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A true-blue battler

Unfairly judged?

Koala control
What to do about the "koala plague" on Kangaroo Island

The Kangaroo industry
Should we eat skippy?

Feral cat
Apex predator in Australia. Confined to urban areas in America.

Tasmanian Devil
The solution to mainland extinctions?

Tasmanian Tiger
A sad tale

Perhaps not so adapted to Australia

Keg of muscle







A true blue Aussie battler

When threatened, a Funnelweb rocks back on its hind legs and lets venom drip down its fangs, a Dog raises its hackles, growls and bears its teeth while a bull will lower its head, point its horns and snort. Such acts are nothing when compared to the Blue-Tongue, which opens its mouth and shows that it has a big blue tongue. To reinforce the bluff, the lizard stands its ground, hissing and drawing as much attention to the tongue as possible. Confronted with such an odd sight, one can't help but think that there is something to fear about tongues afterall.

If the bluff is called, there is no risk of a poison bite or even sharp teeth, but the assailant may discover that Blue-tongues have a tenacious habit of not letting go, contributing considerably to the pain.

The main threats to Blue-tongues are Dogs, who often come across Blue-Tongues stealing their food. Although the Dog will growl, sniff and perhaps bark, the intimidating tongue usually ensures the Dog keeps its distance.

The Cat is not so easily fooled. As an ambush predator, Cats are able to attack the Blue-Tongue before it gets a chance to show its tongue. One minute the Blue-Tongue is eating a snail, the next it has the claws of a Cat sinking into its body.

Humans are another threat to the Blue-Tongue. Some garderners are of the opinion that the best way to deal with snails and slugs is to use lots of poisons. Unfortunately, when the Blue-Tongue eats the poisoned snails and slugs, they can be poisoned themselves.

The death of Blue-Tongues is neither in the interest of the species nor the garderner. When snails recover, they do so in an environment where there are no longer predators and their populations skyrocket. In the meantime, spiders such as Funnelwebs have free rein of the garden, unfettered by any predatory lizards.

The lawn mower is another major threat to the Blue-Tongue. Rather than run away from danger, Blue-Tongues prefer to hide in longer grass and get ready to show their tongue if need be. Unfortunately, a fleshy blue tongue is no match against spinning blades of metal.

Finally, cars are a major threat. Blue-tongues like to come to the road to warm up and tend to act a bit comotose when sunbaking. Cars then go straight over the top.

Blue-Tongues live alone for most of the year, but between September and November males seek females for mating. The competition for the ladies is fierce and the males fight aggressively among themselves. Once the lady is found, the romance soon blooms. Often the happy couple can be seen crossing the road in pairs. Sometimes the male is following the female. Sometimes the male is carrying the female.




Which is the best species for your garden?

The table below lists the preferred habitat and favoured food of the various species of Blue-tongues. Imagine you would like to have some Blue-tongues living in your back yard.

  1. Which one would be most suitable for your backyard?
  2. What could you do to make your backyard more desirable for Blue-tongues?
Favourite habitat
Maximum size
Preferred food
Western Blue Tongued Skink dry 50 cm./ 19.5 in. berries and spiders 5-10
Common/Eastern Blue-Tongued Skink semi-desert to agricultural areas, suburban gardens 60 cm./23.5 in small animals, plant material 12
Northern Blue Tongued Skink tropical/savannah woodlands 60 cm./23.5 in Omnivorous 5-20
Central Blue-Tongued Skink desert and tropical environments 40-45 cm./15.5-17.5in wildflowers, small vertebrates, and insects 2-5
Australian Pink tongued skink wetter forest habitat than the other Aussie Skinks 0-45 cm./15.5-17.5 almost exclusively on snails and slugs 12-25



Below are examples of the Blue-tongue being used as icons. For each example, try to speculate what the designers/selectors were hoping to achieve by using the image of the lizard.  

1) Aboriginal mythology

In one Aboriginal legend, a fella was sitting around the campfire when he spotted the lizard. He thought to himself: "If that lizard is still around in three days I will do something terrible. My spirits will curse me for what I am going to do." Three days later the lizard was still there so he threw a bit of blue ochre at the lizard just it was poking his tongue out. The lizard has had a blue tongue ever since.

3- Bluetonge brewery

Lots of good things come out of the Hunter Valley. Such products include ex-convict Molly Morgan, league star Andrew Jones, coal, McWilliams Wines and now the Bluetongue Brewery.


Below are methods that allow some people to make money out of the Australian birds. How do you think working in each industry would affect attitudes to the birds?

1) Pets - There is a great deal of affection for Blue-Tongues as pets. They have gentle personalities, longevity and undemanding husbandry. Even the intimidating tongue adds to the appeal.

In foreign countries, a captive bred jouvenile sells for around US$200. In Australia there is no industry as it is illegal in Australia to keep native animals without a permit.


Environmental Issues

Environmental problems
The cultural basis of defining environmental problems

Climate change in Australia
Looking to the past to predict the future

Indigenous environmentalism
Differences between Indigenous and non-indigenous land management

The dark side of sustainable environmental policies

Native pets
Why no pet wombats?

Bush fire prevention
To go native or exotic?