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Eastern Blue Tongue Lizard Fact File

Appearance

The eastern blue tongue lizard draws its name from the bright blue tongue. Their head is relatively wide and tapers to a point at the nose.

Their thick body is covered in scales. The scales overlap slightly helping to keep out dirt and debris. Their scales are shed every six or so weeks as an adult.

The scales are coloured light grey or fawn. Across the back are stripes of brown, grey or black and the majority of these stripes have a black edge. On the underside they are white and this is sometimes spotted with brown. A black stripe runs from the back of the eye across the head.

Eastern blue tongue lizards have a moderately short tail. The legs are short and end with a foot with small claws.

They are the largest member of the skink family in Australia measuring 45-50cm (18-20in) and weigh 283-510g (10-18oz).

Diet

The eastern blue tongue lizard is an omnivore. They feed on a range of plants, berries and flowers along with animals such as insects and snails.

Due to their short legs they are not particularly fast so most of the prey species they eat are slow moving.

Eastern blue tongue lizard

Scientific Name

Tiliqua scincoides scincoides

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

283-510g (10-18oz)

Length

45-50cm (18-20in)

Lifespan

26 years

Diet

Omnivorous

Range

Australia is the native home of the eastern blue tongue lizard. Here they can be found along the Eastern coastlines of the country from South Australia around through Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.

Habitat

They make their home in forests, woodland, grassland, heath country and shrubland. As human settlements have expanded these lizards are often found in suburban backyards.

Eastern blue tongue lizards shelter at night under leaf litter and under rocks or logs.

Reproduction

The eastern blue tongue breeds in summer and autumn from December to April. During the breeding season the males will establish a territory that they defend aggressively.

Once a male finds a female with which to mate he will engage in a short chase of her and then bite her on the back of the neck before engaging in mating.

Following a successful mating the female will give birth. They are odd among reptiles in that they give birth to live young. The juveniles develop attached to an embryo which is almost as well developed as those of mammals.

The young are born after a 100 day gestation period. Eastern blue tongue skinks give birth to a litter of up to 25 juveniles. After birth they will eat their placental membrane.

Due to the large litter size eastern blue tongues are relatively small at birth. They measure 130-140mm (5.1-5.5in) and weigh up to 20g (0.7oz).

Maturity is reached at 3 years old.

eastern blue tongue lizard

Behaviour

As a reptile the blue tongue lizard needs to bask in the sun during the day to warm up. In cold periods they will form a shelter where they can burrow and remain until it is warm again.

Predators and Threats

Eastern blue tongue lizards fall prey to birds of prey and snakes. Introduced predators such as dogs and cats also prey on them.

One of their main methods of defense is to turn to the predator and open their mouth displaying the large blue tongue. While doing this they will hiss and flatten out the body.

If they are threatened they may drop their tail. Once this heals it will begin to re-grow though this can take up to 6 months. This re-grown tail will be shorter than the original.

Humans affect their population by killing eastern blue tongue lizards due to their resemblance to a snake. They are also kept as pets but due to the ease of breeding them in captivity it is unlikely that they are collected from the wild in any large numbers.

Quick facts

The eastern blue tongue lizard is also known as the eastern blue tongue skink.

Photo Credits

Copyright. The Animal Facts.

References

Swanson, S. and Parish, S., 2011.  Field Guide To Australian Reptiles. 2nd ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press.

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

The Australian Museum. 2020. Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizard. [online] Available at:

<https://australian.museum/learn/animals/reptiles/eastern-blue-tongue-lizard/> [Accessed 26 June 2020].

Australian Reptile Park - Wildlife Park Sydney & Animal Encounters Australia. 2020. Eastern Blue Tongue Lizard Habitat, Diet & Reproduction. [online] Available at: <https://reptilepark.com.au/animals/reptiles/skinks/eastern-bluetongue/> [Accessed 26 June 2020].

Seaworld.org. 2020. Eastern Blue-Tongued Skink Facts And Information | Seaworld Parks & Entertainment.

[online] Available at: <https://seaworld.org/animals/facts/reptiles/eastern-blue-tongued-skink/> [Accessed 26 June 2020].

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