Blotched Blue-tongue Lizard Tiliqua nigrolutea

Lizards of Victoria series


The Blotched Blue-tongue is one of our larger skinks, attaining a snout vent length to 250 mm. It is a dark coloured lizard with light coloured patches which gives it the appearance of having wide broken longitudinal stripes, rather than cross bands.

Photo of Blotched Blue-tongue Lizard, Tiliqua nigrolutea

Blotched Blue-tongue Lizard
Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty. Ltd.

Distribution and habitat

The Blotched Blue Tongue is common in the east and north east areas of Melbourne. It is commonly found basking, or sheltering under cover such as fallen logs or discarded rubbish, such as timber or iron.


Its diet consists of both plant and animal material. It loves to eat snails and slugs which should make it a welcome visitor to our gardens. The females give birth to as many as 12 live young in a litter.

Further Reading

Cogger, H. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books.

Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2003. Reptiles of Australia. Princeton University Press.

Comments (34)

sort by
chris dyer 19 June, 2009 18:56
hi there i found a lizard near my home yesterday, although living in suburbia i have placed him in a tank with reptile mat heater and leaves and stuff like that but am wondering if i can send a photo of him as i am unable to distinguish the breed of lizard he is and if you can help me on how to look after him also where can i set him free in a safe place, if you can send me a email link i can send a photo thanks from chris.
Discovery Centre 27 June, 2009 13:50

Hi Chris. Several lizard species are native to suburban areas, so there's a chance that you can release this specimen where you found it. Also, if you'd like museum experts to identify the species, you can follow these guidelines for identification requests, and send us a clear photo of the reptile via our online form.

Jennifer Simms 3 November, 2009 22:46
Hi, I just wanted to let you know my Blotched Blue-tongue died today at the age of 26 1/2 years old :(. He was born Easter 1983. He didn't seem ill two days ago and seemed to die suddenly. Thought you might be interested in knowing how long they can live for. I am very sad as I was only 11 when he was born and am now almost 38. He lived in an outdoor enclosure and hibernated every winter. He mostly ate snails, bananas and dog food.
Lorrain Hicks 2 December, 2010 19:20
Hi, My husband brought home a blue-tongue lizard that he found curled up in the lunch room. We have a reptile encloser with heating and have fed him snails and grapes which he ate. What I want to know is If we dicide to let him go would it be best to put him back where we found him or is our back yard ok. We are in the country near hanging rock.Also its markings don't seem to match an eastern or southern blotchy skink,is there a web site I can look up all types of blue tongues.(ps) can I put any tree branches and leaves in the encloser.8
Discovery Centre 21 December, 2010 13:13

Hi Lorrrain, by the sound of it you may need to confirm he is a local species of blue-tongue. There is a possibility that if he is very comfortable in captivity and feeding well already that he may be an accidental escapee, this also correlates with the fact you say he does not look like a local. If you sent in some photos to the Discovery Centre it may throw some light on the issue. If it is a local species the best thing you could do is release him back to his local habitat. Is there adequate habitat for you blue tongue around your husband’s work? The lizard needs a place to hide and enough food to survive

Josie 12 February, 2011 12:26
Hey, one of my friends found a female blue tongue in an Industrial Estate, 5 years ago and has kept it ever since as a pet, with another female, which she had for 10 years. Recently it died, and my friend felt terrible keeping one, so she brought it to my house to release, as I live on 72 acres of bushland. However, I didnt think it was going to survivee (we've cared for an injered blue tongue before for a wildlife carer, as it had been mauled by out dog and was not fit to release.). 2 hours after we released her lizard, I went to check it, and despite all the sunlight, she'd moved about 30 cm. I took her home and she was totally dehydrated. I'm trying to relocate her as she does love being outside, however after 5 years I dont think you can just let her go. So I've been keeping her in a guinea pig cage for the last 4 or 5 days, to get her used to the weather, and putting snails in her cage. I've also started putting a little bit of banana in her cage every morning, as I plan to leave her some banana every day for about a month after I release her, to make sure she's getting some food. However, I'm still not sure I'm doing the right thing. Do you have any tips on how to re-locate a blue tongue? I dont want to keep her for too long, I'm scared I'll get attatched. Thanks so much! Josie
Discovery Centre 16 February, 2011 14:33

Hi Josie - Most animals that have been raised in captivity have to be released into the wild very slowly and carefully – giving them plenty of time to acclimatise to their new environment and learn how to fend for themselves. I can see three main problems with you releasing your blue tongue: 1) It is illegal to either collect animals from the wild without special permission or release captive animals into the wild. 2) You don’t know where this animals ‘genetics’ originated from so you are releasing an animal into a new area where it may not be found naturally, or releasing different genetics into a population. 3) The wellbeing of the animal should be considered and whether this is the best thing for the animal and its chance of survival. 

This may not be the response you are looking for but it would be good if you could consider these points when making your final decision on what to do with your pet.

Ben 11 November, 2012 12:59
Hi there. We have just recently found what I believe to be a Blotched Blue Tongue Lizard here in Tasmania. We found it in our cats mouth thinking it was a leaf! We've got it in a box and my mother wants to keep it, but I want to release it because there tends to he alot of care invoved in looking after a lizard. It's eyes seem to be closed shut, could it be blind? Also, I've noticed this is native to Victoria, could this one be an escapee? Cheers.
Discovery Centre 13 November, 2012 16:38

Dear Ben, Blotched Blue Tongues occur naturally in Tasmania, in fact they are the only Blue Tongue species present there. They tend to prefer cooler climates and on the mainland are restricted to Tasmania-like climes. This gives them their alternative name of Alpine Blue Tongue.

Blue Tongues are often attacked by cats and do not usually survive, even if the damage appears minor. Bacteria from the cat's teeth can be particularly harmful. The fact that the lizard's eyes are closed is not a good sign - you can either take it to a vet with the possibility of treatment, or release it back into the wild and hope for the best!


Angel 17 March, 2013 16:56
Hi, we have found a pregnant blue tongue (vic) and I'm wondering what are some actual signs that she will have them? She is getting bigger at the back end. I am aware that its in autumn when they birth but what are some signs? She has not wanted food the last 4days. It's getting colder. She is in a large enclosure outside. Today she didn't come out of her burrow all day and her belly is bluish in colour which is different to normal, is it just the cold? Can they get sick from humans? Say if humans have a cold? She seems to love human contact, she will lay on my chest and I feel knows our voices. Recently she's been a little reserved, I'm wondering if she is close to birth. Thanks.
Discovery Centre 22 March, 2013 15:19

Hi Angel, Female Blue Tongue lizards tend to become larger along the length of the body when pregnant, rather than becoming larger at the back end. So it may be possible you just have a particularly well-fed specimen. If it is well-fed, or even if it is a pregnant female, the blue is probably an indictaion that the lizard will moult. A female will moult about two weeks before giving birth to allow more room as her body expands. A well-fed lizard will moult just to make room for further growth. Females usually give birth in March, but will on occasion do so in early April.

So you may or may not have a female, which may or may not be pregnant. There are no known disease which skinks can contract from humans. Blue Tongues frequently respond to the human voice or movement, generally because they associate it with food - it's not been reported that they respond differently to different voices.

Keep in mind too that although Blue Tongues can be kept without a licence, it's illegal to collect them from the wild - even from your own backyard. They can be purchased from a pet shop or licenced breeder. If you find a lizard in the wild that appears to have been someone's pet, you can hand it in to the various reptile rescue centres around Melbourne.

susan richardson 20 March, 2013 23:38
Hi, I have had a blue tongue living in my suburban backyard for 20 years. I usually only see it in the summer. A few days ago it turned up at the back door and it was freezing cold. I put it in the sun to warm up but the next day it was back at the door. I now have it inside in a box near the hot water cylinder. It has had a little drink and licked a grape, but seems very unwell. It did crawl a fair way back to the door so it must be able to move. It just seems to want to come inside and be taken care of. Am I doing the right thing? Suzie launceston Tas.
Discovery Centre 25 March, 2013 14:00

Hi Susan,

Blue Tongues can be kept privately without a licence, but it is illegal to collect them from the wild. With this in mind, your lizard may be very old and a candidate for palliative care. If you leave it outside, it will look for an overwintering site and may or may not survive the coming winter, as happens to old lizards in the wild every year. You can take it to a local vet that specialises in native wildlife to have it assessed, or contact the relevant wildlife rescue organisation that covers Launceston. There may also be lost reptile homes that can give advice (in Victoria these are 'Victorian Reptiles' and 'Black Snake Productions'). You'll have to decide what to do based on the applicable wildlife regulations, the best options for the lizard, and what you're willing and capable of doing.

Shelley Owen 27 April, 2013 15:15
I think my bluetongue may be in labour. How long are they normally in labour for?
Discovery Centre 28 April, 2013 12:50

Hi Shelly,

The duration of labour depends on a number of factors, including the age and health of the female. The number of young produced during any one birthing event varies from two to twenty - giving birth to two offspring may take an hour or two, whereas giving birth to twenty may take up to a week.

Caroline 21 June, 2013 20:09
Hi, we recently bought a blotched blue tongue lizard, he is only young, about 9mths old, came with a glass enclosure, bark chips and heat lamp. The previous owner told us to feed him meat based cat food which we did. We have had him for about 3mths now but he has really slowed down, appears very lethargic and isn't eating. I bought some small crickets from the pet shop today and he sparked up a bit when I put them in the tank, I am hoping he eats them. Is there anything I can do I am really worried about him?
Discovery Centre 23 June, 2013 11:46
Hi Caroline, Bluetongue Lizards slow down their activity at this time of year and, in the wild, go into a dormant phase into which they do not eat and become completely inactive, similar to hibernation. If your enclosure is not fully heated, your lizard may sense the onset of winter and may simply be slowing down.

Meat-based cat food is okay as a diet (and do not use fish-based cat food), but a combination of soft fruits and vegetables (such as apple, strawberries, grapes etc) is a better diet, along with the occasional snail, pieces of red meat and banana. Always ensure snails are collected from areas where there are definitely no snail pellets being used.

If you're concerned about the ongoing health of the lizard, you should take it along to a vet.

Lorraine 20 November, 2013 10:42
We have a lovely leafy garden and have noticed in recent days we have 'adopted' a family of Bluetongues. At least 2 young and a mother (we presume)who won't come out of our shed !!! The little one's happily scamper along the deck and around our feet and have been enjoying strawberries and grapes. We wondered why they kept scratching at the door of the shed until my husband found what must be the mother firmly ensconced in there with no sign of wanting to come out. It's a secure shed and we are wondering how to encourage it out. We have left a trail of fruit ... no luck yet !!!! I have always been a little toey about these little fellas but after reading up on them I feel they might be come a welcome addition to our garden. By the way, we did nurse one back to health after being hurt by a whipper snipper from an adjoining property. Maybe it's come back to live with us !!!!
Harry quig 12 July, 2014 21:38
Hi I am trying to sustain a home for a blue tounge and wondering what is the best way to keep them?
gazzz 27 November, 2014 22:56
Just wondering about the gestation of a blotched blue tounge mine is a cross but i just wanted to get a genral idea .im in victoria if thats a factor Many thanks k Kind regards gazzz
Sharon 27 December, 2014 20:44
We have a blotched blue tongue "Larry" who is 3, we have had him (not even sure how to tell if has a he) from a baby but would like to know what plants he would like to eat? also have in his new outdoor enclosure?
Discovery Centre 30 December, 2014 13:59

Hi Sharon

Blotched Blue Tongues are omnivorous, feeding on a wide variety of both animal and vegetable matter such as snails, slugs, fruits and flowers. They're not very agile and the animals they eat are mostly slow-moving. It is important for lizards to have both areas of shade and sun, including stones and rocks to lie on as they warm up each morning. It is also important to wash your hands if you handle your Blue Tongue.

We trust you are aware of the requirements for holding captive native species, especially the illegality of removing Blue Tongue Lizards from the wild - the Wildlife Regulations 2013 states it is only legal to keep captive-bred animals rather than wild-caught.

nicky 30 April, 2015 17:31
hi our blue tongue lizard has had 3 babies this afternoon as stupid as the question might seem to some but here goes... HOW MANY DAYS CAN IT TAKE FOR A FEMALE BLUE TONGUE TO HAVE ALL HER BABIES
Discovery Centre 10 May, 2015 09:20
Hi Nicky, mature female Blue-tongue Lizards (Tiliqua species) can give birth to up to 19 young at a time, depending on which Blue-tongue species it is. The more common number is around 10, with younger females only giving birth to 2-3 offspring in the first year of maturity. If there are a large number of offspring, it can take a week or more to get them all out.
cassidy 25 January, 2016 15:43
Hey, I just got my blue tougne lizard the other day & this morning she had 1 baby but sadly it passed away, my lizard isn't a young one either I don't think we didn't know she was pregnant but how long are they in labour for? And what can we do to help her birth her babies and keep them alive? Thanks
Discovery Centre 29 January, 2016 10:31
Hi Cassidy,

In their first year of producing offspring, Blue-tongue Lizards (Tiliqua species) often give birth to stillborn young. They also give birth to one or two young rather than six or more in subsequent years. Depending on the species, they take 3-5 months to give birth after mating, usually between December and April. The labour itself is quite quick and the main indication is that the female ceases feeding and finds somewhere protected to produce her live young.

Breanna 14 February, 2016 15:58
Hi, I'm just wondering how I can tell if my blue tongue is pregnant? I got a new blue tongue in late November which I discovered is a male as he started rubbing the space between his legs on the ground when I put him in which my female and a little friend popped out. I have recently noticed she is a lot bigger than normally and she hasn't had any extra food. She also runs away when I go to pick her up which she never used to do. Could I have a pregnant blue tongue?
Discovery Centre 18 February, 2016 11:59

Hi Breanna,

If your female Blue-tongue Lizard (Tiliqua species) is pregnant she will be larger than usual but will also need extra food for the developing embryos. Males are very aggressive towards females during courtship and mating, so there may also be signs of bites and scratches all over her body. If it’s her first pregnancy there’s a good chance that the offspring will be stillborn, and you’ll find two or more partially-developed baby lizards in her enclosure. Given the time of year and the fact that the male is present, there’s every possibility that she is pregnant.

Sylvie 4 December, 2016 13:38
How can I distinguish if the Blue Tongue in my garden is male or female?
Discovery Centre 5 December, 2016 14:32
Hi Sylvie,

Unfortunately most of the methods used to distinguish male and female Blue-tongue Lizards (Tiliqua species) involve comparing one to the other, so you need both at the same time, and even these are not one hundred percent accurate. For example, the male has a larger and more triangular head than the female, and a slimmer body overall but a thicker base to the tail. In combination, these are fairly accurate but an aberrant female may have one or more of the male traits listed above. With time you can get good at picking males from females on sight, but it takes some practice. One accurate way to determine the sex of a Blue-tongue is to test for the presence of male hemipenes or seminal plugs, which can be done at home but is best done by an experienced veterinarian. The other option is to put two lizards together – their interactions will let you know which is which. In your situation, the general body descriptions above are probably the easiest method to try.

Daniel 6 December, 2016 00:27
I have a juvenile bluetongue, ckose to one year old. I think he may have been bitten on the head today by a larger lizard (which is cunningham skink) or poked himself in the eye with a stick or something. But anyway, just about an hour before posting this i saw his eye and it is kind of sunken in or popped or something. I can't tell if it's just infected or if it's popped because the latger lizard may have bitten him on the head, because i noticed a sore on his head also, the sore is nothing serious. I'm just worried about his eye, i really don't want him to lose it. What should i do?
Discovery Centre 7 December, 2016 09:24
Hi Daniel, 

You should take your lizard to the vet without delay. There are a number of vets that specialise in reptile care, and these can be found online or in the phone directory. This type of injury can’t be treated at home and could become more seriously very quickly without proper treatment.

Anna 25 March, 2017 15:07
Hi, my son has a pet Eastern Blue Tounge lizard who is 18months old. Over the past 2-3 months I have noticed that there is something not right with its eye. The lid is slightly red, the lense looks cloudy and it often has it closed while the other eye remains open. Any ideas or possible treatment?
Discovery Centre 4 April, 2017 15:34

Hi Anna,

You too should take your lizard to the vet without delay. As stated above, you should search online for vets that specialise in reptile care.

Write your comment below All fields are required

We love receiving comments, but can’t always respond.