Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hard to trick!

Well Anne who guessed first pretty much hit the nail on the head with her guess of " a lizard or iguana..." And most of the rest of you were pretty close with guesses of other scaly creatures

This mystery object was cropped from this close up portrait of a Shingle-back lizard. This was a guy I moved off a road in NSW about five years ago. They are slow moving with stumpy little legs so they definitely do not mix with cars.

We don't have iguanas in Oz (except in zoos) but the land down under is a kingdom of reptiles. We have 860 known species of reptiles hundreds of which are lizards, from tiny skinks a few centimetres long to giant 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) Perentie goannas (Varanus giganteus).

Anyway shingle-backs (Tiliqua rugosa) are a blue-tongued skink very common to areas west of the Great Dividing Range (and on dryer parts of the range too).
This is another portrait of an animal I moved off a road in the Grampians on my last visit.I think they are so ugly they are cute!
You can see from their shot tails why they get the name "bob-tail" which is their common name over in WA.

This piccie of my Grampians one shows why "shingle-back" is also apt.They vary in size quite a lot with adults between about 30 to 60 cm long (1' to 2'), most of them towards the shorter end of that range. They are one of my favourite lizards, and totally innocuous.
Relying on bluff to try to scare predators away. They pop open a bright pink mouth and flop out a very blue tongue to look alarming. The Grampians one obliged me with a show.
They have small blunt teeth, if you handle them carelessly they can bite, but their bite will not break the skin (it is like being squeezed by a pair of pliers). Certainly their bite is unlike dragon-lizards which I can attest from personal experience have a painful bite full of needle like teeth.
By the way all native reptiles are protected by law in Oz and should be left alone (but I can't help but move the poor sods off roads before they get cleaned up by a car.)
I have very warm memories of these guys, when I was a small child we had some living in our garden. That is a good thing because just about their favourite meal is a juicy snail.

Now I can see I am going to have to try to make the next mystery object much harder!


Linda G. said...

Aww, it's cute! :)

Old Kitty said...

Yay for Anne! Awww it's a most stunning and amazing creature! Take care

mshatch said...

I was way off! Cool pic though! We don't have any big lizards here where I live, newts, efts and salamanders mostly. But we have snapping turtles and those guys can get pretty big.

Kathleen Jones said...

glad to see you back on line Al. Love the lizards! We have some here, but they're much smaller than the Oz varieties. I've got a small one in my bookcase with tiny pink feet!

Anne Gallagher said...

I thought it also looked like square blue raisins if that's any consolation.

I move creatures off the road as well, most often turtles.