Shingleback Double Act
Around November, you may just see a Shingleback Lizard out and about with its loyal mate. This is one buddy that really knows the meaning of 'long-term relationship', which is an incredible rarity for lizards.
For most of the year, a Shingleback leads a fairly solitary life. But they make up for it from September to November by spending up to 75% of their time with their partners. Year after year, many Shinglebacks find the same mate by scent trails and remain as mostly monogamous pairs for many years.
Around November you may see Shingleback males pursuing partners, often quite aggressively. Sometimes, fights can break out between tough males as they work out amongst themselves who is the most dominant, and thereby earning the right to mate.
From December to April, you may just start seeing Shingleback youngsters. Shinglebacks don't lay eggs like other reptiles, they give birth to live young. The babies are ready to take on the world right away and are independent within days of birth.
As the name Shingleback suggests, its skin is very bumpy and rough-looking. In fact, they are also called a Pinecone Lizard because of their scales. They even remind some people of pineapples!
The colour and pattern of their scales varies with the region, but they are commonly brown to red-brown, with white, yellow or cream markings. Their tongue is dark blue, broad and fleshy. When threatened they open their mouth wide and flash their unusual color to scare off potential predators.
One very interesting feature of their appearance is their tail, which resembles their head. The tail, like the head, is short, stumpy and wide, which confuses predators into not knowing which end would be less risky to attack.
This is not the only helpful feature of their tails. The tail stores fat which fuels the Shingleback during periods of low activity and over the cold winter. If it's been a good season, they can survive for months without food, just using up the resources in their tails instead.
Click to watch a video of a Shingleback exploring a backyard - it really shows how much the tail looks like the head of this lizard!
Shinglebacks are not very fast on their short legs. Look out for them enjoying the sunshine on paved roads or warm rocks. Be careful to check the driveway for lizards before reversing out.
Shinglebacks love open country with ground cover, such as grass or leaf litter. Check any long grass for lizards before mowing. At night, they take cover under rocks or logs, so leave a few around your garden.
Early morning is your best bet for Shingleback spotting. They don't produce their own body heat, so they need to get out in the sun and soak up as many rays as they can before they have the energy to forage for food.
Shinglebacks eat meat, but they mostly eat plants, berries and flowers. Every once in a while, they will also happily munch on some snails, insects or spiders, so they are great buddies for your garden.
Yellow blossoms and bright flowers are a Shingleback Lizard's favourite meals! To see more of this buddy in your backyard, check with your local nursery for the best kinds of yellow flowering locally native plants to have in your garden.
The Shingleback can be spotted in most of southern mainland Australia, up to southern Queensland. Their tough skin means that they don't easily lose water, so they are well adapted to the dry climates they live in.
DID YOU KNOW?The Shingleback Skink has names to spare! Depending on local custom, they are also known as a Sleepy Lizard, Bobtail, Pinecone Lizard, Boggi, Double-headed Lizard and a Stumpy Lizard!
TIPTake special care when on the road. Shinglebacks may try to cross the road in pairs, with the male following the female. Keep an eye out for lizard couples and give them a little time and space to cross to make sure that they get across safely.