Do Blue-Tongued Skinks Make Good Pets?

Blue tongued skink (Tiliqua scincoides)

The blue-tongued skink is a large, nocturnal, kind, and easily tamed reptile. They are said to be wonderful pets for both kids and novices since they are low-maintenance and simple to care for. Australian natives known as skinks, they are named for their distinctive blue tongues. Despite their reputation as novice pets, they need a lot of room for their habitat and specialized substrates that meet their demands.

Species Overview

Common Name(s): Blue-tongued skink

Scientific Name: Tiliqua scincoides

Adult Size: Up to 20 inches long

Lifespan: Between 10 and 20 years

Can You Own a Pet Blue-Tongued Skink?

Legality

A blue-tongued skink may be kept as a pet without any problems, but they need specific licenses to be sold. In order to get a blue-tongued skink, you will probably need to go via a specialized breeder because the lizard is indigenous to Australia and some regions of Indonesia.

Blue-Tongued Skink Behavior and Temperament

Ground-dwelling blue-tongued skinks have flattened, elongated bodies that resemble snakes in certain ways. They are excellent first-time pets since they are docile, quiet, kind, and amenable to training. These peaceful pet lizards are native to Australia and have small legs, dull fangs, and distinctive blue tongues, which is how they acquired their name. Blue-tongued skinks are exclusively terrestrial animals in the wild.

Though they are not aggressive, skinks have powerful jaws and teeth, so a bite from one may be very painful. Despite being mostly peaceful, blue-tongued skinks have been known to bite, hiss, and display their tongues when threatened. Don't provoke or startle them, and keep young children away from skinks unless you have adult supervision.

Housing

A sizable container, such as a 40- to 55-gallon tank with a tight-fitting top, is needed for blue-tongued skinks. Provide a sizable, shallow water dish inside; skinks enjoy bathing in their water, but they also frequently urinate there, necessitating frequent cleaning.

Blue-tongued skinks are solely ground dwellers, thus they don't require branches for climbing. Instead, because they like to dig and hide, provide them a few of strong hiding places. It is possible to utilize cork bark, wood, boulders, PVC pipes, or other reptile hiding places.

Skinks are accustomed to receiving enough of sunshine, which benefits their metabolism, bone health, and other factors. Give your pet between 10 and 12 hours each day of full spectrum UVA/UVB light to ensure they receive the nutrients they require. The distance that this bulb should be kept from your skink will be specified in the bulb's instructions, but normally it is between 10 and 12 inches. Additionally, make sure that nothing, other a metal mesh screen if required, is obstructing the light from getting to your skink.

Specific Substrate Needs

The substrate (bedding) in the habitat of your blue-tongued skink might be made out of newspaper, cypress mulch, or even aspen wood shavings. Whatever you decide, make sure your skink isn't eating it so that it doesn't cause an intestinal obstruction in your lizard. Any boulders or pieces of wood should be firmly set in place to prevent them from falling on the lizard.

Specific Humidity and Heating Needs

Similar to and frill-necked lizards, blue-tongued skinks are native to Australia; hence, temperatures should be kept warm, with a thermal gradient of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and a basking place of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It works best to combine under-tank heating with a basking light on one side of the tank.

By taking temperature readings throughout the tank, not just one, you can ensure the proper temperature gradient is delivered. Even while nighttime lows can dip to roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures below that point can harm your skink and increase its susceptibility to illness. Your skink's skin will shed more easily if you provide it with a humidity conceal, such as a plastic storage container filled with moistening moss or cypress mulch.

What Do Blue-Tongued Skinks Eat & Drink?

Since skinks are real omnivores, their diet should match this inclination. A blue-tongued skink should have a varied diet, and a calcium/vitamin D supplement should be frequently given to their food to help avoid metabolic bone disease. Additionally, you should aim for a balanced diet that contains around 60% fruits and vegetables and 40% meat. Utilize the following foods, if you please:

  • Green beans 
  • Summer or winter squash
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Melons
  • Blueberries
  • Low-fat canned dog food
  • Superworms
  • Mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Pinkie mice

You may periodically give your skink some canned dog food or a pinkie mouse. Avoid anything that isn't a fruit, vegetable, or bug, otherwise. For lizards' kidneys and digestive systems, too much protein is bad. Younger skinks can be fed six days in a row with a seventh day of fasting. Depending on their size and appetite, adult skinks can be fed every other day or even every other day.

Common Health Problems

Blue-tongued skinks are generally fairly easy to maintain and are not known to have any health problems. Skinks (and other reptiles) kept in captivity are most frequently afflicted with metabolic bone disease. This ailment, which is often brought on by inadequate UV illumination and occasionally by a bad diet, happens when the animal's phosphorous-to-calcium ratio is out of balance. Weakened or broken bones, tremors, tiredness, and general weakness are symptoms. Skinks, like other lizards, are susceptible to vitamin A insufficiency; a supplement can help keep this from getting worse.

Mouth rot, which is characterized by a foamy or cheesy fluid that emerges from the mouth, teeth, and lips, is another prevalent condition that affects blue-tongued skinks and other lizards. It should be handled by a specialist since it might be brought on by stress or an eating injury. Make sure there is a in your region who specializes in unusual pets like lizards before you buy a blue-tongued skink.

Grooming

Shedding

All reptiles, including lizards, eventually shed their skin. Age determines how frequently blue-tongued skinks shed; juvenile skinks under a year will do so every two to three weeks, but adults will only do it once every two to three months.

A skink's inability to shed completely or its uneven shedding patterns might indicate an underlying medical condition called dysecdysis. Because skinks shed in patches rather than all at once like snakes do, it might be more difficult to spot when they're not fully shed. Increase the humidity in your skink's enclosure if you detect any problems, especially when they are about to shed. If not, you may need to take your skink to an exotics veterinarian who can help it shed correctly and cure the underlying problem.

Purchasing Your Blue-Tongued Skink

Try to get your skink from a reliable breeder who will be able to provide you with the animal's medical history. Clear eyes and skin free of pimples or dry spots are prerequisites for your lizard (which may indicate a skin condition). You can determine if an animal has a healthy appetite by watching it feed before making a purchase. Avoid any lizards who are hobbling, have obvious abnormalities, or have partial sheds since they are likely suffering from health problems.

Similar Pets to the Blue-Tongued Skink

Other to consider if you're looking for a lizard that's simple to maintain but aren't convinced about the blue-tongued skink include:

Otherwise, you can check out these other profiles of reptile and amphibian breeds.

FAQ
  • Are blue-tongued skinks dangerous as pets?

    No. Though they can bite if they feel threatened or attacked, blue-tongued skinks are considered docile reptiles and are not dangerous to keep as pets.

  • Why do blue-tongued skinks have blue tongues?

    It's thought by experts that blue-tongued skinks developed their signature colorful tongue as a way to intimidate predators in the wild.

  • How long do blue-tongued skinks live as pets?

    Blue-tongued skinks are known to live longer in captivity than in the wild, reaching 20 years—but sometimes closer to 30 years—with the proper care and nutrition.

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