Grassland Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla) - An endangered species

Grassland Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla) - An endangered species

Grassland Earless Dragon

The Grassland Earless Dragon ( Tympanocryptis pinguicolla ) is a small dragon lizard measuring up to 210 mm in length. It is well-camouflaged and each individual has unique back pattern markings.

In the Canberra-Monaro region the Grassland Earless Dragon appears to be restricted to natural temperate grassland that is dominated by perennial tussock-forming species. It is known to make use of grass tussocks as well as small holes in the ground that are also used by invertebrates such as wolf spiders and crickets. Spiders and insects appear to comprise the main diet.

In the past the Grassland Earless Dragon was found near Melbourne, Rutherglen, Bathurst, Cooma and Canberra. Recent information indicates that it has disappeared from Victoria and Bathurst. Populations elsewhere are small and fragmented, and restricted to only three locations-the Majura and Jerrabomberra Valleys in the ACT and near Cooma in NSW.

Conservation Threats

An estimated 99.5% of Australia's natural temperate grassland has been lost or grossly altered since European settlement. Only about 5% or 1000 hectares of the ACT's original natural temperate grassland still remains and only a subset of this supports the Grassland Earless Dragon. The main threats to the continued survival of the species are:

  • further loss and fragmentation of suitable habitat from urban expansion, development of transport infrastructure and changed agricultural practices such as the introduction of ploughing or addition of fertilizer;
  • degradation of habitat from weed invasion and changed fire frequency; and
  • predation by domestic and feral animals.

Conservation Action

The major conservation objective is to protect a number of populations of the Grassland Earless Dragon of sufficient size to ensure the continued survival of the species in the ACT. This is to be achieved by:

  • improving our understanding of the species' biology and its ecological needs so that management for conservation can be improved; and
  • protecting a range of grassland sites that are known to support the species.

More information

Eastern Lined Earless Dragon