Setting up a blue-tongue skink’s habitat is the first thing you must-do if you’re planning to bring a skink home. As a reptile pet enthusiast, you might be very excited to get a new friend home. However, it’s equally stressful. If you’re a beginner and don’t know precisely the stuff required for setting up a perfect terrarium for your pet, here’s the guide for you.
To set up a skink’s habitat, you need to get a terrarium of around 75 gallons or more, as these lizards are relatively larger than other reptiles. Always remember, the bigger the cage the better.
In addition to this, as an owner, you need to set up the right environment temperatures to ensure your health. Complete detail of all the essentials required for the skink’s setup is explained in detail.
Step 1: Getting a terrarium
The first step towards setting up a bluey’s habitat at your home is getting the right-sized cage. The size of the tank depends on the age and size of the bluey that you’re bringing home. In addition to this, an important detail to consider when choosing the suitable terrarium for the blue-tongue skink is that they grow in length rather than increase in height. The size of the bluey can get up to two feet, which may vary depending on the species and hybrid that you have chosen.
For a baby or juvenile skink, the size of the tank should be around 40-gallons, whereas, for adult skinks, the recommended cage size is 120-gallons to fit the skink appropriately along with the accessories. The terrarium must be made of glass, from where you can see your skink and vice versa. It’ll minimize the idea of being in captivity, giving the skink peace of mind.
Step 2: Substrate
Another essential to have in the terrarium is the substrate of the tank. Substrate refers to the flooring or bedding of the tank. So, once you have chosen a perfect tank for the bluey, the next thing you need to select is the substrate. Choosing the substrate depends on the type of skink you have; each species has its own humidity requirement, and the substrate may differ.
When choosing the substrate, one thing to consider is that you must not select a loose substrate or a substrate with tiny particles that the bluey can ingest, as it may cause severe health complications such as impaction in the reptile. If you are looking for low humidity, the best substrate would be Aspen wood shaving and Cypress mulch. You can choose one from Coco fiber with sphagnum moss, cypress mulch and topsoil, or cypress mulch with sphagnum moss for medium humidity.
Finally, for high humidity requirements, the best substrate is Coco fiber, cypress mulch, and bioactive substrate mixed with sphagnum moss and topsoil. Some substrates that you must avoid are sawdust, walnut shells, wood shavings, chips, and alfalfa.
Step 3: UVB lighting
In the wild, the blue-tongue skink has an unlimited supply of resources, which fills their needs. However, in captivity, they require an exact imitation of nature to get all the nutrients to fulfill their needs. UVB light is one of the basic requirements of the bluey, which in the wild they get from the sun directly. In captivity, you need to provide UVB light to your reptile, which your pet can absorb for warmth and vitamins.
While setting up UVB lights in the tank, make sure that the light is spread evenly. Use tube light to distribute the light in the tank, which your skink can benefit from. Do not get coiled bulbs for the tank until the tank is tiny.
Step 4: Lighting and heating
Blue-tongue skinks come from the hot lands of Australia, and being cold-blooded reptiles, they need external warmth to regulate their body functions. So, it’s essential to heat the tank of the blueys in captivity. You need to set up bright white lights for the daytime and no lights at night. Lighting the tank at night can disturb the sleep cycle of the skink, and for this reason, if at any point at night you need to heat the tank, you can use ceramic heat emitters or heating lamps. It will do the needful without disturbing the sleep cycle.
The temperature of the tank should be between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. You may also sometimes need to turn down the temperature, so the skink’s body can cool down or prevent overheating the tank.
Step 5: Humidity
Maintaining humidity in the skink’s tank is another essential factor to consider while setting up the tank. Blue-tongue skinks love humidity as it helps them stay healthy and shed skin quickly. Maintaining the humidity level inside the tank depends on the species of the blue-tongue skink, as some species require more humidity than others.
The best way to check and maintain the humidity level inside the tank is to use a digital hygrometer. It will help you determine the exact humidity inside the tank and take the necessary steps to ensure the required humidity level.
Step 6: UVB and light bulb hoods, fixtures
Once you get the UVB lights for the skink’s tank, the next step towards setting up the cage is to get the UVB light bulb hoods and fixtures. A hood will help increase UVB light efficiency, especially with a reflector. So, if you have weak UVB bulbs, you should get a hood with reflectors to spread the light evenly.
In addition to this, to fix light and heating lamps in the tank, you need some fixtures. There are different types of fixtures available in the market, in which you can house up to two UVB bulbs on the top screen.
Finally, if you don’t want to set fixtures on the top screen, you can get an adjustable floor lamp stand to fix the UVB bulb. The setting of bulbs and fixtures depends on the size of the tank; more giant tanks will require relatively bigger UVB bulbs and fixtures than smaller tanks.
Step 7: Heat and light control and automation devices
Maintaining the right temperature and humidity inside the tank is crucial. For this, you need some automation devices installed in the cage to observe the temperature and humidity readings closely. Some widgets you may need are listed below.
The temperature gradient inside the tank should be 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit and to set this temperature accurately, you must install a digital thermometer at each end of the tank. One thermometer should be installed at the cool end of the tank, the second one on the warmer end, and one preferably in the center. It’ll help prepare the perfect home for your reptile pet.
Measuring humidity in the tank is also crucial, as some species require less humidity than others. You need to set the humidity level according to the species you are bringing home, and for that, it’s essential to measure the humidity level through a hygrometer. You need to install one hygrometer at each end of the tank to balance humidity levels.
Handheld infrared thermometer
It is also an essential accessory to have when setting up the tank of a blue-tongue skink. It helps to measure the temperature from a distance of 2cm to ensure accuracy.
Sometimes going to the cage to lower the heating and UVB lights could be trouble. Thermostats are the perfect solution for this problem. You can use it to control the heating bulbs and devices to prevent overheating your reptile. It can be done by connecting heating bulbs and devices to the thermostat for controlling temperature.
Turning the lights and heating lamps on and off on time can sometimes be challenging or might slip off your mind. For this reason, you should install a power center/ timer in the cage to regulate the temperature in the tank.
Furthermore, connecting a timer to your devices will help turn the lights on and off on time according to the set schedule.
Step 8: Enrichment accessories and decorations
Who doesn’t like a well-decorated home? Everyone wants their living space to look good with all the accessories and luxuries to help them. Similarly, there are several accessories that you can add to the tank of the bluey for its health and well-being. Following is a list of items that can be added to the blue-tongue skink tank.
An essential accessory to have in your blue-tongue skink’s cage is a hide. The hides in a cage help the bluey cool down after a long basking or heating time. It also imitates the caves in nature, giving your bluey a sense of hiding and adventure.
Food and water bowls
Food and water bowls are must-haves in the tank. The water bowl should be large enough for your skink to soak in, not too high, or the skink can sink in the water. Choose the food bowls carefully, they should be big but not too deep, or the skink will have trouble eating.
Skink loves to lay down on the hammocks while basking, so make sure you have one in the cage you are setting up for your pet bluey. Be sure that the hammock is not too high from the ground, or the skink will have trouble climbing on it.
The blue-tongue skinks are large reptiles with heavy body weight, yet to keep them active and stimulated in captivity, it is essential to provide a small climbing spot. Branches, logs, and small rocks that the skink can climb on are great tank decorations as they are close imitations of nature and provide enough hiding and climbing spots to the bluey.
Plants can be a great addition to the tank of your reptile pet. You can add natural and fake plants for decoration; however, you must know that the skink can chew the plants, and therefore you should add plants that are durable and non-toxic to the health of the skink.
Adding an excellent background to the enclosure will make it an ideal habitat for your reptile. There are several backgrounds available for glass tanks of different sizes, which you can choose from. However, an important thing to check when purchasing background is its resistance to water and scratches, as they will be exposed to them. So, it’s essential to choose a robust and durable option for a long time.
If you are planning to bring a blue-tongue skink as a pet, you need to set up the environment beforehand so as not to disturb the skink. It would be best to consider several factors while setting up the cage, including the cage size, material, robustness, temperature inside the cage, humidity, basking and hiding spots, and other accessories. These are essential requirements of setting a cage for a blue tongue skink.
In addition, be considerate of the environmental factors, including humidity and temperature inside the cage, which must be maintained at all costs. A thermometer and hygrometer are excellent help to maintain these factors in the cage. You may also add accessories such as plants, a hammock, and hiding & climbing spots to keep your bluey active throughout the day.
Finally, do not just pick any cage or accessory that you find first. Take your time, research the best products in the market to select and set up the best cage for the well-being of your skink. After all, that’s all they want; love, patience, and your time, and this starts before you bring them home.