Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Creature Feature: Blue-Tongued Skinks.

 Lizards do not get nearly enough love on this blog. Sure, they got their own week, but that cannot possibly cover how diverse and amazing lizards are, right? After all, they have been around for a very, very long time.

One group that I have skimmed over in my previous posts are the skinks (family Scincidae). Skinks are often identified by having small limbs if any, making them look and move like a creature between a lizard and a snake. (This may have been the inspiration for Snivy and Servine, two of the new Pokemon in Gen V.) Like many lizards, skinks can regenerate their tails, and some even give birth to live young. Reptoid invasion is on its way, guys.

There are some lizards, however, that are not threatening, but still a little wacky. Watch any special on Aussie wildlife and you will probably see at least one member of the genus Tiliqua - no, not tequila.

Tiliqua skinks, more commonly called "blue-tongued skinks" or just "blue-tongues," are known for exactly what their name says: They have blue tongues.

Blue-tongues are omnivorous, eating anything from berries to arthropods. They are moderately-sized lizards (37 centimeters) and the blue-tongue genus contains several species, so please do your research if you plan on buying one. They do not get as big as green iguanas or monitors, making skinks a good beginner lizard.

The skinks have blue tongues for a reason: that strange coloration works as a defense mechanism. The contrast of the blue tongue against the lizard's pink mouth startles an opposing predator long enough for the skink to react. If it worked that well with humans, then blue raspberry candy would be considered an adequate self-defense weapon.

Or blue Slurpees.

 To be fair, aside from the skink traits of vivipary and stunted limbs, blue-tongues do not have too much weird about them. They make wonderfully tame pets, and may have inspired two cryptoids in Japan, including the infamous, yet adorable, tsuchinoko. Come to think of it, skinks do look a lot like chubby snakes.

I want one. :D

Tomorrow: Happy Year of the White Rabbit! Have a special present for Chinese New Year! (I've been waiting a long time for this one.)

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