Blue tongued skinks are large lizard species with having a long vibrant blue tongue. Also called as blue tongues or blues, they are found in Australia, New Guinea, and islands of Indonesia. They were thought to be extinct until rediscovered again in early 1990s. In recent days, people are breeding them to bring up their population, and also welcome them if seen in gardens or backyards. Due to the docile and calm nature, these lizards are becoming popular as pets and they are full of quirks. Lets check some of their facts.
1. Blue tongued skinks are docile, intelligent and like to be handled. Their body is tubular, covered by overlapping scales. The head is triangular and broad, the tail is almost 50%-75% of their body. The legs are short which give them a waddle motion, and do not provide excellent speed. Their tongue is elongated and blue colored, and the body color also varies from grey, white, brown to orange and red with dark blotches or bands.
2. There are some species widely common
Adelaide pygmy blue tongued skink
Indonesian blue tongued skink
Centralian blue tongued skink
Blotched blue tongued skink
Western blue tongued skink
Common blue tongued skink
And Irian Jaya blue tongued skink
3. These lizards generally grow up-to 10-18 inches in length but, sometimes can be 24 inches long. Weight varies 290-520 grams.
4. They live 10-12 years in the wild, whereas in captivity they live over 20 years.
These creatures are omnivores. Their diet consist of 60% plant base leaves, fruits, berries and 40% insects, worms, beetles and snails also. The main reason people welcome them in gardens, cause they will keep the pest population controlled. They are ambush predators but, have seen eating Turkey, Beef and chicken in captivity.
Must Read: Corn Snakes
6. Due to being diurnal, they remain active in daytime. They spend most of the time on ground finding food, basking in the sun and take shelter under logs, rocks or grounded debris at night.
The overlapping scales provide them excellent protection against dirt, and keep them clean. A healthy lizard shed in every six months.
8. Blue tongued skinks don’t have well developed teeth, but they do bite for defense as any other animal, and sometimes they bite human finger thinking of food. They have teeth at the back of their jaw to crush food.
9. When threatened, these lizards puffs up their body, sticks out the long blue tongue and hisses, as vibrant color indicates poisonous or venomous being. If the intended target is not impressed, then they flatten out the body in hope of appearing too large to attack.
Adding to their defensive measure, If handled roughly by their tail, the Eastern Blue-tongues, particularly young ones may drop their tail. The tail stump rapidly heals and a shorter regenerated tail grows back after a while.
Also Read: Hognose Snakes
11. Being solitary creatures, they tend to live alone. Males do fight with each other in breeding seasons and pair with females only to breed.
Blue tongued skinks get sexual maturity at the age of 18-24 months and they are ovoviviparous, meaning females carry eggs inside their body. Eggs take around 100 days for incubation and give birth of 10-20 live Young.
13. They are not poisonous but, threatened by the invasive Cane Toad and some poisonous snails they eat, which is toxic to the skinks.
14. In spite being non venomous, A bite from an adult blue-tongue can cause pain, break the skin and leave a bruise. It wont cause any long-term effect. However the bite site should be cleaned with a disinfectant.
Blue tongues tend to be gentle, intelligent, inquisitive, easily tamed lizards, many even enjoy having their heads scratched. Children should be supervised when handling them, as the reptiles can become startled, jump and be sure to wash hands after handling, as all reptiles can carry Salmonella bacteria.