The Perunga Grasshopper and the Striped Legless Lizard are threatened species that rely on the ACT's natural temperate grasslands.
The Perunga Grasshopper (Perunga ochracea) is a flightless, short-winged grasshopper, growing up to 35 mm long. Its colour ranges from brown or grey in dry years, to green in wet years. In Canberra, the species is distinguished by a pale 'X' on its back. The Perunga Grasshopper lays its eggs in the soil, with nymphs hatching in autumn, developing into adults by mid spring to late summer.
The species' habitat is Natural Temperate Grassland or open woodland areas with a grassy understorey. The grasshopper's range includes Wagga Wagga, Boorowa, Galong, and the greater ACT area including Jeir, Murrumbateman and Queanbeyan. In the ACT, the species has been recorded at Yarramundi Reach, Black Mountain, Gungahlin, Majura Valley, Canberra International Airport, Jerrabomberra Valley, Molonglo Valley, near the Campbell Park Offices, Belconnen Naval Station, Hall, Kambah Pool, Mount Stromlo, Reid, Weetangera and Tuggeranong.
The Perunga Grasshopper is listed as vulnerable under the ACT's Nature Conservation Act 1980 [External Link].
Striped Legless Lizard
Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar)is a pale grey lizard of up to 30 cm in length. As the name suggests, the species lacks front legs, and has very reduced hind legs which look like small flaps. They have a long, thin body with a pale underside, and the tail is about twice the length of the body. There are a series of dark-brown stripes on their sides starting at their neck, becoming diagonal bands on the tail.
The Striped Legless Lizard occurs across approximately 90 populations stretching from western South Australia, through southern Victoria, north through to the ACT and the Goulburn area of New South Wales. In the ACT, the species occurs in the grassland areas of Gungahlin, Majura and Jerrabomberra Valleys, and Yarramundi Reach. These four areas are separated by unsuitable habitat and urban development, and only the Gungahlin site is under formal protection. There is also a captive population at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. This population was established as part of salvage operations undertaken prior to the destruction of grassland sites for development.
The Striped Legless Lizard is listed as vulnerable under both the ACT's Nature Conservation Act 1980 [External Link], and the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 [External Link]. It is also listed as threatened under legislation in New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria.
The main threat to both these species is the loss and degradation of their grassland habitat due to development. Inappropriate fire regimes and the presence of feral animals and weeds are also thought to impact the species. Priority conservation actions include continuing to survey suitable habitat, improve understanding of the species' ecology to aid management efforts, and formally protecting sites with suitable habitat.
- Click here for more information on conservation needs in the ACT's grassy ecosystems [External Link].
- Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2010. Delma impar - Striped Legless Lizard, Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra [External Link] - 22 October 2010.
- Environment ACT, 2006. Threatened species and communities of the ACT: Perunga Grasshopper (Perunga ochracea): A vulnerable species. Canberra, ACT: Arts, Heritage and Environment [External Download] - 28 October 2010.