Green Wednesday: Retro Slider!!

on 26 Mar 2013 

Lerista is a genus of skinks commonly known as “sliders”. It contains over 90 species of mostly small, burrowing skinks with reduced limbs – limbs that are short, often with fewer than five fingers or toes, or are missing altogether. Sliders have restricted distributions – sometimes just a few square kilometres. Usually sliders inhabit loose leaf litter and sandy soils, and not heavy, clay soils prone to floods. Those areas are often separated by unsuitable habitat, leading to tiny distributions.

The Retro slider is one such species, inhabiting slight rises in a landscape of fertile, deeply cracking clay soils near Clermont in central Queensland’s Brigalow Belt. They are known from four locations over a 40 km range, and the area they occupy is unknown, but possibly as small as a few square kilometres. The main stronghold is Retro Station, a lightly grazed property with, importantly, patches of trees with deep, undisturbed leaf litter. Retro sliders also occur along road verges.

The Retro slider (Lerista allanae), has tiny back legs and no front legs. It grows to about 15 cm, nearly half of this being tail. It is grey to silver or pale brown, and each scale has a dark spot or streak on it.

Originally known from two or three locations the Retro slider was missing for 49 years until rediscovered near one of the original sites in 2009. It is listed as endangered on a state and national level, and critically endangered under the IUCN.

There is no current formal coordinated management strategy in place for Retro sliders. The Retro slider is not known to occur within the protected estate, so management on private land and road reserves will be imperative for its long term survival.  For many years the Retro slider had the dubious distinction of being Australia’s only reptile thought to be extinct. Its rediscovery and the fact that it has been found in a growing number of sites in the last three years give hope for a secure future.

Environment days in April

  • Australian Heritage Week - 13th to 21st
  • World Heritage Day  - 18th
  • International Mother Earth Day  - 22nd