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Blotched blue-tongue lizard, Tiliqua nigrolutea

Blotched Blue-tongue lizard

The blotched blue-tongued lizard is the largest lizard species occurring in Tasmania. They feed on slow-moving invertebrates and plant material. Some people are lucky enough to have these lizards in their gardens.


Tasmania's largest lizard, unlikely to be mistaken for any other species. A heavy-bodied, short-limbed species with a short, tapering tail. The head is large and distinct from the neck, and the face is usually cream to orange in colour. The body pattern usually consists of paler bands or blotches on a dark background. Blotched bluetongues in Tasmania grow to a head and body length of about 30 cm, the tail is about 12-15 cm long. Males usually have a relatively shorter body and broader head than females. These lizards get their name from the broad, blue tongue which is extended during the threat display, and constantly flicked out while the lizard is hunting.


Blotched Blue-tongued lizard

Omnivorous, fond of flowers, fungi, strawberries and snails. Bluetongues are also partial to tinned dog and cat food and are sometimes found helping themselves to the breakfast of more domestic animals. Shelters under dense vegetation, leaf litter, in hollow logs or under piles of debris. Drain pipes are used by bluetongues for shelter in many suburban backyards. This species overwinters in deep litter, crevices or hollow logs. This species has been recorded living for twenty years in captivity. Blotched blue-tongue lizards do not have a venomous bite, but they are capable of biting very hard.


Female blotched blutongues can reproduce every year, although many go for two seasons between litters. Blotched blue-tongue lizards have 1-15 live young which are born in late summer or early autumn. The young are usually born enclosed in embryonic membranes which are attached to a yolk sac, which provides them with their first meal. Females become mature when they have a head and body length of about 26 cm. Unlike many other species of Tasmanian skinks, the number of young is not correlated with the size of the parent female. During the mating season in October-November males are very aggressive towards other adult and subadult males, and they are not very gentle with the females either. Male blotched blue-tongues do not show any loyalty to any particular female.


This species occurs in Tasmania up to an altitude of about 740 m, although it is more common in lower altitudes. This species appears to be fairly widespread in Tasmania, being found commonly in the north and east, less frequently in areas such as Lake St Clair and Strahan. Blotched Blue-tongues have been recorded on the following islands: Babel Island, Bruny Is., Maria Is., Hunter Is., Flinders Is., Great Dog Is., King Island. Also mainland Australia in NSW and Victoria.




The species as a whole is secure but individuals are vulnerable to being hit by cars, run over by lawn mowers, preyed on by dogs and cats and poisoned by snail baits. To keep bluetongues off your strawberries, wire netting with 1 cm mesh is recommended.