Blue-tongued lizards

There are four species, including two subspecies, of blue-tongued lizards in Australia, and I saw a couple recently.

The shingle-back, stumpy-tail or sleepy lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) lives in the drier areas of our continent, west of the Great Dividing Range that runs down the middle of the eastern states. We dodged them a lot on the roads in South Australia. I handled this tame one at a reptile demo recently.

Stumpy-tailed lizard

You can see why they are called ‘stumpy-tailed’ …

The stumpy-tailed lizard's stumpy tail (right)

A common one locally here in northern NSW is the eastern blue-tongued lizard (Tiliqua scincoides scincoides). The one below is on the floor of an outdoor toilet in Ballina. It likes to eat the snails in the garden, and the many local moggies haven’t bothered it for years. Its defence of opening its mouth wide, sticking its blue tongue right out and hissing loudly has warned off  disturbers so far.

Eastern blue-tongued lizard

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7 Responses to Blue-tongued lizards

  1. Lovely lizards. I would not want to be the target of the business end of these large skinks. Indeed, their jaws look quite capable of crushing snails (and fingers)!

    • Anecdotally, the bite causes a lot of pain, but no crushing as such. One website says: “A bite from an adult blue-tongue can cause pain, break the skin and leave a bruise but there is no venom and hence no long-term ill effect. However the bite site should be cleaned with a mild disinfectant, as with any animal bite.” They are apparently reluctant to bite. But I did not want to pick this one up to test the theory!

  2. Hi Joy.
    That’s a great big Blue Tongue.
    Stumpy is great. I have only ever seen them at Broken Hill.

  3. Hi Denis,

    that blue-tongue has lived under my mother-in-law’s house and in her garden for nigh on a decade. She’s terrified of it! I guess the lizard is in a sheltered environment with no serious predators and lots of food, so is healthy and has had the chance to grow large. Tip to tail, it’s certainly as long as the head and body of a domestic cat.


  4. joan knapp says:

    It’s funny what you find in outdoor toilets, isn’t it. Bet it give you a start in the dark. Better than a snake though.

    • It gives a start in the daytime, too! Mother-in-law has now fixed the lock so that the door can be shut from the outside, so lizzie will have to find another spot. There’s plenty of space for it under the house or under rocks in the garden.

      I’ve never found the classic redback in the loo, though I know other people have.

  5. Alan says:

    We used to see the sleepy lizards in Adelaide as well. A friend once found on in his back yard and really was afraid of it. Unfortunately too many people played the game of running over these animals on the road rather than dodging them. By the way I notice you used the term moggie up there. I’m presuming you are referring to the slang term for domestic cat (see wikipedia).

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