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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Tanimbar Island Blue Tongued Skink

The Tanimbar has a beautiful array of color ranging from brilliant orange, to canary yellow, to pure white

The Tanimbar is an absolute stunning species, but is known for having very unusual irascible behavior. They're not a hefty species, rarely growing longer than 18 inches, and they grow very slowly into adulthood. They're not particularly hard to find and usually cost around $150 on up. This species is also known for turning a resplendent silvery color as seen below, especially with age. The more intensely 'argental' colored species are generally referred to as 'Silver Tanimbars'. This isn't an albino specimen however, as you can see the eyes are black. Albino's have a pink or blue iris, and usually a red pupil. A few other standout features of the Tanimbar is their incredibly glossy and fulgent skin. It's like glass. Have a look at pictures 2, 4 and 5—their skin just gleams and coruscates in the slightest sunlight. Occasionally, specimens will also display a shimmering 'sea green' colored side marking. Sometimes it's quite evident, other times not. You can see a tinge of it on picture #5. A few other unique traits are their faded/blurry gray temporal streaks, beady black eyes (Tanimbars for the most part have very dark brown eyes, and when looked at even a few feet away, they look black), and hard rock solid bodies. Most blue tongues have somewhat flaccid bodies, but Tanimbars are quite the opposite. They're really built, and very muscular. Combine that with their personality, and you've got one tough and rugged blue tongue. Hands down, the Tanimbar is indeed the most vicious species. It's full name is "Tiliqua scincoides chimaerea", and is named after the actual Chimera: a mythological fire breathing she-dragon which is said to be a mix between a lion, a goat, and a serpent. Click here for a picture. It's often wondered why the Tanimbar is both strong, and aggressive. Many believe that there must be something in the Tanimbar area that requires this animal to be both extremely powerful and merciless to anything it comes into contact with.

Distinguishing marks:

• Clean anterior legs
• Dark faded temporal streaks
• Dark coloration on top of the head; white lips and chin—picture #9 is a good example of a classic head
• Incredibly glossy scales resembling glass
• Very hard body
• Unusual aggressiveness

Here is a video of one of our beautiful, but aggressive juvenile Tanimbars. Notice the difference in hissing. You will hear a series of short hisses, followed by one long diminution hiss. WARNING: This is NOT normal blue tongue behavior. This behavior is literally unique only to the Tanimbar (unless you had some totally neglected, wild, or mistreated animal). Like all blue tongues though, a feisty juvenile or even an adult can be tamed down with regular interaction and a little patience, however, they will likely always retain a bit of their original pluckiness. Tanimbar can be pronounced both TAN-IM-BAR & TA-NIM-BAR.


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Tanimbar babies

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