Blue Tongue Lizards

There are six species of blue tongue lizards (Tiliqua sp.) in Australia. They live in a wide variety of habitats ranging from desert, to tropical and subtropical forests and mountainous areas. These large members of the skink family are hardy, adaptable and non-aggressive. They have long bodies, large heads, blue tongues, short legs and short tapering tails. Although females are slightly bigger than males, the males generally have bigger heads!

Blue tongue lizards are great urban survivors. They can often be seen in gardens basking in the sun or foraging for food. They catch slow-moving prey such as snails, slugs and caterpillars, and have strong jaw muscles which enable them to crush the snail shells. Although these lizards were very popular as pets in the 60s, John Dengate thinks they are probably better off in the wild.

Blue tongue lizards in the garden

Don’t use snail baits or insecticides if blue tongues are living in your garden. If a blue tongue eats snails and slugs that have been poisoned by baits, the blue tongue will also be poisoned. Keep cats and dogs under control. Young blue tongues especially are often killed or injured by domestic pets. Blue tongues love basking in warm, sunny spots in the garden. Keep an eye out for them when mowing long grass, and when entering or exiting your driveway. At first glance you might mistake a blue tongue for a snake, but take another look and you’ll notice the legs. If you see either a blue tongue lizard or a snake, it’s best to leave it alone.

Further information

Regulations on keeping reptiles as pets vary from state to state. If you want to keep a blue tongue lizard as a pet, check with the relevant wildlife authority in your area:


Environment ACT
Environment Information Centre
PO Box 144
Lyneham 2602
Helpline: (02) 6207 9777


National Parks and Wildlife Service
102 George Street
The Rocks 2000
Phone: 1300 361 967 (within NSW) or (02) 9253 4600
Fax: (02) 9251 8482


Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory
Phone: (08) 8999 5511
Fax: (08) 8932 3849


Department of Environment
Naturally Queensland
PO Box 155
Brisbane 4002
Phone: (07) 3227 8185


Department of Environment and Heritage
GPO Box 1047
Adelaide 5001
National Parks and Wildlife Service
Phone: (08) 8204 1910


Parks and Wildlife Service
GPO Box 44A
Hobart 7001
Phone: 1300 135 513


Department of Natural Resources and Environment
NRE Customer Service Centre
Phone: 13 61 86


Department of Conservation and Land Management
Locked Bag 104
Bentley Delivery Centre 6983
Phone: (08) 9334 0333