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  • Sarah Jane Connop

A Heavily Armoured Lizard with a Soft Heart

Blue-Tongues are truly endearing creatures in captivity. True Blue Reptiles keeps six of them, and each one has a totally unique personality; chalk and cheese. For this blog, we wanted to introduce you to one particular kind of blue-tongue, Tiliqua rugosa. Interestingly they're known by many different common names, such as; stumpy-tail, shingleback, bobtail, sleepy lizard, pinecone lizard, boggi and others.

Stumpy Lizard at Bowra, QLD

Now I'm not in the habit of anthropomorphising animals, but this lizard could teach some people a thing or two when it comes to true fidelity and faithfulness; they mate for life. Pairs of lizards can often be found basking on roads, a hazardous hobby even for one so robustly built. David Attenborough in his 'Life In Cold Blood' series (2008) explored the bond between pairs of lizards and suggested that the connection between them is so strong so that if one is run over, it's partner may wait by the body for days on end, you could almost say it was grieving.

They are relatively common in the arid parts of the Eastern States and from the coastal, shrublands and mallee woodlands of South and Western Australia. A handful of different subspecies occur, but the lizard that resides on Rottnest Island is particularly rare, and thought likely to become extinct (Wilson and Swan, 2008).

Amazingly they seek one another out each year and romp around together for a period that may last 2 months or more, during which time they will also breed. Unlike most blue-tongues, these lizards have few offspring, but those few babies are absolutely enormous, together the offspring may account for a third of the mothers weight. For such heavily built lizards, this method of producing just a few very well developed offspring may serve them well, as the babies have an improved chance of surviving to adulthood.

They are sometimes kept in captivity, but hardly ever thrive and rarely live long lives due to respiratory problems associated with humidity.

Attenborough, D. (2008) Life In Cold Blood, DVD. BBC

Wilson, Stephen K. and Swan, Gerry. (2008) A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, Sydney: New Holland Publishers

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