Reptiles and amphibians are not always the most popular of neighbours, but they are certainly very ‘cool’. These amazing cold-blooded creatures, collectively called herptiles, live all around us and are uniquely adapted to Australia’s hot, dry climate. Unlike mammals that need regular supplies of food and water to power their metabolism, reptiles are incredibly fuel efficient and do not need to eat as much as a similar–sized mammal. They tap into Australia's abundant solar energy, basking in the sunshine to 'power up' for the day. Being cold-blooded gives reptiles a distinct advantage. With our harsh climatic conditions, it's no wonder more than 10% of the world's total species of reptiles are found in Australia.
In the newly-installed meet your ‘cool’ neighbour exhibit at Mary Cairncross scenic reserve, you can meet some of Mary’s ‘coolest’ (or more precisely cold-blooded) neighbours. Find out about the male pouched frog (Assa darlingtoni) who surprisingly, actually takes care of his young tadpoles. Both parents guard the fertilised eggs. After the eggs hatch, the tiny tadpoles swim into brood pouches located above the male’s hip joint. The tadpoles undergo metamorphosis in his pouches and emerge two months later as little froglets.
Another amazing frog is the vulnerable tusked frog (Adelotus brevis). Male tusked frogs grow two bony protrusions on their lower jaw and will often use these to fight with each other. Their propensity for fighting might be one reason why male tusked frogs are, unusually for frogs, larger than their female counterparts. Like many of our wonderful native frogs, tusked frogs are now listed as vulnerable. This is due to loss of their preferred habitat and the prevalence of chytrid fungal disease.
These are a couple of the ‘cool’ creatures living in Mary Cairncross. Our meet the ‘cool’ neighbours exhibition runs until September. Come and learn more about the amazing amphibians and reptiles living in our backyard.