Bobtail (Blue-Tongued Skink)

Bobtail (Blue-Tongued Skink)

Visitor at work last week – this little guy :


I had heard some rustling in the undergrowth by our backdoor and went to investigate.  We’d had a snake in the library a couple of weeks ago and so everyone is on the alert for anything scaly and possibly bitey.  I’m not frightened of snakes (yes, I am one of those weird people) but didn’t want anyone else to freak out or get bitten so I had a careful look in and around the leaves and plants growing by the door.  And there he was, a little bobtail.  Not at all uncommon here in Western Australia – most people, at one time or another, have probably had one of these little guys in their garden.  They are omnivorous and eat everything from insects to fruit, snails and flowers.  They also scavenge for carrion.  They are handy to have in the garden as they do keep a few pests at bay (although they will also help themselves to your tomatoes!).


This fellow was hiding in the shade and looked comfortable enough, but as it was a particularly hot day, I left him a dish of water, just in case he was thirsty.  Later that day he decided to take a walk right round to the front of the building and try and get in the front door ) attracted by the air-conditioned coolness within I guess.  It was suggested he might frighten some of our dementia day centre members, so I attempted to catch him and escort him away from the building.

Normally they are reasonably easy to catch (although you do need to watch out for the bitey end!) but this one – crikey! – he was FAST!  I had to chase him down the verandah with a towel, hoping to grab him while his head was covered.  But, he was too speedy and very feisty, and as it was such a warm day, I didn’t want to stress him, so I just coerced him back into the undergrowth, hoping he’d stay there for the rest of the day, or at least until people had left the day centre.

I managed to get a couple of good photos of him – isn’t he beautiful?  He sadly had one deformed back leg but it didn’t seem to slow him down at all.  He was pretty big too – maybe a foot long and very strong and healthy.  Apparently, bobtails are usually monogamous when pairing up and can stay “faithful” to their mates for up to 20 years.  They give birth to 1 – 4 fully developed young.  The offspring stay with their parents for a few months before heading off on their own, but stay in close proximity to the family group.  It’s not uncommon to see two or three bobtails walking along together (very cute, if you like that sort of thing!) and they will show you their bright blue tongues if feeling threatened.  They don’t have sharp teeth as such, but do have powerful jaws and can give a nasty bite which, due to their scavenger diet can harbour lots of icky bacteria.


A different sort of visitor to have at the library, but certainly one I was happy to see 🙂

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