Look in your backyard, and you'll likely spot animals like rabbits and squirrels. For residents of the Australian outback, a fairly common site in their suburbs are curious lizards boasting flat heads and stubby legs sunning themselves on driveways and backyard decks.
These fellows are known as blue-tongue skinks, and in Australia they are a common site in areas of human habitation. These lizards sport blue-tipped tongues, which is an example of apomorphic coloration.
Apomorphic coloration refers to bright colors found in nature, usually to indicate to other animals that an individual is poisonous or venomous. Blue-tongue skinks are a species that takes advantage of this natural warning system by flashing bright blue tongues at predators when they feel threatened in hopes to trick them into thinking it's more dangerous than it really is.
A bluff is all the blue-tongue skink has to defend itself. With its stubby legs, it is unable to move very quickly.
Blue-tongue skinks are intelligent, learning the safest places to cross roads in their native ranges. In other places in the world, however, these skinks have become popular pets, which can be trained to walk on leashes. Blue-tongues are omnivorous, eating a variety of fruits, leafy greens, insects, and eggs of reptiles and birds. In captivity, their diets are often supplemented with canned cat food for additional protein.
These lizards are one of many reptile species that give birth to life young. They are ovoviviparous, meaning that the female retains the eggs within her body until they are ready to hatch. She then give birth to up to 6 young at a time.
We at Zoology think skinks are fantastic animals. They come in a variety of species, all of which walk around on little stubby legs. We hope you've enjoyed learning about our blue-tonged neighbors today!