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.
Blotched Blue-tongue LizardPhotographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty. Ltd.
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.
Cogger, H. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books.
Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2003. Reptiles of Australia. Princeton University Press.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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