The herpetofauna of the Weipa region, Cape York Peninsula
The Weipa region has a rich and diverse herpetofauna of which many species are shared both with New Guinea and other regions of northern Australia. Twenty native species of frogs and 76 species of reptiles have been recorded in the Weipa region and individual species accounts, photos and identification keys are provided. The herpetofauna may include as many as four undescribed species but it lacks the high level of endemicity characteristic of the herpetofauna on the eastern side of Cape York Peninsula. The arrival and establishment of the introduced Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) in the Weipa region is documented.
One crocodile and four marine turtles in the region are listed by the IUCN as vulnerable or endangered; a small burrowing snake has been proposed for the Squamata section of the IUCN Red Data Book. The region experiences a very dry winter (average monthly rainfall from June to September less than 4 mm) but contains significant dry season refugia for a number of frog species hitherto recorded only from more mesic habitats. Seven of these refuge sites are recommended for habitat conservation.
Many of the regeneration sites provide suitable habitat for the frogs and reptiles characteristic of the pre-mined open forest but some species are apparently excluded because large, hollow-bearing trees and/or suitable ground cover are lacking.