Blue-tongued skink

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Blue-tongued skinks
Tiliqua scincoides scincoides.jpg
Blotched blue-tongued skink (Tiliqua nigrolutea)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Subfamily: Egerniinae
Genus: Tiliqua
Gray, 1825[1]

8, see text.



Blue-tongued skinks[2] comprise the Australasian genus Tiliqua, which contains some of the largest members of the skink family (Scincidae). They are commonly called blue-tongued lizards or simply blue-tongues or blueys in Australia. As suggested by these common names, a prominent characteristic of the genus is a large blue tongue that can be bared as bluff-warning to potential enemies.[3] The type of predator/threat that is near will determine the intensity of colour present in the tongue. The tongue can also deform itself and produce a thick mucus in order to catch prey.[4] They are relatively shy in comparison with other lizards, and also significantly slower due to their shorter legs.

Systematics and distribution[edit]

Blue-tongued skinks are closely related to the genera Cyclodomorphus and Hemisphaeriodon. All species are found on mainland Australia with the exception of Tiliqua gigas, which occurs in New Guinea and various islands of Indonesia. The Tanimbar blue-tongued skink, a subspecies of Tiliqua scincoides, is also found on several small Indonesian islands between Australia and New Guinea. Tiliqua nigrolutea, the Blotched blue-tongued skink, is the only species present in Tasmania.


Most species are diurnal, ground-foraging omnivores, feeding on a wide variety of insects, gastropods, flowers, fruits, and berries.[5] The pygmy blue-tongue is again the exception, being primarily an ambush predator of terrestrial arthropods.[6] All are viviparous, with litter sizes ranging from 1-4 in the pygmy blue-tongue and shingleback to 5-24 in the eastern and northern blue-tongues.[7]


Name Scientific Name Picture Subspecies
Adelaide pygmy blue-tongue skink T. adelaidensis (Peters, 1863) Tiliqua adelaidensis (Peters, 1863) 3069938647.jpg
Indonesian blue-tongued skink T. gigas (Schneider, 1801) Riesenblauzungenskink T. g. gigas, Giant blue-tongued skink; T. g. evanescens, Merauke blue-tongued skink; T. g. keyensis, Key Island blue-tongued skink
Centralian blue-tongued skink T. multifasciata (Sternfeld, 1919) Zentralaustralischer Blauzungenskink
Blotched blue-tongued skink T. nigrolutea (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824) Schwarzgelber Blauzungenskink
Western blue-tongued skink T. occipitalis (Peters, 1863) Westlicher Blauzungenskink
Shingleback, bobtail T. rugosa (Gray, 1825) Tannenzapfenechse T. r. aspera, Eastern shingleback; T. r. konowi, Rottnest Island bobtail; T. r. palarra, Shark Bay bobtail; T. r. rugosa, Common shingleback, bobtail
Common blue-tongued skink T. scincoides (White, 1790) Gemeiner Blauzungenskink T. s. chimaerea, Tanimbar blue-tongued skink; T. s. intermedia, Northern blue-tongued skink; T. s. scincoides, Eastern blue-tongued skink
Irian Jaya blue-tongued skink Tiliqua sp. Irianjayansinikieliskinkki.jpeg

In captivity[edit]

Blue-tongues skink species are generally docile, gentle, quiet and easily tamed, and can make a good reptile pet for beginners. Although they are not aggressive, they have strong jaws and teeth, meaning that a bite from a skink can be painful. It is advisable not to startle or provoke them, as they may bite if they feel threatened.[8] Specimens can live up to 20 years or more.[9]


  1. ^ Gray, J.E. (1825). A synopsis of the genera of reptiles and Amphibia, with a description of some new species. Annals of Philosophy 10:193—217. p. 201
  2. ^ Tiliqua, Reptile Database
  3. ^ Abramjan, Andran (2015). "Why is the tongue of blue-tongued skinks blue? reflectance of lingual surface and its consequences for visual perception by conspecifics and Predators". The Science of Nature. 102 (7–8): 42. Bibcode:2015SciNa.102...42A. doi:10.1007/s00114-015-1293-4. PMID 26185113. S2CID 16915899.
  4. ^ Tamara L. Smith; Kenneth V. Kardong; Vincent L. Bels (1999). "Prey Capture Behavior in the Blue-tongued Skink, Tiliqua scincoides" (PDF). Journal of Herpetology. 33 (3): 362–369. doi:10.2307/1565632. JSTOR 1565632. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  5. ^ Cogger, H.G. (2000). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed New Holland.
  6. ^ Department for Environment and Heritage > Pygmy Bluetongue Lizard - fact sheet,, retrieved 18 July 2017
  7. ^ Turner, G. 2001. Keeping Bluetongue Lizards. Australian Reptile Keeper Publications.
  8. ^ "Feeding and Care of Your Blue-Tongued Skink". Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  9. ^ "Blue-Tongued Skink - Tiliqua". Retrieved 24 May 2022.


  • Austin, J.J. & Arnold, E.N. (2006). Using ancient and recent DNA to explore relationships of extinct and endangered Leiolopisma skinks (Reptilia: Scincidae) in the Mascarene islands. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39(2): 503–511. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.12.011 (HTML abstract)
  • Bull, C.M. (1988). Mate fidelity in an Australian lizard Trachydosaurus rugosus (Scincidae). Copeia 1987(3): 749-757.
  • Bull, C.M. (1990). Comparison of displaced and retained partners in a monogamous lizard Tiliqua rugosa. Australian Wildlife Research 17: 135-140.
  • Valentic, R.A. (1996). A prey record of the Eastern Blue-tongue Tiliqua scincoides for the common brown snake Pseudonaja textilis. Monitor 8(3): 155.

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