Common Blue Tongue Skink (White, ex Shaw, 1790)
Tiliqua scincoides

Text Written by James Wilson

The Common blue-tongued skink was the first blue-tongue species to be described. As its common name implies, it is the most common of the blue-tongues to occur in the hobby. Its scientific name, scincoides, is of Neo-Greek origins, meaning like Scincus (a genus of skinks found in northern Africa to southwest Asia). Currently, there are three recognized subspecies: the Eastern blue-tongued skink (Tiliqua scincoides scincoides), the Northern blue-tongued skink (Tiliqua scincoides intermedia), and the Tanimbar Island blue-tongued skink (Tiliqua scincoides chimaerea). Because of its variation in coloration, pattern, and range, and because of the many subspecies that it has been divided into, I have decided to cover this species on a sub-specific level. Eastern Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scincoides scincoides) The Eastern Blue-tongued Skink was very popular and common in the US hobby back in the 1980s, but was later cast aside by collectors and breeders who were more interested in the larger northern blue-tongue (intermedia) which was very expensive at the time. Ironically, because of the sudden interest shift of breeding efforts, the Eastern Blue-tongued Skink is currently very hard to find in the US hobby, causing it to now be very desirable and expensive. When they are available, they often look suspiciously like intergrades, or northern blue-tongues. I have seen northern blue-tongues being marketed as eastern blue-tongues on more than one occasion.

Description

The Eastern blue-tongue is variable in color, but usually has a grey to tan background color with darker bands that extend over the back onto the sides, and sometimes continuing onto the belly. The scales of the paler interspaces (between the darker bands) are usually marked with dark lateral edges, creating a series of thin dark brown lines that run down the length of the body. Many specimens possess a heavy, dark brown or black, temporal streak that starts at the back of the eye and runs back to the top of the ear opening. Their forelimbs are basically patternless, and are always much lighter in color than the hind limbs. The anterior temporal scales on the Eastern blue-tongue are elongated and much longer than the other temporal scales. This skink has 34-40 mid-body scale rows, and its tail accounts for 50-60% of the snout-vent length, and it often appears to be thicker than the other three subspecies. Average adult size for this subspecies is 17-19 inches (43-48 cm), with some individuals growing as large as 21 inches (53 cm). Females can produce 10 to 20 live young in a litter.

Distribution and Habitat

The Eastern blue-tongued skink can be found in south-eastern South Australia and throughout the majority of Victoria, New South Wales, and southern Queensland, where its range moves north up the east coast along the Cape York Peninsula. The Eastern blue-tongued skink has also been observed in a small isolated population in extreme north-western South Australia about 600 miles away from the nearest point of the range that they were previously thought to be restricted to. The existence of this population was first reported in 1992, by G.R. Johnston, in the Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia. He was unable to determine whether they were naturally occurring. However, the local aboriginal people had known of them for a long time. The Eastern blue-tongue inhabits a wide variety of habitats, including coastal woodlands, montane forests, and semi-arid grasslands.