- Colour: 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 sub species with some variations:
- 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
- Eastern Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa aspera) Similar to western bobtail but with a darker belly, larger body scales and a shorter fatter tail
- 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
- 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 22cm. The young are ready to look after themselves straight after birth and disperse within a few days.
What to Observe
- Presence of juveniles
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
We expect skinks to start breeding earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. We may also notice an increase in the number of females having more than one clutch per season as a result of warmer temperatures beyond the summer period. They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.
When To Look
September to April
- September to November for mating couples
- December to April for juveniles.
Where To Look
Western Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa rugosa) In South West WA
- South of Kalbarri
- Look in a variety of habitats including grasses and leaf litter, gardens and paddocks. Also look out for bobtails basking on roads on warmer days
Eastern Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa aspera)
- Nullabor into South Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales but not near the coast.
Rottnest Island Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa konowi)
- Confined to Rottnest
- Look in most habitats ranging from the dunes to disturbed areas.
Northern Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa palarra)
- Edel Land, Peron Peninsula and Dirk Hartog Island, Shark Bay
Look in most habitats including disturbed areas.
Where To Look
Maps of Habitat Suitability
of occurrence (RCP 8.5)
|Species range change from
current to 2070 probability
Above, the left and middle maps show the modelled habitat suitability for the the species under current and potential future climate conditions. The colours indicate the predicted habitat suitability from low (white) to high (dark red).
The future habitat suitability is modelled for the year 2070 under a climate change scenario that represents 'business as usual' (RCP 8.5). The map on the right shows how the range of the species might change between now and 2070, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, green areas where the species range might expand, and blue areas where the habitat is predicted to be suitable for the species now and in the future.
The models for this species were run in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory. Please note that while models can be very informative, they are only a representation of the real world and thus should always be viewed with caution. You can read more about the science behind these models here.
Cogger, H. G. 2000. Reptiles & Amphibians of Australia, Sixth Edition
Browne-Cooper, Robert; Brian Bush, Brad Maryan, David Robinson 2007. Reptiles and Frogs in the Bush: Southwestern Australia. University of Western Australia Press.
Did You Know?
The Bobtail is one of the largest and most well-known skinks in Australia.
Herpetologists claim this species has more common names than any other lizard, including shingleback, stumpy tail, sleepy lizard or boggi.