Blue-tongued skink

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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. Depending on the type of predator/threat that is near will determine the intensity of colour present in the tongue. In addition, their blue tongue will produce a response in the prey which will in turn diminish the attack.[3] The tongue can also deform itself and produce a thick mucus in order to catch prey. They are relatively shy in comparison with other lizards, and also significantly slower due to their short 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. One subspecies of Tiliqua scincoides is also found on several small Indonesian islands between Australia and New Guinea. Tiliqua nigrolutea is the only species present in Tasmania. With the exception of the pygmy blue-tongue, they are relatively large lizards (up to 45 cm total length), light-bodied, short-limbed, broad with distinct heads and dull teeth.


Most species are diurnal, ground-foraging omnivores, feeding on a wide variety of insects, gastropods, flowers, fruits and berries.[4] The pygmy blue-tongue is again the exception, being primarily an ambush predator of terrestrial arthropods.[5] 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.[6]


Name Scientific Name Picture Subspecies
Adelaide pygmy blue-tongue skink T. adelaidensis (Peters, 1863)
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
Eastern blue-tongued lizard Tiliqua scincoides scincoides


  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. ^ Cogger, H.G. (2000). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed New Holland.
  5. ^ Department for Environment and Heritage > Pygmy Bluetongue Lizard - fact sheet Retrieved 18 July 2017
  6. ^ Turner, G. 2001. Keeping Bluetongue Lizards. Australian Reptile Keeper Publications.


  • 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.

External links[edit]