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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:22 am 
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Champion Bird
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Hi! I am new to keeping chooks and I have 4 2week old chicks that we inherited from my daughters day care.

Today I nearly had a heart attack when I spied what I thought was a very FAT snake sliding out of the foundations of my daughters' cubby house. (Old bricks laid on a concrete slab) :shock:

It turned out to be a blue tongue, but it was the biggest, fattest blue tongue my husband and I have ever seen! :bolt: It's girth was easily as thick as my arm!

It was so big, my dog was scared to go near it and just jumped around barking like mad! :bounce:

The cubby is less than 10m from the shed where I have housed the chicks in their homemade brooder. I have wrapped the brooder (an old dog crate) in shade cloth and then again in old quilts to keep the chicks and the warmth IN - but now I am worried about keeping the blue tongue OUT! :upset:

The shed door is always closed at night, but I'm sure there's a gazillion ways a determined blue tongue could get in.

Should I be worried for my chicky babes? (BTW I'm in suburbia in Sydney, not on an acreage or anything!)

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:36 am 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Location: Hawkesbury
I really don't think a blue-tongue would eat a 2-week old chick. Their diet is made up of things like snails and other bugs plus berries and in captivity they can be given grapes or for the short-term, a dog biscuit. If you think about the size of these things they are all significantly smaller than a chick. Plus, all of these things effectively don't move - while I know blue-tongues can move reasonably fast to escape a predator I don't think they would bother trying to chase a chick. Finally, blue-tongue lizards really only need to eat once a week especially at this time of year when they are still in a bit of a metabolic torpor - so one grub would keep them going. Maybe the lizard would like to hang out in the shed because it is a nice safe, dry environment but I really don't think he's there to stalk the chickens.

If you are really worried about it, maybe you could put out an alternative food source for the lizard. Really small pieces of apple, a halved grape, a small ball of mince or a softened dog biscuit as long as it won't attract other animals like mice or rats which would worry me more than a blue-tongue.

Clare

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:44 am 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Location: Hawkesbury
Oh and be happy you have a blue-tongue. They really are a benign creature. So often when I work at the Sydney Wildlife call centre we get calls from people who have run them over with lawnmowers or whose dogs or cats have attacked them or a brick 'accidentally got dropped on it'. It's sad because these lizards don't pose any threat to people - they have a bite that is hard but not venomous and they won't ever bite anyone unless you try and grab it. They are a harmless lizard that naturally contain the local snail population and are a nice reminder, especially in suburban Sydney, of the wonderful native wildlife we have here. If you want to talk to a Sydney Wildlife reptile person (I am more of a ringtail possum person) you can ring 94134300 and explain that you would like to speak to one of the reptile coordinators or specialists to get some advice about yours. They will either talk to you then and there if they have the expertise, or pass your number on to one of the coordinators who will call you back and talk it through.

Clare

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:25 am 
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Champion Bird
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Thanks everyone for your advice! :thanks: :thanks:

I'm not from Australia - so I'm still learning about the local wildlife. :lol:

Once we ascertained that he wasn't a snake, we removed the dog to give him a bit of peace and let the blue tongue slide back under the cubby.

I've disturbed the small blue tongues before when I've been gardening... I'm not usually one of those women that squeal and carry on when they see a worm, bug or lizard... just wanted to be sure my chicks were safe!

I don't mind harmless local wildlife at all. We throw a cup of dog biscuits into the grass every morning to keep the dog entertained hunting them out. Probably what attracted the blue tongue to move in. :)

He must be old to have grown to such a size. We'll let him live in peace and fingers crossed he helps me with my slug and snail problem! :thumbs:

LOL!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:32 am 
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Clever Cockerel
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I still get a moment of fright when I encounter "my" blue tongue lizard in the garden unexpectedly and partly camouflaged looking like a fat snake. Yes, it will help to keep the snail population down and I always know that it is still around when I find a heap of empty snail shells in the wilder part of the garden.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:45 am 
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Showy Hen
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Location: South Coast NSW
I scream out loud when I see huntsmen, and when the other half sneaks up behind me when I have my cordless headphones on. :) Generally those are the only times but I have not yet encountered a snake in my yard, so we'll see I guess - I hope not though!

I have not seen any evidence that we have a blue tongue in this yard. This makes me unhappy because I like them a lot. But now I think about it we don't seem to have a place it would find a good home, so I should put some thought into creating a space for them but not for snakes. :)

We had one of those portable basketball hoops you fill up with water in a yard once and it got sun pretty much all day, the blue tongue thought it was the perfect home because the water heated up and the hoop base was black plastic so that would get nice and toasty warm.

I'd take yours if you didn't want it! :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:59 am 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Location: Hawkesbury
Here's a government website that gives a brief outline of ways to make your garden 'blue-tongue friendly'

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/buddi ... iendly.htm

Clare

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:32 pm 
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Champion Bird
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Location: Sunshine Coast Queensland
I love blue tongue skinks and 'kept' one as a pet for years in our backyard right next to Dad's chicken run (It was free to come and go and not locked up at all). It never bothered the chickens, and Dad liked having it there because it kept the snails and slugs to a minimum in his vege garden. We had a tortoise in the fish pond for the same reason.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:13 pm 
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Champion Bird
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Thanks again everyone.

Because we have such a slug problem, I have put the iron slug pellets on my vegie garden. They are child and dog safe - but will they harm the blue tongue?

B-dy hell ... I've gone and "adopted" another animal! LOL! :rofl:

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:22 pm 
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Clever Cockerel
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Location: Southern Highlands NSW
I wouldn't trust that they are harmless for the blue tongue.
If the stuff kills the snails/slugs in whatever way and the blue tongue eats a snail soon after ingestion of the pellets, but still alive, I'm sure it is not good for the blue tongue. It might not die immediately but it might be in pain, suffering, or eventually get sick from a build up further down the track.

There are harmless methods to get rid of slugs like having a few black plastic flower pots lying around, preferably amongst some vegetation, or black plastic rubbish bin lids lying flat on the ground with one side supported a little bit with a stick/stone so that the slugs can get underneath. Or wooden planks lying on the ground, phps in pathways between garden beds. If checked daily and slugs removed the population will diminish very quickly.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:11 pm 
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Champion Bird
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I got this off the pest control website:
Two of the best organic snail and slug bait products on the market are Sluggo and Escar-Go which contain iron phosphate. They are safe to use around pets, humans, fish, birds, beneficial insects, and mammals.

For several other organisms, including earthworms and certain ground beetles, no harmful effects are known. You can also safely use iron phosphate around food crops, ornamentals, lawns, gardens, greenhouses, and berry gardens up to the day of harvest.

Iron phosphate is an organic compound that is found naturally in the soil, and if the bait is not consumed by a slug or snail, the material breaks down into fertilizer for your soil. Iron phosphate is not volatile, and does not readily dissolve in water, which minimizes its dispersal beyond where it is applied.

It is applied to the soil as a pellet that also contains bait to attract snails and slugs. When the pests eat the pellets, the iron phosphate interferes with calcium metabolism in their gut, causing the snails and slugs to stop eating almost immediately. They die 3 to 6 days later.

So what do you think? Safe for the Blue Tongue or not? It seems to target something specific about the slugs and snails' digestive processes... :hmmm:

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:45 pm 
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Fiesty Fowl
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Pocket wrote:
Oh and be happy you have a blue-tongue. They really are a benign creature. So often when I work at the Sydney Wildlife call centre we get calls from people who have run them over with lawnmowers or whose dogs or cats have attacked them or a brick 'accidentally got dropped on it'. It's sad because these lizards don't pose any threat to people - they have a bite that is hard but not venomous and they won't ever bite anyone unless you try and grab it. They are a harmless lizard that naturally contain the local snail population and are a nice reminder, especially in suburban Sydney, of the wonderful native wildlife we have here. If you want to talk to a Sydney Wildlife reptile person (I am more of a ringtail possum person) you can ring 94134300 and explain that you would like to speak to one of the reptile coordinators or specialists to get some advice about yours. They will either talk to you then and there if they have the expertise, or pass your number on to one of the coordinators who will call you back and talk it through.

Clare

I have a lovely bluie that lives here - though I haven't seen him for a bit (I suppose that's due to the cold weather). I always know when he's around as the dog has the 'I've found a lizard bark' - she doesn't touch him, just barks at him.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:59 pm 
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Clever Cockerel
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SydneyChick, I don't know, depends whether the calcium metabolism in the blue tongue reacts differently than the slug's.

But then I also wonder about the 3 to 6 days till death from the slugs standpoint..... :roll:

I guess I am not an appropriate person to comment. I only used ordinary snail bait once 45 :oops: years ago and couldn't cope with the look of the slime all over the garden and the dead snails and thinking of their slow and painful death they must have gone through. For me, if killing is necessary, it has to be quick and as painless as possible.

Perhaps "chookyinoz" might know the answer, or "stella" who is a vet.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:12 pm 
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Champion Bird
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I need to get some beer I think...

And overcome my aversion to dead slugs and snails!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:56 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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Blue tongues won't harm your chooks but beware of any poisons, reptile metabolism is very different to mammals, they weren't mentioned on the list so personally I'd assume the worst, when the weather warms up the bluies will take care of your snails and slugs, leave some two or three foot lengths of four inch PVC pipe around your garden to provide a refuge for them, they attract the snails as well so become a blue tongue buffet of sorts


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