6 Cool Facts about Blue-Tongued Skinks

Learn six cool facts about blue-tongued skinks from reptile and amphibian expert Jungle Bob in this Howcast video.

A fantastic lizard native to Australia and Southeast Asia is the Blue-Tongued Skink. This is one of those in-betweener animals that almost looks snakelike. It’s evolved to have little, almost insignificant arms and legs. It’s really a defenseless creature in nature. They’re plentiful.

Of the 3,000 plus skinks in the world, I believe over 900 of them are different types of skinks. So of all the different skinks, they’re all that elongated body, but only one has got that infamous blue tongue. And that’s this one. There’s a couple of species of Blue-Tongued Skinks that inhabit Australia and the Indonesian area, but they all use that tongue for the same reason. And that is to scare off or ward off a potential predator.

This animal hides. It’s terrestrial. It’s almost fossorial in its approach to life. It stays just underneath the ground. That pattern on its back just blends in to leaf litter, and it stays there kind of a couple of inches under the ground to look for food and to stay away from being food.

But if encountered by a larger animal, it really doesn’t have the ability to run very fast due to those arms and legs. It can’t propel itself quickly. It does not climb trees at all. It has no ability to do that because of those arms and legs and its body shape. He swims a little bit, but he’s not winning any races getting away from anyone. He’s kind of toast if somebody finds him. So, what did nature give him? They gave him that amazing tongue.

And oftentimes, in the animal kingdom, color means watch out. Color means poison or venom. And what he’ll do is open his mouth and wag his tongue back and forth in an attempt to scare off the predators trying to eat him. Works sometimes, but it’s not the greatest method of scaring someone away.

If someone’s pointing a gun at you, you don’t stick your tongue out at them. It’s not going to work, right? You want to have an ability to run. But the Blue-Tongued Skink doesn’t do that. So, oftentimes he becomes prey, not the predator, to a larger animal. Australia would be a large dingo, a cat, or something like that, a larger lizard, or even a snake. That’s the Blue-Tongued Skink, one of those Australia animals caught almost in an evolutionary bind.

He’s got a beautiful ear hole there making it clear that he’s a lizard. He has that opposable eyelid, but it’s those little tiny arms and legs that make it quite funny. Here’s a baby one. Another fantastic thing about Blue-Tongued Skinks, first, they’re omnivores. They’ll eat all types of animals, meat, vegetables, live animals, dead animals, you name it.

You give a Blue-Tongued Skink something to eat, put it in front of them he’s going to have it. But they’re also a lizard that has live babies, which is unusual in the lizard world. And this little guy, which is a different subspecies than the adult here, was born just about eight weeks ago. They come out in the placental sac very much alive, no eggs in the Blue-Tongued Skink world. So another incredible fact about a really wonderful animal, the Blue-Tongued Skink.