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Tiliqua gigas, commonly known as the giant blue-tongued skink, is best known for its bright blue tongue. It is a gray lizard about 31cm from the snout to the base of the tail and 55cm from the snout to the tip of the tail, with dark flanks and legs and lateral stripes. Its threat display, in which it opens its mouth wide to display its tongue and makes a loud hissing noise, is so striking that the Malay-speaking people of New Guinea called it “ular kaki ampat” or “snake with four legs” and feared for a long time that it was extremely venomous. In actuality, however, the lizard is fairly harmless - the most substantial documented medical danger of blue-tongued skink bites is secondary infection from bacteria living in the mouth. Tiliqua gigas is an omnivore and is often associated with human agricultural settlements. A broad diet and distinctive appearance have recently made this species and its relatives popular as pets (de Rooij 1915, Brongersma 1958, Broaddus 1994, Gorseman 1998, Dennert 2004).


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