19 June 2008

Shingleback Lizard - Tiliqua rugosa

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Shingleback Lizard - Tiliqua rugosa

These lizards are actually skinks, and there are three large skinks in the Esperance region with the Shingleback being by far the most common. Known over much of southern Australia, the Shingleback is called by several names, of which Stumpy-tail and Bobtail are also commonly used.

Growing to around 16" (over 400 mm in total length), with a large head and a thick scaly back, it can look quite scary, but when it suddenly lifts its head, with a big mouth agape, hissing loudly and showing a broad blue tongue, it is. But they are relatively harmless with a great show of bluff. However, they have very strong jaws that can damage fingers.

Despite being very slow their appearance has obviously deterred predators like cats and foxes. They must smell a little as dogs can locate them with ease, plus they might not taste too good either. However in autumn when food for foxes is scarce, these lizards are attacked and the lower portions of some are eaten. Nevertheless, they are still very common in the district, evidenced by the numbers that are killed annually on the roads when slowly crossing. It makes me wonder how long it can continue without serious loss.

Socially these are very interesting animals and if you want to find out more, go here: