Tiliqua scincoidesCommon Bluetongue, Eastern Bluetongue, Northern Bluetongue, Eastern Blue-Tongued Lizard

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Geographic Range

Native to Australia, found also in New Guinea, and Tasmania. The blue-tongued skink originates from Australia, inhabits semi-desert, mixed woodlands, and scrubland habitats (Kaplan, 1996).

Habitat

Habitat: The blue-tongued skink inhabits semi-desert, mixed woodland, and scrubland areas of Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania.

Physical Description

The Eastern Blue-Tongued Skink is characterized by its long blue tongue which is used in defensive displays (Cogger and Zweifel, 1998). The skin is relatively smooth, covered by overlapping scales with a fish-like appearance. Coloration of the body is that of a grayish ventral side, and the head being a pale brown with the dorsal side (back) having alternating streaks or blotches of dark brown and cream. Juveniles, however, can possess a wider variety of coloration which helps them in becoming cryptic. This coloration will be lost as the juvenile reaches maturity. The general body plan is considered to be robust and cylindrical with relatively short legs. The massive tongue is supported by the hyoid skeleton, this is true for all members in the Order Squamata. The tip of the tongue is supported by one rod of the hyoid skeleton, the lingual process (Cogger and Zweifel, 1998). Movement of the Eastern-Blue Tongued Skink is a waddle motion, because of the short legs that the animal possesses (Obst, 1998).

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Average mass
    493 g
    17.37 oz
    AnAge
  • Average length
    33 cm
    12.99 in
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    0.2127 W
    AnAge

Reproduction

The Blue-Tongued Skink is ovoviviparous, which means the offspring develop in eggs which are not laid and stay in the mothers body for further development. The female then will lay live young. Eggs are therefore not taken by predators and survivorship would increase because all the young are born. The clutch of the Blue-Tongued Skink ranges about 10-15 young hatched at one cycle of reproduction.

  • Average number of offspring
    10
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Blue-Tongued Skinks show little aggression. They are very docile creatures that tame easily. They are shy and secretive and seldom stray far from their shelters, which consist of hollow logs and ground debris. They use claws to cling to logs and rocks. The most peculiar behavior is use of their bright blue tongue. When disturbed, it gapes its mouth open sticks out its blue tongue, puffs up its body and hisses loudly. This again is used as a defensive behavior. By puffing out its body this helps the animal look bigger than it really is, and the blue tongue is a warning in that this animal may be distasteful to some. Another behavior possessed by the Blue-Tongued Skink is the ability to automize or lose its tail during a confrontation. The skink has the ability to lose its tail in which it can regrow.

Some scientists believe that the Blue-Tongued Skink is a mimic to the poisonous Death Adder which does share some of the skink's range. This is because both animals share similar coloration and because of the short legs of the Blue-Tongued Skink may help it look more like a snake.

Food Habits

The Blue-Tongued Skink is omnivorous and will survive on a variety of foods. They feed on a variety of small creatures such as insects, other reptiles, as well as some plant material and fruits. Captive studies show that one of the best food sources is high quality dog food, which contains added vitamins and minerals, also they adapt well to vegetables such as collard greens, turnips, and dandelions. Blue-Tongued Skinks feed during the day and are termed diurnal (Houseoftropics 1999).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Skinks make good pets because of the fact that they are docile, easily tamable and relatively easy to take care of (Kaplan, 1996).

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Status Unknown.

Conservation Status

Australia prohibits commercial export of most wildlife (including lizards), and the pet trade stock would necessarily need to be captive-bred.

Contributors

Don Abbey (author), Michigan State University, James Harding (editor), Michigan State University.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Accessed November 12, 1999 at http://warrenburg.kiz.mo.us/animal/brentr3/index.html.

Accessed November 12, 1999 at http://planetpets.simplenet.com/skink.html.

Accessed November 12, 1999 at http://www.houseoftropicals.com/BTSKINK.htm.

Accessed November 12, 1999 at http://www.cincyzoo.org/mainhtm/2bluetng.htm.

"New South Wales Reptile Advisory Service" (On-line). Accessed November 12, 1999 at frednerk@synflux.com.au.

Cogger, .., .. Zweifel. 1998. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Academic Press.

Kaplan,, M. 1996. "Blue-Tongue Skink" (On-line). Accessed November 12, 1999 at http://www.sonic.net/melissk/bluetong.html.

Obst, ,. 1988. Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians. TFH Publishing.