How to Care for a Blue Tongue Skink: The Ultimate Guide

How to Care for a Blue Tongue Skink: The Ultimate Guide

The Blue-Tongued Skink maybe a lizard that you simply may find sunning itself on the sands and possibly even using its blue tongue to scare predators. While well-known among reptile owners for their completely unique bright-blue tongue, the rest of their bodies do not exactly match, as a brown or Gray blend of colors.

They may be shy, enjoying hiding within the crevices of rocks and logs, but they will be very friendly if they are handled frequently. These skinks are omnivorous and can eat many various fruits and vegetables, also as insects, snails, and even smaller lizards. Because of their diet, they are relatively easy to feed.

They are mostly found in desert-like ecosystems but also can be found in warm-forests and grasslands. They are ground dwellers and wish to burrow into log crevices and sand or hide underbrush to avoid predators.


The appearance of blue skink gives them their name. They are long, and stocky lizards that look like snakes having short and stubby legs. This bright tongue is employed to keep off predators when the skink is threatened and is one among the explanations why reptile owners love them!

Blue-Tongued Skinks have a relatively normal diet. They rarely begin their hiding spots to eat, instead, they eat relatively infrequently and consume foods that are easily attainable, like fruits and vegetables.

A trickier reptile to require care of, their natural environment will fluctuate between cool and hot, whilst always remaining humid. It can sometimes be difficult to manage this in captivity.

Blue Tongue Skink Natural Habitat

Species Summary

Skinks are lizards belonging to the family Scincidae.

Fact – There are more than 1500 species of skinks that have been reported till now.

Scincidae is one of the most diverse families. The blue-tongued skink’s genus Tiliqua is having the largest members of the Scincidae.

The main characteristic of this genus is its large blue tongue to protect them from enemies. Blue-tongued skinks are also sold as house pets. They are relatively shy in comparison with other lizards, and slower because of their short legs.


Skinks are slim than geckos, with small eyes, heads, and neck which is wide as the head, and have fish-like scales on their skin. The skull of the skink is covered by significant bony scales, which have the same shape and size and overlap each other.

The species belonging to genera, such as Neoseps, have a smaller number of limbs and have fewer digits (five toes on each foot). In such skinks, their locomotion resembles the snakes because their limbs are not properly developed. The longer the digits of skink it means more the species are arboreal that live on trees.

Appearance & Colors

While it is technically considered to be a lizard, blue tongue skinks are a class of their own. They are very different from what you would see with other lizard species in the trade. 

Bluetongue skinks are large and heavy. Blue skinks are covered in scales and have a smooth shape that resembles snakes. In fact, it is easy to mistake skinks for snakes when they are buried or partially hidden!


The legs of blue tongue skink are small, too. They are quite stubby and easily tuck under the body. Bluetongue skinks are having a large and triangular head.

These animals have very strong jaws. Depending on the subspecies, they may also have large red or yellow eyes. Of course, we cannot forget about the blue mouths! The blue tongue skink has a beautiful eye-catching blue mouth and tongue.

 Oftentimes, the blue tongue skink will use it to ward off potential predators. As for color, there is a bit of variation between subspecies.

The popular Northern blue tongue skink has a light brown base color. Chestnut, Hues of orange, and even red can be seen throughout the back. Other variants have distinct color morphs. You might see specimens that have dark brown and black stripes, those with light-colored skin, and those with large spots.

Lifespan

The average blue tongue skink lifespan is somewhere between 15 and 20 years. 

However, these reptiles can live longer. There have been reports of specimens making it well past the 20-year mark! However, those lizards are more of an exception rather than the rule.

Like any other captive reptile, a blue tongue skink’s health is directly affected by the level of care you provide. A poorly maintained habitat and a lackluster diet will lead to stress, disease, and a shorter lifespan.

Average Size

The average blue tongue skink size is big compared to other popular lizard species in the reptile trade. However, the exact size you can expect is going to depend entirely on the subspecies you choose. The Northern blue tongue skink is one of the largest available. 

Adults reach lengths between 18 and 24 inches

. On the smaller end of the size spectrum, some subspecies only get to be about 12 inches long.

Facts Size / Lifespan / Price

Skinks Prices

Species of SkinksLifespanLargest LengthPrice 
Blue Tongue Skinks
20 Years24"$199- $499
Schneider's Skinks20 Years18"$ 60
Blue Tailed Skinks8 - 10 Years5" - 8.5"$ 14.99
Red-Eyed Crocodile Skinks12 Years8" - 10"$ 199
Monkey Tailed Skinks20 Years32"$ 799

Fire SkiRed-Eyed Crocodile Skinks
12 Years8" - 10"$ 188 - $ 279
Facts about Skinks
Lifespan
Size
Price

Blue Tongue Skink Care

Like any other reptile, blue tongue skink care requires you to follow some rather strict guidelines if you want your pet to live a long and happy life. These animals live in distinct habitats in the wild that cater to their biological needs and lifestyle.

When you are keeping one in captivity, your goal should always be to replicate their environment and provide a biologically appropriate diet. While this might sound daunting, blue tongue skink is simple (especially compared to a lot of other species). Their needs are relatively easy to manage and they do not require any intense husbandry.

Enclosure Size

When you are choosing an enclosure, it is important to consider how these animals act in the wild. Bluetongue skinks are largely terrestrial which means they do not spend too much time climbing in the trees. This means floor space should be your top priority!

Adult blue tongue skinks can live very healthy lives in a tank size of 40 or 50-gallon.

 As a bare minimum, the enclosure should measure at least 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 10 inches tall. If you have space in your home to go larger, aim for an enclosure that is closer to 48 inches long, 24 inches wide, and 24 inches tall.

The best type of enclosure for a blue tongue skink is a glass reptile tank with a screened lid. The screened lid will promote ventilation, which helps to manage humidity levels a bit.

Setting Up the Habitat


Planning the right habitat for a blue tongue skink is far easier than most of people think! With other lizard species, you want to choose the right decorations and plants. But with the blue tongue skink, that’s not the case. Remember, these reptiles prefer floor space over anything.

 This suggests it’s best to stay the habitat relatively bare. Too many decorations will only make the skink uncomfortable. In most cases, they will just end up rearranging things anyway!

Because you’re not going to be employing a ton of decorations, you’ll get to pay closer attention to the essentials. Starting with the substrate, use a dry, semi-soft material. Something like aspen, cypress mulch, recycled paper, or maybe a peat moss/sand mixture.


Avoid using anything too hard. Bluetongue skinks may attempt to eat the substrate, which could lead to impaction issues. 

Tip – The same is for potentially toxic substrate materials like cedar chips or cat litter!

Bluetongue skinks aren’t huge climbers, but they enjoy basking on a raised rock occasionally. Incorporate a couple of rocks and logs into the habitat, but don’t go overboard!

Remember, crawling floor space is the most vital thing. You may also want to feature a hide box. You’ll make one yourself out of wood or purchase a premade box that’s crafted out of plastic. Either way, this box should be large enough for the lizard to urge into once they are feeling a little overwhelmed.kin

Pinterest Skink Enclosures


Temperature & Lighting


Bluetongue skinks self-regulate their body heat. As a result, you need to create a gradient temperature arrangement within the enclosure. This is because one side of the tank/cage is going to be hotter than the opposite. Over on the cool end, temperatures should be between 75- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit.

At night, temperatures can dip to the low 70s.

On the other side of the enclosure, you’ll create a basking area. This may be a heated part of the habitat that the lizard will use to extend their blood heat once they feel cold.


Using a heat emitter or overhead incandescent light, heat one spot of the enclosure to temperatures between 90- and 100-degrees Fahrenheit. This basking area should get on for about 12 hours each day. Additionally, to plain lighting, blue tongue skinks also will need UVB lighting.

UVB lighting is supposed to duplicate the consequences of the sun’s rays, which are crucial for health. When kept indoors many reptiles that do not have exposure to UVB rays develop bone diseases.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y-5H186_1c
Blue Tongue Skinks Care / Handling /


Those UVB rays are necessary for metabolizing calcium. You’ll install a UVB light over the enclosure and leave it on for 12 to 14 hours per day. You’ll not be ready to see the UVB light, so confirm that you’re changing out the bulb every 6 months for good measure.

Type of SkinkUBV / UVA / LightingTemperature Range
Basking
Gradient (warm-cool)Night TempHumidity Range
Blue TongueTropical 2587-90 F88-78 F70-75 F30-50% + Spray Mist
SchneiderTropical 2588-90 F85-75 F70-75 F40-60% + Spray Mist
Blue TailedTropical 2590-95 F85-78 F70-75 F70-80% + Spray Mist
Five LinedTropical 25110 F78-68 F68-75 F70-80% + Spray Mist
Red Eyed CrocodileTropical 2580-82 F78-75 F70 F70-90 % + Spray Mist
GardenTropical 2590-95 F80-75 F70 F60-70 % + Spray Mist
FireTropical 2590-95 F81-73 F70 F60-70 % + Spray Mist
BroadheadTropical 2590-95 F81-73 F70 F60-70 % + Spray Mist
Green (Emerald) TreeTropical 2590-95 F86-78 F72-77 F60-70 % + Spray Mist


Humidity


In the wild, blue tongue skinks sleep in semi-dry environments. They have some humidity, but not an excessive amount of it.

Tip – Ideally, levels of 40 to 60 percent are just fine. Purchase a hygrometer and use it regularly to remain on top of humidity levels.

 An excessive amount of humidity can cause respiratory infections and skin issues. The lights you employ should be enough to decrease humidity. If you would like to extend levels, just moist the enclosure once each day.


Water


You are not getting to see blue tongue skinks drinking often. They stay hydrated a little differently than other animals. Still, providing an outsized water dish is important. The dish should be large enough for the skink to soak in! You would possibly see your lizard crawling into the dish and lying motionless for a little, while they rehydrate. This is often perfectly normal.


Blue Tongue Skink Diet & Food


Bluetongue skinks are omnivores. They need healthy appetites and aren’t particularly picky about the items they consume. This suggests they are going to readily accept most foods with no issues. Variety is extremely important when it involves the diet of a blue tongue skink.

Owners will typically misunderstand food ingredients regularly to make sure that the blue tongue skink is getting all the nutrients and vitamins they have. Some will even plan out meals before time and break down the nutrient profile for better control.

As a rule of thumb, 40 percent of their diet should contain protein-based foods. The remaining 60 percent must be plant-based foods. Approximately 50 percent should be vegetables while 10 percent should be sweet fruits.


There are tons that you simply can feed blue tongue skinks. Here are some good options for proteins:

  • Mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Thawed frozen mice
  • Boiled chicken
  • High-quality canned dog or cat chow
  • Ground turkey

Here are some fruits and vegetables you’ll try in their diet as well:

  • Spring greens
  • Collards
  • Spinach
  • Dandelion
  • Carrots
  • Raspberries
  • Peas
  • Figs
  • Mango

Adult blue tongue skinks should be fed every two or three days. Younger lizards may have more frequent feedings every other day.

Possible Health Issues


You will be happy to understand that blue tongue skinks are not vulnerable to any major illnesses that are specific to the species. However, there are some common reptile diseases that you simply got to keep an eye fixed out for. The primary is a metabolic bone disease. 

This happens when your reptile isn’t getting that UVB exposure they have. They’ll develop bone deformities, fractures, and more. To avoid this, confirm that you simply are providing those 12 to 14 hours of UVB exposure per day. You will also dust food with calcium powder for good measure.

Respiratory infections and skin issues are common, too. Often, these problems are directly caused by high humidity levels within the enclosure. Check the humidity levels and open the very best of the tank to let that humid air out!

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 within the household where the cage heating elements not can continue with the cooler room temperature) and poor artificial hibernation practices.

Provided proper temperatures are key to healing. Daily soaks in shallow warm water are helpful. Prescription antibiotics are nearly always needed. Anti-inflammatories also are helpful.


Dysecdysis is rare to seek out an adult blue-tongue skink with all ten toes intact. If a cage gets too dry during the shed process, it’s common for skin to be retained on the toes, the tip of the tail, and on the eyelids).

Diets deficient in vitamin A contribute to the present problem. For more information on proper supplementation click here. Soaking in warm shallow baths (1/2 inch of 90ºF water) for an hour usually loosens the skin in order that it’s going to be gently removed. Toe and tail tip necrosis and sloughing may happen if several sheds have built up and stop circulation.


Stomatitis is infection and inflammation within the mouth and gums. This condition often suggests either fighting or a diet that has an excessive amount of soft food. Blue-tongue skinks are omnivorous but should have a diet with many crunchy and leafy vegetables to wash the teeth as they eat.

Unfortunately, stomatitis often leads to permanent changes to the form of the gingiva and even the bone around the alveolus. Prevention is vital. Treatment includes broad-spectrum antibiotics with anaerobic coverage, anti-inflammatories, topical cleansing, and a reformulated diet to make sure proper nutrition and proper texture.


Parasites: Wild-caught imported blue-tongue skinks suffer from a spread 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 important.

Skinks / Disease / Symptom / Solution

DiseasesSymptonsSolutions
Metabolic Bone Disease1) Rib/ Spine Fractures
2) Limb Deformuty
3) Rubber Jaw
Supplements / Dusting
Parasites1)Round Worms
2) Pin worms
3) coccidia
Loss Weight/ Appetite
Dewormed by Vet after Stool analysis to identify Parasite
Gout1) High Uric acid crystals
2) Swollen Ankles
3) Swollen Joints
4) Bumps on Joints
5) Chameleon in Pain
6) Chameleon stand on three legs instead of 4
7) Excessive Urination / Drinking
Lower protein in Skink Diet
Stress1) nFleeing
2) Hissing
3) Changing Colors
4) Biting
5) Puffing Up
Remove cause of Stress
Other Skink
Males
Enviornment
Respiratory Diseases1) Draining Muscus
2) Gaping Mouth
3) Noises when
4) Breathing
5) Popping Sounds
6) Inflamation
Check Environment
See Vet for Meds
Rickets1) malformed bones
2) Malformed toes
3) Swollent Joints
4) Crooked joints
Calcium Supplements
Vitamin Difiencies
Egg Binding1) Difficulty Breathing
2) Open Mouth Breathinf
3) Refusing to Climb
4) Lethargy
5) Swollen Eyes
6) Closed Eyes
7) Signs of Distress
Take you Skink to Vet
He May give fluids
He may do C-Section
Sunken EyesEyes receding into Chameleons HeadTake to veterinarian
Make sure is being misted
Vitamin A Definency1) Swollen Eyes

supplement of beta carotene
Vitamin A - Vet Might do Injection
Cancer1) Indication of internal Growth
2) External Growths
Take to Veterinarian
X Rays
Kidney / Liver Failure1) Lump in Pelvis
2) Cannot lay Eggs
3)Foul Breath
4) Fluid Swelling
5) Fowl Breath
6) Bloodshot / Yellow Eyes
7) Chameleon has water does not urinate
8) White Sheen in Mouth
Check Diet
Take to Vet
Can be Quickly Fatal
Viral Infections1) Gaped Mouth
2) Muscous
3) Difficulty Breathing
4) Inflamation
5) Discoloration
6) Eye/ Eyes swollen
7) Chuncks of
8) Muscos in Mouth
9) Mouth Rot
Take to Vet
Antibiotics
Check Enviornment
Chemical / Household Toxins1) Breathing Issues
2) Stool Changes / Diahreah
3) Lethargic
Remove causes
Flush with Fluids
Starvation / Dehydration1) Lethaqrgy
2) Loosing Weight
3) Mouth Closed
4) Body and skin shriveling
1) Give food slowly
2) give water by Misting
3) Give water by eye dropper
Here is a list of Sickness and Disease you need to watch out for
Check with Your Reptile Veterinarian


Behaviour & Temperament


It is best to stay blue tongue skinks in solitary tanks. These animals are known to point out some aggression towards other creatures. They’re going to even fight among those of an equivalent species. It’s going to be possible to keep two females together or a bonded male and female pair. However, two males should never be kept together!


Handling Them


Overall, blue tongue skinks are quite docile with humans. They need a reputation for being one of the foremost personable reptile species around. Some skinks will even show signs that they enjoy head rubs! in fact, you ought to always exercise caution before handling reptiles.

Bluetongue skinks are not any different. Once they feel anxious, these lizards will hiss and flash their blue mouths. They are perfectly capable of biting, so you ought to never handle them forcefully. Give the lizard a while to acclimate to its new environment. Once they get easier within the enclosure, you will start handling them.


Start by holding them for brief 10-minute sessions. Do that on the carpet or something soft just in case you drop it! Support the skink’s entire body once you hold it. This may help it feel safe and secure. The more you handle the blue tongue skink, the more it will get comfortable with the method. If you are doing things right, you will get to the purpose where the lizard wants you to carry them!

Conclusion

There are many species in the Scincidae family. The Blue-Tongued Skink is one among the foremost famous and is loved for its unique, blue-tongued appearance, and docile temperament (other skinks do not have this unique feature).

They may be docile and friendly, but they are not the foremost outgoing lizard and should be a pet for somebody who is trying to find more of a challenge. Teaching them to get used to humans may take a while and patience. Their tank temperature must be regulated and monitored very closely.

So, this unique looking skink is one that can be welcomed to a home that is ready for a challenging reptile. They will make great pets to those that are patient enough with them, and their bright tongues will make a singular addition to any home!

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