Page 1 of 1

Tongue color?

Posted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:14 pm
by Houlee
Why do blue tongues have blue tongues? Does anyone know the scientific or biological reasoning?

Re: Tongue color?

Posted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:52 pm
by donkeybuff
It's for a threat display. When predators come, the skinks display their tongue, hiss, and puff up. In nature, bright colors are associated with poison/venom. This way, when the predator sees the blue tongue, they are a bit deterred and might think twice about messing with a bluey. However, they are not actually dangerous.

Re: Tongue color?

Posted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:00 pm
by El Lobo
The answer lies somewhere in here.

Re: Tongue color?

Posted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:08 pm
by Houlee
Thanks so much guys! I tried searching through here first but it's hard to know what to search for and it'll come up with every post when you type Blue Tongue haha
My bf asked me and I figured it was display but wasn't sure if maybe it was like a Chow Chow and just have colored tongues even though they don't display them. Or if it was breeding related. That other thread also helped answer my question about what exactly makes the tongue blue(proteins and what not).

Thank you guys again for taking your time :)

Re: Tongue color?

Posted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:28 pm
by critterguy
Haemocyanin is not found in reptiles. So that cannot be the reason for the blue pigment.

Actually to think of it their is no blue pigment in most vertebrates. Blue is due to layers of guanine crystals that refract the light in such a way that the animal appears blue(so unlike red/yellows which in many animals will fade without adequate dietary source of carotenoids, blues are unaffected by nutrition).

The blue is interesting because some Tiliqua relatives(Cyclodomorphus) have blue/bluish tongues. Pink-tongued skinks start life with blue tongues and the color fades to pinkish as they grow. And a lot of reptiles have light blue mouth linings. But yes, the blue in any case appears to be used as flash/startle coloration to accentuate the tongue display.

What is interesting is that tongue hue varies among species of Tiliqua and individuals(some forum searching will reveal a thread on this). Pictures I've seen of blotchies and Shingles show tongues very deep blue-almost black in some animals. I have two Northerns and one has a distinctly darker blue tongue-the other has a lighter blue tongue. Indos/Meraukes/IJ's tend to have light blue tongues.