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Get to know Melbourne's neighbours

The Golden Sun Moth, Southern Brown Bandicoot, Growling Grass Frog and Striped Legless Lizard are just some of the many special creatures that live on Melbourne's doorstep.

They all call Melbourne's woodlands and grasslands home, and each one of these special animals is recognised Australia-wide as being endangered or threatened.

Tragically, the survival of these species has been put at further risk by plans to expand Melbourne's Urban Growth Boundary.

These unique creatures can't call for help so we must do it for them.


Golden Sun Moth

Golden Sun Moth

You might see this beautiful moth if you were to take a stroll through one of the native grasslands near Melbourne on an early summer afternoon. The male moths zoom over the tops of shining wallaby-grass and the brightly-coloured females flash their golden wings from the ground, each hoping to attract the other's attention.

The Golden Sun Moth is Critically Endangered in Australia and relies on Melbourne's grasslands for its habitat. It is found in the grasslands of the Merri Creek Catchment, to the west of Melbourne near Sunbury, Caroline Springs and on the Werribee Plains. Each area of native grassland is important as there is less than 0.5% left of its original extent.


 

Striped Legless Lizard

Striped Legless LizardThis shy and retiring lizard belongs to the family of "flap-footed" lizards, which are related to geckos and are unique to Australia.

You can tell it's not a snake by its ear-holes - snakes don't have these. These lizards grow to about 30cm long and are hard to see because of their stripey camouflage and shy nature.

Striped Legless Lizards live in the basalt plains grasslands to the west of Melbourne. They like to hide in cracks and under rocks, so won't be found in areas that have had rocks removed or have been ploughed.

They don't like to move much unless they have to. Listed as Vulnerable in Australia, they are threatened mainly by clearing and alteration of grassland areas. The expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary into Melbourne's grasslands will further threaten this unique animal.


Growling Grass Frog

Growling Grass FrogThese beautiful frogs have golden eyes and lines that run along their sides, contrasting brilliantly with their stunning green skin. Once widespread near Melbourne, they are now much more restricted to creeks and wetlands on the plains surrounding the city. They are found particularly in places that have water plants and relatively good water quality.

Males like to sit up on the plants to serenade their mates and can be heard calling in spring. They will give a series of short grunts 'crok-crok' followed by a slow 'craw-craw-crawk' to woo their mates. Females lay a raft of eggs that sink once they have hatched.

These frogs are listed as Vulnerable in Australia and are threatened by the draining, destruction and degradation of wetlands and waterbodies. They are also prey to pest animals including cats, dogs and foxes, and vulnerable to chitrid fungus.

More development on Melbourne's urban fringe will seriously affect this frog, especially if development is allowed to proceed without adequate protection of the waterways and wetlands that the frogs rely on.


Southern Brown Bandicoot

Southern Brown BandicootThis lovely creature used to be widespread, mainly to the east of Melbourne. A marsupial, its body is mostly covered with coarse brown fur, with a softer creamy-white underbelly. It can now be seen holding on in small pockets of vegetation to the south-east of Melbourne.

Bandicoots need to travel to find new mates and to forage. They need safe biolinks (vegetation corridors) to do this successfully. Vulnerable in Australia, they are particularly threatened because they are prey to foxes, cats and dogs and because much of their former habitat has been cleared.

Expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary in the south-east of Melbourne will further threaten this important animal. Provisions must be made in the planning for the future of this area to ensure adequate habitat for Southern Brown Bandicoots.

About the illustrations: Brian Bainbridge, a skilled artist based in Melbourne's north, has kindly donated his artwork to draw attention to the plight of the animals and their habitat, now under threat on Melbourne's doorstep.

 

You can help our native grasslands by getting involved with the Victorian National Parks Association's NatureWatch program.

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