Shingleback Skink

Scientific Name: Tiliqua rugosus
Geographical Range: Southern Australia
Habitat: Desert grasslands and dunes
Diet in the Wild:Omnivorous, including insects, other arthropods, snails, fruits and flowers.
Conservation Status: Not protected.
Location in the Zoo: Herpetarium

Physical Description:
It is one of the more larger lizards of this genre. It has a large pyramidal head. The head almost looks like the tail. You can be fooled sometimes by a quick glance on which end is which. This is a feature that will set this lizard all by it self from the many skinks. The trunk is is very long and thick and flattened. It has strong limbs and claws with short toes. It has thick, rough cone shaped plates on the top of his head. On his belly side the plates are smaller and smooth and contain about 20 or 30 rows of scales around the middle of the body.They also have osteoderms which is bony plates within their scales. This is also where they get their name Shingleback because it looks like shingles on a roof. The color also varries that ranges from a white to dark gray to reddish.

Special Adaptations:
These lizards are very lethargic and slow moving. They will often bask in the sun on roads, and since they are slow they usually get ran over by cars. They are usually active during the heat of the day or midday. They usually eat plant food than animals, but their teeth are large and have strong jaw muscles to break snails' shells and beetles. They use their sight in individual identication, as well as in prey identification. They also have a keen sense of smell. They can use it to identify other species, sex, and sexual receptivity of the females. When they know danger is coming or around they will put itself in an arc and will stick out its blue tounge through the reddish brim of his mouth while hissing. They will rarely bite so this is a way to try and scare off the threat.  Althogh it is slow, it can run pretty quickly if there is an emergency.

Reproductive Behavior:

Mating seasons usually begins in September to November.  This is also when the males become more aggressive. They use thier sight to choose their mate. The Females usually have scars from the males teeth during mating season so it is  very rough. These lizards form long term pair bonds. Sometimes the same pairs will mate with each other for more years. The Females will give birth between December and April. They can breed every year as long as they have enough food. When the babies arrive, they usually eat the placental membrane that is around them. Within a couple of day they will shed their skin and they will be able to leave. These babies are big babies when they are born, usually they are about 220 mm and 200g. Females give birth to two or three babies, rarely one.

Social Organization::
Solitary, Family Groups, Communities?


The Animal at the Zoo:
It was probably the worst day to go observe these two lizzards at the zoo when I went. It was cold outside and about a million kids running around since all the schools decided to have a field trip to the zoo on that specific day. Since it was cold, they all decided to go into the herpetarium. So whenever I got a chance to observe them I tried to write as much observation as I could. When I first saw them they were not moving much at all, but sleeping in the shade. I assumed they just finished from basking under the heat lamp and needed to cool their bodies off since they are cold blooded lizzards. I also noted that when they were sleeping they were laying on top of each other. This might show a perfect example on how these lizzards share long term bonds. I could not notice anything else on their behaivor while they were in their cage, except for the fact they seemed to have a severe case of apathy. With all the kids that came by beating on the glass, they did not move one bit. Maybe they got acustomed to seeing humans, but if they did could that propose a threat to themselves if they were ever to be released back in natural habitat?

Page Author: Ryan Bennett

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Sources and Links:

Honolulu Zoo. Shingleback  Skink. URL:                  

Cool Companions. Shingleback Skink. URL:

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Volume 6, Reptiles, edied by DR. DR. H.C. Bernhard Grzimek. New York,  NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1975

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Second edition. Volume 7, Reptiles, edited by Michael Hutchins, James B. Murphy, and Neil Schlager. Farmington Hills, Mi: Gale Group, 2003

Austrailan Museum On-line. Blue-tongued Lizards in New South Wales.URL: 2003


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