Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Not listed under EPBC Act
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Delma labialis (striped-tailed delma) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2013ax) [Listing Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, species delisted from the EPBC Act (15/05/2013).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened reptiles. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.6 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011m) [Admin Guideline].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (139) (29/04/2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013n) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
QLD:Brigalow Belt bioregion: a biodiversity jewel (Threatened Species Network (TSN), 2008b) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Vulnerable (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Vulnerable (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Delma labialis [25930]
Family Pygopodidae:Squamata:Reptilia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Shea, 1987
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

Delma labialis was removed from the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 list of threatened species on 15 May 2013.

Scientific name: Delma labialis (Shea 1987)

Common name: Striped-tailed Delma

Other names: White-striped Delma, Single-striped Delma

This species is conventionally accepted as Delma labialis Shea, 1987 (AFD 2010c).

The Striped-tailed Delma is a large legless lizard with a snout-vent length of up to 10 cm, and a tail up to 40 cm long. Rich-brown to grey-brown in colour, with a cream throat, belly and underbody, the species has alternating cream and yellow-brown vertical bars along its lips and side of the head. The Striped-tailed Delma has distinct nasal scales, and at the mid-body scales are in rows of 16–18 (Cogger 2000).

The Striped-tailed Delma has been found in the coastal region of central North Queensland from Paluma (north of Townsville) south as far as Keswick Island (off Mackay). The species is known to occur on Magnetic, South Molle, Shaw and the Whitsunday Islands. The species is currently known to occur between 0–800 m above sea level (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; Lloyd 2005; Queensland DERM 2010; Queensland Museum 2009).

Potential distribution

Habitat potentially suitable for the Striped-tailed Delma extends from the Lumholtz region to the Cumberland Islands off Mackay and to the Nebo area about 80 km south-west of Mackay (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010). Given the paucity of records and the serendipitous nature of sightings, it is possible that the distribution of this species could be more extensive than currently reported (DSEWPaC 2011m).

Important populations

Suitable habitats contiguous with known locations of the Striped-tailed Delma are considered important for the recovery of the species and maintaining the species' genetic diversity across its range. Similarly, suitable habitats found in Queensland Regional Ecosystem Land Zone 12 (hills and lowlands on granitic rocks), including those on Magnetic, South Molle, Shaw and Whitsunday Islands, and at Mount Abbot, are core habitats for the species and considered important for its survival and long-term persistence (Richardson 2006; Vanderduys 2010 pers. comm.). Populations identified in these particular habitats are, therefore, considered important (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010).

For more information on Queensland Regional Ecosystems, please visit the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management website at

The islands on which populations of Striped-tailed Delma are either known to occur or potentially occur are located within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Known habitats

The Striped-tailed Delma has been found in a variety of habitats, including low and tall open forests and open woodland (all with grassy understory), wet sclerophyll forest, coastal microphyll/notophyll vine forests/thickets, eucalypt forest and woodland with dense Xanthorrhoea and Acacia mid-storey to understory, spinifex, and seasonally dry tea-tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) swamp (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; Queensland Museum 2009; Woodcock 2008).


Specimens have been observed under thick ground cover with grasses (e.g. Themeda, Austrostipa), and some specimens have been captured under leaf litter (Cogger et al. 1993; Low 1978) and sheets of tin (Shea 1987). One individual was seen active at midday on a dry, very open, rocky hill (Low 1978). Two individuals were observed to be active during the day (Cogger et al. 1993).

Association with nationally listed ecological communities

The Striped-tailed Delma has been recorded in coastal microphyll/notophyll vine forests and thickets. Some of this vegetation may meet the criteria including the listed Littoral Rainforest and Coastal Vine Thickets of Eastern Australia, a Critically Endangered ecological community listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Further from the coast, the species' distribution overlaps with the distribution of Semi-evergreen Vine Thickets of the Brigalow Belt (North and South) and Nandewar Bioregions, an Endangered ecological community listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Very little is known of the breeding biology of the Striped-tailed Delma. As a Pygopodid, it is likely that it is egg-laying with an average clutch size of two (Wilson 2005; Wilson & Swan 2003).

Active during the day, the species feeds on a range of arthropods (Richardson 2006). Other Pygopodides prey on small invertebrates (Wilson & Swan 2003).

The species is considered wary and difficult to detect (Richardson 2006).

Species distinctiveness and detectability

The Striped-tailed Delma overlaps in distribution with three other Delma species, the Excitable Delma (D. tincta) and the Atherton Delma (D. mitella) and the Burbon's Legless Lizard (Lialis burtonis). The Striped-tailed Delma differs from both species by having a narrow dark dorsolateral stripe along the tail, and pale bars on lips and side of neck (some D. tincta may have the latter markings as well). The snout is also more slender and elongate than either the Excitable Delma or the Atherton Delma.

Sampling and recording of observed specimens

Potential records of the Striped-tailed Delma should be supported by a good quality colour photograph. Photo vouchers or skin sloughs should be forwarded to the Queensland Museum for positive identification and databasing of the record (DSEWPaC 2011m).

Tissue samples are recommended for any records beyond the known distribution. Tissue sampling should only be undertaken with appropriate training in tissue preservation, ethics approval and State permits to collect samples. Where possible photo vouchers should include close-up colour shots of the limb areas, and the head, body and tail dorsally, ventrally and laterally. Dead specimens (e.g. roadkills) should be frozen and advice on preservation and lodgement sought from the Queensland Museum (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010).

Survey methods

Habitat assessment

A habitat assessment is recommended to be undertaken as a preliminary step to designing and undertaking a targeted survey, including:

  • Determine the proximity of nearest records to the study area.
  • Search relevant databases such as Zoology Data Search (Queensland Museum) and Wildlife Online (Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management).
  • Obtain State vegetation mapping for the study area to determine the extent of suitable habitat including the presence of associated vegetation communities.
  • Determine the presence of suitable microhabitat features in the study area.

Targeted survey

Targeted surveys to confirm the presence/absence of the Striped-tailed Delma are done by actively searching suitable habitats (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010). Where practical, pitfall and funnel trapping is also recommended.

Please note that the use of traps requires State government approval. It is important to ensure that trapped animals, including by-catch, do not suffer injury or death from the effects of high temperatures, dehydration or predation, whilst caught in traps.

Optimal conditions for active searching

The species is more likely to be detected when conditions are warm, not too dry and maximum temperatures are greater than 25°C. Optimal survey times for active searching are early morning (two hours either side of dawn) and during the evening on warm nights (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; DSEWPaC 2011m).

Minimum survey effort

Sufficient time is required to thoroughly search the area by day and to spotlight by night. The minimum survey effort required includes (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010):

  • a minimum of three survey days and nights
  • at least one replicate survey employing all of the recommended techniques, if the species has not already been detected.

A recovery plan for the Queensland Brigalow Belt Reptiles, including the Striped-tailed Delma, was drafted by WWF-Australia in 2006 (Richardson 2006). The recovery actions outlined in this plan, and in the species profile on the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Queensland DERM 2010b), are as follows:

  • Encourage involvement, provide incentives and adopt a collaborative approach with government agencies, Natural Resource Management regional bodies, the Indigenous community, key industry stakeholders and local governments to deliver region-specific information and implement sustained, effective recovery actions.
  • Identify research priorities: develop and support the implementation of research projects undertaken by tertiary and research institutions.
  • Inspect and identify suitable habitat for conservation of the Striped-tailed Delma.
  • Identify key threats and develop management guidelines to protect key habitat.
  • Maximise the establishment of appropriate reserves to protect Striped-tailed Delma habitat and landscape-connectivity over the long term, for example, on stock route networks, road reserves and private lands.
  • Ensure the Striped-tailed Delma conservation is incorporated into appropriate land management decisions made by all levels of government and industry.
  • Develop and provide land management guidelines and incentives for landowners to reduce the impact of current land use practices on the species outside reserves.
  • Negotiate management agreements and voluntary conservation agreements with landholders, on whose land the Striped-tailed Delma occurs, in line with the recommended management guidelines.
  • Facilitate on-ground projects to manage and protect habitat on a range of land tenures in line with recommended management guidelines, for example, in integrated weed and feral predator management programs.
  • Develop community awareness within the species' known range through media campaigns and education material, and provide incentives for wider community involvement, for example, local governments and schools participating in reptile educational programs and adopting a local reptile species as their shire and/or school icon.
  • Implement recommended fire management guidelines in property and reserve designs.
  • Work with landholders and key stakeholders to undertake monitoring programs on selected sites.
  • Monitor and evaluate recovery actions, applying an adaptive management approach.

Mitigation measures or approaches that may be suitable for the Striped-tailed Delma’s habitat include (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010):

  • design proposed action to avoid habitat disturbance
  • establish adequate buffer zones to protect habitat
  • implement measures to exclude domestic animals, including cats, dogs and cattle, from habitats
  • maintain habitat connectivity across the landscape
  • retain main shelter habitat features in place, i.e. rocks and course woody debris
  • devise and implement a habitat management plan specific to the Striped-tailed Delma
  • implement measures to reduce the risk of invasive and predatory species accessing reptile habitat
  • devise and implement an appropriate fire management plan
  • devise and implement water management, sediment erosion and pollution control plans.

Management documents for the Striped-tailed Delma include:

  • Draft National Recovery Plan for the Queensland Brigalow Belt Reptiles (Richardson 2006).
  • Action Plan for Australian Reptiles (Cogger et al. 1993).

No threats data available.

Australian Faunal Directory (AFD) (2010c). Delma labialis. [Online]. Canberra: Australian Biological Resources Study, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from:

Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop (2010). Proceedings from the workshop for the nine listed reptiles of the Brigalow Belt bioregions. 18-19 August. Brisbane: Queensland Herbarium.

Cogger, H.G. (2000). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia - 6th edition. Sydney, NSW: Reed New Holland.

Cogger, H.G., E.E. Cameron, R.A. Sadlier & P. Eggler (1993). The Action Plan for Australian Reptiles. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Australian Nature Conservation Agency. Available from:

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) (2011m). Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened reptiles. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.6 . [Online]. Canberra, ACT: DSEWPaC. Available from:

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (2010). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. [Online]. Available from:

Lloyd, R. (2005). A high altitude observation of the North Queensland Pygopod Delma labialis (Sauria:Pygopodidae). Herpetofauna. 35(1):40-41.

Low, T. (1978). The reptiles of Magnetic Island, Nth Queensland. Herpetofauna. 9 (2):10-14.

Queensland Department of the Environment and Resource Management (Queensland DERM) (2010). Wildlife and Ecosystems- Striped-tailed Delma. [Online]. Available from:

Queensland Museum (2009). Delma labialis records. Viewed 16 September, 2009. Page(s) 2009.

Richardson, R. (2006). Draft Queensland Brigalow Belt Reptile Recovery Plan 2008 - 2012. [Online]. Report to the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra. Brisbane, Queensland: WWF-Australia. Available from:

Shea, G.M. (1987). Two new species of Delma (Lacertilia: Pygopodidae) from northeastern Queensland and a note on the status of the genus Aclys. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 109 (3):203-212.

Threatened Species Network (TSN) (2008b). Brigalow Belt bioregion: a biodiversity jewel. [Online]. WWF-Australia. Available from:

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2008aa). NON-CURRENT Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Delma labialis (Striped-tailed Delma). [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from:

Vanderduys, E. (2010). Personal Communication. Technical Officer, Tropical and Arid Systems. Townsville: CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences.

Wilson, S. (2005). A field guide to reptiles of Queensland. Reed New Holland, Sydney.

Wilson, S. & G. Swan (2003). A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia. Page(s) 480. Sydney: Reed New Holland.

Woodcock, K. (2008). Bringing back the beach scrub: conservation and management of microphyll/notyophyll vine forest on coastal dunes between Thuringowa and Rockhampton. Report for Mackay Whitsunday Natural Resource Management Group, Queensland.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Delma labialis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Thu, 21 Aug 2014 06:49:03 +1000.