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Eastern Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scincoides) Fact Sheet: Summary

Eastern Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scincoides) Fact Sheet

Eastern or common blue-tongued skink

Eastern Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scincoides)

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


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia — reptiles

Order: Squamata — lizards, snakes, serpents

Family: Scincidae — skinks

Genus: Tiliqua — blue-tongued skinks

Species: Tiliqua scincoides — eastern blue-tongued skink

Subspecies: T. s. chimaerea (Tanibar Islands, Indonesia)

Subspecies: T. s. intermedia (northern Australia)

Subspecies: T. s. scincoides (southern and eastern Australia)

Snout–vent Length
300-320 mm (11.8-12.6 in)

Total Length
Average: 450 mm (17.7 in)
Maximum: 600 mm (23.6 in)

Hindlimb Length
About 20% of snout–vent length

Tail Length
About 50-75% of snout–vent length

Varies, especially between subspecies. Upperbody may have shades of yellow, brown, pale gray, and black. Underbody gray to yellow, often with brown markings. Body has 6-9 alternating, contrasting bands (pale and darker); tail has 7-10 bands.

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Eastern, southeastern, and northern Australia (except arid interior); Tanibar Islands of Indonesia

Most habitats in northern and eastern Australia; coastal heaths to montane forests to cities and gardens

IUCN Status
Least Concern (2017 assessment)

CITES Appendix
Not listed

Other Designations
Federally protected in Australia; additional protections at the state and territory level

Populations in the Wild
Considered common to abundant

Walk, run. Relatively slow moving.

Activity Cycle
Active during the day. Seek shelter at night.

Social Groups

Flowers, native fruits, berries, fungi, insects, snails, carrion

Adults: large snakes, goannas, large birds, dingoes, domestic dogs and cats.
Juveniles/subadults: many reptiles, mammals, and birds.

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity
Varies by subspecies and region/population

Not well known; about 3-4 months

Litter Size
Typically 10-11 young; up to 25 reported

Interbirth Interval
Annual breeding cycle

Birth Weight
8.4-20.7 g (0.30-0.73 oz)

Birth Size
About 90-130 mm (3.5-5 in) (snout–vent length)

Typical Life Expectancy
Managed care: about 20 years

Feature Facts

  • Protrudes conspicuous blue tongue during defense display
  • Large rear teeth for crushing food; snails and insects are important prey
  • Seek shelter in abandoned burrows of other animals (e.g., small mammals, goannas, etc.)
  • Blood vessel networks beneath scales promote body warming and cooling
  • Adapts well to suburban and city habitats
  • Often injured by pets, motor vehicles, and garden equipment; commonly rescued and rehabilitated by humans
  • Popular pet because of its blue tongue, and its inquisitive behavior
  • In northern Australia, many skinks die after ingesting poisonous, non-native cane toads

About This Fact Sheet

For detailed information, click the tabs at the top of this page.

© 2018 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

How to cite: Eastern Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scinoides) Fact Sheet. c2018. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to


Thank you to Mike Swan for providing expert content review of this fact sheet.

Mike Swan is a well-known Australian naturalist, writer, and photographer. Mr. Swan was a senior reptile keeper at Zoos Victoria for 19 years and was also involved with collections are the Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary. Mr. Swan has authored and edited many herpetology books, including An Introduction to Keeping and Breeding Australian Reptiles, Keeping and Breeding Australian Pythons, and Snakes, Lizards and Frogs of the Victorian Mallee. Currently, he manages a 350 specimen reptile collection at Lilydale High School and is a project manager in interpretive design.

Thank you to Dr. Samantha Price-Rees for providing expert content review of this fact sheet.

Dr. Price-Rees conducted detailed studies of blue-tounged skink behavior and spatial ecology during her doctoral research at the University of Sydney, Australia. This research provided insight into the movements of T. scincoides in natural habitats and for demonstrating the impacts of toxic, invasive toads on blue-tongued skink populations in northern Australia. Dr. Price-Rees is now a professional landscape photographer.

Many thanks to Jennifer Hardell, Animal Handler at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, for sharing her knowledge of blue-tongued skink husbandry for the Managed Care section of this fact sheet.

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