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Handling Reptiles
Common Reasons for Care – Lizards
– Orphaned lizards
– Injured lizards
– Lizard stuck in a fence
– Lizard in a swimming pool
– Eggs
Common Reasons for Care – Turtles
– Orphaned turtles
– Injured turtles
– Eggs
Common Reasons for Care – Frogs
– Sick frogs
– Frogs found in fruit boxes
– Tadpoles
– Noisy frogs
Common Reasons for Care – Snakes
– Orphaned snakes
– Injured snakes
– Eggs
– Uninjured snake in house/garage
– Uninjured snake in yard


South-east Queensland is home to a vast array of native reptiles and amphibians, including lizards, freshwater turtles, snakes and frogs.

Some of the most common species encountered in South-east Queensland include the following:


Eastern Blue-tongued Skink *
Pink-tongued Skink *
Land Mullet
Verreaux’s Skink
Eastern Water Dragon *
Eastern Bearded Dragon *
Burton’s Legless Lizard
Lace Monitor *
Sand Monitor



Coastal Carpet Python *
Spotted Python
Common Tree Snake *
Brown Tree Snake (weakly venomous) *
Keelback *


Eastern Brown Snake *
Common Death Adder
Eastern Small-eyed Snake *
Marsh Snake
Red-bellied Black Snake *
Rough-scaled Snake *
White-crowned Snake
Golden-crowned Snake
Dwarf-crowned Snake
Bandy Bandy
Yellow-faced Whip Snake *

Freshwater Turtles

Eastern Long-necked Turtle *
Broad-shelled Turtle *
Saw-shelled Turtle *
Brisbane River Turtle *


Common Green Tree frog *
Eastern Sedge frog
Graceful Tree frog
Naked Tree frog
Scarlet-sided Pobblebonk
Southern Orange-eyed Tree frog
Striped Marsh frog

(*) denotes species that are most commonly require rescue and care.


There are a large number of excellent resources available to aid in the identification of reptiles.

Local Council libraries usually have a great assortment of field guides. There are also a number of excellent smartphone applications and websites which are available free of charge or at nominal cost.

Accurate identification is imperative in circumstances where you may come across a sick or injured reptile, particularly a snake. A large proportion of snakes located in South-east Queensland are venomous, and some of them are the deadliest in the world. If you do not have the knowledge and expertise to correctly identify a snake, then you should always regard it as potentially dangerous and refer it to someone who does.

It is beyond the scope of our website to help in the identification of local species however we have listed below some recommended resources to assist you.


Department of Environment and Heritage Protection

Queensland Museum

Frogs of Australia

Smartphone and Tablet Apps

Snakes of Australia

Reptiles Guide

Frogs of Australia

Handling Reptiles

If you do find yourself in a situation where it is necessary to handle a sick or injured reptile, it is essential that you observe the following guidelines.


Skinks (such as the Eastern Blue-tongued skink) 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.

Dragons (such as Eastern Water Dragon) 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. Water Dragons can bite hard so always keep your fingers away from their mouth.

Remember, lizards may also scratch and some species (water dragons) may attempt to whip their tail.

Lace Monitors 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

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. Ensure you face the tail away from you when you first pick up a turtle as most will urinate readily.

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.


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.

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.


We recommend that only people who are appropriately trained in the identification and handling of snakes attempt to do so. Reports of sick and injured snakes can be placed to your local wildlife rescue group who will dispatch an experienced snake rescuer who will attend the animal.

For information on the correct method to treat a snake bite, please refer to the St John Ambulance Australia reference guide – http://stjohn.org.au/assets/uploads/fact%20sheets/english/FS_snakebite.pdf

Common Reasons for Care – Lizards

Orphaned Lizards

There is no such thing as an orphaned lizard as all reptiles are independent from hatching.

If hatchlings have not emerged from the nest and the nest looks disturbed or the hatchlings look “tired”, they are probably simply recovering from the effort involved in hatching. Please gently cover them back up and check on them in a few hours. If a baby is moving well and alert, it is best to leave it alone.

Hatchlings that appear sick may need to be referred to your local wildlife rescue group for further advice.

Injured Lizards

If you encounter a lizard that appears injured, it will need to be assessed by a veterinarian.

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. The lizard can then be taken to your closest wildlife hospital or local wildlife rescue group.

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.

Lizard stuck in a fence

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.

Lizard in a Swimming Pool

Some lizards are capable swimmers, such as Eastern Water Dragons, however, many lizards end up in pools and ponds, and are unable to find their way out. They can easily become exhausted, hypothermic or potentially aspirate the chlorinated water. If the lizard has been in the pool for several hours, a vet check-up is recommended.


Occasionally we receive calls about eggs that are found and cannot be left covered to incubate where they are (i.e. due to excavation of site). Wherever possible, eggs should be left until hatching. Contact your local wildlife rescue group who may be able to advise on incubation times if the species is known.

If the situation is such that the eggs MUST be moved, the eggs must be maintained in EXACTLY the same position as found. If they are rotated, they may die. If you need to remove the eggs, mark each egg with a dot on the side facing up, using a marker pen. Place marked eggs in a container with moist to touch (not wet) sand in the bottom of a plastic tray to stabilise them, keep in the same position as found and keep warm (25°-28°C) until they are transported to a wildlife carer with suitable incubation facilities.

Common Reasons for Care – Freshwater Turtles

Orphaned Turtles

There is no such thing as an orphaned freshwater turtle as all reptiles are independent from hatching.

Refer to the section above for Orphaned Lizards for more information.

Injured Turtles

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.


Refer to the section above for Orphaned Lizards for more information.

Common Reasons for Care – Frogs

Sick Frogs

A frog that appears unwell 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 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.


Frogs found in fruit boxes

Frogs that arrive in fruit and vegetable boxes CANNOT be released back into the wild. Releasing frogs into an area where they did not originate from could risk disease being spread amongst local healthy populations and they could be released into unsuitable habitat, which would result in their death.

Where possible, take the frog to a wildlife hospital, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection or your local wildlife rescue group.


Frogs and tadpoles are protected under Queensland legislation and cannot be collected from the wild. It is imperative that frogs and tadpoles are not moved from their original location due to the risk of the spread of diseases such as Chytridiomycosis (see section above on Sick Frogs).

Neither Wildcare or any frog association in Queensland, are able to provide tadpoles for gardens and ponds. For queries, regarding the collection of tadpoles, contact the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection www.ehp.qld.gov.au

Noisy Frogs

Most residents in South-east Queensland love to hear the calling of their local frogs. Some residents may not be as receptive to the constant calling from a large tree frog, particularly when they are hiding in a drain near a bedroom window.

It is important that frogs should never be relocated. If they are moved away, they will just make their way back again. Generally, they will leave when the breeding season or rain ceases.

General information about frogs

For general information about frogs and frog habitat we recommend that you visit the Queensland Frog Society Inc. website – www.qldfrogs.asn.au

Common Reasons for Care – Snakes

Identification of Snakes

Our Wildcare volunteers are unable to assist with the identification of snakes over the phone. Size and colour of a snake is no indication of the species and identification is best left to a snake expert.

Orphaned Snakes

There is no such thing as an orphaned snake as all snakes are independent from hatching.

Refer to the section above for Orphaned Lizards for more information.

Injured Snakes

The most common reason for injuries to snakes are from being hit by a car and dog attacks.

Never attempt to pick up an injured snake if you are not 100% certain that it is a non-venomous species. Only if you do feel confident, gently pick up the snake and place into a secured plastic tub with adequate ventilation. Take the snake to the closest wildlife hospital or contact your local wildlife rescue group.


Refer to the section above for Orphaned Lizards for more information.

Uninjured Snake in House / Garage

Remember – do not handle any snake!

In Queensland, volunteer wildlife rescuers are not licensed to relocate snakes.

If you find a snake in your house or garage, try to close the room off by closing an adjoining door and place a towel under the door to keep the snake contained.

Do not approach any snake, throw things at it, poke at it or attempt to catch it. Keep an eye on it from a distance (if it is safe to do so) until assistance arrives.

Contact your local wildlife rescue group who will be able to recommend a local snake catcher who will be able to safely remove and relocate the snake.

Uninjured Snake in Yard

Most snakes that are seen in a suburban backyard are simply moving through the area looking for food.

Ensure that your pet dogs, cats, pet birds, guinea pigs etc are secured. If there is no food source available, the snake will soon move on its own.

Keep children well away from the snake.

If you are still concerned about the snake, contact your local wildlife rescue group who will be able to recommend a local snake catcher.