Blotched Blue-Tongue Lizard

Tiliqua nigrolutea

The largest lizard species occurring in Tasmania, they are unlikely to be mistaken for any other species. Heavy-bodied, short-limbed with a short, tapering tail. The head is large and distinct from the neck. The body pattern usually consists of paler bands or blotches on a dark background. Blotched blue-tongues in Tasmania grow to a head and body length of about 30 cm, the tail is about 12-15 cm long. Males usually have a relatively shorter body and broader head than females. These lizards get their name from the broad, blue tongue which is extended during the threat display, and constantly flicked out while the lizard is hunting.


Female blue-tongue lizards can reproduce every year, although many go for two seasons between litters. They have 1-15 young, born in late summer or early autumn. Males can become aggressive to other males in the breeding season (October-November).


They shelter under dense vegetation, leaf litter, in hollow logs or under piles of debris. Drain pipes are used by blue-tongues for shelter in many suburban backyards. This species overwinters in deep litter, crevices or hollow logs. They have been recorded living for twenty years in captivity. Blotched blue-tongue lizards do not have a venomous bite, but they are capable of biting very hard and the bacteria on their teeth can lead to infection.


Blotched blue-tongues are omnivorous. They feed on plant matter such as flowers, fruit (strawberries are a favourite), fungi, and slow-moving invertebrates such as snails. Blue-tongues are also partial to tinned dog and cat food and are sometimes found helping themselves to the meals of domestic animals.


The species as a whole is secure. Individuals can be run over by cars or lawn mowers, they can be poisoned by snail baits or preyed on by dogs and cats.