Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Northern Blue-tongued Skink

Tiliqua scincoides intermedia

The Northern blue-tongued skink is a medium-sized lizard endemic to New Guinea and Northern and Eastern Australia. It is named for its long blue tongue, which is believed to be a defense mechanism used to scare predators.

Range & Habitat

Semi-desert, scrubland and mixed woodland areas of Northern and Eastern Australia and New Guinea.

At the Zoo, our blue-tongued skinks are outreach animals that appear in zoo education programs.

Conservation Status: Least Concern


In the Wild: Insects, snails, fruits, berries, wildflowers and carrion.

At the Zoo: Fruit, greens, cockroaches, crickets, superworms, mealworms and Mazuri reptile pellets.

Life Span

In the Wild: 12-20 years
In Human Care: 18-20 years.

Fun Facts about the Northern Blue-tongued Skink

  •  The Northern blue-tongued skink can shed its tail to escape predators and then re-grow it.
  •  When frightened, it will puff up its body, stick out its long, blue tongue and hiss to scare predators.
  •  Skinks are shy and seldom stray from their shelter. They are not very agile and the animals they eat are mostly slow moving.
  •  Although they technically "hatch" from eggs, they do so inside the mother's body and are then "born" alive.
  •  Some biologists think that the blue-tongued skink has adapted to mimic the venomous death adder, a snake that shares its range in Australia. Its head shape and coloration resemble the death adder's, so a quick look may be enough to send predators in the other direction.
Updated February 3, 2021