A little wander along Campbell’s Creek this afternoon gave me an exciting discovery - a bluetongue lizard! I found him crawling through the grass and managed to catch him for a closer look... and to show Gill’s niece and nephew who were waiting across the road. Nothing like a bit of show and tell for the children!
The Eastern Bluetongue (Tiliqua scincoides) is a common reptile, being one of the largest and more conspicuous skinks in Castlemaine. It has beautiful smooth, scaly skin, and as its name suggests, a gorgeous tongue that shines iridescent blue in the sunlight. When chanced upon during a bushwalk, bluetongues will open their mouth and hiss at you in an effort to appear larger and more threatening. I’ve experienced this many times (with Bobtail skinks in the west) and nearly died of fright - glancing down to see a reptile suddenly hissing at you is quite alarming in a land of venomous snakes.
Bluetongue lizards are ground-dwelling animals, moving around in rocky and grass areas and feeding on a variety of plant and animal life including slugs, snails and flowers. You might be interested to know that this species is a live-bearer: it gives birth to 2 or 3 young, which are deposited in a protected place like a pile of wood or rocks. There are four species in Australia: Eastern, Western, Northern and Centralian. All have smooth skin (and a blue tongue!) but the markings on each are quite different.