Easterns (T. Scincoides Scincoides) were actually my first blue tongues I have ever seen in real life. I met several breeders in 1988, one breeder lived in SF and sold them for 250+ each as babies. I didn't buy them then but bought two along with a pair of Northerns when I traded nearly a dozen leopard geckos and cash to get them in late 88 from a man from Sacramento who was moving to Arizona.
Easterns has always had the reputation of being the tamest of the three available blue tongues in the 80s and 90s while Northerns were a close second and the infamous Indonesians trailed far behind as third. The Easterns adults were always significantly shorter and smaller than any adult Northern I have seen but I've noticed recently so many cross breeding between Easterns and Northerns that their sizes and patterns are extremely confusing to identify.
Many people new to the hobby has probably never seen a pure Eastern except in pictures but seeing them in real life makes a huge difference in understanding them fully.
There was a huge absence of Easterns in 93-96 when the majority of them were being crossbred with their Northern cousins. I believe the Easterns that have orange to yellow portholes were confused with Northerns with similar markings but if you have seen as many Easterns as I have you notice a handful of unique qualities that would make them true Easterns.
There must be dozens of different types of Easterns from so many localities in Australia but I am only familiar with a handful of them due to their limited availability in the US. A lot of people think they own true Easterns (and that might be true) but I am extremely skeptical as their morphology is anomalous in comparison to what I have seen in my past. I don't even bother buying an Eastern unless it clearly demonstrate Eastern traits or from a person who can reliably report their history. I would even go so far as to confirm their story to authenticate the animals true origin.
I've noticed several key traits that I have seen since the early late 80's and from wild Easterns. I will list several traits and show you illustrations of wild Easterns and compare them with the Easterns I own shortly.
As far as I am concerned only Ray Gurgui is the only reliable breeder of true Easterns as his animals have a clear history directly from Australia. His Easterns also illustrate the traits I am familiar with. You can't imagine my utter joy when I found Easterns that I can truly say are pure and untainted by IJ or Northern bloodlines.
If you have obtained a really nice Eastern that you believe to be pure and wish to breed it, please be careful with the animal you find to match your current animal. It would be so easy to cross breed it by accident with a Northern or IJ.
The US stock of many of these skinks are so limited and irreplaceable. I feel an obligation to keep these bloodlines alive and pure. I hope you feel the same way as I do for all these special animals.
If you wish to read more about Easterns and tips on how to identify them, see my new article on Eastern Identification.
The Olive / Green Eastern:
I acquired this special skink in August / Sept of 2005 before it went to "public auction" on Kingsnake.
When I saw pictures of this green skink, a shock ripped through my body as memories of my acquisition of Ish and Em came roaring back to life. The first time I saw Ish and Em they were with a group of Shinglebacks, three green Easterns, and three classic Northerns at the Oct. Cow Palace Reptile show (my favorite back in the day) in 95. I was present when the three green Easterns were sold. I believe there were three but it might've been two. I do recall the male's design being very different from the female as it had many thin black stripes. However all the Easterns of this group had that dark olive green coloration. I often thought about those green Easterns as the years went by but a reptile dealer who has been in the business forever offered me first crack at this Eastern (a pattern and color he has never seen in his life) for a significant sum. I consulted James Wilson who told me he recognized the animal (keeping track of it) as it was being sold in 1999 at Prehistoric Pets in Orange County, CA. He said this exact animal and another matching male was offered then. It was lost for many years, obviously reappearing in 2005.
I am sure now that this green skink is the one I saw at the Cow Palace show in '95. It saddens me greatly to think how this lone and lonely green Eastern may be one of the last pure, uncontaminated Easterns left in the US. Ray Gurgui's original Eastern male (one generation away from wild caught Australian) had this green coloration but it passed away.
I noticed how my Ray Easterns have a greenish tint to them. I'm sure this is the original green father's trait in them. Although they aren't exactly similar, I know that Ray's Easterns are at least pure and demonstrate traits common to Easterns as you can see by some of the photos I gathered of real wild Easterns from Australia.
I took photos of the green Eastern and noticed a haziness in the right eye, a condition which made me believe it was a really old animal. The nails were exceedingly long and yellow - the scales around its face looked worn.
I had an ancient Eastern with a huge black stripe through its eyes with a cloudy eye that I stupidly sold in 2000 (it now dead, burned to death in a fire). This ancient Eastern was over 15 years old and demonstrated similar signs of aging as compared to the olive Eastern.
Although I have my doubts of the fertility of this particular skink, I will try my best to revive this bloodline.
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