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Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizard
TILIQUA SCINCOIDES

 

The Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizard is one of the most well known lizards in the area of Australia in which I live. In fact only this morning (25 December 2004) I came across a very young Eastern Blue Tongue Lizard in my backyard.

 

What's on This Page:

 

INTRODUCTION:

The Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizard belongs to the skink family (Scincidae). Australia's six Blue-Tongue Lizard species are the largest of the skinks.

ABOVE: Blue-Tongue Lizard

ABOVE: Blue Tongue Lizard

 

DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT:

As the name suggests, the Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizard is to be found in eastern Australia, specifically between the coast of NSW and the ranges.

The Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizard lives in fairly open country with plenty of ground cover. They shelter at night amongst the leaf litter or under large objects on the ground.

Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizards can often be found in the mornings basking in the sun in order to warm up. If the temperature is cold they will remain sheltered and not become active until such time as the temperature increases.

 

DESCRIPTION:

The Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizard is of a silvery-grey colour with black bands across it's back and tail. They have long bodies, that taper to a pointy tail which is smaller than their bodies. The bottom of belly region of these skinks is of a pale colour. They can grow to a length of about 60cm. They have short legs with small toes.

Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizards have large heads. Eyes are small and of a reddish colour. Tongues of Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizards are of course blue.

See some photos at:

 

FOOD:

Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizards will eat both vegetation and animals.

Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizards will generally only eat slow moving animals such as snails, which they are able to crush with their powerful jaws and teeth.

If Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizards are present in your garden you should refrain from using snail bait, as poisoned snails and slugs will kill these lizards.

Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizards are also known to feed on pet food, such as dog food.

 

BEHAVIOUR:

Whenever Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizards feel threatened they turn towards the threat with their mouths open, stick out their blue tongue and flatten out their body to appear larger. Their will often be a characteristic hissing as well. This is designed to scare off the threat. They are known to bite if touched. Though they may produce a painful bite and bruising, they are not poisonous.

Eastern Blue-Tongues are known to drop their tails if picked up or grabbed by the tail. The tail heals quickly and is replaced by a shorter tail.

Birds appear to be the main threats to Eastern Blue-Toungue Lizards in their natural environment. They may be taken by Kookaburras and other larger birds. Snakes will also take these skinks. Sadly, introduced feral cats and dogs will also take Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizards.

Blue-Tongue Lizards will often be seen with Reptile Ticks attached.

Blue Tongues are generally loners, but when it is time to reproduce they will tenaciously track down the opposite sex.

 

REPRODUCTION:

During late Spring male Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizards will pursue females in order to mate. This is not an easy time for all concerned with fights between males common. Even mating behavior between males and females can be rough.

Three to five months after mating the young are produced, usually between December and January. There are about 10 to 19 young of about 13cm in length. Breeding takes place almost every year.

The young Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizard is able to fend for itself immediately. It will eat the placental material and shed it's skin for the first time in only a matter if days from birth.

Adulthood is reached after about three years, being then about 40cm long. Very few reach adulthood. They will live for over 20 years if not taken by predators.

 

ABOVE: Blue Tongue Lizard giving birth

 

BACKYARD ENCOURAGEMENT:

Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizards can be encouraged into you backyard by following the suggestions below:

  • Do not use snail bait to control snails and slugs.
  • Limit the use of pesticides to the absolute minimum required.
  • Control cats and dogs.
  • Be watchful for them when mowing the lawn and when driving your car.
  • Resist the urge to pick them up.

 

MORE INFORMATION:

 

 

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UPDATED: 20 March 2011

kevinswilderness.com 2011