The blotched bluetongue grows to between 40-60cm in total length, about one third of which is tail. Like its close relative, the eastern bluetongue, the broad, fleshy tongue is vivid blue in colour and is used as a warning display to would-be predators. The body is mostly black with varying amounts of light brown or grey blotches or bands. In some specimens these lighter markings may be pale yellow or even orange. The head is usually dark grey and is wide and triangular in shape.
The blotched bluetongue is only found in the south-east corner of Australia, from the eastern extremity of South Australia to Victoria, ACT and highland areas of New South Wales as well as Tasmania. They are most common in the higher parts of the Great Dividing Range. They inhabit a wide variety of highland habitats including heathland, woodland, grassland and alpine meadows. They like to bask on roads that have been warmed by the sun, a habit which, unfortunately, causes many to be killed by passing cars.
Young ‘blotchies’ mostly eat small insects, snails and slugs but, as they grow, their diet changes and a greater proportion of vegetable matter is eaten. This may include young shoots and leaves, berries and flowers. However, even as adults, invertebrates still make up some of the diet.
The blotched bluetongue produces live young. Between three and 12 are produced by the female in late summer. They are relatively large at birth (around 150mm in length) and must immediately start feeding and laying down fat reserves to get them through the coming winter, which, in alpine areas, may last four or five months.