Lizards in the backyard

Lizard - Posing

Have you ever wondered how many types of lizards there are in Australia? Or what species of lizard lives in your backyard? One of the most visible types of reptiles in Australia, lizards help keep insects under control in your backyard and are an important part of the ecosystem. Read more to learn about the lizards which live with us.

Types of lizards

Did you know that Australia is home to more than 850 species of reptiles? Unfortunately, 25% of these species are under threat of extinction, so there has never been a better time to take an interest in our scaly friends.

There are five main families of lizards in Australia; skinks, geckos, dragons, legless lizards and goannas. Most of the lizards in your backyard would belong to either the skink family or the gecko family, but the dragons do make appearances in gardens along the east coast of Australia.

What do lizards eat?

The great news about lizards is that they love to eat all the insects and bugs we often don’t want in our gardens! Smaller lizards like the Common Garden Skink feeds on small adult insects as well as insect larvae.

Lizards like Shinglebacks and Blue-tongues prefer to eater gastropods like snails and slugs, a perfect solution to the common garden pests. In an ideal ecosystem (which our gardens can become with the right care), insecticides and pesticides wouldn’t need to be used as lizards, birds and predatory insects like spiders would take care of all the unwanted insects.

If you are looking to make your backyard more lizard friendly, avoid using snail and slug pellets as these can prove fatal to lizards if ingested. Additionally, snail and slug pellets are deadly to dogs and cats if ingested too, so it’s best to avoid these chemicals at all if you have animals around.

Where do lizards live?

Lizards love shelter and will always seek out hiding places to avoid predators. Ensuring your backyard has plenty of thick grass, natural leaf litter, fallen branches and logs as well as protected sunning spots on brick paths or natural rocks will provide a very desirable environment to lizards. Some lizards like access to water, such as ponds, so if you are looking to attract lizards like Eastern Water Dragons, consider adding a pond to your backyard.

What do I do if I find a sick or injured lizard?

Unfortunately, lizards can become sick or injured just like any animal. Accidents with lawn mowers and edge-trimmers are sadly common, so it’s important to always pace your backyard before mowing to chase away any lizards which might get injured by the spinning blades. In hot weather, leave a shallow water dish in a shady area of your yard with a rock in the middle to provide water access to lizards. Make sure the rock is placed so that the lizards can get out of the water and escape from the dish.  If you do encounter an injured or unwell lizard, either take them to your nearest veterinarian or call your local wildlife carer for assessment and treatment.