Feeding baby blue tongue skink
Basic Care: Blue-Tongue Skinks | Arizona Exotics
Blue-tongues are by far the most popular pet skink which can be hardy captives if they are captive-bred. Many captive-bred pet blue-tongue skinks will become quite friendly and beg to come out when they spot their main care-giver. Captive-bred blue-tongue skinks can be much easier to raise than bearded dragons. Blue-tongue skinks are more tolerant of lower temperatures and have lower ultraviolet-B requirements. They do not require live food and do well on a diet of green leafy produce mixed with fruits, legumes and other vegetables, and an animal protein source. Blue-tongue skinks are very tolerant of handling and become quite tractable as they get larger and eventually become “lap lizards” with regular gentle handling. Blue-tongue skinks are much longer-lived than bearded dragons, often reaching their teens and twenties.
Wild-collected specimens may be fussy in their diet and not particularly pleasant in disposition. Wild-caught skinks maintain a defensive attitude for years, hissing, wriggling, voiding their cloacas, and even biting when handled, and are NOT good pets. Wild-caught specimens of New Guinea blue-tongues (Tiliqua gigas) and Irian Jaya blue-tongues (Tiliqua sp.) are still imported of both.
As stated above, captive-bred blue-tongues are care better pets and hardier captives. The Irian Jaya is regularly available as captive-bred specimens while the New Guinea is only occasionally available. Two subspecies of Australian blue-tongue skinks are commonly available as captive-bred specimens, the northern and eastern (T. scincoides scincoides and T. scincoides intermedia). However, many of the Australian origin blue-tongues in the United States appear to be interspecific hybrids. Some color morphs have been selectively bred such as sunglow, flame, and high orange. Other bluetongue subspecies that are occasionally bred are Tanimbar Island (Tiliqua scincoides chimera) and Kei Island (Tiliqua gigas keyensis).
The remaining Australian species are coveted for their odd appearance or beautiful patterns and may fetch high prices despite being common in the wild. The few captive specimens outside of Australia of Central, blotched, and Western blue-tongues and shingleback skinks are likely the result of smuggled specimens (or breedings of smuggled animals) as no legal exports for the pet trade have occurred in decades. The pygmy bluetongue is actually an endangered species and is legally protected.
An excellent pictorial guide to the different blue-tongue skink species is available at www.bluetongueskinks.net.
Blue-tongues may be sexed by contrast radiography or endoscopy. A guess to an adult’s gender can often be made by observing their size and shape of their heads, with the heads of males tending to be larger and wider than that of females.
Captive Care Requirements:
A minimum sized cage is 36 to 48 inches long, 18 to 24 inches deep, and 18 to 24 inches high. The cage should be well ventilated. Some keepers who raise and breed them house them in sweater box racks designed for small boas and pythons while others prefer a more spacious and visible enclosure.
Blue-tongue skinks are not very tolerant of other skinks except during mating season so must housed one to an enclosure to prevent fighting.
Recommendations include cypress mulch (great for dry climates especially mixed with damp sphagnum moss), aspen shavings, newspaper, or cage carpet.
They will climb rocks and thick branches but do well in cages without a lot of height. A humid hide box filled with damp sphagnum should be provided to help with skin shedding.
A water bowl should be available that is in a sturdy difficult to tip crock. The crock should be large enough for it to soak its whole body to help with shedding.
UVB lighting should be provided for optimum health, particularly for neonates and juveniles. Click here for more information on UVB lighting. A 12-hour photoperiod works well.
A hot spot of 85 to 95°F at one end of the cage is sufficient and may be provided by a combination of an under-tank heat element and a basking spotlight. Click here for more information on heating and temperature control for reptiles.
Blue-tongue skinks are omnivores. Their diet should consist of 50% fresh vegetables, 40% protein, and 10% fresh fruit. Feed green leafy produce, legumes and other vegetables, an animal protein source, and a small amount of fruit enhancement to their salads. Repashy Superfoods also offers gel based diets, such as Bluey Buffet, that can easily be incorporated into their diets.
Neonatal skinks and young skinks should be fed daily as much as they will eat. Adult skinks do well on one to two feedings a week. Blue-tongue skinks have to have their food intake monitored or else they readily become obese.
Protein source options include: Harrison’s Bird Diets High Potency Coarse Pellets, ZuPreem's Monkey Biscuits, semi-moist super premium dog or cat food (i.e. turkey, venison, lamb based), ZooMed’s canned grasshoppers, frozen/thawed feeder rodents, and feeder insects (i.e. crickets, roaches, earthworms, etc).
Vegetable Options: Collard greens, Turnip greens, Mustard greens, Squash (including spaghetti, scallop, butternut, acorn, Hubbard, etc.), Peas, Brussel sprouts, Carrots, Dandelions (pesticide free), Hibiscus flowers (pesticide free)
Fruit Options Include: Mango, Raspberries, Figs, Papaya, Cantaloupe, Strawberries, and Blueberries.
Avoid: Citrus, avocado, eggplant, rhubarb, high-sodium canned meats, and high sodium dog/cat foods and treats.
We recommend both a calcium and multivitamin supplement. For more information on supplements click here.
BLUE TONGUE SKINK GEL DIET RECIPE:
Reptiles can become addicted to certain foods which are not nutritionally complete. If your reptile is one of those, try this gel food as a way to encourage eating new foods.
1) Add 1/4 cup of chopped/blended protein source (see above)
2) Add 1/4 cup of fresh or frozen vegetables (i. e. squash, dark leafy greens, carrot, etc.)
3) Add 1/2 teaspoon of Zoo Med Calcium with D3, and 1/4 teaspoon Zoo Med Reptivite.
4) Use 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (Knox), enough to make 2 cups of gelatin. Follow directions on the packet to make the hot gelatin then use cold water to thicken the gelatin. (Alternatively use Repashy Veggie Burger and prepare per package instructions)
5) Stir in the ingredients from steps 1, 2, & 3.
6) Spread this chunky gelatin paste into a glass pan in a thin layer or place into ice cube trays, cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate until solid, store in freezer to prolong shelf life.
7) Thaw as needed for feeding.
Common Medical Problems
Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism (NSHP)
Common in baby skinks are often raised on diets deficient in calcium and without exposure to UVB or a dietary source of vitamin D3. The tips of the tails are often kinked followed by abnormalities of the lumbar spine. Bowing of the mandibles is a sign of very advanced disease. If caught early, treatment may prevent further skeletal abnormalities from developing but will not cause the abnormal features to become normal. For more information on NSHP click here.
Dysecdysis (Retained Shed)
It is rare to find an adult blue-tongue skink with all ten toes intact. If a cage gets too dry during the shed process, it is common for skin to be retained on the toes, tip of the tail, and on the eyelids).
Diets deficient in vitamin A contribute to this problem.. For more information on proper supplementation click here.
Soaking in warm shallow baths (1/2 inch of 90ºF water) for 60 minutes usually loosens the skin so that it may be gently removed. Toe and tail tip necrosis and sloughing may happen if several sheds have built up and cut off circulation.
Stomatitis is infection and inflammation in the mouth and gums. This condition often suggests either fighting or a diet that has too much soft food. Blue-tongue skinks are omnivorous but should have a diet with lots of crunchy and leafy vegetables to clean the teeth as they eat. Unfortunately, stomatitis often results in permanent changes to the shape of the gingiva and even the bone around the tooth socket. Prevention is key. Treatment includes broadspectrum antibiotic with anaerobic coverage, anti-inflammatories, topical cleansing, and a reformulated diet to ensure proper nutrition and proper texture.
Symptoms of respiratory infections are sneezing, clear to mucoid nasal discharge, open-mouthed breathing, or “drooling.” This is often caused by inappropriately low temperatures (often during seasonal changes in the household where the cage heating elements no longer can keep up with the cooler room temperature) and poor artificial hiberation practices. Provided proper temperatures are key to healing. Daily soaks in shallow warm water are helpful. Prescription antibiotics are almost always needed. Anti-inflammatories are also helpful.
Wild-caught imported blue-tongue skinks suffer from a variety of parasites, particularly amoebas and flagellates. Nematodes and other helminths are occasionally seen. Proper identification of the parasites by a veterinarian and treatment with prescription anti-parasitic medications is necessary.
To schedule an appointment for your Blue-tongue skink click here.
A New Owner & Beginner MUST Read!
As one of the most versatile pet reptiles, Blue Tongue Skinks make excellent pets (opens in a new tab) for beginners and advanced herpetologists alike.
Easy to care for with an abundance of personality, Blue Tongue Skinks can ease a novice reptile owner into caring for a unique pet, or they can pose a breeding challenge for more experienced owners.
These ovoviviparous creatures can hatch eggs inside their body, amputate their own tails in an emergency, and are one of the few reptile species that is intelligent enough to recognize faces and remember voices.
With a Blue Tongue Skink in your menagerie, you’ll NEVER be bored as you find yourself continually delighted by this fascinating little creature!
What You’ll Learn In This Article:
- Background information on Blue Tongue Skinks
- Where to buy a healthy Blue Tongue Skink (plus what to look for!)
- Cost of a Blue Tongue Skink
- Proper diet & supplements for all ages
- How to properly set up their habitat
- Health concerns to be aware of
- Handling & bonding tips
- & So much more!
If you’re unsure about whether a Blue Tongue Skink would make a good addition to your household or want to learn more about the ins and outs of caring for one of these beauties, you’ve come to the right place.
After absorbing this comprehensive Blue Tongue Skink care sheet, you’ll walk away filled with EVERYTHING you need to know about creating the perfect home for your new pal, or to take your skink’s care to the next level.
So, with all of this being said, let’s dive in!
In This ArticleBlue Tongue Skink Background Information Ah, that gorgeous, long blue tongue! Did you know? A Blue Tongue Skink’s tongue can actually reflect UV radiation and be used to scare away predators? It’s one of their natural defense mechanisms they rely on in the wild to stay alive.
Do you remember your first encounter with a Blue Tongue Skink?
You were likely drawn in by the unique electric-blue tongue flickering and oddly tiny legs propelling a powerful body.
Blue Tongue Skinks are fascinating creatures, not only in looks, but also in personality. Good-natured and easy to care for, a Blue Tongue Skink can make a great pet for anyone.
Before welcoming such an interesting reptile into your home and beginning the process of picking out their perfect moniker, take a minute to learn about the wild roots of the skink…
⭐️ Fun Fact: Did you know that the Blue Tongue Skink’s primary defense mechanism is in fact its blue tongue? Some biologists believe its striking blue color is meant to fool predators into thinking its venomous.Natural Habitat
These mild-mannered, social creatures hail from the semi-desert, mixed woodland, and scrubland regions of Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania.
They prefer dry or semi-arid climates in desert-like ecosystems, and spend much of their time hiding in the sand or under logs.
In fact, scientists have found that Blue Tongue Skinks can live successfully in suburban areas when there is ample leaf coverage and other ground cover that is conducive to hiding.
Two of the more common pet varieties are the northern, Tiliqua scincoides intermedia, and Irian Jaya, an undescribed T. scincoides.
Some Blue Tongue Skinks are domestically bred, but many are imported from Indonesia and New Guinea.
Unlike some lizard species, Blue Tongue Skinks are terrestrial, as their short legs and powerful bodies are better adapted to burrowing and digging in the ground, rather than living in trees.
Pet skinks do well in enclosures that offer a hiding spot from people and plenty of room to turn around to avoid scraping off skin.
Under good care, these reptiles can live at least 10 to 15 years, with some exceptionally healthy skinks living to 20 years old or more. After reaching adult size, a skink can measure between 18 and 24 inches long, especially if it’s a Northern variety. Other Blue Tongue Skink varieties are smaller and may only reach a little over a foot.
Regardless of the variety of skink you choose – I recommend the Northern Blue Tongue Skink, as it’s exceptionally hardy and easy to care for.
Although it should be noted a complete setup may run you close to $1000.
Ideally, your skink should have a large enclosure of a 60 gallon aquarium, with a minimum of 40 gallons. Tack on the substrate, heat lamp, hiding shelter, food, and the cost of the skink itself, and the costs add up quickly.
Northern Blue Tongue Skinks may only cost $150 to $250, while high-colored or rare species, such as Centralian and shinglebacks, may cost anywhere from $1500 to $5000.
If you’re interested in breeding rare species or unique colors, your initial skink setup may be substantially more expensive, but the payout is priceless when welcoming these creatures into your home.
🔑 Blue Tongue Skink Background Key Takeaways: Blue Tongue Skinks hail from semi-desert regions of Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania and make great pets due to their mild mannered disposition. They enjoy burrowing and do best in enclosures that allow them to move about easily and hide from people.Where to Buy a Blue Tongue Skink Ask any experienced reptile owner and they’ll tell you, it’s better to adopt than shop! By purchasing your skink through a breeder, you’ll be much more likely to get a healthy pet.
Since these unique reptiles are such popular pets, especially among beginner lizard owners, they are often for sale in local pet stores.
However, I highly recommend you instead perform a quick Google search for Blue Tongued Skink breeders near you, or investigate nearby reptile expos for your future pet.
The reason why?
Simply put, commercial pet stores are notorious for improperly caring for their reptiles and also miseducating new owners on how to care for them. By sticking with a reputable breeder, you can ensure that your pet is healthy AND you’re getting only the best information possible when it comes to caring for them.
Also, most breeders will happily answer any questions or concerns that arise after an adoption. This invaluable information can help you avoid a costly trip to the vet or worse, having to say goodbye to a sick baby.
On the flip side, wild-caught skinks are often loaded with parasites and possibly disease, which can be time consuming and costly to eradicate, so stick with skinks bred in captivity.
Indonesian skinks can be wild imports, whereas Australian skinks are typically captive-bred. This is because Australia has strict rules on wildlife exports due to a high level of wildlife smuggling.What to Look for When Buying a Blue Tongue Skink
Before committing to a purchase, check the skink’s health carefully to ensure your new pet will be healthy and disease-free.
When examining your potential new skink, check for the following signs of good health:
- Active and alert
- Interested in the surroundings
- Absence of scars, retained shed, or wounds
- Ideal body weight with no jutting hipbones or spine
- Abdomen should be clean without discoloration or injury
- Mouth and nose should be clean with no bubbly secretions
- Mouth is clear of pus and gums are a healthy pink
- Body should be firm with no kinks
- Jaw should be strong and not rubbery or hanging open
- Absence of lumps on or under the skin
- All five toes are present and the tail is unbroken
- Eyes should be clear without cloudiness or discharge
- Absence of mites and ticks
- Clean vent area with no caking
The tank should also be clean, with adequate space, proper food, hiding spots, and lighting. The seller, whether they’re a breeder or pet store, should be able to answer any and all questions you have about the skink, such as the age and typical diet fed.Blue Tongue Skink Cost
When searching for a Blue Tongued Skink, it is important you first decide why you want a skink.
If you’re simply looking for a pet, a Northern skink will work well, as they are hardy, docile, and great for beginners, plus they are on the cheaper end of the spectrum. These species will likely cost around $150 to $250.
But, if you’re more interested in breeding rare colors as an advanced skink owner, you may be looking at thousands of dollars for uniquely colored and patterned lizards.
Wherever you choose to purchase your skink, go with your gut feeling about the seller.
If the tank is dirty and the skink appears to be in poor health while the seller is pushing you to purchase, move along to a healthy lizard with a seller who will answer any of your questions.
🔑 Blue Tongue Skink Purchasing Key Takeaways: When on the hunt for a Blue Tongue Skink, be sure to pay special close attention to their disposition and physical appearance to ensure they’re healthy. Also, you’ll be better off purchasing through a breeder than a commercial pet store. The same goes for wild caught skinks that can have parasites. Expect to spend around $200 for your skink if purchased through a reputable breeder.Blue Tongue Skink Diet and Feeding GuidelinesAlthough there’s nothing wrong with a treat now and again, you’ll want the majority of your adult Blue Tongue Skink’s diet to consist of leafy greens. However, the occasional berry or two doesn’t hurt as the happy guy above would certainly tell you!
Blue Tongue Skinks are omnivores and require BOTH live animals and plants to remain healthy. These lizards only eat during the daytime, and do not require much once they reach adulthood.
The largest portion of your skink’s dietary costs will be providing proper protein sources. While you can share chicken or turkey you would eat, you can also purchase pinky mice, crickets, and mealworms to round out your lizard’s protein requirements.
The other portion of their diet includes fresh veggies and greens, which can be taken from your own groceries.
Baby and juvenile skinks will eat more frequently and larger amounts than adults, but food costs should still be relatively minimal regardless of skink age.What Can A Blue Tongue Skink Eat?
The best way to keep your Blue Tongue Skink healthy is to provide a wide variety in their diet, rotating produce and animal protein sources to ensure complete nutrition.Produce
The bulk of the diet—45 to 60%—should consist of greens. Dark, leafy greens are an excellent source of nutrition for Blue Tongue Skinks, and they can be paired with a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Skinks will eat almost any fruit or vegetable, and you can include these foods on their menu:
- Mustard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Collard greens
- Green beans
- Green peppers
Fruit should make up no more than 5 to 10% of their diet, and can include mangoes, papaya, apple, cantaloupe, blueberries, honeydew, and blackberries.
Flower blossoms, such as dandelions, hibiscus, and nasturtiums, are another tasty treat that can be given on occasion.Animal Protein
When feeding your blue-tongued skink the protein portion of the diet, focus mainly on feeder insects. Gut-loaded insects will provide your skink with the proper nutrition and grant exercise opportunities.
Occasionally, you can feed raw or cooked eggs, as well as lean, cooked meat.
For protein, the following are fine:
- Pinky mice
Lightly dust your blue-tongued skink’s meal with a calcium carbonate supplement that does NOT contain phosphorus or vitamin D, just prior to feeding your adult lizard. Repeat this process two to three times per week.
Calcium supplements should have a minimum calcium:phosphorus ratio of 2:1.
Avoid products containing Vitamin D, as this can lead to toxicity. A separate multi-vitamin supplement can also be offered one to two times weekly, on days where you don’t supplement with calcium.
Offer “gut-loaded” insects or insects fed high-calcium diets for several days before being fed to your pet. This calcium-rich diet may include a commercial cricket diet, grain, or a high protein baby cereal mixed with reptile vitamins, or dark, leafy greens.Foods to Avoid
When feeding your blue-tongued skink, be sure to avoid the following as they are toxic:
- Lightning bugs
- Monarch butterflies
Also avoid citrus fruit, avocados, eggplant, onions, spinach, garlic, rhubarb, and high-sodium canned meats.Blue-Tongued Skink Diet Based on Age
Hatchlings will get their protein and energy from their egg, absorbing the yolk into their abdomens while developing. This yolk will sustain them for the first few days after birth.
After the yolk is used up, hatchlings will hunt and forage for food and eat an adult diet.
How Often to Feed Your Blue Tongue SkinkBabies
Juvenile skinks will eat more prey animals than adults. As juveniles near adulthood or 12 months of age, protein requirements will decrease to allow produce to create roughly half of your lizard’s diet.
Baby skinks under 5 months old will need to eat every day with one day of fasting. Offer as much food as a baby will eat two to three times per day to encourage proper growth and nutrition.
Be sure to remove uneaten food within a few hours after your skink is done eating to avoid spoiling.
Juvenile skinks aged 5 to 10 months should be fed every other day.Adults
Adult blue-tongued skinks over 10 to 12 months old only need to eat about three times per week.
In general, an adult skink should be offered one to two tablespoons of food at each feeding.
🔑 Blue Tongue Skink Diet Key Takeaways: Blue Tongue Skinks require both protein and vegetables as a staple part of their diet. While babies and juveniles need a protein heavy diet and daily to every other day feedings, adults benefit from a diet rich in leafy greens and can be fed just several times a week. Regardless of age, all Blue Tongue Skinks should be given a calcium supplement several times a week.Blue-Tongued Skink Habitat and Tank Setup When it comes to a Blue Tongue Skink’s enclosure, think “the bigger the better!” Skinks love to have ample room to run around and hide, so aim for an enclosure of AT LEAST 60 gallons. Ideally bigger if you can fit or afford it.
As with all reptiles, a clean and properly maintained habitat is VITAL for your pet’s health. With the wrong substrate, too-small of an enclosure, or incorrect humidity level, your blue-tongued skink can suffer.
Fortunately, the following outline has all the key components necessary for your lizard’s habitat to ensure their safety and health.Size of the Enclosure
Even if you begin with a baby or juvenile skink, they’ll quickly reach adulthood and need a larger habitat…
Avoid purchasing multiple sizes of enclosures and stick with a minimum of a 60 gallon aquarium to ensure your lizard will fit as an adult. However, skinks have large ranges in the wild and would appreciate as large an enclosure as you can afford or fit into your home.
Also, keep in mind that the height of the enclosure needs to accommodate a hood to hang a heating element, but, since blue-tongued skinks are terrestrial, they don’t need a tall enclosure for climbing equipment.
If you have multiple skinks, even if they are breeding partners, each skink MUST have their own individual enclosure to avoid fighting and injury. These are solitary animals and do best when housed alone.Type of Enclosures
A glass tank with plenty of floor space is ideal for your blue-tongued skink. As a terrestrial lizard, they need room to explore and hide on the ground, since they don’t climb nearly as much as other lizards.
Glass tanks are also preferable, because the glass easily allows the transfer of heat in and out of the tank.Ideal Temperature Gradient
In a blue-tongued skink’s natural habitat of a desert-like ecosystem, temperatures fluctuate and have a range that must be replicated in their enclosure.
A temperature gradient of 75 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal, with a basking area of 90 to 100 degrees being optimal. Thermometers on each end of the enclosure are recommended to ensure proper temperatures are reached for a “cool” side and a “warm” side.
An under tank heating unit with a heat lamp works well in the basking area to achieve the correct temperature gradient. Avoid using electric heat rocks, since these items can short circuit and burn your lizard.
Daylight bulbs should be on for a maximum of 12 hours per day, allowing the cooler end of the enclosure to drop to 70 degrees at night. Bulbs with a bright white light will stimulate activity and appetite, so be sure to turn off the daytime bulb to allow time for rest.
Also, you’ll want to avoid using a colored heating bulb at night as a nightlight. Your skink will ONLY need white light in the day time. No colors ever.
Don’t forget that your blue-tongued skink will need a UVB light to produce vitamin D3 in their skin, which is CRUCIAL for the absorption of calcium. A high output 10 to 12% UVB tube light is the BEST option, as tube light is superior to a light bulb.
Choose a tube that runs 50 to 70% of the length of your lizard’s enclosure and purchase a hood with a reflector to maximize efficiency and allow it to disperse the light better. A UVB light should be kept on for 8 to 12 hours per day and can be alternated with other lighting.
Also, you’ll want to be sure to replace ultraviolet bulbs every six months.
You can even take your skink outdoors when temperatures exceed 75 to 80 degrees to soak in some sunlight, as long as you’re careful to avoid overheating.Ideal Humidity Levels As with essentially any other reptile, monitoring the humidity levels in your Blue Tongue Skink’s enclosure is VITAL to ensure they stay healthy. Humidity levels that are too high can lead to multiple health concerns, such as respiratory infections (see below).
Each Blue Tongue Skink species requires slightly different humidity levels, so let’s discuss the most popular pet—the Northern blue-tongued skink.
Northern Blue Tongue Skinks need a humidity level between 35 and 45%, while other species may need high humidity spikes. If your humidity level is too high, it can lead to skin or respiratory infections from bacterial growth.
To get a complete picture of the humidity levels in your lizard’s enclosure, place two or three hygrometers throughout the extremes in the temperature gradient. If you need to increase the humidity level, place a large shallow water dish in the enclosure.
Blue-tongued skinks enjoy soaking in water, but they are poor swimmers, so ensure your lizard can easily get out.
If you need to decrease the humidity in the enclosure, be sure the water dish is placed on the cool side to avoid rapid evaporation.
Proper ventilation and substrate also greatly influence humidity levels, so for Northern blue-tongued skinks, choose the appropriate substrate to avoid excessive humidity.Substrate
When it comes to ideal substrate for Blue Tongue Skinks, you’ll have a good selection to choose from!
The following substrate all make wonderful flooring for any skink’s enclosure:
- Filtered aspen wood shavings
- Cypress mulch with no additives
- Sugar cane mulch
Avoid cedar chips, clay cat litter, walnut shells, sand, gravel, or corncob bedding, since they can cause respiratory infections, skin infections, or gastrointestinal blockages.
Spot clean areas around the water dish and elimination area daily to remove soiled bedding. On top of this, you’ll want to clean the entire tank weekly.Decor and Accessories
Blue Tongue Skinks spend most of their time hiding, so place several hideouts throughout the enclosure so they can take advantage of the entire temperature gradient.
Do NOT clutter the tank, though, as skinks enjoy plenty of open space.
Proper housing accessories include:
- Cork bark
- Mopani wood
- Large rocks
Blue Tongue Skinks also enjoy rocks placed under their heat lamp to provide an ideal basking spot. Check the length and width of the rock or platform to ensure your lizard can lay on it comfortably.
Since Blue Tongue Skinks are poor climbers, avoid creating tall structures they may fall from. Short logs or platforms allow them to exercise as they clamber over the structures, but make sure they can’t fall and get hurt.
Ponytail palms, snake plants, and jade plants are excellent live additions to your reptile’s enclosure, but be sure there is plenty of room for plant life, food and water dishes, hiding areas, a basking spot, and space to exercise.
However, live plants can make it difficult to maintain proper humidity levels, plus skinks enjoy digging, so they may damage the roots. As such, artificial plants that offer hiding spots are a better option.
🔑 Blue Tongue Skink Tank Setup Key Takeaways: Your Blue Tongue Skink’s enclosure will play a pivotal role in keeping them healthy, and as such, you’ll want to ensure you provide ample room for them to run around, plenty of hides, as well as maintain humidity levels and the temperature gradient.Blue Tongue Skink General Health InformationYou can often tell how healthy a Blue Tongue Skink is by simply looking in its mouth. It is here that inflamed gums, damaged scales, mucus, and other symptoms can help you quickly diagnose a variety of common ailments these creatures tend to experience.
Naturally, Blue Tongue Skinks are susceptible to a variety of health concerns, just as any animal is. Take a look below at 2 of the more predominant health conditions you’ll want to be especially wary of…Mouth Rot
Mouth rot, or stomatitis, is an infection affecting the mouth and gums of reptiles.
It is often caused by prolonged stress, unsanitary living conditions, injury, vitamin deficiency, or by eating only soft foods.
Signs of stomatitis include:
- Yellow, cheesy secretion from the mouth
- Red, inflamed gums
- Damage to the mouth scales
- Swollen and tender gums
- Missing teeth
If you notice these signs in your Blue Tongue Skink, schedule a veterinary appointment. Your veterinarian will likely need to prescribe an antiseptic mouthwash and antibiotics to clear the infection.
Once the infection has improved, ensure your lizard receives plenty of crunchy vegetables to maintain oral health.
Also, make sure the tank is kept clean and at the proper humidity levels as well to avoid repeat stomatitis issues.Respiratory Infections
One of the most common illnesses in blue-tongued skinks, respiratory infections can be caused by a dirty tank, poor diet, stress, high humidity levels, or low tank temperatures.
You may notice the following signs of illness:
- Heavy breathing
- Bubbles of froth or mucus from the mouth
- Excessive salivation
- Open-mouth breathing
- Puffy appearance
- Poor appetite
Low tank temperatures are the MOST frequent culprit behind respiratory infections in skinks.
Fortunately, mild infections often pass within a week. However, if they last much longer or cause severe illness, a veterinary appointment is in order.
🔑 Blue Tongue Skink Health Key Takeaways: As with all reptiles, Blue Tongue Skinks are prone to specific illnesses and as such, should be monitored regularly to ensure symptoms are dedicated early for easier treatment. Specifically, you’ll want to pay special attention to overall oral health.Blue Tongue Skink Handling and Bonding TipsNew skinks can be quite skittish at first, but with enough patience, they’ll come around. Although you may want to observe them 24/7, it’s best if you give them time and space to adjust to their new enclosure before overwhelming them with your presence. I know it can be so tempting to be around them a lot, especially in the beginning, but if you show a little patience and restraint by limiting handling at first, it can go a long ways.
Any new reptile, especially a new Blue Tongue Skink, should be allowed 10 to 14 days to acclimate to a new home before being handled.
Only approach your skink’s cage to clean and offer food, and allow your lizard to hide in the various shelters placed in the enclosure.
An easy way to win over your skink? Try to come visit them by bearing gifts to help form positive associations with your presence, such as snails, pieces of fruit, or flower blossoms.
Your skink’s willingness to eat and appetite level is a good indicator of comfort level, besides a distinct lack of hissing.
Initial handling sessions should be limited to 10 minutes or less to avoid stressing out your new pet.
Keep your lizard close to the floor or a piece of furniture in case handling does not go well and your skink leaps from your arms. Support the entire body to help your reptile feel safe and secure.
When picking up your skink, gently encircling the body near the forelegs with your fingers, supporting the body with your free hand.
Skinks don’t have the legs to hold on as well as other lizards, so always take care to support them.
Like most lizards, blue-tongued skinks can be frightened by fast movements and when approached from above, so move slowly and always approach from the side.
Although skinks may be content to be held for long periods of time, do NOT keep them out of their cage too long, as they cannot keep themselves warm at room temperature.
With gentle, frequent handling, your skink WILL bond with you and come to recognize your face and voice.
🔑 Blue Tongue Skink Handling & Bonding Key Takeaways: Give your Blue Tongue Skink time to adjust and be patient. Specifically, allow 10 days to get used to your presence before handling. When you do handle them, ensure it is in short doses of no more than 10 minutes and that you fully support their body. You can facilitate bonding by bringing them treats.Is a Blue Tongue Skink Right for YOU?
A Blue Tongue Skink makes a wonderful pet for anyone, whether you’re just beginning your foray into reptile care, or you’re a more advanced hobbyist.
These docile, unique lizards are generally easy to care for and form strong bonds with their owners, making them a delight for people of all ages.
By setting up the ideal enclosure, feeding your skink a proper diet, and treating your lizard gently and calmly, you’ll have a friendly addition to your household for years to come.
And if you just can’t get enough of skinks, be sure to check out the monkey-tailed skink. Not only is it the largest skink species, but it also has a prehensile tail!
You can also learn more about the blue-tailed skink—a species that many may confuse with the blue-tongued skink.
Blue-tongued Skink Facts: A Closer Look at a Curious Creature
Considered one of the favorite reptiles of children, the blue-tongued skink is an interesting animal, as these blue-tongued skink facts will no doubt prove. Whether you're trying to find the perfect animal for one of your kids' school projects or mulling over the idea of becoming a herpetologist, the mystery of the blue-tongued skink is sure to surprise you.
There are a lot of blue-tongued skinks
The blue-tongued skink may seem to belong to only one type of lizard, but in fact there are eight different species of these small reptiles, most of which live in Australia, New Zealand and the nearby islands. These species include:
Location is important for these lizards
Their climate and habitat are very important for these scaly creatures because they are cold-blooded. Like most reptiles, these lizards cannot regulate their body temperature on their own and rely on the environment to keep them warm and cool. Found in an infamous hot and dry region of Australia, blue-tongued skinks are able to regulate their body temperature and survive without having to worry about finding a place to sunbathe.
What is this blue tongue?
You are probably wondering what lies behind the blue tongue of the blue-tongued skink. Since the blue-tongued skink is a small prey, it has a built-in defense mechanism to help deter predators. When threatened, blue-tongued skinks puff up their bodies to appear larger and open their jaws wide, revealing their flat blue tongues. This quick flash of color can sometimes startle predators and make them run away, and warn others that the lizard may be venomous. Although the blue-tongued skink is not venomous, this imitation helps them stay safe in the wild.
Blue-tongued skinks are ovoviviparous
One of the strangest aspects of the blue-tongued skink is that they are ovoviviparous. This means that female blue-tongued skinks develop their offspring in eggs, but instead of laying eggs somewhere in the wild for incubation, they incubate them inside themselves. So, once the blue-tongued skinks are ready to hatch, they hatch inside their mother and then she gives birth to live babies. This is especially unusual given that mammals are the only creatures that give birth to live children, and these blue-tongued skinks have adopted a similar, albeit completely different, reproductive mechanism.
Blue-tongued skinks have an impressive life span
In a calm environment and in their natural habitat, blue-tongued skinks can live from 20 to 30 years. Even in captivity, these reptiles have an impressively long lifespan; Domestic blue-tongued skinks, with proper care, can live up to fifteen years.
Blue-tongued skinks are solitary creatures
Unlike many creatures in the animal kingdom, blue-tongued skinks don't need a pack or mate to live a thriving life. In fact, these reptiles prefer to lead a solitary life, coming to meet other blue-tongued skinks only when it's time to breed each year.
Blue-tongued skinks are good gardeners
Throughout the Australian landscape, gardeners love to find blue-tongued skinks in cultivated soil and plants because of their eating habits. These lizards are omnivores, so while they enjoy eating vegetation, which creates problems for vegetable traders worldwide, they also eat snails and small insects that can harm crops and vegetation. In a sense, blue-tongued skinks are a living natural pesticide that helps protect the blooming gardens of the South Pacific.
Some blue-tongued skinks lose their tails
Most people remember their parents yelling at them to be careful when handling small lizards in the backyard, fearing that somehow these poor lizards would have their tails torn off. While many lizards have their tail cut off by an unwilling child, one species of blue-tongued skink does so voluntarily. Eastern bluetongues, especially young ones, will sometimes drop their tail if he is rough with them. More surprisingly, these blue-tongued skinks can regenerate a shorter tail instead of their tail.
Their bold demeanor belies their docile temperament
Despite their showy defenses, blue-tongued skinks are actually very docile and shy creatures. Because they are so calm, people can safely interact with them and even keep them as pets. What kind of lizards make good pets? . While wild creatures do belong to their natural habitat, if the blue-tongued skink is to be kept in captivity, it can be kept that way without worrying about harming themselves or their trainers.
Fascinating Facts About Blue-tongued Skinks
Blue-tongued Skinks are quite unique reptiles. Despite the threat of their eponymous blue tongue, their shy demeanor makes them even more attractive. The only terrible fact about the blue-tongued skink is that it is only native to Australia and its environs, which makes it difficult for most people, perhaps like you, to encounter them in the wild.
Blue-tongued skink (giant lizards) - description, habitat, photos, food and interesting facts
Blue-tongued skinks, also known as blue-tongued skinks, are an Australian genus of reptile belonging to the skink family (Scincidae). All blue-tongued skinks belong to the genus Tiliqua and are named for their distinctive blue tongues. There are eight different species in the genus with different colors and patterns. Some species, notably the Australian blue-tongued skink, are popular as pets. Read on to learn about the blue-tongued skink.Blue-tongued skink on a rock Blue-tongued skink on a tree trunk Beautiful blue coloration of a blue-tongued skink Close-up of a domestic blue-tongued skink Blue-tongued skink showing its bright blue tongue
Description of the blue-tongued skink
The easiest way to tell these creatures apart is their bright blue tongue if you can see it! When threatened by predators, they stick out their tongue in an attempt to scare or intimidate. These reptiles are relatively large and are among the largest species in the skink family. Some species can be up to 24 inches long, including the tail.
In most species, with the exception of the tiled back, the scales are smooth and flat. The different species have a wide range of patterns and color combinations, although most are sandy brown to dark brown in color.
Interesting Facts about the Blue-tongued Skink
These reptiles are commonly kept as pets, but there is actually a surprisingly large variety of Blue-tongued Skinks. Learn more about species diversity and their unique adaptations below.
- Eight kinds of skinks . Eight different members of the genus Tiliqua: Dwarf Adelaide, Indonesian, Central, Spotted, Western, Shingle, Australian, and Irian Jai. All species are relatively similar in body shape and coloration, with the exception of shingle scales, which have thick, ribbed scales that resemble roof tiles.
- Clean your sinuses . These creatures sneeze a lot! No, they don't have a cold. They actually sneeze because their nasal passages get clogged with dirt or sand quite often. This is because they use their heads and noses to push through and dig through the sand. However, if this sneezing is accompanied by a discharge, they may have an infection.
- Drop it . - Like many other species of lizards and skinks, these creatures are capable of dropping their tails when grabbed by a predator. Their tails continue to wiggle for an extended period of time, distracting the predator while the animal escapes. Later, the skink may grow a tail again.
- Crunchtime . These lizards have a broad head with strong jaws. They use these strong mouths to chew through the shells of snails and tough insects. This helps them eat much more widely than some other creatures.
Blue-tongued skink habitat
There are many different species, but they mostly use the same types of habitats. They will live in forests, grasslands, and farmlands, but will also readily adapt to urban environments such as parks and gardens.
Unlike some species of lizards, these skinks are terrestrial, which means they live more on the ground. than in trees. Their thick body with short legs makes them more adapted to burrowing and ground.
Distribution of the blue-tongued skink
Different types of blue-tongued skinks have different ranges. The Adelaide dwarf species is found exclusively in a small part of southern Australia. Indonesian and Australian species are found in their respective namesakes, Indonesia and Australia.
The central species occurs in New South Wales, Australia. The spotted blue-tongued skink lives in the southeast of Australia, the western skink in the west of Australia, and the pebbles in the west of Australia.
Diet of the Blue-tongued Skink
These reptiles are omnivores, which means they will eat both plant and animal foods. All species live on the ground and hunt during the day among the lower vegetation and rocks. They will prey on a wide variety of small invertebrates and creatures, including worms, snails, beetles, spiders, and various insects. They will also feed on fruits, flowers and berries if they come across them.
Blue Skink and Human Interaction
Since they are harmless and live in areas where humans do not traffic in humans, these reptiles do not interact with humans very often. Those who have adapted to urban life will have more general interactions but are generally left to their own devices as they prey on pesky insects in the gardens.
Trapping for the pet trade has some effect on the species, but they breed readily in captivity, reducing pressure on wild individuals. Most species, with the exception of the Adelaide dwarf, are on the IUCN Red List of Least Concern.
In order for an animal to be truly domesticated, it must be selectively bred over extended periods of time. These reptiles are easy to breed in captivity, but have not been formally domesticated in any way.
Does the blue-tongued skink make a good pet
Yes, the blue-tongued skink is actually a very good pet. They can be quite docile and easy to care for if the owner is properly trained in their needs. Always choose a captive-bred pet, not a wild-caught one.
Blue-tongued skink care
These reptiles should be kept separately from each other, not in groups. Everyone needs a relatively large enclosure, at least a 20 gallon tank. The top should be shielded to prevent escapes and keep your pet safe from other animals. They are not climbers, so ground surface area is more important than vertical climbing space.
Their enclosure must be maintained at the optimal temperature as directed by your breeder or veterinarian, and lamps must be provided for keeping warm. They should be fed a variety of protein sources, fruits and vegetables. Approximately half of their food should consist of greens, a small amount of fruit, and the rest should consist of protein.
Behavior of the blue-tongued skink
Blue-tongued skinks are solitary creatures that spend their days foraging for food and basking in the sun. They are not very good climbers as they have short legs and a strong body. Instead of scrambling, these skinks burrow into the sand and dig for prey. They also use burrows and crevices to escape potential predators or dangerous weather.