Saturday, 30 August 2014

Sign of Spring

A male Shingleback follows a female - slowly

Yesterday I came across this pair of Shinglebacks Tiliqua rugosa in the local bush. They are considered to pair, as they remain in the same partnership for years. They can live for over ten years and they probably share overlapping home ranges, which in turn probably leads them to more likely mate together in spring, rather than with individuals from farther afield. I have only ever seen them this close together in spring when they are about to mate. So, are they a pair or simply in a loose partnership.

The female was longer, and had a fatter tail - probably important for her to be in good breeding condition

The male was creeping along behind the female, following her scent, which contains pheromones, signalling that she will soon be ready to mate. The male would want to be close by all that time to ensure that he is there when she is ready and to ward off any intruding males in the meantime.

The male was following in her tracks, tracing her scent trail

Most skinks are quick to run off as soon as approached and we seldom have time for a decent look at them. Shinglebacks however remain still and rely on that to conceal them - they just look like sticks lying in the shadows, and they are usually under grasses or shrubs.

The scales or scutes of a reptile's skin are perfectly arranged with exquisite detail around the mouth, nose and eyes

I took these photographs from less than two metres, more than close enough to capture the detail of their scale patterns without making them feel insecure and want to run (shuffle) off as a last minute defense.

Shinglebacks are quiet and unobtrusive, they allow  close approach, but I never pick them up - that would be obtrusive

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