Blue Tongue Skinks Care Sheet (Beginner’s Guide)

If you’re interested in getting a blue tongue skink or you already have one then this post is for you. In this guide, we are going to discuss all about Blue Tongue skink care

Blue tongue skinks are awesome lizards, they have so much personality, are usually very friendly, and very easy to handle and care for. They are also great beginner pets. If you don’t have much reptile experience that is okay because they’re great anyways they still love you no matter what.

On how to set up a habitat please read our blue tongued skink enclosure setup guide.

Blue Tongue Skink Origin

Blue Tongue Skinks hail from the rugged landscapes of Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. They’re well adapted to a range of habitats, from deserts to rainforests. This hardy adaptation to diverse environments speaks volumes about their robust nature, which is just one of the reasons I find them so fascinating!

Blue Tongue Skinks Types

There are two main types of Blue Tongue skinks in the pet trade; the northern Blue Tongue skink and the Indonesian Blue Tongue skink. However, their care is relatively the same but there is a difference where they come from.

All northern Blue Tongue skink are mostly captive bred at least in North America, Europe and Asia because they are not exported anymore. I don’t know how it is in Australia because they are a native species there so I’m not going to speak on that just because I don’t really know what goes on there.

Indonesian Blue Tongue skinks are on the other hand most often imported, wild-caught, or farmed. If you are getting an Indonesian species and it’s not marked as captive bred then it is most likely wild caught.

Blue-Tongued Skink Availability

As a seasoned Blue Tongue Skink caretaker, I’ve observed that Northern Blue-Tongued Skinks are usually available on a seasonal basis. Most of their litters arrive between June and August, creating a bustling period of excitement for reptile enthusiasts like us. On the other hand, Indonesian Blue-Tongued Skinks (Tiliqua gigas gigas) tend to be more readily available and frequently imported. However, I’ve found that Northern Blue-Tongued Skinks tend to be hardier and, in my experience, make for even more delightful pets.

When choosing your future pet, always keep an eye out for energetic lizards flaunting bright, alert eyes. Additionally, make sure to check for open ear canals and clean toes devoid of any retained shed skin – trust me, these little details are excellent indicators of a healthy skink!

Baby Northern Blue-Tongued Skinks typically range from $150, while adults might set you back about $250. If you’re drawn to high-colored or rarer forms, be prepared to spend a bit more.

As for the particularly rare Blue-Tongued Skinks like the Centralians and Shinglebacks, they can be quite the investment, ranging between $1,500 and $5,000 each. But let me tell you, the joy of sharing your home with one of these unique creatures is truly priceless!

Blue-Tongued Skink Size

On average, Blue Tongue Skinks can reach lengths of 18 to 24 inches. They’re stocky lizards with small legs and a distinctive stout tail. It’s pretty fascinating to watch these little guys grow over time. My own skink, Ziggy, has grown quite a bit over the years, and it’s been an incredible journey observing his growth!

Blue-Tongued Skink Life Span

Blue Tongue Skinks enjoy a long lifespan, typically ranging from 15 to 20 years with proper care. Some have even been known to live up to 30 years! Their longevity is another reason why they make such rewarding pets. Ziggy, at the ripe age of 10, is as lively and intriguing as ever!

Do Blue Tongue Skinks Make Good Pets

Absolutely! Blue Tongue Skinks are known for their docile nature, distinctive appearance, and unique personality traits, all of which make them excellent pets. I’ve shared many delightful moments with Ziggy, from watching him burrow into his substrate to seeing his blue tongue in action while feeding.

Blue Tongued Skink Housing

The most important thing when it comes to owning a blue skink is its enclosure. In my opinion, a blue-tongued skink needs at least a 75-gallon enclosure. Many people recommend 40 breeders but in my opinion, it’s just too small. Blue tongue skinks can grow up to 30 inches from head to toe. They are clearly quite big lizards so a 40-gallon breeder is literally only a few inches longer than their body.

When it comes to what you are going to put inside the enclosure it’s not super complicated however, it does vary a bit between northern and Indonesian blue tongue skinks.

Indonesian species require much higher humidity than northern blue tongue skinks. Indonesian specie will typically prefer humidity from 60 to 80% whereas northern tolerate much lower humidity from 30 to 40%.

Based on the fact that Indonesian and northern blue tongue skinks require different humidity levels inside their enclosure so the substrate you use may vary. For an Indonesian, you can use cypress mulch, Raptor bark, eco earth, Spagna moss or a mix of all these. Make sure whatever you are using as a substrate holds humidity well.

Blue tongue skinks love to borrow that’s why we recommend at least 3 to 4 inches of substrate.

For a northern on the other you can go with something like Aspen because it doesn’t need to hold humidity as much. Cypress mulch is also good substrate for northern blue tongue skinks.

Blue tongue skinks are very curious animals and they like to explore. They should have lots of enrichment in their enclosure. We recommend putting a few plants for them to climb on.

For blue tongues it’s super important to provide them a number of hiding places. Because the love to hide when they are stressed out.

In a blue tongue enclosure, you will need a water dish. It is important that your skink has a water bowl to drink out of as I find they drink a lot of water. The water dish doesn’t need to be very big where they can soak in. As long as it is big enough to hold a decent amount of water for your reptile to drink out of that it’s just fine. You will also need a food dish inside your blue tongue skink enclosure.

Blue Tongued Skink Heating

When it comes to lighting and temperatures you need to know that your skin should have a warm side and a cool side in their enclosure. It’s important you don’t have the heat source somewhere in the middle of the tank as this doesn’t provide a very efficient heat gradient. You need to place the heat source on one side of the enclosure.

When it comes to picking out your heat source, I would definitely recommend going with some type of overhead heating rather than a heating pad. Skinks like to bask so an overhead heat source is definitely preferred. You can choose either a basking bulb or you can go with a ceramic heat emitter.

Blue Tongued Skink Temperature

Indonesians’ blue tongue skinks at higher temperatures than northern do. An Indonesian skink will like to bask around 100 degrees or sometimes even higher up to 110 degrees whereas northern like to bask in more like 90-degree heat.

Blue Tongued Skink Lighting

Blue tongue lighting can be a controversial subject as there are many different opinions. Some people believe that Blue Tongue skink absolutely need UVB to survive and other people believe that it is not necessary for their survival at all. I personally do choose to provide UVB to my blue tongue skinks. It’s important that you do your research and figure out what you believe.

There have been many keepers and breeders who have kept Blue Tongue skink for many years without using UVB at all and they do just fine. Because of that in my opinion I don’t think they need UVB to survive but I do agree that it is beneficial.

Blue Tongued Skink Diet

Compared to most reptiles blue tongue skinks have kind of strange diets. Usually, when people think of a reptile’s diet they think of things like insects and maybe rodents if you’re thinking of snakes but in terms of lizards most people are probably going to think insects. While Blue Tongue skinks will eat insects it is definitely not the staple of their diet.

In the wild blue tangs are scavengers meaning they will pretty well eat whatever they can find that’s edible. They are omnivores meaning they do eat both meat and vegetation. You need to follow the 40-50 and 10% rule. Their diet should be 40% protein 50% veggies and 10% fruit.

The best thing to feed them is dog food. Some people think that’s super strange that they eat wet dog food and honestly, it’s kind of strange but it is super good for them. Dog food is pretty much made up of what blue-tongue skinks need. It has meat in it for protein, it has vegetables in it. It really does have a lot of what they would be eating in the wild so, honestly what dog food is the best thing you can give them?

You also want to make sure you supplement their food with calcium and vitamins. Blue tongue skinks can also have treats, they love eggs but eggs shouldn’t be fed too often because I think that they are too high in fats and proteins.

Fruits also shouldn’t be fed very often. They should only make up a small part of their diet but they make great treats.

Blue Tongued Skink Water and Humidity

Water: Every living creature needs water, and your blue-tongued skink is no exception. Provide fresh water daily in a shallow dish, such as the Exo Terra Water Dish. It’s durable, easy to clean, and its natural look fits well in any terrarium.

Remember, skinks are not big on swimming, so make sure the water isn’t too deep! You can often find your buddy soaking in it, especially during shedding periods. From my personal experience, I’ve noticed that my blue-tongued skink, Benny, loves to bask after a nice soak!

Hydration Checks: Watch out for a wrinkled or dull appearance on your skink’s skin, as it could mean your little friend is dehydrated. Benny once had dry skin and wasn’t as active, which clued me in on his dehydration.

Humidity: Proper humidity levels help with shedding and overall health. Skinks from arid regions like the Northern blue-tongued skink need humidity levels around 20-40%, while Indonesian skinks prefer 60-80%.

Achieving this balance might seem tricky, but don’t fret. What worked for me was misting Benny’s terrarium lightly with water every day, more so during shedding.

Products for Humidity Control: To help maintain the right humidity levels, a humidity gauge like the Zoo Med Labs Digital Hygrometer & Thermometer is indispensable. This device monitors your terrarium’s temperature and humidity, ensuring they stay at optimal levels.

Always remember that inadequate humidity can cause difficulties in shedding and respiratory infections. So, be observant for any irregularities in behavior or appearance.

Blue-Tongued Skink Handling and Temperament

As a Blue Tongue Skink pet owner myself, I’ve had some remarkable experiences that I think will genuinely benefit you. Now, let’s talk about their general behavior. These little wonders are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day, which gives you ample opportunity to interact and bond with them.

On Temperament: Blue Tongue Skinks are generally known for their easy-going disposition. It’s like they’ve embodied the friendly vibe of their blue-tongued grin! With proper handling and care, your skink will grow to be comfortable around you and even show signs of recognition, believe it or not! Now, if that’s not a rewarding pet experience, I don’t know what is.

However, it’s essential to remember that every skink is unique and will have its own personality quirks. So, don’t worry if yours seems a little shy or reserved at first. With patience and consistent, gentle handling, they will typically come out of their shells.

Signs of stress include erratic behavior, excessive hiding, and refusing food. If your skink is showing these signs, it might be a good idea to give them some space and make sure their habitat conditions are optimal. Remember, our goal is a happy and healthy skink!

When it comes to handling, think of it as a respectful conversation between you and your skink. Here are a few things to remember:

  1. Approach gently: Avoid sudden movements that might startle them. Remember, you’re much bigger than them, and you don’t want to come off as a predator!
  2. Post-feeding care: Avoid handling them immediately after feeding. Skinks, like us, need some digestion time, and being handled could cause them discomfort.
  3. Body support: When picking up your skink, support as much of their body as possible. They will appreciate the security.
  4. Regular, but not constant: Handle them regularly, but not excessively. Too much handling can stress them out.

When it comes to safety precautions, the first rule is to wash your hands before and after handling your skink to avoid any potential spread of bacteria. While Blue Tongue Skinks are usually quite gentle, it’s a good idea to avoid putting your face too close to theirs, especially if they are still getting used to you.

Handling your Blue Tongue Skink is a fantastic and rewarding part of owning one of these lovely creatures. By following these guidelines and keeping your skink’s best interest at heart, you’ll build a bond that is truly special. Remember, we’re aiming for a lifelong friendship here!

I hope you find this guide helpful and practical. Always remember, caring for your Blue Tongue Skink should be a joy, not a chore. Here’s to happy and healthy skinking!

Filled under: Lizards

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