May 2013

Blue-tongued or Pink-tongued Skink?

Hope you can help me identify this Blue-tongue as he seems to be a different colour and shape to the ones I have seen in the past. The photo was taken at the foot of Buderim Mountain where I reside. Are there different species on the coast?

Answer

Pink-tongued Skink (Cyclodomorphus gerrardii). Image courtesy of Maho Go. Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scincoides) Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scincoides). Image courtesy of Maho Go.

The skink you saw was not a Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scincoides). It is a Pink-tongued Skink (Cyclodomorphus gerrardii).

Pink-tongued Skinks are most easily distinguished from Blue-tongues by the length and shape of their tail. Blue-tongues have short thick tails, relative to their body while Pink-tongues have long slender tails. Pink-tongued Skinks are also more slender in the body than Blue-tongues. The larger, more strongly clawed feet of Pink-tongues hint at another difference – they can climb! Blue-tongues do not. When threatened, both species will display their tongues. It is when they do this that you can easily tell whether you are looking at a Pink-tongued Skink or a Blue-tongued Skink!

Pink-tongued Skinks range from mid-eastern New South Wales to north-eastern Queensland and can be found in well-watered gardens in Brisbane and surrounding bushland. They are most active on warm nights after rain and the majority of their diet consists of slugs and snails.

The Pink-tongued Skink's main defence is bluff. If they feel threatened and can’t easily escape they face their aggressor with mouth agape, inflate their bodies and making a loud hissing noise. Although Pink-tongued Skinks are harmless, their snail-crunching jaws can inflict a painful bite.

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