The blue-tongued skink, a lizard native to the Australian continent, has a bizarre defence mechanism – it sticks its bright-blue tongue out to predators.

Photo credit: ODDITY CENTRAL

A subspecies of Tiliqua scincoides, the blue-tongued skink is one of only five animals known to have blue tongues, the other being the chow chow dog breed, the giraffe, the Impala, and the Okapi. However, it is the only one known for using this distinct physical feature to intimidate predators. When a blue-tongued skink feels threatened, it will start sticking out its blue tongue rapidly, and the contrasting blue tongue against the pink background of its mouth will actually make some animals think twice before attacking it. It sounds weird, but there is a logical explanation behind this unique defence strategy.

Bright colours in animals tend to indicate that they are either poisonous or venomous, and while the blue-tongued skink is neither, its bright blue tongue can fool hungry predators into thinking that it is. Dart frogs are the perfect example of the toxic and colourful association in nature, and the blue-tongued skink just uses it as a trick.

Some sources claim that the blue tongue is an effective deterrent against airborne threats as well. Located at the top of its head, the skink’s pineal gland can act as a third eye to spot birds flying high up in the sky. As soon as it detects the bird’s shadow as it passes over the skink,  the gland alerts the lizard, and it starts sticking its tongue out towards the sky. Apparently, this reflects UV light in bright flashes, which can repel swooping birds.