Care of Blue Tongued Skinks

Housing Your Blue Tongued Skink

The size of the housing your skink requires depends on it’s size. A hatchling would need an area about 24 by 12 inches, while adults need 36 by 18 inches, or between 40 and 55 gallons. This can support up to three animals, but you shouldn’t house two males together as they will probably fight. Skinks are ground dwellers, so you don’t need to provide any branches for climbing, but you should include a couple of sturdy hiding place. Hides could be decorative piles of rocks, bark tubes, PVC pipes or cardboard boxes. Whatever you use, ensure they are firmly in place, and not so flimsy that they might collapse on top of your pet.

You can choose from a variety of substrates for your lizard’s home, including sand, bark chippings, sawdust, aspen shavings, cypress mulch, carpet or newspaper. Make sure your animal does not ingest any wood-based substrate, and don’t use cedar or pine shavings as substrate.

Although individual species may vary, as a general guide keep your lizards at between 75°F and 85°F with a drop of between 5°F and 10°F at night. Localized heating using a heat mat covering half the floor area should be fine. Don’t use heated rocks, as these can cause burns. You’ll also need a basking area, where temperatures reach 90°F, so have a basking light on the side of the tank. Blue tongue skinks need a full-spectrum fluorescent bulb to produce the vitamins in their skin and bring out their colors. UVB lighting is needed for up to 12 hours a day, and you can provide this with a plug-in timer device.

Keep humidity levels comfortable by spraying the vivarium lightly twice a week, but don’t overdo it. If an enclosure is too humid, scale rot and blister disease can result, as can respiratory infections. Try having some moist substrate as well, such as moss, especially when it’s skin shedding time. And always keep a shallow, sturdy water bowl in the enclosure for drinking and soaking. Since skinks often use their water bowls as toilets, you will probably need to clean it every few days.

Feeding Your Blue Tongued Skink

Skinks are omnivorous so nutrition should be varied. However, all skinks should be given calcium and Vitamin D supplements and food should be cut into pieces no greater than a third of the size of the animal’s head. An ideal diet should contain about 40% meat to 60% vegetables. For the meat element, good quality canned dog food works well, but try and supplement with other meaty items, such as superworms, or, for adults, baby (pinkie) mice. Pinkies should be pre-killed, frozen and thoroughly thawed. Blue tongues also love snails and crickets.

Vegetables could include beans, squash, carrots, parsnips and leafy greens, but not iceberg lettuce. You could shred or puree these and add them to the meat. As for fruits, strawberries, bananas, grapes, nectarines and melon should all go down well.

Health of Blue Tongued Skinks

Whilst these skinks tend to be very healthy animals, you should always keep an eye on their general health and behavior and seek help from a veterinarian specializing in exotic reptiles if in any doubt about your pet’s health. Your pet is healthy if it is active and alert, with good skin and clear eyes, nose and vent. The body and tail should look rounded and full, and always make sure your reptile is eating regularly. Look out for weight loss, mucus in the mouth or nose, any swellings, sores or skin abrasions and labored breathing, as well as abnormal feces or paralysis of the tail or limbs. If you suspect your lizard is ill, observe strict hygiene to reduce the spread of infection, and see your veterinarian to identify the problem.

If your lizard’s diet is deficient of calcium, or the diet’s calcium/phosphorus is out of balance, he may develop Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). Many fruits are rich in phosphorus, so keep your skink’s diet balanced. This disease is usually entirely preventable by using calcium supplements correctly.

Blue Tongued Skinks’ nails grow quickly, and can cause problems, so they need to be clipped regularly. You can use regular nail clippers but be sure not to cut them too short or they will bleed. Ideally someone else can help you do this so that someone can hold the legs while the other does the clipping.

Blue Tongued Skinks have the unusual ability of being able to "drop" their tails if they feel threatened or their tails are pulled. A dropped tail should grow back at the lizard’s next molt, but it will be smaller than the original tail.