Shingleback Lizard - Reptile Encounters

Shingleback Lizard

Scientific name:

Tiliqua rugosa

Other names:

Over 30, including Stumpy-tailed Lizard, Bobtail, Boggi, and Sleepy lizard


Least Concern

Shingleback lizards are one of the largest species of skink, growing to 40cm in length, with large thick scales on the upper side of their body for protection. They can be a combination of dark brown, black, tan, white and gold in colour depending on their environment and which colours best help them to camouflage. They have a dark blue tongue for smelling out food, and they have an enlarged tail that resembles their head for confusing and distracting predators.

Shingleback Lizards are omnivores, eating the vegetation in their habitat. They will eat berries, flowers, snails and other slow-moving insects.

Shingleback lizards arid and semi-arid woodlands and grasslands, and even sand dunes in the west of their range.

Shingleback lizards are found in west of the Great Dividing Range from southern QLD to Central Vic, and then west all the way to the WA coast, then north along the coast to Shark Bay.

Shingleback is not the only name given to this lizard, this species has around 30 common names including Stumpy-tail, Lazy lizard, Sleepy lizard, Bogeye lizard and Pinecone lizard.

Shinglebacks have a peculiar appearance to give them the ultimate protection; the thick scales protect them from the fangs of venomous snakes, they can poke out their tongue and flatten their body, and the tail is a confusion for larger predators looking to attack the lizards head. The tail also serves as an energy reserve for long periods of time without food, the fat stored in there can help them last for up to 4 months without eating. When looking for food, the lizard will flick its tongue out to collect air particles, which are then transferred to the Jacobsen’s organ in the roof of their mouth to help them determine which way to go for food.

Shingleback lizards are the only known reptile to be monogamous, the males will pick their female partner and follow them for 4 months of the year during their breeding season beginning in October. The females are viviparous, therefore after mating she will develop the babies inside her and then give birth to 4 live young that are a third the size of the mother, which is the human equivalent of giving birth to a seven year old.
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