furina diadema (Red naped snake), Boiga irregularis (Brown tree snake)
22 . 5 Oedura lesueuri (Lesueur's gecko), Phyllurus platurus (Leaf-tailed
22 Typhlina nigrescens and T. proximixa (Worm snakes), Vermicella annulata
(Photographs of all above named species and the habitat where they are
found at West Head is depicted in the book Australian
Reptiles and Frogs by the same author).
Raymond Hoser has
been an active herpetologist for about 30 years and published over 100
papers in journals worldwide. He has written five books including the definitive
works " Australian Reptiles and Frogs
", "Endangered Animals of Australia"
and the controversial best seller "Smuggled
- The Underground Trade in Australia's Wildlife".
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Papers about reptiles and frogs
- list of papers that can be downloaded via the internet.
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- The Definitive book on the subject.
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