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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Shingleback Lizard: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Enjoy reading these amazing shingleback lizard facts!

The shingleback skink of the Tiliqua genus is a native species to the southern, western, and eastern regions of Australia. These are the largest skinks to own large blue tongues! Their broad tail is also pretty similar to their head, and you would need to look twice to identify which one is the tail!

Pinecone lizard, sleepy lizard, two-headed lizard, bobtail, stumpy-tailed skink, boggi - these shingleback lizards are known by multiple names!

These shinglebacks are generally relaxed creatures. However, in situations of threat, they open their mouth wide, with the thick, blue tongue sticking out. If their predators still don’t get scared, they would flatten out their bodies and hiss until the danger does away.

Thrilled knowing so much about the shingleback lizard? You can read our pages on other lizards, such as the Texas horned lizard and the lava lizard!

Shingleback Lizard Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a shingleback lizard?

The shingleback lizard is a type of skink.

What class of animal does a shingleback lizard belong to?

The shingleback lizard species falls in the class of Reptilia.

How many shingleback lizards are there in the world?

We are not aware of their total population.

Where does a shingleback lizard live?

The population distribution of the pinecone lizard is throughout western and southern Australia. Shark Bay, Queensland, Rottnest Island, and even eastern Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria are some sites where you can spot this reptile.

What is a shingleback lizard's habitat?

Arid to semiarid lands is where you can spot the two-headed lizard. Sandy dunes, desert shrublands, woodlands, and grasslands are some of their hot spots. They enjoy a little open place to bask in the hot sun. They prefer having plant litter around their habitat and spend their nights sleeping under leaf litter or logs and rocks. However, you will not spot them in the coastal areas.

Who does shingleback lizard live with?

The bobtail belonging to the genus Tiliqua live together for almost all times, except during the breeding period.

How long does a shingleback lizard live?

The shingleback lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) is said to have an average lifespan of about 15-20 years, but some individuals of this species have also lived until 50 years of age!

How do they reproduce?

These lizards are viviparous - meaning that the embryo is developed within the body of the parent. The specimens of the sleepy lizard follow monogamy, they have the same partners to breed with even up to 20 years. The adult female has a gestation period of about three to five long months, after breeding between the months of September to November. The female skink gives birth to about one to four large live young babies. After their birth, the younger ones stay with their parents for many months before leading their own journey. However, when they leave, they prefer staying in closer proximity to their families. The adult male parent does not consume much food while carrying out the parenting duties. He rather prefers staying alert against any potential predators or other threats.

What is their conservation status?

The bobtail lizard is a species of Least Concern according to the IUCN.

Shingleback Lizard Fun Facts

What do shingleback lizards look like?

Their stumpy tails are often confused for their heads.

The pinecone lizard possesses a triangular head. This skink is famous for its bright blue tongue. This species is also known to have a very wide, short stumpy tail, thus giving it the name of the ‘stumpy-tailed lizard.’ This tail is almost similar to their heads, thus leaving their natural predators confused. The tail is also pretty helpful in the winter season, storing fat in it. Hence, the reptile also goes by the name of the ‘two-headed skink.’ This skink’s body is heavily armored. Their skin colors are in multiple tones, from shades of brown all the way to cream, with paler bellies. The scales on their bodies give them the appearance of pine cones. Open their mouth wide, and you will see the teeth present at the jaw bone edges. These creatures have short legs. There may be a few of them sporting cream/yellow spots on their scales. Their eyes are small and have a grayish to maroon brown tint. The mouth lining is a slight shade of pink.

How cute are they?

We would not call the pinecone lizard cute in any way!

How do they communicate?

We are unaware of how the Tiliqua rugosa communicates. In general, lizards are known to use chemicals for communicating. These reptiles produce chemicals like pheromones. The chemicals produced have unique compositions of various chemical ingredients, which can provide information to others who encounter them. These chemicals secreted might have different smells, which enables other skinks to detect them in their surroundings. Some members of the lizard families also use touch as a means of communication. They might nudge, bump or lick other lizards if they want to express the desire to mate. Some shinglebacks might even bite or bump into the other lizards as a sign of aggression. Vibrational communication is also one of the methods adopted. Vocalization is also used to convey information.

How big is a shingleback lizard?

The young shinglebacks have a body length of about 8.5 in (22 cm). Adults have a body length of 13-17 in (34-43 cm), measured from the tip of the snout till the vent. This makes them as long as a Victorian bulldog.

How fast can a shingleback lizard run?

There is no information on how fast the shingleback lizards can run.

How much does a shingleback lizard weigh?

At birth, the Sleepy lizard weighs between 0.132-0.3 lb (60-140 g), with a maximum of about 0.44 lb (200 g). Adult bobtail lizards weigh about 1.32-2 lb (600-900 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female shingleback lizards do not have specific names.

What would you call a baby shingleback lizard?

There is no specific name for the younger ones of the Stumpy-tail lizard, Tiliqua rugosa. However, a baby skink is called a skinklet.

What do they eat?

Shinglebacks are primarily omnivorous in their diet. Common animal constituents of their meals include carrion, insects such as beetles, cockroaches, snails, and other small creatures. As these reptiles are slow-moving in nature, they rely more on flowers and other vegetation to fill their bellies. Seedlings, herbs, flower blossoms, or fruits are some common items on the shingleback’s diet.

Are they dangerous?

These animals are generally calm in nature. However, if they feel threatened by human presence, they might resort to biting. For humans, this bite might cause pain and even cut the skin or leave behind a bruise. However, they are not venomous, and this injury can be healed.

Would they make a good pet?

This skink has gained popularity for being a good pet among the Australian people. There is not much maintenance required, and food is also not a big issue. They are docile in nature as well. However, you might need to inquire if a permit is needed to keep these shinglebacks as pets.

Did you know...

There are four subspecies of the shinglebacks that have been recognized:

Tiliqua rugosa - A popular sight in Western Australia, this reptile is also known as the Western shinglebacks or the bobtail. They have comparatively slender, and longer tails and have brown-red bodies with dull white bands or yellow patches.

Tiliqua rugosa asper- This is the only subspecies that are native to regions of Eastern Australia. They are known as Eastern shinglebacks. Among all the skinks, these have the shortest and the widest tails. They are mostly brown-hued, with no patterns.

Tiliqua rugosa konowi - These skinks are found in the Rottnest Islands of Western Australia. They are known by alternate names of Rottnest Island shingleback or Rottnest Island bobtails. These skinks are smaller in size, with darker skin coloration and multiple white speckles on their backs and bellies.

Tiliqua rugosa palarra - Also going by the name of the Shark Bay shingleback or the northern bobtails, these shinglebacks are found primarily in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia.

Earlier, these bobtail reptiles were preyed upon by large natural predators like Australian snakes, dingoes, as well as the local Australian people. However, in recent times, they are often hunted by cats, foxes, and other feral species.

With the Tiliqua rugosa depending primarily on the vegetable matter for food, environmental conditions such as famine and drought pose a major threat to their livelihood. However, their tails are adapted in such a way that it stores fat in it, which can be used in the days when there is no availability of food or during the brumation period in winter.

In winter, their population distribution is known to ‘brumate’ (or hibernate) deep inside their shelters, having a long comfortable sleep.

Among all the skinks having blue tongues, the shinglebacks have the bulkiest blue tongue.

Despite being reptiles, these animals are known to give birth to live young ones.

If you are out on a walk in New South Wales, you might notice these lizards walking across the road in pairs!

What do you feed a shingleback lizard?

The boggi is comfortable with human food in its diet! You can feed them the meat of animals or sausages. They even eat vegetarian options such as passionfruit, bananas, and strawberries! Vitamins and Calcium powders can also be added in small quantities, thus ensuring a balanced meal.

How many babies do shingleback lizards have?

The two-headed lizard is known to have about one to four babies in each breeding.

Learn more about some other reptiles from our snapping turtle facts and marine iguana facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Shingleback lizard coloring pages.

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