Adelaide pygmy blue-tongue skink

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Adelaide pygmy blue-tongue skink
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Tiliqua
T. adelaidensis
Binomial name
Tiliqua adelaidensis
(W. Peters, 1863)
  • Cyclodus adelaidensis
    W. Peters, 1863
  • Tiliqua adelaidensis
    M.A. Smith, 1937

The Adelaide pygmy blue-tongue skink or pygmy bluetongue (Tiliqua adelaidensis) is a species of skink, a lizard in the family Scincidae. The species was previously thought to be extinct and only rediscovered in 1992. Known locations of the species extend from Kapunda in the Barossa Valley, about 90 kilometres (56 mi) north of Adelaide, northwards to Peterborough, about 254 kilometres (158 mi) north of Adelaide.

Rediscovery and conservation[edit]

Found only in the Mid North of South Australia, T. adelaidensis was for a time believed to be extinct. It was rediscovered in 1992, when a researcher found the remains of an adult male T. adelaidensis in the stomach contents of a dead brown snake, near Burra.[3] The pygmy bluetongue is now considered to be an endangered species.

The habitat and range of pygmy bluetongues is very restricted, as individuals live in old spider burrows within areas of unploughed native grasslands, which have become rare due to extensive development of cereal cropping throughout the region. Since their rediscovery, surveys have estimated that 5,000 to 7,000 individuals live in scattered areas between Kapunda and Peterborough.[4][5]

Conservation efforts to maintain the species include the establishment of the Tiliqua Pygmy Bluetongue Reserve near Burra, by the Nature Foundation SA in 2010.[3][6]

In February 2016 Zoos SA announced the first success of a captive breeding program of pygmy bluetongues at Monarto Zoo.[4]

In January 2020 researchers at Flinders University won an Australian Research Council Linkage Projects grant of more than A$400,000 for a five-year project aimed at saving the lizard from extinction due to climate change. The study involves relocating about 100 lizards into a large holding pen on a sheep farm at Tarlee, about 90 kilometres (56 mi) north of Adelaide, which is a few degrees cooler than the most northerly habitat of the species.[7]


When artificial burrows were offered in the field to T. adelaidensis lizards, all the lizards preferred vertical rather than angled burrows and juvenile lizards preferred more shallow burrows than did adult lizards.[8] Observation of 36 artificial burrows showed a significant increase in lizard numbers during 2001–2002 and over three surveys. The study suggests that this local increase in population could be due to lizards locating appropriate burrows much easier. The study results suggest that artificial burrows could be a tool for conservation management of this species.[9]

Another study[10] compared the fitness of female lizards in natural burrows and artificial ones, over a three-year period. The study showed that the female in the artificial burrows had a better body condition, and produced larger offspring with better body conditions.[10]


  1. ^ Australasian Reptile & Amphibian Specialist Group (1996). "Tiliqua adelaidensis ". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 1996: e.T21902A9338124. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.1996.RLTS.T21902A9338124.en.
  2. ^ "Tiliqua adelaidensis ". The Reptile Database.
  3. ^ a b Pygmy bluetongue lizard rediscovered in Mid-North South Australia, The Advertiser, 3 November 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b Pygmy blue-tongue lizards, once thought extinct, bred in SA's Monarto Zoo, ABC News, 24 February 2016, Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  5. ^ Conservationists hope to breed threatened pygmy blue-tongue lizard in captivity in SA ABC News, 4 October 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  6. ^ Tiliqua A Pygmy Bluetongue Reserve Archived 2016-02-28 at the Wayback Machine Nature Foundation SA. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  7. ^ Corvo, Shannon; Culliver, Paul (26 January 2020). "Scientists whose 'endgame' is to save lizards from extinction win $400k grant". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  8. ^ Milne T, Bull CM (2000). "Burrow choice by individuals of different sizes in the endangered pygmy blue tongue lizard Tiliqua adelaidensis ". Biological Conservation. 95 (3): 295–301. doi:10.1016/s0006-3207(00)00040-9.
  9. ^ Souter NJ, Bull CM, Hutchinson MN (2004). "Adding burrows to enhance a population of the endangered pygmy blue tongue lizard, Tiliqua adelaidensis ". Biological Conservation. 116 (3): 403–408. doi:10.1016/s0006-3207(03)00232-5.
  10. ^ a b Milne T, Bull CM, Hutchinson M (2003). "Fitness of the endangered pygmy blue tongue lizard Tiliqua adelaidensis in artificial burrows". Journal of Herpetology. 37 (4): 762–765. doi:10.1670/38-03N. JSTOR 1565885.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Boulenger GA (1887). Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Second Edition. Volume III ... Scincidæ ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xii + 575 pp. + Plates I-XL. (Tiliqua adelaidensis, p. 148).
  • Peters W (1863). "Eine Übersicht der von Hrn. Richard Schonburgk an das zoologische Museum eingesandten Amphibien, aus Buchsfelde bei Adelaide in Südaustralien ". Monatsberichte der Königlich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 1863: 228-236. (Cyclodus adelaidensis, new species, p. 232). (in German).
  • Smith MA (1937). "A Review of the Genus Lygosoma (Scincidae: Reptilia) and its Allies". Rec. Indian Mus. 39 (3): 213-234.