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Blue-tongued skinks 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 in Australia. As suggested by these common names, a prominent characteristic of the genus is a large blue tongue that can be bared as a bluff-warning to potential enemies. Blue-tongued skinks are bred in captivity and sold as house pets.
Systematics and distribution
Blue-tongued skinks are closely related to the genus 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. The pygmy blue-tongue is again the exception, being primarily an ambush predator of terrestrial arthropods. All are viviparous, with litter sizes ranging from one to four in the pygmy blue-tongue and shingleback from five to twenty four in the eastern and northern blue-tongues.
Species and subspecies
- Tiliqua adelaidensis, Adelaide pigmy blue-tongue skink
- Tiliqua gigas, Indonesian blue-tongued skink
- T. g. evanescens, Merauke blue-tongued skink
- T. g. keyensis, Key Island blue-tongued skink
- Tiliqua sp., Irian Jaya blue-tongued skink
- Tiliqua multifasciata, Centralian blue-tongued skink
- Tiliqua nigrolutea, blotched blue-tongued skink
- Tiliqua occipitalis, western blue-tongued skink
- Tiliqua rugosa, shingleback, (also known as the bobtail, stump-tailed skink, stumpy-tail, sleepy lizard, pinecone lizard, or boggi)
- T. r. aspera, eastern shingleback
- T. r. konowi, Rottnest Island shingleback
- T. r. palarra, Shark Bay shingleback
- T. r. rugosa, common shingleback
- Tiliqua scincoides, Australian blue-tongued skink
Centralian blue-tongued lizard from the Tanami Desert
Eastern blue-tongued lizard in metropolitan Sydney
Stump-tailed skink, Tiliqua rugosa
western skink defensive display
- Cogger, H. G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed New Holland.
- http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/biodiversity/bcp/pdfs/pygmy_bluetongue_info_sheet.pdf[dead link]
- 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)
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