Blue Tongued Skink Mouth

Did you know that the Blue Tongued Skink, a unique reptile species found in Australia, possesses a striking blue tongue? This fascinating creature boasts a mouth unlike any other, with a vibrant tongue that captures the attention of both scientists and nature enthusiasts around the world. The Blue Tongued Skink Mouth truly stands out, not only for its exquisite blue coloration but also for the intriguing secrets it holds within. Let’s take a closer look at this captivating feature and unravel the mysteries that lie behind a blue tongued skink’s mouth.

Anatomy of the Blue Tongued Skink Mouth

General Description

The mouth of a Blue Tongued Skink is a fascinating structure that plays an essential role in its survival. Located on the ventral side of its head, the mouth is easily distinguishable by its unique blue tongue, which gives the species its name. The mouth is a complex organ that comprises teeth, a muscular tongue, and salivary glands. Understanding the anatomy of the Blue Tongued Skink’s mouth helps shed light on its various functions and behaviors.


Blue Tongued Skinks have a set of relatively large and robust teeth, which are perfectly suited for their dietary needs. These teeth are positioned at the edges of their jaws, allowing the skinks to exert strong biting forces to consume their food. The teeth are conical in shape and slightly curved, facilitating the tearing and shearing of prey items.


One of the most distinctive features of the Blue Tongued Skink is its vibrant blue tongue. The tongue is long and forked, resembling that of a snake. Its muscular nature allows for great flexibility and range of motion. The tongue plays a crucial role in various processes, including feeding, sensory perception, and communication.

Salivary Glands

Blue Tongued Skinks possess well-developed salivary glands that produce saliva to aid in the digestion of food. These glands are located in the floor of the mouth and consist of several lobes. The saliva secreted by these glands helps moisten food, making it easier to swallow.

Function of the Blue Tongued Skink Mouth


The primary function of the Blue Tongued Skink’s mouth is for eating. With its strong jaws and sharp teeth, it can consume a wide variety of food items. Blue Tongued Skinks are omnivorous, which means they consume both plant matter and animal protein. Their teeth and jaw structure allow them to chew and tear through vegetation and capture and consume small prey.

Defense Mechanism

The mouth of the Blue Tongued Skink also serves as a vital defense mechanism. When threatened, it will open its mouth wide and display its vibrant blue tongue. The contrasting coloration is a warning sign to potential predators, indicating that it is not an easy target. This defensive behavior deters predators and gives the skink an opportunity to escape.

Social Communication

Communication among Blue Tongued Skinks is primarily accomplished through various visual and vocal signals. The mouth, particularly the tongue, plays a crucial role in social communication. By flicking its forked tongue, a Blue Tongued Skink can convey information to other individuals, such as asserting dominance or displaying submission. The tongue’s movements help establish social hierarchies and maintain cohesion within a group.

Blue Tongued Skink Mouth

Feeding Behavior of Blue Tongued Skinks

Dietary Preferences

Blue Tongued Skinks are opportunistic feeders and have a diverse diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, insects, and small vertebrates. Their feeding preferences can vary depending on factors such as availability and seasonality of food sources. However, they generally show a strong preference for plant matter, with fruits and leafy greens being staple components of their diet.

Chewing and Swallowing

To consume plant matter, Blue Tongued Skinks employ a chewing mechanism known as the lateral chewing motion. This unique chewing style involves moving the jaws from side to side while grinding their food. Once adequately chewed, the skink forms a food bolus, which is then swallowed whole.

Feeding Techniques

Blue Tongued Skinks employ different feeding techniques depending on the type of food they consume. When feeding on plant matter, they use their tongues to grasp and manipulate the food, bringing it towards their teeth for chewing. In the case of small prey items, they actively hunt and capture them, using their mouths to deliver a powerful bite.

Blue Tongued Skink Teeth

Tooth Structure

The teeth of Blue Tongued Skinks are characterized by their cone-shaped and slightly curved structure. This shape allows them to puncture and grip onto prey items effectively. The teeth are bicuspid, meaning they have two cusps or points, which aid in shearing and tearing through tough food items.

Tooth Replacement

Like many reptiles, Blue Tongued Skinks exhibit polyphyodonty, a characteristic that allows for continuous tooth replacement throughout their lives. As old teeth wear down or become damaged, new teeth emerge from the dental lamina. This ongoing tooth replacement ensures that the skinks always have functional teeth for feeding and defense.

Toothless Blue Tongued Skinks

It is worth noting that while Blue Tongued Skinks possess formidable teeth, there have been rare occurrences of individuals that lack teeth completely. Toothless Blue Tongued Skinks rely heavily on their chewing and swallowing mechanisms to process their food. However, they may rely more on softer prey options and require dietary adjustments for optimal health.

Blue Tongued Skink Mouth

Tongue Characteristics of Blue Tongued Skinks

Color and Texture

The most striking characteristic of the Blue Tongued Skink’s tongue is its vivid blue coloration. This unique feature sets them apart from other reptile species and serves as a visual warning sign. The texture of the tongue is smooth and slightly rough, allowing for efficient manipulation of food and capturing of sensory information.


The tongue of the Blue Tongued Skink serves a variety of functions. Besides its role in feeding, the tongue is highly sensitive to chemical stimuli, making it an essential organ for sensory perception. By flicking its tongue in and out, a Blue Tongued Skink gathers scent molecules from its environment, providing valuable information about potential food sources, mates, and predators.

Role in Feeding

During feeding, the tongue of the Blue Tongued Skink plays a vital role in manipulating and capturing food. It assists in gathering food items and guiding them towards the teeth for chewing. The flexibility and dexterity of the tongue ensure efficient food processing, helping the skinks extract as much nutrition as possible.

Salivary Glands in Blue Tongued Skinks

Location and Morphology

The salivary glands of Blue Tongued Skinks are situated along the floor of the mouth, beneath the tongue. They consist of several lobes, each responsible for producing saliva. The glands are well-developed, reflecting the skink’s reliance on saliva for efficient digestion.

Saliva Composition

The saliva produced by the salivary glands of Blue Tongued Skinks serves multiple purposes. It helps lubricate food, making it easier to swallow. Additionally, saliva contains enzymes that initiate the breakdown of complex carbohydrates, aiding in the digestion process. These digestive enzymes assist in breaking down plant matter into more easily absorbable nutrients.

Use in Defense

While the primary function of saliva in Blue Tongued Skinks is related to digestion, it can also serve as a defense mechanism. By secreting extra saliva, skinks can create a slippery and unpleasant sensation for potential predators, discouraging them from attacking. This defense strategy, coupled with their vibrant blue tongue display, gives Blue Tongued Skinks a powerful defense arsenal.

Blue Tongued Skink Mouth

Blue Tongued Skink Mouth and Eating

Food Preferences

Blue Tongued Skinks have diverse food preferences, consuming a combination of plant matter and animal protein. Their diet mainly consists of fruits, leafy greens, insects, snails, slugs, and small vertebrates. While plant matter forms the majority of their diet, the skinks supplement it with animal protein to fulfill their nutritional requirements.

Hunting Techniques

When it comes to hunting for prey, Blue Tongued Skinks employ a combination of stealth and ambush tactics. They remain motionless, waiting for an opportunity to strike. Once within striking distance, they deliver a quick and powerful bite to immobilize the prey. The teeth and jaws play a crucial role in this hunting technique, ensuring a successful capture.


The digestive process in Blue Tongued Skinks begins in the mouth. The skinks use their teeth to break down food into smaller, more manageable pieces. The food is then mixed with saliva containing digestive enzymes, initiating the chemical breakdown of carbohydrates. From the mouth, the partially digested food moves through the esophagus and into the stomach, where further digestion and nutrient absorption occur.

Defense Mechanism of Blue Tongued Skinks

Displaying Blue Tongue

When Blue Tongued Skinks feel threatened, they have a remarkable defense mechanism of displaying their vibrant blue tongue. By opening their mouth wide and sticking out their tongue, they create a visually striking display that acts as a warning to predators. The bright and contrasting coloration signals potential predators that the skink is not an easy target.

Hissing and Lunging

In addition to the blue tongue display, Blue Tongued Skinks resort to audiovisual cues when defending themselves. They may emit a series of hissing sounds, which are meant to intimidate and warn off potential threats. Additionally, they may adopt a defensive posture by lunging forward to keep predators at a distance.


As a last resort, if other defensive strategies fail, Blue Tongued Skinks may resort to biting. With their sharp teeth, they can deliver a painful bite that may deter predators or give the skinks an opportunity to escape. However, biting is generally a less preferred defense mechanism, as it can put the skinks at risk of injury.

Blue Tongued Skink Mouth

Communication through Blue Tongued Skink Mouth

Visual Signals

The mouth, specifically the tongue, plays a crucial role in communication among Blue Tongued Skinks. When engaging in social interactions, they use their tongues to flick and gesture, conveying various messages. For example, a dominant skink may extend its tongue quickly to assert its dominance, while a subordinate skink may keep its tongue tucked or make slow tongue movements to show submission.


Blue Tongued Skinks are also capable of producing vocalizations, although they are not as commonly observed as their visual signals. These vocalizations include hissing, grunting, and even barking sounds. The mouth acts as the primary acoustic resonator for these vocalizations, allowing the skinks to communicate their intentions or distress to conspecifics.

Scent Marking

The mouth of Blue Tongued Skinks also plays a role in scent marking. By licking objects or areas, they deposit their saliva, which contains pheromones. These scent cues can serve to mark territory, communicate reproductive readiness, or identify individuals within a social group. The mouth’s involvement in scent marking highlights the multifaceted nature of communication in Blue Tongued Skinks.

Health and Care of the Blue Tongued Skink Mouth

Oral Hygiene

Maintaining proper oral hygiene is crucial for the overall health of Blue Tongued Skinks. Regular cleaning of the mouth area, including the teeth and tongue, helps prevent the buildup of food particles, bacteria, and potential infections. Owners should provide a clean environment and consider periodic gentle brushing to ensure optimum oral health.

Dental Health

As with any creature with teeth, dental health is of utmost importance. Owners should be aware of any signs of abnormal tooth wear, damage, or tooth loss in their Blue Tongued Skinks. Regular veterinary check-ups and a proper diet rich in calcium play a significant role in maintaining good dental health.

Common Mouth-Related Issues

Blue Tongued Skinks can be susceptible to a few mouth-related issues. These may include mouth rot (infectious stomatitis), abscesses, and malocclusion (misalignment of the jaws). Timely veterinary intervention and appropriate treatment are essential to address these issues and prevent their progression.

In conclusion, the anatomy of the Blue Tongued Skink’s mouth is a marvel of adaptation and functionality. From its teeth to its tongue and salivary glands, each component serves a distinct purpose in the skink’s survival. Whether it’s for feeding, defense, or communication, the mouth plays a central role in the daily life of a Blue Tongued Skink. Understanding and caring for this intricate system ensures the well-being of these fascinating reptiles.

Blue Tongued Skink Mouth