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Western Bluetongue skinks
Western Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua occipitalis)
About: The bluetongue skinks are found in Australia, New Guinea and on the islands of Indonesia. They get their name from their bright blue tongue, which they use as a threat display. The western bluetongue (Tiliqua occipitalis) is a boldly patterned species with alternating cream and tan to dark brown transverse bands across the body. The dark bands are lighter along the sides and darken as they move dorsally. They have a bold occipital stripe behind the eyes to the back of the head. There is also white speckling throughout the dark pattern elements along the dorsal surface.

The western bluetongue is a species that ranges across the western and southern coast of Australia, with an extension of the range up into central Australia entering the Northern Territory. The range extends into the northwestern corner of Victoria and into New South Wales and potentially into Queensland.

Habitat: These skinks are found in a variety of habitats, including coastal heathlands and arid desert habitat. I have only found DOR individuals on my trips to Australia, which were found in coastal habitat in Western Australia with sandy soil and low-lying shrubs as well as in central Australia near Uluru.

Natural History Notes: The western bluetongue skinks are omnivores, feeding on snails, insects, vegitable matter, and even carion. This is one of the nice aspects of keeping these lizards in captivity, as they can be fed a variety of food items.

Tiliqua occipitalis tends to be a little more shy than the Northern bluetongue. They appreciate ample hiding spots and a deeper substrate. They are generally only observed at dusk and dawn and tend to spend the heat of the day under cover.

They come from arid areas that have hot daytime temperatures with around a 20˚F drop in temperature from day to night. Winters also get down to 40˚F in some parts of their range, so they need a cool down period in the winter to mimic their natural environment and to stimulate breeding.

General Notes: We obtained a proven pair of western bluetongues in 2018 and hope to offer these rare lizards in the near future. They are somewhat smaller than the northern bluetongues, but are similar in their care and husbandry.

Bluetongue skinks

                    Bluetongue skinks
 Female western bluetongue

                    Bluetongue skinks
 Western bluetongues have a distinct occipital stripe

Western Bluetongue skinks
Male western bluetongue skink

Western BTS habitat Pinnacles
Western BTSs have been observed among the Pinnacles in Nambung NP, WA

Western BTS habitat Uluru
A recently hit Western BTS was observed on the road to Uluru