Reptiles and Amphibians rescue advice
With all rescues be alert to your own possible danger first.
The Far West of NSW is home to a vast array of native reptiles and amphibians, including lizards, freshwater turtles and frogs.
It is beyond the scope of our website to help in the identification of all local species however we have listed three of the more common lizards of the area.
- Shingleback lizard – commonly known as a Sleepy, Bobtail or Bogeye
- Bearded Dragon – sometimes mistakenly called a Frilled - neck Lizard. Frilled - neck lizards are only found in Northern Australia.
- Gould’s Goanna – Sandy’s Goanna
Handling lizards and amphibians
If you do find yourself in a situation where it is necessary to handle a sick or injured reptile or amphibian, it is essential that you observe the following guidelines.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling any reptile or frog. If available wear powder-free disposable latex gloves, to prevent chemicals from coming into contact with them.
Many species of Skinks can drop their tails if they feel threatened so it is essential that you do not handle them by their tails. Using a pair of gloves or a small towel, cover the skink, scoop it up and place it into a secure box.
Bearded Dragons can be more difficult to handle, particularly larger individuals. Using gloves and/or a towel, you can restrain the dragon by its tail with one hand while supporting it from underneath with the other. Bearded Dragons can bite hard so always keep your fingers away from their mouth.
Remember, lizards may also scratch and some species may attempt to whip their tail.
Lace Monitors (Goannas) should only be handled by people that are confident and experienced in restraining them as they are extremely strong and quick. They have very sharp teeth and claws and can inflict extensive injuries. We recommend that sick and injured lace monitors are always referred to an experienced wildlife rescuer.
Freshwater Turtles are relatively easy to handle although they can bite and do have sharp claws. Some species (such as Eastern Long Necks) can also spray a nasty odour when they feel threatened.
Turtles can be picked up by placing one hand on either side of the top shell between the front and back legs and placed into a secure box.
Ensure you face the tail away from you when you first pick up a turtle as most will urinate readily.
Frogs have very delicate skin so it is important that all handling is minimised as much as possible.
It is preferable that powder-free disposable latex gloves are used when handling frogs to prevent chemicals from coming into contact with them. If you do not have gloves handle with clean, wet hands.
Sick and injured frogs can be picked up gently by cupping them in your hand and placing them immediately into a secure plastic container that has adequate ventilation.
If transporting for any period of time we recommend a moistened piece of clean, paper towel in the bottom of the container to prevent dehydration of the frog.
Why reptiles and amphibians sometimes need rescuing
Lizards – vehicle, dog, fence entanglement
If you encounter a lizard that appears injured, please contact RRANA or take to a Vet immediately. Do not hold onto the animal as this can further cause distress to the animal.
For smaller lizard species, and if you feel confident, pick the lizard up using a small towel or gloves and place into a pillow case (turned inside out) or a secure box or plastic tub with adequate ventilation.
For larger lizard species, or if you do not feel confident to capture the lizard, place a sturdy box over the lizard and weigh the box down until the wildlife rescuer arrives. This will prevent the reptile from escaping and will protect it from overheating in the sun.
If using containers to restrain an injured Shingleback with open wounds please try and place in an area away from fly’s. Maggots in a fresh wound, can occur very quickly and may mean that the prognosis for that lizard is poor.
The slow moving Shingleback lizard are often attacked by dogs if they wander into a homeowner’s yard. The resultant wounds from these attacks are sometimes fatal before rescue arrives. We implore members of the public that despite how minor a wound may appear to call RRANA immediately to arrange a volunteer to assess the wounds. As previously mentioned, a tiny wound once flyblown will potentially be fatal as the maggots spread throughout the lizard’s body. This scenario can often be avoided.
Lizards frequently get themselves caught in fencing as well as discarded fencing materials (such as rolled-up wire). Lizards trapped in these cases will often be very stressed and can show signs of aggression. We recommend that you contact your local wildlife rescue group who will be able to provide you with further advice or will have an experienced wildlife rescuer attend to safely remove the lizard from the fence. Whilst some lizards will recover quickly from a fence incident, others will suffer significant damage, such as spinal injuries, which can be difficult to identify. If there is any suspicion of injury, the lizard needs to be assessed by a wildlife veterinarian or experienced wildlife rescuer.
Freshwater Turtles – vehicle, dog, fishing line, fishing hooks
The most common reason for injuries to turtles are from being hit by a car, entanglement in fishing line or hooks or dog attacks.
For all injured turtles, pick the animal up gently and place into a covered box or plastic tub with adequate ventilation.
Take the turtle to the closest wildlife hospital or contact your local wildlife rescue group.
Frogs – squash injuries, fungus, drought conditions
A frog that appears unwell or underweight can be gently placed in a plastic container or cardboard box. It is important to wear disposable gloves to protect both yourself and the frog.
There are specific procedures to be followed in the case of sick frogs and these should be reported to a wildlife carer or veterinarian without delay.
One of the most damaging diseases for Australian frogs, and which has been the cause in their decline, is Chytridiomycosis (Amphibian chytrid fungus disease). For information on this disease, please refer to the Australian Government – Department of Environment and Energy page.
To prevent the spread of the Chytrid Fungus there are regulations as to the release of frogs whether they are overtly sick or not.
If in doubt contact RRANA immediately.