Skink, Shingleback

Shingle Back Skink at the LA Zoo LAIR Photo Credit Paul Bronstein

Scientific Name: Tiliqua rugosa

A female shingleback skink at the Los Angeles Zoo lived more than 19 years.

A unique skink with many unusual features, it is also very aptly called the pine cone skink, two-headed skink, stump-tailed skink, and bobtail skink.

Head or Tail?

This slow-moving skink looks like it’s traveling in both directions at once. Its tail has a distinctly head-like appearance, until you realize it doesn’t have eyes or mouth. This feature is very effective at confusing predators. In fact, when confronted with a predator the shingleback skink will often curl into a “C” shape, presenting its tail end for capture.

Commonly found throughout its habitat.

Found in Southern Australian desert grasslands or sandy dunes, the skink is ground-dwelling and diurnal (active during the daytime).

An omnivore, its diet in the wild consists of insects, spiders, snails, carrion, fruit, flowers, and berries.

The overlapping scales on this species’ back, sides, and tail gave rise to the names “shingleback”. Colors range from grayish brown to black.  Some have lighter blotches. Its body is thick, usually from 12 to 18 inches long, and quite flat, with a short stubby tail.  This is where the skink keeps its emergency fat reserves, and the loss of its tail can be life-threatening in times when food is scarce.

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