Classic Outback #10

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Photo: P Wanger

In the warmer non-hibernating months, the shingleback lizard is a fairly common site in most arid or semi-arid parts of Australia. It has a number of other names, including boggeye, stumpy-tailed, and two-headed. And as any non-Aussie can tell from the picture, it’s just like all other Australian animals (except the koala), that is, ready to attack and kill you at a moment’s notice. (But even the koala has been known to piddle on people.)

Surprisingly perhaps, the shingleback is not nearly as nasty as the picture suggests. It opens its mouth and sticks out its blue tongue in order to strike fear into possible predators, but it has no venom. A bite can be a bit painful and leave a bruise, but will usually have no long-term ill effects.

The Australian Museum website gives this delightful description: Shinglebacks “live alone for most of the year, but between September and November reunite as monogamous pairs.” They “are often seen crossing roads in pairs, the male following the female.” Isn’t that sweet!

The shingleback is an omnivore, slow moving, and can be up to about 40 cm long. It has thick bony scales which protect it from some predators, but is often attacked by falcons, kookaburras, dingos, and some of the larger snakes.

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About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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6 Responses to Classic Outback #10

  1. dazzlerplus says:

    The Classic Outback series appears in both the Bobby Dazzler Newsletter and this blog. My mate Karl Schaerf read it in the Newsletter and sent this response:
    There are (or were) plenty of shinglebacks around Bathurst (not quite as arid as further west), but not as prevalent as Blue Tongues, however, much like most of our critters, there are quite marked colour variations to match the surrounding terrain. Those around home, whilst not actually matching the terrain, are a very glossy black (presumably, that might help camouflage them in shaded/forest conditions), but in all other aspects are identical to those as shown in your photo.

  2. dazzlerplus says:

    You might like to see a video of some pet shinglebacks having a meal. Go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_zLcadOL9Y

  3. Mandy says:

    Here at Coolatai we seem to have our own version, locally called the Scalyback. Our resident lizard man believes they may be a unique species: http://www.outbackmag.com.au/stories/article-view?1126

  4. Jo says:

    There are plenty in our garden. I just wish they knew the difference between the cape weed (allowed to eat) and the strawberries (not allowed) as they devour both with relish. They present themselves at our back door if they get grass seeds stuck in their eyes but otherwise just reside in the garden where they scare the bejeepers out of the unwary by pretending to be snakes.

  5. Anne Newton says:

    They love snails too!

  6. Lavinia Ross says:

    So the koala shares something in common with my mother-in-law’s cat!

    Some gullet on that lizard! Nothing like it here. I’ve run into some interesting mammals out here, but no lizards like this. Wonder if they could be trained to eat slugs?

    You might find this western mouse interesting. Hunts in packs and howls like a tiny wolf.
    http://wildamerica.com/videos/transcripts/s53.html

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