Lizard Tongues: All There Is To Know About Lizard Tasting And Smelling

Supriya Jain
Sep 01, 2023 By Supriya Jain
Originally Published on Nov 12, 2021
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala
Tanimbar blue tongue skink

With over 6,000 species, lizards of suborder Lacertilia are a diverse group of squamate reptiles.

Tiliqua scincoides, commonly known as blue-tongued skink, blue-tongued lizard, or common bluetongue, are a Tiliqua genus skink species. It is known to be found in Australia and the Tanimbar and Babar Islands in Indonesia's Maluku Province.

Monitor lizards are big lizards that belong to the family of the Varanus genus. Long necks, muscular tails and claws, and well-developed limbs characterize the species of monitor lizards.

Northern skink is another species of lizards that belong to the Scincidae family, which is part of the Scincomorpha order. The skull of skinks is covered in large bony scales that usually match in shape and size and overlap. Skink is regarded as a genuine brown lizard. However, eastern skinks are not known to have long legs.

In Aboriginal mythology and Australian folklore, the goanna is an important figure. Goannas are predatory lizards with powerful teeth and claws that are often one of the largest lizards in the whole world. Birds, snakes, and monitor lizards are the primary predators of this ground-dwelling Australian lizard, all of which are known to have UV vision.

After understanding the ecology and biology of lizard tongues, also check out related fact files on fox teeth and frog teeth.

Lizard Tongue Length

Most lizards' diet menu features insects, crickets, flies, grasshoppers, and other insects with long, sticky tongues or rapid bites. It's the chameleon in terms of body length.

Insects stick to the tongue as the reptile launches sticky tongues at them, and range is crucial since even the most secretive of chameleons can only get so close to a fly before frightening it. The lizard tongue of a chameleon is nearly twice as long as its body.

That would be a tongue of 10-12 ft (3-4 m) in length.

According to the researchers and the study published in the journal scientific reports, chameleons as small as 1.5 in(3.81 cm) long can shoot their tongues out 2.5 times their body length to catch a cricket or other delectable tidbit. An act of lizard tongue out is to catch prey early.

A lizard, like a snake, stretches out its tongue to catch fragrance particles in the air, then pulls it back to deposit the particles on the roof of its mouth, where particular sensory cells are located.

A forked lizard tongue is a tongue that is split into two different tines at the tip, which is a common trait in many reptile species.

Reptiles are known to use the tip of their tongue to smell, and a forked tongue lets them tell which way a smell is coming from.

Lizard Tongue Shape

Most lizards, unlike snakes, have moveable eyelids. Lizards use their tongues to smell things! A lizard, like a snake, stretches out its tongue to catch fragrance particles in the air, then pulls it back to deposit the particles on the roof of its mouth, where particular sensory cells are located.

Tiliqua scincoides intermedia, a northern blue-tongued skink, has an ultraviolet tongue, according to researchers. Researchers also discovered that the back of the tongue is twice as bright as the tip and that it is only visible in the late phases of an attack.

Squamate reptiles like lizards and snakes have acquired forked tongues for a variety of reasons. The benefit of having a forked tongue is that there is a greater surface area accessible for drugs to interact and the possibility of tropotaxis. The tongue is flicked out of the mouth to sample their basic chemical environment, which is observed regularly.

Squamates have evolved forked tongues several times. Based on free morphological and genetic data, it's unclear where the specific points of transition from a notched to a forked tongue occurred, but it's thought to have happened two to four times.

The tendency for persons with forked tongues to be wide foragers has evolved as a prevalent behavioral trait. Hummingbirds' tongues split at the tip as well. Galagos have a secondary tongue or sublingua that is hidden beneath their primary tongue and is utilized for grooming.

What does a lizard use its tongue for?

When lizards travel through their habitats, these animals prefer to flick their tongues, which can help them detect food patches or whether predators or other members of their species have walked through their area. Still, these animals don't want to draw too much attention to themselves. The organs detect scent particles in the air.

These lizards utilize their forked tongues to collect these particles and 'taste' the air; this extra sense is mainly employed for hunting, as monitor lizards are active predators who are continually seeking food.

On the other hand, lizards frequently have well-developed taste buds on their tongues, although no snake species has been reported to have lingual taste buds. Under UV light, the base of their tongue shines brightly, which birds can see clearly.

To avoid hawks and other predators, the lizard uses camouflage. When that doesn't work, the lizards stick their tongues out as far as they can, distracting the birds with flashes of bright blue and super violet tongues.

Lizard Tongue Mechanism

When most animals are confronted with a threat, they respond in one of two ways: fight or flight. Bluetongue skinks, on the other hand, defy the norm by sticking their tongues out when assaulted.

Their tongues are a vivid blue color, and the rapid flash of color can be enough to make predators stop and allow the lizards to flee.

The researchers next used imitation predators to simulate attacks. The amount of tongue revealed and the number of full-tongue displays were closely connected to the intensity of the attack and the predator's danger.

The tongue's color changes as the bluey try to bite the apparatus, and the tongue is wet and extremely agile, so getting the measurements perfect takes some practice. The skinks' tongues are not just blue but also reflect ultraviolet light, according to the researchers.

Birds, snakes, and monitor lizards, the reptile's major predators, are thought to be able to see UV light.

They've overcome this difficulty by keeping the most visible sections of their tongues in the back of the tongue, rather than the front, so they may flick their tongues without being noticed by predators and put on a show when necessary.

Chameleon prey capture relies on ballistic protrusion of the tongue up to twice the length of the body in as little as 0.07 seconds, making it unique among lizards. All chameleons share this feeding strategy, and it adds a layer of surprise to these slow, secretive, sit-and-wait predators.

Chameleons use ballistic tongue projection in environments to feed over a more extensive range of areas than other lizards.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for lizard tongue, then why not take a look at frog tongue, or monitor lizard facts.

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Written by Supriya Jain

Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Supriya Jain picture

Supriya JainBachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.

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Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah Gulbargawala picture

Amatullah GulbargawalaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah is a passionate student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from Ashoka College of Education. With a keen interest in literature, she has excelled in elocution competitions and is an accomplished writer. She has completed courses like "History of English Language and Literature", "Introduction to Western Political Thought and Theory", and "Development of Soft Skills and Personality". In her free time, Amatullah enjoys reading books and writing poetry.

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