Our "Classic" Northern Blue Tongue Skink Collection's History

I have owned Northerns (Tiliqua scincoides intermedia) and Easterns (Tiliqua scincoides scincoides) since 1988 ever since I have read about their amazingly docile personalities and size many years prior. Through trial and error, good and bad advice, moving animals from place to place, I finally was able to produce them between 1994 - 1997. Even now I'm always on the search for new bloodlines to strengthen my old stock. Of course whenever I buy an animal, it has to be flawless and exhibit traits that represent the type of animal I wish to purchase which are in this case, Tiliqua scincoides intermedia. Northerns in the late 80's and early 90's  looked like those pictured in Cogger's Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia (illustration 636) or the example of a Northern  illustrated (on page 163) in Blue-tongued Skinks a 287 page, extremely comprehensive book written by an experience team of blue tongue experts including Glenn Shea, a true authority. Although I am aware that Northerns have variations of their own such as the "Kimberley phase," they always have the characteristic "portholes" or "dark side-blotches" that are absent in non-Australian skinks. Sadly by the early 90's, the classic Northerns that I loved so long that were so abundant in my youth were all but gone along with the Easterns.  I was looking to increase my Northern collection and had trouble finding more of them for years until 1995 when I found an old hard-core breeder and then again in 2004 when the internet was in full swing where I met Ray Gurgi who has one of the purest bloodlines that I know. Even now when I do find a perfect "classic" northern, I can barely resist the urge to acquire it even though I have sufficient genetic diversity in the group of adults I have that will insure their future. Maybe age has given me a greater sense of awareness or paranoia, but I am more appreciative yet afraid of losing the things that I have. The prices of Northerns have been in step with the import Irian Jayas for years contributing to decreased breeding attempts in captivity. How can a breeder afford to continue breeding something so inexpensive to sell and so time consuming to raise when people can just walk over and buy a cheaper or similar priced import blue tongue adult? It is ironic that Australia hasn't allowed legal exportation of their wildlife since the 70's yet the prices of Northerns were virtually the same as an import blue tongue Irian Jaya or Indonesian for many years. How these Northerns continue to sustain themselves here in the hobby is a miracle but the list of consistent and dedicated breeders is diminishing. With Australia having no plans of opening their borders and valuable bloodlines are being lost here in the USA there is an even greater reason to cherish them. I hope with education the general public will realize how rare and great these Northerns blue tongue skinks are by supporting them here in the USA otherwise they, along with many animals, may disappear from our hobby for good.

About Our Northern Collection

All the "P" animals are from completely different bloodlines* I've acquired throughout the years. (*Unless noted otherwise below.)

Note: Several skinks now have damaged tails from the fire but have healed since.

Joffrey, Cersei, Mycella and Tommen  (X.X.; R.G. Bloodlines) were born in 06 and are literally the closest you can get from Australia. They represent one of the purist bloodlines I know. These siblings are the babies of the original pair from X.X bloodlines! After not breeding for years R.G.'s original pair had about ten babies of which I bought five or six out right. Two were killed in the fire (2011) and four remain. They have huge, thick tails which are one of my favorite traits with these Northerns.

Mary and Charlie (X.X.; R.G. Bloodlines) Mary and Charlie were born in 2004 and come from the same father (original father) but different mothers. Charlie has a beautiful thick tail that I see only in the purist of Northerns. Mary is very light and yellow while Charlie is darker.

Atticus is one of my most precious Northerns in my entire collection. He is white, gray and extremely hypomelanistic and unique compared to any skink I have ever seen. His color (or lack of it) is very difficult to capture on film but he is a very handsome skink and with Jill, they demonstrate perfect Northern morphology! They have huge tails, no aberrant spots or markings.  His history is also quite interesting.  He was passed off to other keepers finally arriving in the care of someone who tried to breed him and the group that he was sold with without success. One of the group in particular looked exactly like Atticus - a twin while the other was also extremely hypo. The seller admitted to me candidly that these were old retired breeders in other words, animals not producing young and well over twenty years old in bts common vernacular. I have had them since 2007 so Atticus is a very old skink and still alive and doing well  (as of Sept. 2014). I have tried breeding him every year and I have had only one year of success with him the entire time I've owned him.  In 2009, he successfully produced young with Betty. Although I kept most of his liter, all but one perished in the fire of 2011. (I  gave one to a friend who lives in San Diego. I wanted it to be a very special gift. I wonder if he even realizes it's an Atticus baby!?) So these are the only two I know about.  I have lost many opportunities to produce numerous babies because of the years I spent trying to breed Atticus with many of my females but it is worth the effort. I have been trying to breed him with Nymeria and Obara the last few years with no success but will attempt to do so again shortly.

Martha is also one of my favorite skinks who has been with me for so many years I have lost track. I would not be surprised if she is actually related to Maurine for she is nearly identical in coloration.  She produces wonderfully large babies that are dark but very distinct and high contrast with wonderfully black side blotches. While many people prefer the lighter classics, my favorite by far are those produced by Martha, Maurine and Beowulf, Maurine's son.

Big Betty is also one of my old girls who is well over fifteen years old by now (2014). Her origins are unknown but she's sweet and mellow and expresses wonderfully classic design with a very unusual and  light coloration. She use to be called Big Momma as the picture below may explain.

Milt and Ann: Came from an interesting source from bloodlines approximately 16-18 years old (2009) from one of the most experienced but underground keeper, X.X. who has long retired (name intentionally withheld). I can see traits in these skink that are truly old and special  - Milt in particular has speckling so unique is looks almost Kimberley. There is a slight peppering on this head, forearms and face as well a typical characteristic of a Kimberley Northern. These skinks are unrelated to any of the skinks however they did originate from the same man. Ann has only produced one litter since I've owned her. I haven't had a chance to breed her for years as have not had enough males in recent years to pair her up with.

Alya and Dana: (X. X. / R. G. bloodlines) these are the "twin" sisters born in 05 that I personally picked out of many babies from many mothers because of the unusually wide spacing on their backs. They are very beautiful and light colored compared to Charlie. Dana now belongs to a friend who lives on the East coast. Alya is often very light in coloration depending on the day.

Oberyn, Nymeria and Obara came from Matt Turner from Selective Origins. They  look quite unusual and totally unrelated to anything I have ever own. With an almost gray and hypomelanistic coloration, the patterns on their back are highly speckled and nearly colorless. They also come from stock that express reddish eyes. Oberyn was the lightest of all the babies born from their parents of that year but he hasn't turned into what I hoped for. Regardless, the young he may produce might be extremely light and work well with my future project in creating very hypomelanistic Northerns.

Jill is one of my favorite skinks and one of the last I ever bought from James Wilson. He said, "This is the longest skink I have ever seen" which is incredibly high praise from a man who has probably seen more skinks than anyone here in the US. Jill is an ancient skink but with such a perfect Northern appearance; just  look at her back pattern! She is so unusual that the black portholes are faded and missing their classic black color.  Not only is she flawless, but she is also one of the tamest skinks I own. There is also an eerie and uncanny resemblance between Jill and Atticus. I would not be surprised if she is related to him for their ages seem to correspond with each other.  She has never produced babies but I try every once in a while. She simply may be just too old to produce any more young.

Maurine was probably born in early 2000 but may be older. Her history is unknown, however she is one of my favorite females. She demonstrates all the characteristics of a pure Northern and produces wonderfully dark babies with extremely dark side blotches. She is also famous for her green eyes. She along with Martha are the two darkest skinks  in my collection, a shade darker than Martha who seems to be a relative of hers if not a sister. Since her death, I have four of her children that are equally as dark. Pictures of them all will be forth coming. (See her son, Beowulf.) I still think of Maurine every day I look at my collection especially when I see her children as she was truly unique and one of my favorite skinks of all time.

Ezra was most likely born in 2000-01 and is an exceptionally light male with a chin so white it's like snow. Maurine  and Martha are his opposite. She looks as if she was in the sun too long and has a deep dark tan that many models would envy. Unfortunately, Ezra passed away in late 2008. He was a very mellow and sweet skink.

Molly's history is unknown as she was acquired in 2004 as an adult. Who bred and raised her to adulthood is a mystery but she ended up in the hands of a reputable owner who took tremendous care of her. She exhibits the tell-tale morphological characteristics of a "classic" northern and was a flawless example of her species.

Size comparison between Big Betty (aka Big Momma) and Jill

 

Examine Jill's tail length compared to the other Northerns.

Note: Common names are taken directly from characters in "Earth Abides" by George R. Stewart. Other names from Game of Thrones among others.

Majority of pictures updated 9/15/2104

 

 

 

Tommen (female p1) Joffrey (male  p1)
Martha (female P5)

Charlie (male F1)

Beowulf (male F2) Mycella (female p1)
Atticus (male p1)

Nymeria (female p3)

 

 

Mary (female F3) Obara (female P3)

Alya (female f4)

Cersei (Female p3)

click here for a close up of Big Momma

Big Betty  (female P3)

Jill (female 7)

click here for a close up of Ezra

Ann (female P2)

Ezra (deceased - 2008)

click here for a close up of Molly
Molly (deceased-fire 2011) Milt (deceased-fire 2011)
click here to see a close up of Maurine
 Maurine (deceased-fire 2011)