Predation of a common scaly-foot Pygopus lepidopodus by an eastern small-eyed snake Cryptophis nigrescens in New South Wales.
Here we report an instance of predation by the Eastern Small-eyed Snake on the Common Scaly-foot Pygopus lepidopodus (Pygopodidae) from Booderee National Park (Jervis Bay Territory). Booderee National Park is located 200 km south of Sydney and 20 km south of the city of Nowra on the south coast of New South Wales, south-eastern Australia (approximate midpoint is 35[degrees]10' S, 150[degrees] 40' E). The area has a temperate maritime climate with an average rainfall of 1150 mm per annum spread relatively evenly over the year.
On 21 May 2014 at 0940 hours, a male Eastern Small-eyed Snake (snout vent length (SVL) = 511 mm; mass 67 g) was captured between two sheets of corrugated galvanised steel that had been placed within the park for the purpose of monitoring reptiles (see Michael et al. 2012 for methodology on using artificial refuges). The snake was placed into a calico handling bag and held overnight as part of a life-history study on the species (Australian National University Animal Care and Ethic Approval No: A2014/02). On 22 May at 0830 hours, the handling bag was opened and on inspection an adult Common Scaly-foot (total length = 315 mm; SVL = 162 mm; mass 21 g) was found to have been regurgitated by the snake (Fig. 1). The nape had obvious signs of necrosis and bite marks were evident along the entire length of the lizard.
The Common Scaly-foot is a diurnal species that actively forages for arthropods (Patchell and Shine 1984; Wall et al. 2013), and was presumably captured by the snake during the previous night while the lizard was inactive (maximum and minimum temperature for 20 May was 22.4[degrees]C and 16.5[degrees]C respectively). The habitat in which the snake was captured is described as an ecotone between dry heathland dominated by Heath Banksia Banksia ericifolia, Scrub She-oak Allocasuarina distyla, Broadleaved Drumsticks Isopogon anemonifolius and Dagger Hakea Hakea teretifolia, and dry forest dominated by Turpentine Syncarpia glomulifera. This observation represents the first record of an Eastern Small-eyed Snake preying on a legless lizard in NSW and suggests this species may have a much broader diet than previously thought, possibly including relatively large prey items.
This study is supported by the Department of Environment and the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community.
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Damian Michael, Christopher MacGregor, Sachiko Okada and David Lindenmayer
Conservation and Landscape Ecology Group
Long-term Ecological Research Network
Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network
Fenner School of Environment and Society
Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200
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|Title Annotation:||Naturalist Notes|
|Author:||Michael, Damian; MacGregor, Christopher; Okada, Sachiko; Lindenmayer, David|
|Publication:||The Victorian Naturalist|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2014|
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