What is a Blue Tongue Lizard?

Susan Grindstaff

A blue tongue lizard, also referred to as a skink, is a type of lizard native to Australia. There are six different species of the blue tongue lizard, but they are all similar, varying only slightly in size and color. In addition to having long vividly blue tongues, most of these lizards have gray bodies with beige and brown markings. An adult blue tongue lizard usually weighs around 10-18 ounces (283-510 grams) and can grow to be about 32 inches (81.3 cm).

Blue tongue lizards feed on caterpillars and other slow moving creatures.
Blue tongue lizards feed on caterpillars and other slow moving creatures.

Most animal experts claim that the blue tongue lizard makes an outstanding house pet. Once tamed, they are said to be gentle and friendly. Unlike many species of lizards, the blue tongues typically move very slowly. Their feet and legs as disproportionately short compared with the rest of their body, which makes it difficult for them to move quickly. They are usually fairly easy to catch, which may be another reason they are popular as pets.

Many people who own blue tongue lizards claim they are docile. They typically do not mind being touched or handled, though they may complain when being lifted off the ground. Unlike many other reptiles, the blue tongue lizard is a ground dweller. In their natural habitat, they prefer gardens and tend to stay under shelter of wood and rocks. They do not climb well, probably because of their unusually short feet and legs.

Blue tongue lizards typically eat green vegetation and small animals and insects. Their prey are usually slow moving creatures such as caterpillars and snails, because they move too slowly to catch animals that move with speed. These lizards generally have strong musculature in their jaws, which allows them to crack snail shells and other hardened food. In addition, the strong jaw muscles give the lizard the ability to deliver a nasty bite, though it is considered uncommon for them to do so.

Unlike many other reptilian creatures, blue tongue lizards are live born, and do not hatch from eggs. They are born self-sufficient, without a weaning period from the mother lizard. From the moment of their birth, they must fend for themselves. Blue tongue lizards usually give birth to about 25 babies in one litter.

Some types of blue tongue lizards can live in excess of three decades, but this generally only applies to lizards that live in the wild. Blue tongues that are held in captivity typically live a couple of dozen years. Compared to other types of house pets, this is still considered a very long lifespan.

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