Bobtail Jean and Fred/Flickr

Bobtail

Tiliqua rugosa

Did You Know?

  • The Bobtail is one of the largest and most well-known skinks in Australia
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Olive brown to black and has irregular pale bands on the body and tail. The head is often lighter in colour and can have orange flecks on the top and sides.

There are four subspecies with some variations:

  • Eastern Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa aspera) Similar to western bobtail but with a darker belly, larger body scales and a shorter fatter tail
  • Western Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa rugosa) Similar to eastern and northern but paler belly and longer tail, larger ear and pale irregular bands on the back
  • Rottnest Island Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa konowi) Yellow belly.
  • Northern Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa palarra) Similar to western bobtail with a smaller ear and usually no pale irregular bands on the back

Size

Total length 45cm.

Behaviour

Diet

Mostly things they can swallow such as plant material, especially fruit, insects, slugs, snails, faeces and dead animal carcasses including maggots.

Movement

Slow crawl unless startled.

Breeding

Bobtails live alone for most of the year but between September and November males pursue females and mating occurs. At this time males may fight aggressively among themselves. The same pairs may re-form in the mating season over several years.

Females give birth 3 - 5 months after mating, between December and April. They are able to breed every year if there is sufficient food. They give live birth to 2 or 3 young which are around 22 cm. The young are ready to look after themselves straight after birth and disperse within a few days.

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What to Observe

  • Basking

  • Feeding

  • Courting/Mating

  • Presence of juveniles

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When and Where

When To Look

  • September to April
  • September to November for mating couples
  • December to April for juveniles

Where To Look

  • Look in most habitats including disturbed areas
  • Look in a variety of habitats including grasses and leaf litter, gardens and paddocks
  • Basking on roads on warmer days

Eastern Bobtail: Nullabor into South Australia, Victoria and NSW but not near the coast

Western Bobtail: Southwest WA,  south of Kalbarri

Rottnest Island Bobtail: confined to Rottnest; look in most habitats ranging from the dunes to disturbed areas

Northern Bobtail: Edel Land, Peron Peninsula and Dirk Hartog Island, Shark Bay

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What Else?

Herpetologists claim this species has more common names than any other lizard, including shingleback, stumpy tail, sleepy lizard or boggi.