Also known as “Blueys” or “Blue Tongued Lizards” in Australia, a blue tongue skink is a species which has never failed to astound reptile enthusiasts with their attractive blue tongues and defensive qualities. A blue-tongued skink has been subjected to more research projects and studies than other lizards, all because of its surprising defensive abilities, all while maintaining a meek behavior.
Let us learn some mind-boggling facts about this species of reptile, and see what all the fuss is about!
1. Interesting Facts About Blue Tongue Skinks
Here are some amazing facts about Blue tongue skinks:
1.1. How is a Blue Tongue Skink Scientifically Classified?
Blue-tongued skinks belong to the Scincidae genus, more commonly called to be the skink family. They comprise the Australasian genus Tiliqua scincoides, and are one of the largest members of the skink family.
They belong to the Animalia (Animal) kingdom, Chordata Phylum, Reptilia (Reptile) class, Squamata order, and the Egerniinae sub-family. This family of skinks is known to constitute of eight known species in total.
Though they belong to the Reptile class, they are understood to be quite different from the other animals of this class, owing to their friendly and peaceful nature, and the fact that they reproduce via live births.
1.2. Why does a Blue Tongued Skink have Bright Blue Tongue?
The blue tongue of this lizard is said to exist as a form of defense mechanism. When it feels highly threatened, a blue tongue skink widely opens its mouth and sticks out its vibrant blue tongue, which is known to have an intimidating effect on potential predators and attackers.
In Australia-based research held by Macquarie University, it was found that the tongue of this creature has an ultraviolet nature, which is the most prominent at the back of it. The front tip of the tongue is used to pick up smell, while the back and bottom parts are put to use as a form of defensive behavior. This UV-dominant tongue is known to stop the attackers, intimidating them.
1.3. How is a Blue Tongued Skink Behavior-wise?
This member of the Squamata family is known to be a social being, with a docile and peaceful nature, which is quite opposite from the other members of the animalia kingdom, for instance, snakes, alligators and crocodiles. They rarely attack, and refrain from doing so unless they feel threatened. They are also actively bred in captivity, as they can be tamed without much effort. This makes these animals great pets, unlike fellow reptiles, such as a snake.
1.4. Where are Blue Tongue Skinks Native to?
Blue-tongued skinks are commonly found and native to Australia and regions of New Guinea. They can be found throughout North-Western Australia, mainly in coastal regions, open woodlands, open country areas and suburban gardens and farms. It can also be found in Papua, New Guinea and some islands of Indonesia.
1.5. What do Blue Tongued Skinks Eat?
Blue-tongued skinks of the reptilia order eat bulk diets every one or two days. They mostly consume greens, ground cover, flowers and leaf litter, such as mustard leaves, kale, collard greens, dandelion, romaine, beet tops, milk thistle, and alfalfa sprouts among others, as a form of food.
They can also eat feeder insects, such as crickets, snails, calcium worms, locusts, silkworms, and roach species. They are known to especially enjoy eating crickets and snails. Take care of their diet, as what they eat can directly determine their health and lifespan, like all other animals.
1.6. What are Some Blue Tongue Skink Species?
There are many known species of this animal native to Australia, such as a common blue-tongued skink, Tiliqua Gigas Skink, Tiliqua Rugosa, Blotched blue-tongued skink, Irian Jaya Blue Tongue Skink, Centralian blue-tongued skink, Tiliqua sp, Western blue-tongued lizard, Adelaide Pygmy blue-tongue skink, and Pink-tongued skink, to name a few. All these types of Blue tongue skinks have different body types, behavior in the wild, food (which are mostly insects) preferences, conservation status and habitat.
1.7. What are Blue Tongue Skinks’ Breeding Habits?
Even after being reptiles, blue tongue skink does not lay eggs. They give live birth to young ones after three to five months of mating. They commonly mate between September and November.
Male Blue tongued skinks are known to show more aggressive behaviors during mating season. They sometimes indulge in fights with other males, while some may even end up bruising female members while mating.
1.8. What Other Special Qualities does a Blue Tongue Skink has?
Blue-tongued skinks are barely able to see Ultraviolet wavelengths, and can see some extremely bright colors, such as two vibrant shades of blue, and two bright shades of green and yellow, which is very different from the highly Ultraviolet vision of lizards and reptiles.
Another special ability of Blue tongued skinks is another one of its defense mechanisms: the ability to puff up. When they feel threatened, they also tend to puff up their body and tail, to appear larger and intimidate the predator with its size, and open their mouth wide, all while it hisses loudly.
Another interesting ability of this reptile is its ability to camouflage itself to hide from potential predators. The appearance it has is, of course, perfectly in tune with its native region; which grants it the ability to hide under the open sky and avoid detection. It can also regrow its tail, like other members of the lizard family.
Their high level of defense mechanisms is developed due to the fact that they short legs, which stops them from relying on running away from their predators. So, they mainly use scare tactics to escape.
1.9. Are Blue-Tongued Skinks Territorial?
Blue-tongued skinks are known to be territorial reptiles and prefer to stay near their basking spot. Therefore, they also grow to be very attached to their owners and display protective tendencies towards them, if domesticated.
1.10. Can Blue Tongue Skink be a Good Pet?
Tiliqua scincoides can serve as excellent reptile pets as compared to other reptiles, as they are easily tamed. The small legs of this animal stop it from running away repeatedly. They are known to be extremely docile and peaceful, except during their mating season; wherein male members turn extremely aggressive. They do not require much food and feed on easily available items. Being reptiles, they shed their skin once every two weeks, and are ground dwellers.
1.11. What is the Adult Size of Blue Tongued Skinks?
The size of this lizard may vary based on the species; however, the average size of blue-tongued skinks is said to be somewhere between 18 and 24 inches. The size can vary based on the type of the skinks, and also on the environment they live in and the food they consume.
1.12. Do Blue-Tongued Skinks Bite?
Blue tongue skink is known to have extremely strong jaws. While they are not known to commonly run wild and bite, they may do so when threatened. When in a defensive stance, these lizards are known to strongly bite and not let go of the attacker or the predator. They are especially known for their strong bites; many scientists claim that their habit of biting and not letting go can prove to be deadly! But fear not, as they are extremely docile, and do not harm others unless they detect danger.
1.13. How Long Does a Blue Tongue Skink Live?
In the wild, a blue tongue skink has an average lifespan of 15-20 years. However, when bred in captivity or domesticated, they can live as long as 30 human years. The oldest blue-tongued skinks in the world have had a lifespan of around 32 human years, where they dwelled as pets and were well taken care of; they thrived because of plenty of feeder insects such as snails the animal got to eat, maintaining proper thermal gradient for them!
1.14. What Kind of Environment do Blue Tongued Skinks Like?
Typically, blue-tongued skinks are adapted to thrive in warm climatic conditions, since their species is native to the Australian subcontinent. These lizards are ground dwellers like many fellow reptiles, such as snakes; so it is best to prepare their house on a substrate or natural bedding, so as to maintain proper humidity levels.
1.15. What are Some Common Blue Tongue Skink Health Issues?
The most common disease found in this animal is a metabolic bone disease. Apart from these, the reptile can also develop various other diseases, such as skin infections, respiratory diseases, parasites and reproductive issues, to name a few.
You can easily find this reptile among other animals in any Australian museum, as the place is their native land; another reason being they are easy to handle and behave well in captivity. If properly given feeder insects and ground cover as food, they rarely act up or cause problems for the domesticators. This unique animal will definitely help your child in taking up the role of the caretaker, and making them warm towards animals and humans alike!
Have you had any experience with such warm or interesting animals? Let us know in the comment section!