NORTHERN BLUE-TONGUED SKINK
Tiliqua scincoides intermedia
Squamata (amphisbaenians, lizards and snakes)
HABITAT AND RANGE
Blue tongued skinks can be found in warm desert and sandy regions of Australia, and New Guinea. They typically burrow beneath the surface layer to escape the heat and hide from predators and potential prey.
A subspecies of the eastern blue-tongued skink (T. scincoides), their most distinguishing feature is their large bright blue tongue that is used for a defensive mechanism. Their scales are shiny, overlapping and smooth with a fish-like appearance. The ventral side is usually light grey while the dorsal side has numerous color variations but generally has a drab brown, green and grey appearance. They have long thick tails and short stubby legs growing from the sides of their body.
Blue tongued skinks are omnivores and will feed on insects, fruits vegetables, grubs and other reptiles. Captive blue tongued skinks have shown that dog food is best at meeting their nutrition needs.
REPRODUCTION AND LIFESPAN
Blue tongued skinks are ovoviviparous with internally hatching eggs and live birth. 10-15 young are usually born and because the eggs travel with the mother, they are less vulnerable to early predation. Mating usually occurs in the spring and the young resemble miniature replicas of their parents. Lifespan is 10-15 years.
The ribcage of blue tongued skinks is very flexible, they can reduce the thickness of their bodies from 1 inch to 1 cm if they need to hide under rocks and in small crevices. Their blue tongue is a sort of defense mechanism that they employ when cornered by an assailant. They will puff up their bodies to make themselves appear larger and hiss loudly. They stick their tongue out hoping that predators will think that the skink is poisonous or distasteful. Like many other lizards, blue tongued skins can drop their tails if aggressively tugged on. The tail regenerates but never to its full size and cannot be dropped a second time. They have a pineal gland at the top of their head that detects changes in light. This organ is present in many animals including birds and mammals (even humans). The pineal eye is responsible for biological clock setting and early detection of aerial predators.