Last summer, while moving soil around the garden with the wheelbarrow, I ran over a long solid object. First thought – “why did the ol’ fellow leave the hose there? What an odd place to put it.”
Micro-seconds later, I clicked it wasn’t a hose … and then gave myself a terrible fright thinking it was a snake. They’re beautiful creatures but there’s not a single non-poisonous snake in Australia, and Phillip Island certainly has its fair share of them slithering about. Running one over isn’t something you really want to do.
So with pounding pulse, I leapt about 30 feet into the air before realising it was actually an adult blue-tongue lizard I’d just abused.
The wheelbarrow was empty so no harm done and fortunately they’re very solid … although I’m sure the blue-tongue was deeply unimpressed. He lay there stock still, very embarrassed to be caught out.
At this point, to avoid further damage, I picked him up in gloved hands and gently placed him beyond the rear wire fence out of harm’s way. To my relief, he promptly took off for the safety of a fallen log.
This lizard really does have a blue tongue. If you watch quietly and don’t run over them with garden implements, you’ll easily spot that beautiful blue toned appendage flicking in and out.
This painting was a pleasure to do, particularly the canvas sneaker. I wanted the shoe to sit on the blue tongue’s back, to show he’d sneaked off and stolen it in his search for a sole. Hopefully it doesn’t look like he’s being squashed by it!
Did you know we’ve got six species of blue-tongue lizard in Oz? Nope, I didn’t either. It’s a splendid number you have to admit.
They have a long body with a large head and short legs – hence the initial thinking that it was a snake. The legs aren’t initially that obvious. However they have a rather short tail which tapers off to a point, unlike our friend the snake with their l-o-n-g tails.
Blue-tongue lizards are found throughout most of Australia. We’ve seen them in all the Australian States visited so far, usually in unexpected places seeking out warmth or chasing something to fill their tummies.
At night they hide under leaf litter, in burrows or under rocks and logs. Once morning arrives, they meander about to find sunny spots for basking, and forage around for breakfast.
They eat all sorts of things including a wide variety of vegetation and invertebrates. With their large teeth and strong jaws, they easily crush snail shells and beetles. We have some pretty weird beetles lurking about, so they’re most welcome to those.
Blue-tongues prefer their own company most of the year. Then between September and November, the males go hunting females for a good time. They get rather rough though, and females can end up with scrape marks from the male’s teeth. I’m so glad I’m not a lizard.
And what’s that blue tongue for? When threatened, they open their mouth wide and poke out their tongue, which contrasts vividly with the pink mouth. Allegedly this colour combo scares away evil predators and dreadful human beings. Doesn’t work with wheelbarrows though.