Thursday, 29 November 2007

Blue-tongue skink

I was heading home this afternoon when I spotted this fellow basking in a quiet part of campus. It wasn't quiet for long. As soon as I saw him (or her), I dumped my bag in the Faculty office and took my camera for a short walk.

As the vernacular name suggests, common blue-tongue lizards (Tiliqua scincoides) are not exactly rare in eastern Australia. These large skinks occur in a range of habitats, including suburban gardens and — obviously — university campuses. When moving around, they tend to follow routes that give them maximum cover, but a sun-warmed concrete slab or quiet road can sometimes lure them into the open. One of these basking sites is riskier than the other.

Blue tongues feed on a range of items, including snails. (I'm not sure how I feel about that.) But their broad diet and love of pest species means that they are not only adaptable to human-influenced habitats but also are often welcomed by gardeners looking for natural snail control.

Although they're reputed to be slow moving, this one put on a great turn of speed when it decided I'd got too close. It didn't resort to the blue tongue display but did make itself larger by inflating its body. Not that it was a small lizard in the first place.

I didn't want to disturb it any more than I already had, so I returned to the office to pick up my bag … and discovered that the special and supplementary exams are due at the printers tomorrow. So that's what I'm doing now. I'd rather be watching lizards.



In the last picture it looks like as if it was wearing a sweater.

Snail said...

Somebody, somewhere will have a chunky knit sweater with that design on it! Other members of the genus are adorned with equally snazzy patterns.

Dark Orange said...

Here's a West Australian version.

Snail said...

You can see right down its gullet! Nice shot ... as usual!