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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Harmless Blue-tongue lizards beneficial in the backyard

Blue-tongue lizards may not deter snakes like the old wives’ tale told you, but they are an important part of our eco-system and your garden.

Canberra Snake Rescue and Relocation is trying to spread this message, with co-owner Luke Dunn saying an overwhelming number of residents are still scared of and uneducated about the harmless reptiles.

“Despite the huge amount of education, in regard to our native reptiles, we still constantly get calls for people misidentifying our lizards as snakes,” he said.

“I think there are two reasons: one is they remind people of snakes if they are in long foliage or grass and you can see their legs. I think the other thing is people are scared of them because they are not educated and haven’t come across this animal before.”

There are three species of Blue-tongue lizards in the ACT, with the Eastern Blue-tongue being the most common. The native Australian reptiles can grow to about half a metre (50cm) long.

Mr Dunn said it is not uncommon for the organisation to receive a call about a Blue-tongue every two days or so, sparked by a variety of safety concerns.

“People are usually worried the lizards are going to hurt their pets, or their dogs are going to hurt the lizard,” he said.  

“People also panic about their kids being bitten but the only reason you would ever get bitten is if you tried to pick it up in your hand. Even then, only one in 10 lizards would try and bite someone.”

Canberra Snake Rescue and Relocation provide information about the animals through their social media channels and touch on it through their snake safety training sessions.

The organisation also tries to educate those who call with concerns about a Blue-tongue but want to be clear relocation of the lizards is nearly never necessary.

“Leave them be; they are a magnificent part of wildlife we can enjoy. They are something to admire while enjoying your backyard,” Mr Dunn said.  

“They are beneficial and eat a lot of pests that might get into your veggie garden and the bigger Blue-tongues will even take on mice.

“They are a great animal to have around and we should be celebrating them. They don’t deter snakes, but they don’t attract them either, so I want to debunk that myth too.”

Have you had an experience with Blue-tongue lizards in your backyard? Comment on this story to share them with us, or send us an email via [email protected]

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