Land mullet

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Land mullet
Egernia major Watagans National Park.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Bellatorias
Species:
B. major
Binomial name
Bellatorias major
(Gray, 1845)
Synonyms
  • Tropidolepisma major Gray, 1845
  • Tropidolepisma majus Gunther, 1875
  • Egernia bungana De Vis, 1888
  • Egernia major Cogger, 1983

The land mullet (Bellatorias major) is one of the largest members of the skink family (Scincidae).

Description[edit]

The species may reach total lengths of up to 60 cm (23.6 inches). They are uniform glossy black to brown, with a paler ring around the eye. Their colour, along with their large size, allow them to maintain a body temperature of 30 degrees Celsius; they spend much of the day basking in the sun.[2] Adult males have slightly shorter bodies but slightly longer forelimbs and heads than adult females [3] The ventral side (belly) ranges in colouration from auburn (orange-brown) to white [4] Juveniles have prominent cream lateral spots[5]

It is long-lived - with one captive female lizard known to have lived for at least 23 years [3]

The common name "land mullet" is said to date back to Longman (1918), who reported it to be in common usage for the species around Tamborine Mountain. The name probably alludes to the superficial resemblance to the homonymous fish, which has a similarly blunt head, large scales and is of similar size and coloration.[6]

Habitat and Distribution[edit]

Native to Australia, they are generally restricted to the rainforest of south-eastern Australia.[2] The range of natural distribution is in discontinuous locations from the northern side of the Hawkesbury River in the south, to the Conondale Range, near Maleny in south eastern Queensland.[7] They occur at altitudes from sea level (Park Beach, New South Wales) to 840 m (Acacia Plateau, Queensland)[8]

The species favours habitat with many fallen logs, and it remains in close proximity to these. The restricted sunlight of the forest type require a number of basking sites to be available. It is less frequently found in other types of environs, such as the open eucalypt woodland of the region.[2]

The lizards shelter in hollow logs or burrows. Often these are dug into the soil-bound root systems of fallen trees.[5]

Behaviour[edit]

Land mullets are normally reported to be very shy, dashing noisily to the cover of dense low vegetation if disturbed. However, in some popular National Parks, the lizards have become habituated - scavenging close to humans for scraps at picnic and camping sites.[5]

Reproduction[edit]

Land mullets are live-bearing reptiles which usually reproduce roughly 4 to 9 independent offspring per litter. Largely solitary, they primarily associate only when it is time to mate.[4]

Diet[edit]

The land mullet eats woody fungi, mushrooms, berries, seeds, insects such as beetles and grasshoppers as well as decaying fruit material[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bellatorias major". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018. 2018. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-1.RLTS.T47155294A47155305.en.
  2. ^ a b c Klingenböck, A.; K. Osterwalder; R. Shine (December 22, 2000). "Habitat Use and Thermal Biology of the "Land Mullet" Egernia major, a Large Scincid Lizard from Remnant Rain Forest in Southeastern Australia". Copeia. 2000 (4): 931–939. doi:10.1643/0045-8511(2000)000[0931:huatbo]2.0.co;2. JSTOR 1448004.
  3. ^ a b cited in Shea, 2006 Morphology and natural history of the Land Mullet (Squamata: Scincidae) Australian Zoologist 31 (2), December 1999. Accessible at http://www.rzsnsw.org.au/Volumes%20of%20RZS%20papers/1999%20vol%2031(2)/Shea%20G%20M%20Morphology%20and%20natural%20history%20of%20the%20Land%20Mullet%20Egernia%20major%20(Squamata%20Scincidae).pdf Accessed 14 April 2014
  4. ^ a b Egernia Major (Land Mullet), 2001 Queensland Term Wildlife Field Guide. Vince King, Hobart College, 2002. Accessible at: http://people.hws.edu/fieldguide/show.asp?ID=105 Accessed 18 April 2014
  5. ^ a b c Steve Wilson (2005) A Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland. Australia: New Holland Publishers. ISBN 1 876334 97 5
  6. ^ cited in Shea, Morphology and natural history of the Land Mullet (Squamata: Scincidae) Australian Zoologist 31 (2), December 1999. Accessible at http://www.rzsnsw.org.au/Volumes%20of%20RZS%20papers/1999%20vol%2031(2)/Shea%20G%20M%20Morphology%20and%20natural%20history%20of%20the%20Land%20Mullet%20Egernia%20major%20(Squamata%20Scincidae).pdf Accessed 14 April 2014
  7. ^ * A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia - Steve Wilson & Gerry Swan ISBN 1-876334-72-X page 206
  8. ^ a b Shea, 2006 Morphology and natural history of the Land Mullet (Squamata: Scincidae) Australian Zoologist 31 (2), December 1999. Accessible at http://www.rzsnsw.org.au/Volumes%20of%20RZS%20papers/1999%20vol%2031(2)/Shea%20G%20M%20Morphology%20and%20natural%20history%20of%20the%20Land%20Mullet%20Egernia%20major%20(Squamata%20Scincidae).pdf Accessed 14 April 2014

External links[edit]