The shingleback is a type of blue-tongued skink found in Australia. Skinks are the second largest group of lizards in the world with over a thousand species, following geckos. Shinglebacks are aptly named for their heavily armored bodies, which can grow up to 10-12 inches long. These skinks are well-known in Australia as they are commonly seen basking in the sun in open areas or by the roadsides.
Most skinks have a slight resemblance to other skink species; however, the shingleback looks the most distinguished with its wide head, stubby tail, and armored body. All skinks have coloration that blends in with their environment to ward off predators. Besides their coloring, having their tails resemble the wide shape of the shingleback’s head also confuses predators. Plus, their short tails also hold fat reserves that the lizard will use during hibernation!
Shinglebacks don’t have much in the offensive skills department, and their short legs make them significantly slower than other lizards. Plus, shinglebacks can’t shed their tail when in danger to confuse predators like most skinks. However, besides the defensive traits mentioned yesterday, the shinglebacks are also included in the blue-tongued lizards’ category. Their dark blue tongue can be shown as a bluff-warning to potential predators.
Shinglebacks are normally more active during the day. They are omnivores, eating vegetation, flowers, fruits, and blossoms. Their short legs make it difficult to prey on quicker prey like mice, so the shingleback will normally stick to slower moving insects or snails. Their powerful jaws allow them to crush snail shells and beetles.
Some skinks will have live births, while others lay eggs; the shinglebacks are part of the live birth group. Unlike most lizards, shinglebacks are monogamous. In fact, some males have been known to return to the same mate for over 20 years! Females will give birth to about two to three young that are about eight inches long, weighing less than a pound. From birth, the young are immediately self-sufficient but will stay with their parents for several months before leaving to start a new colony.