Saturday, January 14, 2012

We had a visitor .....

We were out in the front garden, doing some weeding.

Anyhoo, I reached over to pull back some flowers to get at a nasty weed and there he/she was - a friendly visitor.

A juvenile blue tongue lizard, wandering through to find a quiet sunny spot to sunbake in!

I said "Hullo!  Nice to see you. You are welcome, don't let us disturb you!" and let the flowers fall back and provide it with cover.

Blue tongues have somewhat unusual body proportions: a big head and long body with very short legs and small feet. Their evenly tapering tail is fat and shorter than the body.

Male lizards have a proportionally larger head than females, but the females are bigger overall.
The most noticeable feature of these lizards is the blue tongue inside the bright pink mouth.
Like all reptiles they do not produce any body heat. Their body temperature depends on the surrounding temperature and they can be found sun basking in the mornings or during cooler days. On cold days they remain inactive in their shelter. (They need a body temperature of 30 to 35°C to be active.)

Their diet consists of plant matter and small animals. That can be beetles, caterpillars, crickets, snails and even other small lizards. Anything they can get hold of will do. But they are not very fast, so they usually eat slower critters. They are very partial to slugs and snails. Oh, and they steal dog food.

Blue-tongue lizards have strong jaw muscles to crush big beetles and snail shells. They may also bite in defence when they feel threatened.

The blue tongue's main defence strategy is bluff:
 It faces the threat and opens its mouth. The blue tongue inside the pink mouth is an unexpected and vivid sight, designed to frighten off the attacker. The lizard also hisses loudly and flattens its body which makes it look wider and bigger. If you pick the lizard up now it will bite you. And it will hurt. Blue tongues have a habit of latching onto your finger and not letting go, which leaves you with a nice bruise.

1 comment:

LindaG said...

Very interesting looking. Almost looks like some sort of snake. I see one leg against the house though. :)