On the prowl for the elusive Eared Worm-lizard

Eared worm-lizard (Aprasia aurita)

PF Olsen, OneFortyOne (OFO) and Nature Glenelg Trust are joining forces to try and find new colonies of the endangered eared worm-lizard (Aprasia aurita) in the Limestone Coast region (pictured). With a five-year project funded from PF Olsen (and annual support through OFO), NGT have set up new tile grid sites to seasonally check for this elusive legless lizard. The new sites are in the PF Olsen managed forests, east of Furner in the south-east of South Australia, which are close to where eared worm-lizards are currently known to occur.

Eight new tile grids (containing 50 tiles each) have been set up in potential habitat areas in the hope to find either a shed skin or an actual eared worm-lizard. In the Limestone Coast, the eared worm-lizard has been found in various habitat types including rocky hills with little vegetation, to messmate stringybark and yaccas, swamp gum and cutting grass flats, to small isolated damp sedgy areas.

So where do you look for them? Across almost any habitat type, within (or near to) the restricted geographic zone where they have been recorded in the region. That’s quite a search.

After four checks of these new tile grids (in May, September, October, and December of this year) we are yet to record a positive detection or observation of an eared worm-lizard. However, we can report finding the striped worm-lizard (Aprasia striolata) at two new sites. Currently the distribution of these two closely related legless lizards do not overlap. We don’t yet know why this is so. We hope to find out more over the next five years, so stay tuned.

Aprasia striolata (Striped Worm-lizard) found beneath tiles at Clarke’s
in October & December, 2023

In contrast, within the OFO plantation and native forest reserve sites we are continuing to monitor, there have been numerous eared worm-lizards seen under tiles this spring! Many other reptiles have also been recorded including snakes, and skinks, so overall the survey is providing a good inventory of the species known at each locality.

The eared worm-lizard is also potentially being nominated as a nationally threatened species which could further bolster interest and effort in the future. Watch this space, and hopefully we will be able to report some sightings of this illusive lizard on PF Oslen properties soon.

Thanks to NGT staff for setting up the new grids (especially Ute, Carmen, Toni), and David deAngelis, Sheryl Holliday, Angus Samson and Jazmin Bingham for assistance during tile checks this year.

This project is supported by PF Olsen and One Forty One

Bryan Haywood