Blue-Tongued Skink

Geographical Range Northern and eastern Australia, New Guinea, Tasmania
Habitat Forests, woodlands, bushlands, grasslands, semi-deserts, cultivated areas
Scientific Name Tiliqua scincoides
Conservation Status Not listed by IUCN

It might look like they've spent the day licking popsicles, but the species uses its infamous bright blue tongue to scare off predators. While blue tongued skinks are non-venomous, this little lizard can put on a big show when cornered. It puffs up its body, hisses at its attacker, and sticks out its long, blue tongue.

These are very alert lizards, but not at all fast in their escape attempts. Thanks to short arms and legs – they can't outrun predators or climb trees. When they move, they use a serpentine (snake-like) movement. However, they do have some defense mechanisms. They are covered in hard scales that mirror a suit of body armor, and a colorful camouflage that allows them to blend in with leaves and the surrounding environment!

DIET AT PALM BEACH ZOO

In the wild, blue-tongued skinks are omnivores that eat a variety of plants and animals including insects, snails, flowers, fruits, and berries. At Palm Beach Zoo, Dundee and his relatives are fed bugs, fruits, vegetables, crickets, worms, and mice. They have large teeth and strong jaw muscles, to allow them to crush snail shells and beetles. They spend a lot of their time making friends during our after hour events and at educational outreaches.

FUN FACTS

  • Can shed its tail to escape predators.
  • Has a moveable and transparent lower eyelid to protect its eyes from dust.
  • They have live babies, which is unusual in the lizard world.
  • They ingest small stones to help digest their food.
  • There are over 600 species of skinks, with the northern blue-tongued being the largest.

CONSERVATION CONNECTION

Many people welcome skinks into their gardens to control populations of snails and insects.

Skinks make up an important part of the diet of many predators, such as raptors, snakes, and feral cats and dogs. They are also important predators of insects.

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Category Tag(s): Zoo Blog


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