Skip to Main Content
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance logo
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library logo

Eastern Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scincoides) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Population estimates

  • Considered common to abundant (Shea 2017)
    • No population estimates reported

Conservation Status


  • Least Concern (2017 assessment) (Shea 2017)
    • Wide distribution
  • Population trends
    • T. s. scincoides likely stable
    • T. s. intermedia populations may be declining


Government laws and regulations

  • Protected as a native species of Australia (Australian Government, Department of Environment and Energy)
  • Not protected in New Guinea (Werning 2004)

Threats to Survival

Urban and suburban hazards

(Shine and Koenig 2001; Koenig et al. 2002; Scheelings 2015)

Pet trade

  • Popular species because of its blue tongue (Mancera et al. 2014)
    • Transportation mortality averages above 5% due to poor transport conditions
  • Export of wild-caught specimens from Australia is banned (Unverzagt 2004)

Cane toads

  • Cane toads (Rhinella marina) are an invasive species in Australia (Price-Rees et al. 2010; Price-Rees, Webb, et al. 2013)
    • Distributed widely across northern tropical Australia
    • Possesses chemical defenses
      • Poisonous to native predators
  • Significant threat, especially to northern T. s. intermedia (Price-Rees et al. 2010; Shea 2017)
    • Skinks likely to die, if ingest a cane toad
    • T. scincoides has disappeared from much of its former range in northern Australia (Price-Rees, Webb, et al. 2013)
  • Approaches to increase skink survival:
    • Taste aversion training (Price-Rees, Webb, et al. 2013)
    • Management of cane toad populations (e.g., Shine and Doody 2011)
      • Has proved ineffective

Management Actions

Protected areas

  • This species occurs in many protected areas (Shea 2017)
    • 46 National Parks in Queensland

Taste aversion training

Overcoming Adversity

Two blue-tongued skinks on moss; one with mouth agape

The eastern blue-tongued skink is common and adapts well to urban areas—but faces several threats.

Populations are harmed by habitat loss, feral animals, and humans who don't want these lizards on their property. In northern Australia, many skinks also die when they try to eat poisonous, non-native cane toads.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

SDZWA Library Links