Morphs is one of the most widely studied areas of blue tongue skinks.
However, it is quite difficult to get detailed information about its subspecies and morphs.
Regardless of your level of expertise, you may still get confused about the subspecies and morphs of your skink. Relax! You ain’t alone.
This is because with the increase in crossbreeding, you can’t be too sure what subspecies or morphs your skink was created from.
At the end of this article, you will not only know what subspecies and morph your skink is, but you will be in the best position to provide expert advice to other breeders and reptile enthusiasts.
Blue Tongue Skink Morphs Explanation
In case you’re new to blue tongue skinks or lizards in general, let’s briefly discuss exactly what a blue tongue skink morph is. You’re likely to come across the word “morph” very frequently when you talk about reptiles.
A morph comes about as a result of a mutation which changes the animal’s appearance but not the species or breed. Mutation means altering the DNA and genes of an animal to make it look and behave differently from its parents.
This visual difference caused by mutation affects the skin color and pattern of the mutant morph.
Mutations do occur naturally in the wild, but so many of the morphs around us are bred in captivity. Many breeders around the world just love the genetic alteration that induces this change of appearance and thus deliberately creates some special blue tongue skink morphs.
Therefore, when we used terms such as Albino, Hypo / Hypermelanistic, or Axanthic to describe the blue tongue skink morphs, we are simply referring to the genetic traits that can mean recessive, co-dominant, or sex-linked.
Books About Blue Tongue Skinks
You might wonder! Do I need to read about the blue tongue skinks before I own them as pets? Well, here’s what successful breeders have to say!
Ask one or two blue tongue skink breeders who seem to be very successful in taking care of their reptiles, they’ll always have this to say: “Whether you’re an experienced breeder or a newbie, having a good informative reptile care book in your library is like having a vet in your home. Very detailed and helpful for my pets.”
The information available on the internet about blue tongue skinks is relatively limited and less detailed than a book. When you’re perplexed about what kind of blue tongue skink morphs to raise and how to care for it, investing in a book that advises and guides you should be one of your top priorities.
In this regard, I would recommend investing in “Blue Tongue Skinks-From the Experts at Advanced Vivarium Systems” by David C. Wareham for a good start.
This book contains tons of valuable information you would need.
- Selecting a blue-tongue skink.
Nonetheless, in as much as no product is entirely perfect; this shouldn’t be your only source of getting information about your skinks.
Some Common Terms Associated With Blue Tongue Skinks
Before going further, let’s get acquainted with some of the terms of variation as will be used throughout this article. These terms are what you’ll likely come across when discussing and describing blue tongue skink morphs.
- Color- Like in the human race, this refers to the main base color of blue tongue skinks.
- Pattern– This is simply the arrangement of spots on the back of the skink.
- Melanistic- Having black pigmentation.
- Hyper- Having lots of colors.
- Hypo- Very limited in color.
- Energythristic- Red in color.
- Leucistic- This is used to mean white.
- Axanthical- Not having yellow or orange.
- Het-In describing blue tongued skinks, Het is used to denote any undisplayed characteristics of a skink that may be recessive; but can be exhibited evidently by the offspring.
Blue Tongue Skink Subspecies And Morphs
Note that all blue tongue skinks belong to the Tiliqua genus and are native to Australia or Indonesia and parts of New Guinea and Tasmania.
The vast majority of blue tongue skink morphs that we have around us are bred in captivity due to Australia’s restrictions on the exportation of their wild animals including blue tongue skink.
Let’s quickly explore some of the common blue tongue skink subspecies, morphs, and crossbreeding combinations.
(A) Australian Blue Tongue Subspecies
1.) Northern Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua Intermedia)
The Northern blue tongue skink is one of Australia’s most common blueys that can be found almost anywhere in the world where its breeding is not prohibited. This is the biggest and heaviest skink in the blue tongue family.
Northern Blue Tongue Skink can grow up to 60 cm in length.
They have yellow or orange oval splotches along their sides, strong gray or beige forelegs with no banding behind their eyes.
T+ Albino (Tyrosinase Positive Albino)
This morph originated from the northern blue tongue skinks. It’s similar to the normal T- Albino but instead of taking all the dark pigment out, it leaves it with purple and gray hues called tyrosinase.
This morph range in color from jet white to gray with slight banding. Some breeders called it hypo but its original name is white northern.
They have been reported to have been crossbreed with the T+ Albino to produce sulfurs. While they’re still babies, they have faint patterning.
- Alabaster – Karen Russell was the first to create this morph by mating white northern and black-eyed anery together. This morph looks just like the black-eyed leucistic ball python.
2.) Eastern Blue Tongue Skinks (Tiliqua Scincoides Scincoides)
Eastern skinks are another subspecies of Australia’s most common blue tongue skinks.
Similar to Western skinks, they have bold black bands behind their eyes, but their banding along the body is less distinct.
In general, it can grow to around 48 cm (19 inches).
- T- negative Albino (tyrosinase negative albino) –
3.) Western Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua Occipitalis)
This blue tongue skink is recognizable from other subspecies by a short tail, a bold black band behind each eye, and a thicker patterning along the body.
Its belly is normally brown. They are large skinks and can grow to a length of 20 to 50 cm. Due to its large body size with relatively short legs, the skink is not very agile.
4.) Blotched Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua Nigrolutea)
Blotched blue languages are endemic to Southern Australia. These species skinks are also long with a long life span of up to 30 years.
Lowland blotches are less vivid in patterning than highland blotches that are distinguished by yellow, orange, and red blotches that contrast with a black background.
5.) Centralian Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua Multifasciata)
These blue tongue skinks are found mainly in the far north-west corner of New South Wales , Australia. They are characterized by a short body with a large head, a slender tail, and can grow up to 45 cm in size.
The coloring is primarily pale brown to gray with a series of nine or more orange-brown bands along the body and tail, while the color of the belly ranges from pale cream to white.
6.) Shingleback/Bobtail Skink (Tiliqua Rugosa)
This subspecies of blue tongue skinks is further broken down into four other known species, including: Eastern shingleback, Northern Bobtail or Shark Bay shingleback, Bobtail or Western shingleback, and Rottenest Island shingleback.
They have a particular armor-like bumpy scales, dark or nearly black tongues, and short tails.
They come in a range of colors, from deep brown to cream. According to a study by Professor Michael Bull, these skinks can survive in the wild for up to 50 years.
7.) Adelaide Pygmy Blue Tongue Skinks (Tiliqua Adelaidensis)
Lastly in the Australian skink category is the pygmy blue tongue skink. This skink is mainly found in the North of South Australia. Unlike other animals, they are very small in size (about 10 cm long) and are not very common. It was believed to have gone fully extinct at some stage.
However, some reptile enthusiasts have shown concern in recent years, and a number of morphs have been created out of their beautiful brown , black, bronze, gray and white colors and patterns.
(B) Indonesian Blue Tongue Skink Subspecies
1.) Classic Indonesian Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua Gigas Gigas)
These skinks belong to the Isle of New Guinea and are characterized by their earthy yellow or greenish coloring, sprinkling between bands, solid black forelimbs, and thin black markings on the head. They can grow to 50 cm.
2.) Meruake Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua Gigas Evanescens)
These skinks are very unique for their calm disposition. They have spots on both arms and legs, a distinct pattern along the body and a salmon-orange colored belly with little or no freckles. They are also characterized by long tails and measures up to 30 inches (76 cm) in maturity
3.) Halmahera Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua Gigas Gigas)
These are the same species as the classic Indonesian skinks. The only visible difference between the two is the reddish color of Halmahera and the thin black markings on the head. Halmaheras are sometimes gray, too.
One of the ways to distinguish Halmahera from Merauke skink is by looking at the belly. The Halmaheras have a pattern of black and white or black and pink belly.
4.) Tanimbar Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua scincoides Chimaera)
These skinks usually come in strong silver, gray or yellow colors and are very popular for their ability to produce large clutches of more than 20 live-born babies.
They are also known for their extreme aggressiveness, although captive-breds are more human-tolerant. Because of this, they are often not recommended for families with kids.
5.) Kei Island Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua Gigas Keyensis
This skink has a special freckled look that extends to the head. They can grow to 50 cm in length.
6.) Irian Jaya Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua ssp)
This blue tongue subspecies has not been scientifically classified, although it exhibits the physical characteristics of both Australian and Indonesian blue-tongue skinks.
They are about 60 cm long and consist of a dark brown body with a light peach or gold undertone. Unlike the rest of the blue tongue skinks, this species is the least understood and rare to come by.
Other blue tongue morphs include:
- Super pinstripe blotched blue tongue
- Platinum – this results from a combination of white northern and hypermelanistic skinks. This combination leaves the morph with a shiny silvery look.
- Sunglow – this is a morph of white northern and albinism. This morph is almost completely albino.
- Snow – this morph is created by a combination of albino and black-eyed anery. It is mostly white with lemon or peach hues.
- Lava – lava is created by crossbreeding albino and hypermelanistic. The resultant morph carries the genetics of both traits (parents).
Blue Tongue Skink Morphs Quick List
Blue Tongue Skink Color Change
As you can see from the effect of mutation causing changes in the physical appearance of blue tongue skink morphs, of which the major change is in the color and patterning.
Aside From this, blue tongue skinks do change color as they grow older.
In this case, how it changes, and from what color to what is completely dependent on species. White Northerns for example, have a faint patterning when they’re babies but will darken up as they grow.
One other factor that causes a color change in blueys is shedding. Whenever blue tongue skinks are about to shed, they will usually “change color.” Most Western blue tongues tend to become darker.
Some breeders have reported that Northern skinks change from a warm brown, yellow, or gold to pink, gray, or white color.
Some other species change color over some time quite often, not just because of shedding or old age. The blotches also change a lot over a period of time. The alpine varieties are a common example, and also the lowlands.
When A Blue Tongue Skink Changes Color Can It Be Considered As A Morph?
Depending on the morph in question. If an alteration in the morph’s DNA cannot be established then, it would be out of place to consider it as a morph.
The change may just be as a result of shedding or old age. However, it’s advisable to find out the parents of the morph to make the right and accurate established claims.
Read more about color changing in BTS
Blue Tongue Skink Morphs FAQs
This article has made it clearer to know the morph of your blue tongue skink.
From the analysis given in this article, if you can tell the parents of the morph then it’s easy to know what morph your skink is. And also from the patterning.
The rarest to find blue tongue skinks are the Irian Jaya and Adelaide Pygmy.
These two subspecies are rare to find. Among the morphs, the rarest is the Albino blue tongue skink. Some breeders consider owning this morph a treasure because it’s really hard to come by.
We all understand that beauty can mean different things to different people. But how do you tell generally, that something is beautiful?- when you’ve got a bunch of like-minds queueing up just to have one.
The lava morph of blue-tongued skink is one of such. It’s burned orange in color with blended stripes. It is so far the most highly demanded morph.
Other fanciful morphs are sunrise and sunset.
From the foregoing, can we crossbreed two different types of blue tongue skink? Take, for instance, an Iran Jaya and a Meruake or a Northern and a Shingleback? My answer-an emphatic Yes! There’s no limit to the magic you can perform with the morphs. The possibilities are just endless.
But there’s a problem. One major challenge with deliberate crossbreeding is the very frustrating challenge of identifying or determining the morph of your skink.
A lot of people visit this site wondering what species or morphs of skink they have. If we all breed different species together we would only have a bunch of hybrids.
When the animals have one too many times changed hands, the fact that they’re hybrids fizzles out.
People who breed and sell hybrids, or even give them away, have absolutely no control over where those morphs end up in the long run.
The easily forgotten fact that those skinks are hybrids will probably also not be retained, and they will be sold as a Blotched, or an Eastern, or any other commonly known skink, when in fact they are mixed.