Saturday, October 10, 2015

It's Getting Warmer

and the bobtails are out.

This handsome fellow is one of the family of bobtail goannas (actually skinks) who live in our garden and is a young adult about 30 cms in length. From this visitor to our back veranda who is used to coming across people who wish him no harm you would have no idea of the reason for their other common name of blue tongues. If he didn't know you and was startled, though, you'd be greeted by a wide open cerise mouth with a vivid blue tongue followed by hissing if the threat did not go. With its relatively large head this can be extremely disconcerting and only a few minutes ago we heard our neighbour rescuing one from her frantic dogs.

They are generally placid creatures - they may bite if threatened (and who could blame them) but they are not venomous - and do a lot of good by eating snails, crickets, beetles and other small creatures in the garden and - apart from some having a fondness for strawberry flowers and fruit as they are omnivores and do eat some vegetation - do no harm.

Like all reptiles they need warmth to raise their body temperature and now the days are getting hotter they are on the move from their winter shelters among the leaf litter, in logs or under rocks. They don't hibernate as such as they come out to bask on warm, sunny days even in mid winter.

They are live bearers and form lasting monogamous breeding pairs - they can live as long as twenty years - with the off-spring staying close to their parents for several months and even after this they stay in close proximity as part of a related group. Sadly the death rate among the young is high due to predation by dogs, cats and birds.

They have other common names apart from bobtails such as blue-tongues (for obvious reasons), sleepy lizards, shinglebacks (due to their rough scaled skins) and stumpy tailed lizards but their scientific name is Tiliqua rugosa.


Jo said...

Interesting critters Helen. I had to go check how long 30 cm was. I have never got metric into my head. We had some similar looking skinks in North Carolina, not stump, but quite wide in body. Can't remember the names though. The most common lizard was the anole and I have a picture of a young one sitting on my arm. They were not usually that unafraid.

Helen V. said...

We went metric here a long time ago but as I quilt and use a lot of US books I've had to remember the imperial measures too.
It must have been quite something to have a lizard sitting on your arm. Bobtails don't take kindly to being picked up. They squirm madly as I've discovered when I've occasionally had to rescue them.