The Blue-tongued skink, as its name suggests, is a lizard that has a beautiful cobalt blue tongue. This little friend from Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania. It is generally found in forests, fields, and even in semi-desert habitats.
What’s known about the blue tongue skink?
There are many species of blue tongue lizards, under the scientific name of Tiliqua. They are native to Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania. They are found in wooded areas, on riverbanks, and in semi-desert areas. All the lizards have a wide, triangular head, with robust bodies and very short, small but very strong legs. They are characterized by a deep blue tongue inside a well-pink mouth. They are quite docile and easy to handle and tame.
Types of blue tongue skinks
Indonesian Blue Tongue Skink Subspecies
Australian Blue Tongue Skink Subspecies
What does the blue-tongue skink look like?
Its body is elongated and robust, reminiscent more of a snake than a lizard, has short but very strong legs and its base color is beige with orange and black stripes on the back, although due to its expansion as a pet is being obtained in captivity many other phases, as with the ball pythons or crested geckos. They are large reptiles, reaching up to 22 inches in the adult state and they have a long life. Although their exact life span will depend on their species, and their care, it is generally 20 to 25 years in captivity.
How does a male differ from a female?
The male has a wider and larger head than the female, as well as a more slender body build. The base of the tail in males is thicker than in females. As a rule, it is not easy to determine the sex in this genus, a high percentage can be sexed only in adult specimens.
I’m going to the store to get a cage, what should I look for?
The terrariums intended for these hounds must be large enough to allow the animal to feel comfortable inside and to roam and turn around without difficulty, so the ideal measurements for an adult specimen would be 48Lx24Dx18H inches or 48L18Dx18H inches.
An adult blue tongue skink requires a minimum of 8 square feet of floor space. This is accomplished by building or purchasing a terrarium from 48″x24 ″x18 or 48″x18 ″x18. Skinks are active and love to explore. In this case, the saying is true: The bigger the better. Even baby blue-tongue skinks can be housed in an adult-sized enclosure as long as they have plenty of places to hide to help them feel safe.
Front-opening enclosures are considered the best for housing reptiles, and skinks are no exception. Skinks are strong and ingenious, so whether you are using a front or top opening cage, it must be well secured to prevent escape.
The cages of the blue tongue skins are usually made of wood, glass, or melamine.
Wood: Holds heat well, but is prone to stains and tends to mildew in high humidity conditions. Avoid pine and cedar.
Glass: Attractive and easy to clean. But it is heavy and does not retain heat well.
PVC: Holds heat and moisture well, is lightweight and easy to clean
The most effective way to illuminate your skink is with heat lamps. This way you can maintain the right temperature gradient while simulating daylight. In an average 48″ x 24″ x 24″ enclosure, only 2 lamps would be needed. None at the cold end, a UVB fluorescent lamp in the center, and a domed heat lamp above the heating point. Since bluetongue skinks are daytime, they don’t need any lighting at night. Some people prefer red or black bulbs to provide nighttime heat, but it is healthier for skinks to experience a drop in temperature at night.
Skinks can live without an external source of UV light. So technically it’s not necessary for their survival. However, studies and veterinarians agree that dietary vitamin D3 and synthesized D3 (from UVB) are metabolized differently. Reptiles exposed to appropriate amounts of UVB have higher levels of vitamin D in their blood compared to those that are only supplemented. This improves the chances of not developing MBD.
Because blue tongue skinks are cold-blooded, they depend on their environment to provide the heat needed to function. The best way to achieve this is to provide a temperature gradient so that the skin can self-regulate according to its needs. Use a temperature gun such as the Etekcity Lasergrip 774 to get instant and accurate information about your skin’s environment.
The hot side, just below the basking area should reach 100-105°F (37-40°C). The temperature in the cold area should be around 70 to 80°F (21°-27°C) during the day. At night with lights off, it should not go below 65°F (18°C).
Use high wattage mercury vapor bulbs in a dome heat lamp. Remember to always check that these have ceramic sockets, resistant to high temperatures as a safety measure.
Reptiles are capable of seeing ultraviolet light. This is how they locate hot areas. That is why we recommend the use of specific heat bulbs for reptiles from Zoo Med, Mega-Ray, or Aiicioo. For an average terrarium of 48″ x 24″ x 24″, 150 watts should be sufficient to reach the required temperatures. If you find that it gets too hot, raise the lamp to the optimum temperature. Do not use a dimmer on the lamp to reduce the heat, this will reduce its life span significantly.
I have the cage, how do I decorate it?
These terrariums are usually decorated to give them a rather desert-like appearance, and it is necessary to place several shelters where the animal can hide, placing them both in the cold area and the warmest part of the terrarium. We can even make them ourselves by grouping together elements such as branches, pieces of cork, or some rocks, provided the finish is safe for the animal. Plants are not usually used in terrariums for stepping on them because they can be crushed when walking on them or they can also be eaten. Also, we should place a container with water where the animal can drink and which serves to hydrate it at the time of molting.
As for the substrate, we can choose from various options such as coconut fiber, peat, or shavings for reptiles. In any case, we should use a thick layer of at least 4-inch, since sometimes the blue tongue skink like to bury themselves partially.
We should choose our substrate well, as it is adapted to habitats where there is a certain level of humidity, which should not be more than 50%. Therefore, it is advisable to use peat or coconut fiber, which maintains humidity. Remember that it is good that the terrarium is well ventilated, otherwise, the humidity will accumulate and it will be a breeding ground for bacteria that will end up making our little animal sick.
What do you feed the blue tongue skink?
This species of skink is omnivorous, and in its natural environment, it feeds on both vegetables and fruit that it can find and on small animals, whether they are insects, snails, or small rodents. By keeping them in captivity we must provide them with a very varied diet to achieve complete nutrition. It is recommended that their diet be divided into 60% of plant foods and 40% of animal foods. As for vegetables, we can offer them vegetables such as tomatoes, pumpkin, corn, chicory, lamb’s lettuce, rocket, etc… And as for fruit, which they usually prefer to vegetables, we can give them strawberries, kiwis, peaches, bananas, apricots, and other juicy and non-citrus fruits.
About the percentage of animal origin, we can offer you a great variety of food, from snails and larvae, such as zophobas, to insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, and cockroaches. They also accept pinkies and even dog and cat food with high protein content. We can get our skink to enjoy a balanced diet easily as most foods are available in supermarkets and pet shops.
If my blue tongue skink is sick, which one can he have?
Blue-tongued skink reptiles are generally very easy to maintain in the sense that they usually do not suffer from many diseases and therefore require very little attention. However, the lack of a natural habitat that includes adequate temperature, exposure to sunlight, and a good diet consisting of all essential vitamins, minerals, calcium, etc., can lead to several diseases. Here are some of the most common diseases found in most bluetongue lizards:
Respiratory infections: Usually caused by a lack of cleanliness and a general viral infection, this disease is not very serious and if taken properly at home, will heal on its own in less than a week or so.
Metabolic skin disease: A lack of certain minerals in the diet can lead to permanent deformities in your reptile due to this disease. MBD is like the condition of Osteoporosis in humans and will take at least one month to reduce it.
Mites: They are most commonly found in lizards trapped in the wild, but can also occur in home-bred lizards if they are kept too dirty. A dirty enclosure or cage can also be considered a major cause of mites in most lizards.
Mouth rot: This is a very painful disease that causes swelling of the mouth and redness of the gums. This disease reduces your lizard’s overall appetite and can result in serious health deterioration if not treated properly.
I want my skinks to breed, what do I have to do?
The most complicated part of this species is finding a partner who accepts himself and they are the ones who decide whether to establish a relationship or not. This factor is what makes breeding difficult. If a couple is not compatible there can be fights. Both males and females fight with each other so unless you have an established partner it is better to have them individually.
They reach sexual maturity between two and three years. Some authors claim that they are monogamous or at least seasonal monogamous animals. To encourage reproduction they must go through a period of lethargy in which we will reduce the temperature little by little until they reach about 50-60ºF (no less than 50ºF in addition to reducing the photoperiod and suspending feeding (when they are at lethargy temperature they should not have food in their stomachs, that is why two weeks before starting they should not eat). In this state, we will keep them about 2-3 months. Afterward, we will restore the usual parameters slowly and begin to feed them again abundantly. Now is when they will mate.
No. of eggs per clutch: They are ovoviviparous and can give birth to between 5 and 25 offspring
Gestation lasts about 3 months, during which time the female will feed a lot and sunbathe abundantly.
Once they are born, the adults do not show aggression towards the young and can remain with her until sexual maturity. However, they can also separate from the parents (and even keep them individually). They will be fed about 3 or 4 times a week the same as the adults.