SYDNEY – The reptiles can fetch high prices if sold on the black market in Asia.
The Customs and Border Protection Service said the men, aged 38 and 33, were recently selected for a baggage inspection when they checked in at Perth International Airport.
An X-ray scan revealed 28 shingleback lizards, an unspecified skink and a bearded dragon.
Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife senior wildlife investigator Rick Dawson said the haul was worth more than $130,000 Australian dollars.
“These lizards are highly sought-after in Asia because they are easy to care for, attractive, and exotic,” he said.
The protected Rottnest Island shingleback lizards are worth up to AU$8,000 each on the Asian black market, while mainland shinglebacks fetch AU$4,000 or more, depending on their color patterns.
Bearded dragons and other skinks go for around AU$1,000.
The men face a range of charges, including unlawfully taking protected fauna and subjecting a protected species to cruel treatment.
They could face up to 10 years in jail and fines of up to AU$170,000.