Thursday, 18 January 2018

'A Malaysian Garden in Sydney'

Mr AC has found a delicious place to bask in the sun
Blue Tongue Antics

We have undergone a catharsis here. She, the Better Half, no longer screams on the sight of a Blue Tongue Skink. Not even in the event of a casual, unexpected crossing of paths. And many of the Blue Tongues no longer scurry for cover… The nervous parties appear to have made a pact to ease tensions.

We have been in this home in Sydney’s west for six years now, and our extended family of Blue Tongue Skinks has become very familiar. One lives under our air-conditioning unit; another lives in the side passage among our unused plant pots and under the laundry step; and a third – a juvenile – inhabits the front yard under our many low-growing shrubs. A number of others are happy to wander in and out of our back yard under a gap in our top-side fence.

Our front yard juvenile

Of these fearless animals, the most familiar is the one who resides under our air-conditioning unit. Mr AC never hurries, simply meandering from his home to the feeding grounds at the back. He is so familiar that he allows us to approach him with offerings of juicy cherry tomatoes. Half-exposed from under the air-conditioner, he squashes the ripe red fruit with his strong jaws and swallows it down, retreating to his hideaway for a snooze, then, later, returning to mop up the fallen pulp and seeds.

Mr AC devouring his cherry tomatoes

But… as they say, familiarity breeds contempt… The rascals among them, one of whom is Mr AC, have begun to take a liking to our home.

Inside the home!

Inside the family room. Inside the laundry. Even inside the en-suite bathroom! I’m glad the Better-Half was not home for our reptilian visitations. The screaming might well have recommenced… Not at the lizards, but at me for leaving the sliding doors open!

Mr AC invades the family room

In the laundry chasing a meal of cat biscuits

Maybe there is a dead fly in the bathroom

So, what breeds such Skinkian familiarity? The answer is food. A yard full of Blue Tongue delights and a home interior with an occasional scrumptious fly dessert or two. Not to mention the cat biscuits in the laundry…

Blue Tongue Skinks are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal matter. In fact, you might be surprised at the diversity of foods which they will adventitiously consume. In our yard, they have been seen knocking off tasty long beans, cherry tomatoes, and sweet fallen papayas… anything on or within a few centimetres of the ground. One of our adventurous Blue Tongues has even been trapped in a rat cage, attempting to gobble up the peanut butter used to lure the occasional passing rat.

'Is it so difficult to get a feed of peanut butter?' This Blue Tongue Skink was released to wander under a neighbour's fence.

We are happy to have a colony of Blue Tongues. When we first moved in and began planting, our yard was a haven for snails and slugs. Hundreds of them! Within a year, we had more Blue Tongues than pests. They are a wonderful asset in any serious garden so please avoid the use of garden chemicals… and use absolutely no snail pellets. Blue Tongues can be poisoned by consuming poisoned snails.

Blue Tongues are not in all parts of Sydney, but if they are known in your area, you can attract them by creating a Blue-Tongue-friendly garden. They love places where they can hide or shelter, so your garden should comprise rocks, mulch, low shrubs and a food supply… even an A-C unit.

Blue Tongue Lizards love gardens with lots of hiding places... the back garden

We are so fortunate to have these large and beautiful lizards within our domain.

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

Tomato thief

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