The blue-tongued lizard is our largest skink. Most skinks are much smaller, slimmer and more agile.
Today’s photo, from a Napoleons reader, shows a blue-tongue with a re-growing tail. The new tail appears to be growing from an uneven cut or wound, not quite like the rather clean-cut point of a skink’s dropped tail.
Not many people have seen a blue-tongued lizard with an incomplete or growing tail. Like all skinks, they are able to drop their tails to avoid a predator if necessary, but this doesn’t seem to happen very often.
A new tail starts to grow immediately, and is totally regenerated within a year. A skink’s tail stores emergency food resources, so a tail-less skink needs a good diet while its tail is regrowing.
Cats are major predators, with foxes, dogs, lawn mowers and cars also killing or injuring them.
Snail pellets reportedly kill them too. They eat slugs and snails, but are said to die after consuming recently-poisoned snails.
Their blue tongues contrast vividly with their pink mouths. This probably scares some predators, as does their swelling and hissing. Blue-tongues live for several years, sometimes for 20 or more.
For many years I have noticed what I thought were messmates alongside the Glenelg Highway at Pittong. Messmates are common trees throughout the Enfield-Linton forests and in many other parts of the Ballarat region.
Pittong was, I thought, their westernmost point in the Ballarat region. They appeared to extend just onto the basalt plain.
Just before Christmas I noticed that these trees were flowering. This was unusually early for messmates, so a stop was made to inspect the trees. They were found to be brown stringybarks, not messmates at all.
Brown stringybarks are more widespread locally than most of us realise. Flowering time – when they are much more visible - emphasises this. They are found through much of the Enfield-Linton-Haddon area, as well as at Canadian. However they do not extend into the Creswick forest.