The Collared Delma (Delma torquata) is a small legless lizard that is found in scattered populations across South East Queensland. It has been recorded from undisturbed open forests around western Brisbane (Upper Brookfield, Kenmore, Pullenvale, Anstead, Pinjarra Hills and Mount Crosby), in the Lockyer Valley and at the Bunya Mountains.
The Collared Delma is reddish-brown to bluish-grey in colour, reaching a length of only 15 cm with a weight of 2.5 grams. The distinguishing features are its glossy black head that is banded with 3-4 narrow yellow to orange stripes, its short, blunt snout and black marbling on its throat. Legless lizards appear snake-like but are actually closely related to geckoes.
Listed as vulnerable under both Queensland and Commonwealth legislation, the Collared Delma’s scattered populations coincide with areas of high urban development placing this species under pressure. The Collared Delma also has a small home range, with some populations living within a 10 m x 10 m area. These factors combine to make populations of the Collared Delma particularly vulnerable.
Landholders can play a critical role in helping the survival of the Collared Delma by being aware of, and reducing, threats to this small animal. Some of the key threats are rock removal, Creeping Lantana, hot fires and fire ants. Moving rocks around on a property to line pathways may even threaten a population of Collared Delmas.
The Collared Delma occurs on rocky hillsides in open eucalypt forests with a sparse understorey of shrubs and a groundcover of patchy native grasses. A leaf litter layer of 30-100 mm thick is required. This delma also prefers habitats with large numbers of small, exposed rocks (less than 3 cm in size).
As with many other reptiles, the Collared Delma depends on leaf litter, rocks and logs in which to shelter. It feeds on insects, spiders and small cockroaches during the day. Leaving leaf litter, logs and rocks on your property, maintaining appropriate fire regimes (cool, patchy fires) and removing Creeping Lantana will help ensure the survival of this rare reptile.
This is the third Collared Delma found by Land for Wildlife member, Mervyn Mason, on his property at Mount Crosby. These tiny legless lizards were found when Mervyn was moving a pile of aged soil, moving gravel around the pool and when gardening among mulch. Their small size and small home range makes these animals particularly vulnerable to disturbance. Their survival depends on landholders taking care when undertaking land management work and also leaving leaf litter, rocks and logs as habitat.