Gardening (With Shingleback Guest Star)

Today I pulled out a large dead shrubbery and discovered a guest:


Now, a scaly face in a yard might usually faze a more fragile person – but I quite like reptiles and I can spot a lizard easily enough. I’ve documented one previously:

Shingleback (Tiliqua rugosa)

Now, there’s a few reasons why I won’t keep this lizard in my yard – yes, they are great for snail control. But I have recently put down snail pellets, and since they eat the poisoned snails… my yard won’t be good for maintaining a healthy shingleback.

Secondly, I have cats and I can’t guarantee that they’ll leave it alone. Mind, there’s been a few times I’ve come home and found a cat or two sitting pleasantly on the lawn next to the local Quenda (they appear to think it’s a weird bug-eating cat), so my cats aren’t very aggressive sorts. Also, I’m going to be doing some more work in the yard and don’t want to risk upturning it again and again until I’ve got everything sorted out and with some hiding holes that’ll suit wildlife that wants to risk nosy cats.

Therefore – it’s scoop up the shingleback:


Try to avoid overly-stressing your shingleback by carefully popping it into a handy container for transport. Weight, about 300g / 10 ounces. Tongue - blue. Speed – slow, because I disturbed its sleep under the now binned-shrubbery and it’s in the shade. I’ll get it to the wilderness where it can warm up and trundle away.

Off to safety

There we go, one shingleback in the wild. Back to gardening!

Robin Ince Australia Tour Video
Round-Up Of Press On Robin Ince’s Forthcoming Australian Tour
ATHEIST / SKEPTIC EVENTS – Perth, Melbourne, Bookclubs, Podcasts, Oh My…
Unholy Trinity Melbourne Review (AKA From Up The Gods Without God)
About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • TheSkepticalStoner

    Would using the iron chelate based snail pellets still be harmful to them?

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Good question, I should research that. At this point, having spent the day scattering whatever-brand-of-pellet-I-had-in-the-shed all over the yard, I’m keeping the place at least one-lizard-free until I’m more confident about what I’m buying is safe for them!

  • adelady

    I know everyone says that domestic cats kill all native wildlife including lizards, but I’m not so sure. (Though ferals will kill anything and everything.)

    At our old house we had several families of bluetongues around the place. Never saw a snail in 30 years I might add. And we noticed that on warm days when they came out wandering around the garden, the cats would first take a look and then ignore them. Sometimes even settle down for a snooze in the same open area.

    After several observations of this behaviour, we worked out that these larger lizards don’t move in the same kinds of ways as birds or rodents might. No bobbing head, no jerky shuffling or scrabbling of legs, no quick movements of any kind – mostly they just meander dreamily or sit passively soaking up some heat. And we never once saw any remnants of one in the same way as the very occasional bird feathers or mice bodies.

    I suspect that their style of movement doesn’t trigger hunting behaviour. We had very few of those little busy, busy geckos – I rather think that their behaviour might trigger hunting responses from many cats – though they’re usually higher up on brick or stone walls so much less vulnerable anyway.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      The video demonstrates one of my cats being VERY interested in what’s in the ferns – so I wasn’t going to take a risk! But yes, I think that cats vary as you’ve said. One particularly lazy cat I had used to be tormented by birds chasing it out of the yard!

  • tethys

    Wow, I didn’t realize that Perth had that beautiful colour morph! Ours tend to be small and black down south, or big and reddish-brown up north – I’ve never seen that white patterning before.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Me neither, I was wondering if he was a particularly old lizard? At any rate, he’s off in the bush but they do have a tendency to toddle on back. I’ll make sure the garden is more respectable if he returns.

  • A ‘Nym Too

    Oh he’s so cute!

  • Lee

    Thats the Tiliqua rugosa (Western Shingleback) And Yes thats how they come over here there are 4 different types of shinglebacks and the ones around western Australia are by far the most beautiful. Tho they arent as big as thier eastern cousins.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Yes, I say their name in the blogpost?