What to feed a baby blue tongue lizard

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.


Sex Determination:

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.


Cage Furnishings

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.



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.


Respiratory Infection

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. 




Blue Tongue Skink Food | ReptiFiles

Blue tongue skinks are omnivorous, meaning that they need to eat both plant and animal matter to get the right nutrition. In this section we’ll discuss options for protein, vegetables, and fruit that are safe to feed your pet.

Just like humans, skinks’ nutritional needs change as they grow. And since they’re omnivorous, the key to success with skinks is feeding them as large a variety of foods as possible. But here’s a general guideline, with 1-2 Tbsp. as a serving size (about the same size as their head).

  • Feed babies (up to 3 months) daily.
  • Feed juveniles (3-8 months) 3 times weekly.
  • Feed adults (8+ months) 1-2 times weekly.*

*Adult shingleback skinks should be fed 2x/week due to a low protein diet.


Young skinks (under 12 months) need 70-80% of their diet as protein. Adults should get roughly 50-60%. When young BTS don’t get enough protein in their diet, their scales can become deformed — known as “pyramiding.” When adults get too much protein, they can become overweight and their kidneys can even start to shut down (although the latter is only in extreme cases, and obesity is much more common).

  • NOTE: Shingleback skinks (T. rugosa) are more herbivorous than other species of blue tongue skink! Although in the wild they occasionally scavenge and eat insects, the vast majority of their diet is flowers and leafy greens. An adult shingleback’s diet should be only 20-30% protein.


Insects can be fed live or from a can, but letting a skink hunt is good for exercise and mental stimulation (enrichment).

  • Dubia roaches
  • Discoid roaches
  • Grasshoppers
  • Locusts
  • Black soldier fly larvae
  • Fresh/canned snails
  • Hornworms
  • Silkworms
  • Earthworms
  • Superworms (treat only)
  • Do not feed: Lightning bugs, scorpions, wild caught bugs

Note: All feeder insects should be gutloaded for at least 24 hours before feeding. Ideally, they should come pre-gutloaded from the breeder. If they weren’t, or you buy your feeder insects in bulk, the easiest way to keep them fed and gut-loaded is with a rotation of Lugarti Dubia Diet and Repashy Grassland Grazer. Note that if you give your insects a dry gutload, they will need a source of water. Gel water crystals work perfectly for this purpose.

  • Eggs (raw, boiled, or scrambled)
  • Ground turkey, chicken, duck, rabbit, lean beef, venison, lamb, etc.
  • Organ meats: heart, liver, gizzard, etc.
  • Live or frozen/thawed pinky rats and fuzzy mice (treat only)
  • Whole fish, small or in bite-size chunks (treat only) 

Frozen whole prey items must be prepared correctly before feeding. Thaw it out in the fridge the night before feeding day, then about 15-30 minutes before feeding, stick the prey in a BPA-free plastic bag like a Ziploc and submerge in warm, almost hot, water. The body temperature of a mouse is similar to a human’s, so you’ll want the prey to be about 98-100°F before offering it to your skink. You can check the temperature with your temp gun.


Vegetables should comprise 20-30% of a young skink’s diet, and 40-50% for adults. Adult shingleback skinks should have a diet of 70-80% plant matter, or 3 out of 4 meals.

  • Squash, bell pepper, parsnip, carrot
  • Greens: Turnip greens, collard greens, dandelion greens, grape leaves, mulberry leaves, cilantro, mustard greens, carrot greens, escarole
  • Flowers: Dandelion, rose, hibiscus
  • Do not feed: Avocado, onion, eggplant, buttercup flowers, azalea flowers/leaves, daffodil flowers, lily of the valley, marijuana or hemp leaves, tulips

Bookmark Beautiful Dragons’ Nutrition chart for reference next time you’re at the grocery store.


Fruits should comprise no more than 10% of a skink’s diet.

  • Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries
  • Peaches, cherries, pears, apples, bananas, nectarines
  • Do not feed: Citrus, rhubarb, seeds, pits

Information about other fruits can be found in the abovementioned nutrition chart.

Prepared Diets

Canned Cat/Dog Food

Most blue tongue skink keepers swear by cat and dog food, and many skinks enjoy eating it. It makes a good diet when mixed with vegetables. Make sure to use canned food rather than kibble (although kibble is alright occasionally if water is added), and avoid formulas containing artificial colors/flavors or fish. Grain is fine as long as the formula is high-quality and not too high in carbohydrates. The claim that grain-free dog food is best is largely unsubstantiated and may even be harmful, although that claim is still being investigated.

Cat food is best for juvenile skinks because of its high protein content, but when your skink reaches ~1 year old, it’s time to switch to dog food. Dog food contains more vegetables and is less likely to cause obesity. Personally, I still find the protein/vegetable ratio in dog food to be a little too high for my taste, so I add mix-ins of fresh vegetables, fruits, Repashy powders, etc. This provides a variety of flavor and nutrition for my skinks, while still adhering to the right nutrient ratios.

If you’ve never made skink chow before, I recommend using Arctic Exotics’ recipe. She’s been keeping and breeding skinks for 6 years on it with great success.

Recommended dog and cat food brands include:

  • Carnivora*
  • Primal*
  • Raw Bistro*
  • TruDog*
  • Castor & Pollux
  • Darwin’s
  • Halo (avoid their vegan formula)
  • Zignature
  • Whole Earth Farms
  • Evolution Naturally
  • Nature’s Variety
  • Instinct
  • Merrick
  • Wellness CORE
  • Purina
  • Hills Science Diet
  • Royal Canin
  • Eukanuba

Ideally the food should contain as much of the whole animal as possible (meat, bones, and organs), which is why I love raw dog food diets. If you have a question about the safety of a certain brand/formula, check these sources:

  • If you are in the US, a full list of recommended raw dog food brands can be found on this page of Dog Food Advisor.
  • If you are in Canada, a full list of recommended raw dog food brands available in your area can be found here at PrimalPooch.com. You can also see a list of brands approved by the Pet Food Association of Canada here.

Not sold on dog food? I wasn’t either, at first. In fact, I used to have a recipe posted on here for homemade blue tongue skink chow because I believed dog food was inferior. However, listen to Reptile Mountain explain how it works:

Reptile Formulas

If you’re looking for a more reptile-specific prepared food, Repashy’s Grub Pie, Meat Pie, Veggie Burger, and fruit powders make great mix-ins to add to dog food for variety. They even have a blue tongue skink-specific formula: Bluey Buffet.

Arcadia’s Omni Gold blue tongue skink diet is also really good if you can get your hands on it, and Herpavet Lizard Food by Vetafarm is popular in Australia.

Reptilinks offers a 50/50 Omnivore Blend made with whole rabbit, green beans, collard greens, dandelion greens, and endive. Because they’re made with whole rabbit rather than just the muscle meat, this is an especially valuable addition to your skink’s diet.

Note: Powdered and ready-made reptile diets already have the correct calcium to phosphorous ratio, meaning that you do not have to add calcium powder to these formulas. Most also contain vitamin D3, but it’s worth checking the ingredients label just in case.


Keep your skink’s bones nice and strong with a pinch of calcium powder: 1x/week for adults, 2x/week for anything younger. If you’re not using UVB lighting, be sure to use a supplement that includes particularly high quantities of vitamin D3. 

Best calcium for blue tongue skinks with UVB:

  • Arcadia CalciumPro Mg
  • Repashy Supercal LoD
  • Miner-All Indoor

Best calcium for BTS without UVB:

  • Repashy Supercal HyD
  • Zoo Med Repti Calcium with D3

Best multivitamins for blue tongue skinks:

  • Herptivite
  • Arcadia Earthpro A
  • Repashy Supervite

Use each supplement as directed by the label, but keep in mind that dog food, cat food, and other prepared diets are already fortified with vitamins and do not need the addition of a multivitamin. Adding multivitamin to a prepared diet can potentially cause vitamin overdose!

Bee pollen powder or granules (I use the Stakich brand) are also a beneficial addition to your skink’s diet, especially for shingleback skinks. Use no more than a pinch every other meal.


The best water to use for your blue tongue skink is tap water (assuming that the water in your area is safe for humans). Not distilled, reverse osmosis, or softened. Here’s an argument on why. Filtered and spring water are fine.

A large water bowl no more than 3” deep should be provided — 9″ x 13″ baking dishes work great. Aside from being a source of hydration, this also helps maintain humidity and provides a place to soak while in shed.

Water should be changed daily. And since skinks have the endearing habit of also using their water bowl as a toilet, be sure to disinfect it weekly with an animal-safe disinfectant like F10 or chlorhexidine.


Keep reading:

  1. Introduction to Blue Tongue Skinks
  2. Shopping List
  3. Tiliqua Species & Subspecies
  4. Terrarium: Size Requirements
  5. Terrarium: Temperatures & Humidity
  6. Terrarium: Substrate
  7. Terrarium: Decorating
  8. Feeding Your Skink
  9. Handling Tips
  10. Diseases & General Health Information
  11. Additional Resource

What and how to feed a lizard at home

Library / Reptiles / Nutrition / What to feed a lizard

Lizards are conditionally divided into 3 groups: carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. The diet of the lizard is made up depending on the type and individual needs of the reptile.

Animal food for lizards

Since most lizards are still predators in their natural environment, the lion's share of their diet is live food. Often, reptiles are fed crickets, flies, bloodworms, grasshoppers, locusts, earthworms. Larger lizards are given mice, small rats and other rodents. You can also occasionally feed your pets with small or chopped fish, lean raw boneless meat, bird eggs. Cottage cheese is given as feed additives: it is left in feeders or laid out on stones and branches (for individuals who do not like to go down to the ground).

It is best to feed live food with tweezers, otherwise the insects will scatter around the terrarium. It is not recommended to feed cockroaches, except perhaps American ones, but they are mobile and fast, so their paws are often torn off before feeding. Meal worms are also useful, they do not feed lizards with beetles, because they have a hard shell. It is recommended to crush the head of the mealworm with tweezers, as it has strong jaws and can damage the mucous membranes. Some species of reptiles also eat adult May beetles. Large lizards also eat newly hatched chicks.

Vegetable food for lizards

About a third of a lizard's diet is vegetable food. You can offer your pet greens - lettuce, parsley, plantain, spinach, clover, dandelion and more. They eat well reptiles and pieces of vegetables - cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, sometimes you can give raw potatoes. From fruits, you can give apples, pears, melons, grapes, citrus fruits - experimentally, you can find out which ones your pet likes best.

Vitamin and mineral supplements can be mixed into food: for example, added to fruits or porridge with insects. It is also useful for the lizard to give crushed eggshells, calcium glycerophosphate tablets, chalk, reptile preparations.

How to feed a lizard?

The most convenient way to feed herbal food is from Petri dish type feeders. Young lizards are fed 2 times a day, adults have enough one-time feeding. You need to give food at a time when the pet is most active (there are day and night lizards). After the reptile has eaten, the remnants of food are removed. The terrarium must have a drinking bowl. However, many species of reptiles prefer to lick drops of water from plants, so you need to spray the terrarium regularly.

Juveniles are fed with tweezers for the first time, adult food is placed in the feeder. It happens that lizards refuse to eat for some time, but at the same time they are active and drink water - this is a kind of fasting day. If the lizard refuses a new food, it may not be to her taste, it is better to gradually add it to her usual diet. In general, lizards are unpretentious and willingly eat most foods.

Source: www.pitomec.ru

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How to feed a lizard? | Animals

Most lizards are predators. In the wild, small representatives of this species of reptiles feed on worms, various mollusks, spiders and all kinds of midges, mosquitoes, ants. Large individuals eat small ones of their kind, birds, frogs, snakes, eggs of reptiles and birds, etc.

Herbivorous lizards also exist in nature. Their main food is: leaves, flowers, shoots, fruits of various plants. Lizards that feed on food of both plant and animal origin are omnivores.

In nature, lizards have such preferences, but what about in captivity? How to feed a lizard for the benefit of her body? Lizards need to be fed little by little. Young representatives of these reptiles should eat often, almost every day. Adults do not need to be fed so often. Monotonous food will adversely affect the health of the lizard. The food for this species of reptiles should be varied and complete. Vitamins for lizards can be purchased at a veterinary pharmacy or pet store. It is imperative to give them. It is best to always put the feeder in the same place. Lizards remember this place and easily find food for themselves.

When feeding, it is necessary to take into account the time of wakefulness of lizards. Diurnal ones are fed during the day, nocturnal ones are fed at night. In no case should you overfeed the lizards, as this can lead to the death of the pet.

To feed lizards that prefer food of animal origin, experts advise breeding cockroaches at home. Only not those wild ones that used to be found in our homes (and in some homes it is not uncommon even now), but specially bred and living in captivity. “Your own” cockroaches are good because you don’t have to run around the markets and shops in search of food for the lizard. It is better to feed the lizard with live food with tweezers.

Sometimes you can feed the lizards boiled potatoes and rice. The basis of the diet can be: crickets, grasshoppers, locusts, worms, fish, snails, small rodents. If there is absolutely nothing to feed the lizard, then raw meat will do.

You can try to offer vegetables and fruits to the lizard. But still, carnivorous lizards should be fed mainly with live food, and herbivores should eat mostly plant food.

I would like to say a few words about drinking. Lizards must have constant access to water.

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