Silver Tanimbar Project

These interesting skinks (T. Scincoides. Chimaerea) came in around the mid '90s, I think as early as '93 from my memory.  Upon their arrival, I was excited to see a new skink from a new place outside of Australia or Indonesia  being offered but for a high price to the general public. I use to see them in many colors from brick red, dark brown, and green to name a few of the amazing colors that appeared then. As imports they had extremely volatile and aggressive temperaments turning away many potential owners. Babies are also quite a handful but many calm down to be nice pets. However many people did not want to deal with such an irascible and pugnacious charges and they soon were lost for good. Their quick disappearance from the reptile scene is a tragedy and very few  specimens are in the US now.

Silver Tanimbars were extremely rare in the trade and a small group was available and passed on from California to Arizona (James Wilson) to Florida where they currently are being bred extremely successfully by Ray Gurgui. I seen another group available in California but I believe they are the same bloodlines as Ray's current group.  It's ironic how at one point the rarest color form (silver)  is now the only regularly available Tanimbar blue tongue on the market.

Glenn Shea in Australia categorized the skinks from the Tanimbar island as a Scincoides, in my opinion a completely accurate taxonomic designation. Their appearance and build looks so similar to their Australian counterparts that you can practically see Australia when you look at the Tanimbars. However, there are amazing differences in the Tanimbar blue tongues created by the separation of these animals for thousands of years from the mainland of Australia.

Tannys, as many people affectionately call them, have the glossiest sheen of any blue tongue with the exception of a few t.gigas.gigas. Yet as a race of skinks, they all have this clear coat and lacquered look unlike any skink. They also have "black" or "beady" eyes which are small in their skulls unlike the other skinks. On average, from my observations, T.gigas.gigas (Indos) have one of the largest eyes of the blue tongues while Tannys have the smallest. Another unusual characteristic is their feel. The body of a tanny is like a piece of steel as if it were carved from stone or casted in iron. While the other skinks bend in your hands and are often "soft," Tannys are not. They are the knights (in plated armor and just as shiny) of the bts world with aggressive attitudes to boot.

If you have other skinks, you'll have to get a tanny. These skinks are absolutely gorgeous in person and even more amazing in your hands. Getting a tanny young, handling it often and having it tame is makes it truly a special pet lizard.

Silver Tanimbar Traits

Typically Tanimbars are comparable in size to an Eastern and remain quite small throughout their lives. However I have noticed that males may grow to a quite impressive size - larger than my Easterns. Still over all, I consider these skinks smaller and quite stocky in appearance. They tend to demonstrate a distinctly slower rate of growth than Northerns and somewhat slower growth rate than an Eastern. These findings are just my observations of raising many groups of these animals over time and is by no way indisputable.

Babies tend to be very wary and defensive - some say offensive as many of them will lunge towards you but I think a skink the thickness of a pen and the size of  your pinky (with tail) is just way too cute to be really scary. However, it will put up a huge fuss trying to convince the world that it is the biggest, meanest son of a #%#&! on the planet saying, "DO NOT MESSWITH ME PUNY MORTAL! RUN! RUN FOOLISH CREATURE! BE AFRAID OF THE WRATH FROM THE TILIQUA GOD!"

You'll notice with time and regular handling that their demonstrative hissing is nothing but a bluff, however an untouched, left-to-be-wild Tanimbar will NOT be bluffing when it hisses at you. Beware if you value the continued health and dexterity of your fingers. You will be quite sad to see them badly damaged under estimating your tanny although your tanny gnawing at them would be quite happy.

I have also noticed with my experiences with my Tanimbars that they will either attack you outright, thrash around running or just sit there in your hands staring at you with their beady eyes. They won't squirm they just sit and wait looking for an opportunity to do SOMETHING. What they want to do I can only guess but an educated one would be either  CRAP, ATTACK or RUN when I least expect it. I find that my Tanimbars are the BEST and I mean BEST crappers of all skinks. They can shoot a stream of feces and urine like a fire hose! My Centrallians love to poo and pee from nervousness but they just dribble it usually on your arm. Tanimbars are quite amazing in their ability to fire their feces like lasers.

Ultimately I find that my Tanimbars are either quite volatile or surprisingly docile. I can't say this is the normal behavior of all Tanimbars but once again dealing with many babies, adults and sub-adults they tend to be great bluffers, runners and hissers that once held are quite placid. Remember you must handle your Tanimbar often if you expect it to be a bluffer rather than a doer and what it does you should already know by reading this article.

My Silver Tanimbars

My breeding females are very and I mean very small skinks! Some are so small I am just stunned that they breed (they are already breeding for three years now). They are all quite tiny and extremely cute. My largest female is still tiny but she is quite stocky. They are just sooooo adorable! I would love to just pinch their little cheek scales but I wouldn't want to lose my fingers trying, so it's easy to resist the temptation after seeing how capable they can be when they are pissed off.  Female number three (as well as my bright yellow male tanny) has to be one of my favorites of all my skinks. She always allows me to pick her up and barely hisses when she does. She's extremely tame and always reliable when I show my friends what the best of the tannys have to offer. She has never, ever done even a remotely aggressive thing toward me.

Note: Feburary 27, 2008. As of today, I'd like to report that all of my silver Tanimbars are extremely silver several of them are practically WHITE. I plan on taking new pictures as soon as time allows and the weather is nice and comfortable for the skinks. If you're looking for a "white" tanimbar any fool can say they can get you one but the reality is it's just a crap shoot. My advice is to buy one from parents that are extremely light but you also have to consider that all the silvers are probably related in some way or another so you'll have a great chance of getting a light one regardless. Trust me you need at least one of each species to appreciate all the great things Tiliqua have to offer.

 Silver  Tanimbar (female P1) Silver Tanimbar (male P1)
Silver  Tanimbar (female P2)

Silver  Tanimbar (male P2)

Silver  Tanimbar (female P3)

Silver  Tanimbar (female P4)