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Eastern Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scincoides) Fact Sheet: Reproduction & Development

Reproduction

General

  • Live-bearing (Cogger 2014; Wilson and Swan 2017)
    • See Hitz (2004) for overview of female reproductive system
  • Age at sexual maturity
    • 561-590 d (Shea 1981)
  • Size at sexual maturity varies by population (Shaw 1992)
    • Measurements in SVL (snout-vent length)
    • T. s. intermedia
      • Eastern populations
        • Males: 296-361 mm (10.4-12.7 in)
        • Females: 291-362 mm (10.3-12.8 in)
      • Western populations
        • Males: 269-341 mm (9.5-12.0 in)
        • Females: 264-325 mm (9.3-11.5 in)
    • T. s. scincoides
      • New South Wales
        • Males: 254-334 mm (10.0-13.1 in)
        • Females: 274-351 mm (10.8-13.8 in)
      • Victoria and South Australia
        • Males: 220-315 mm (8.7-12.4 in)
        • Females: 236-302 mm (9.3-11.9 in)
      • Queensland
        • Males: 258-371 mm (10.2-14.6 in)
        • Females 277-359 mm (10.9-14.1 in)

Breeding

  • Annual reproductive cycle (Shaw 1992)
  • Breeding occurs during the dry season (Shaw 1992; Cronin 2014; Price-Rees, Brown, et al. 2014)
    • Mating: August-October (late winter to spring)
    • Females give birth December-February (early to late summer)
    • Northern populations may breed slightly earlier than southern populations

Gestation and Birth

Pregnancy

  • Litter size
    • Most litters 10-11 young (Swanson 1976; Shaw 1992)
      • Minimum: 1 young (Shea 1981)
      • Maximum: 25 young (Shea 1981; Cogger 2014)
    • Increases with female age and body size (Shea 1981)
  • Gestation
    • Not well characterized
    • About 3-4 months (Shea 1981; Shaw 1992)
  • Birth
    • Females usually give birth during the day, after body has warmed (Hitz 2004)
    • Young born over a period of 1.5-8 hours (Shaw 1992)
    • Size at birth
      • About 90-130 mm (3.5-5.1 in) (snout-vent length) at birth (Swanson 1976; Shaw 1992; Cronin 2014)
    • Weight at birth
      • 8.4-20.7 g (0.30-0.73 oz) (Shaw 1992)
    • Born mid to late summer (December-February) (Shea 1981; Shaw 1992)

Life Stages

Newborns

  • Home range thought to be small (Koenig et al. 2001)
  • Grow rapidly when have access to abundant food, especially in managed care settings (Koenig et al. 2001)

Juveniles

  • Bright adult colors and glossy appearance develop at 8-9 months of age (Horner 2004)
  • Juveniles thermoregulate more frequently and use higher environmental temperatures, compared to adults (Phillips 1986b)
    • May aid growth
    • Likely able to better thermoregulate at larger body size
  • In captivity, grow rapidly (Shea 1981; Horner 2004)
    • May reach near-adult size in about a year

Longevity

In the wild

  • Long-lived skink

In managed care

  • About 20 years (Slavens and Slavens 2000; Koenig et al. 2001)
    • Exceptional individuals to 25-30 years

Mortality and Health

Survival rates

  • Not reported

Predators

  • Large snakes (e.g., black-headed python Aspidites melanocephalus, mulga snake Pseudechis australis) (Horner 2004)
  • Goannas (Samantha Price-Rees, personal communication, 2018)
  • Large birds (e.g., kookaburra, falcons) (Horner 2004; Abramjan et al. 2015)
  • Dingoes (Horner 2004)
  • Domestic dogs and cats (Koenig et al. 2002)
  • Juveniles and subadults preyed on by many reptiles, mammals, and birds (Horner 2004)
  • Predators of other Australian skinks (Pianka 1969)
    • Monitor lizards (Varanus)
      • Might also prey on T. scincoides (Abramjan et al. 2015)

Accidental death

Parasites (non-comprehensive list)

(Mike Swan, personal communication, 2018)

  • Ticks
  • Mites
  • Nematode worms

Mother and Young

Female <i>scincoides</i> and young over fine gravel

Blue-tongued skinks (Tiliqua spp.) give live birth.

Female Tiliqua scincoides breed annually and typically have 10-11 young per litter.

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

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