Blue-tongued skinks are large lizards, native to Australia. They are quite friendly, and make good pets for children, but potential owners need to realize that they grow to be relatively large compared to other lizards. They grow up to 20 inches long, and they live to be 10 or even 20 years old with proper care. In general, blue-tongued skinks are low maintenance pets, and easy to care for, so they’re a good option for folks who are interested in owning a lizard that will become a fun and interesting pet. They get their name from having a wide, blue tongue, and the tongue becomes visible when they feel threatened and hiss.
Behavior and Temperament
Blue-tongued skinks are normally quite docile in nature. Once an owner brings them home and gets their tank set up, they don’t take much time to settle down and become acclimated to captivity. With their long lifespan, skinks will grow into an approachable, passive pet.
Because of their size, blue-tongued skinks need a large space, such as a 40 or 50 gallon tank. Pet owners will need to have a secure lid on the tank. Bedding such as wood shavings, cypress mulch or newspaper will work fine for the skink. Blue-tongued skinks are ground dwellers, so there is no need for trees or plants for climbing or jumping. They do need to have some hiding spots, since it’s in their nature to burrow and/or go into hiding. Wood, rocks, PVC pipes or cork bark can be used for the blue-tongued skink hiding areas, just be certain they’re secured properly in the reptile’s living area, so there’s no danger of them falling onto the lizard.
Items Needed to Set Up a Blue-Tongued Skink’s Home
Artificial logs, tree limbs, and greenery
Tweezers for Feeding
Providing some humidity for the skink in its tank is critical. This can either be achieved by misting, or by providing a hiding spot with humidity, such as a plastic box with moss to hold moisture. This is helpful with the skin shedding process.
Three important tips for maintaining the correct humidity for a blue-tongued skink include providing the pet with:
The correct substrate
A large water dish
A humidifier or fogger
Blue-tongued skinks need warm temperatures, to replicate their native land, Australia. An under-tank heater kept between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit and a ‘basking light’ for the lizard to sun itself, are good options. Night temperatures can get as low as 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but going below this temperature is not advisable because they can become sick when exposed to anything below 70 degrees.
A large, shallow water bowl will be necessary because blue-tongued skinks like to soak in their water. Frequent cleaning of the water bowl is required because the skinks will quickly dirty their water dish.
Being a true omnivore, the blue-tongued skink’s diet should consist of both plant and animal origins. Providing variety ensures the blue-tongued skink gets the nutrition it needs in its diet. Adding a supplement of calcium and vitamin D is advised to minimize the chances of metabolic bone disease, which is one of the health issues seen frequently among skinks and other reptiles. This illness is brought on when the reptile’s phosphorous-to-calcium ratio is out of balance due to poor diet and/or poor ultraviolet lighting. If the skink develops symptoms such as tiredness, weakness, or broken bones, it’s a good indication of metabolic bone disease.
Skink owners are advised to feed their pets about 60% vegetables and fruits and 40% meats. This balance will help maintain a healthy pet. If a blue-tongued skink gets too much protein in their diet, it can lead to digestive and other health issues.
Examples of vegetables and fruits to feed the blue-tongued skink include lettuce, spinach, leafy greens, carrots, squash, green beans, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, or bananas. As far as meat/protein sources, options include low-fat canned dog food, live insects, earthworms, silkworms, roaches, slugs, beetles, or fresh meat. Pet stores sell appropriate live insects that are gut-loaded and supplemented, which is a good way to ensure the skink stays healthy. Skinks enjoy pinkie mice as an occasional calcium-loaded treat, which can also be purchased at pet stores.
Adults (eight months and over): once or twice per week.
Juveniles (three to eight months): three times per week.
Babies (less than three months): feed every day.
Handling the Blue-Tongued Skink
Getting some bonding time with your pet skink will involve interaction by handling it. Here are some important tips to remember when interacting with a blue-tongued skink:
Be certain to support the whole body
Use gentle and slow movement at all times
Avoid any forceful interaction such as trying to control and/or hold it back from moving
Refrain from handling all together during skin shedding process
Forming a Bond with Blue-Tongued Skinks
These reptiles are especially good at forming a bond with their pet owners. Skinks become accustomed to human voices and can remember both the voice and the face of their owners. Taking time to interact with the blue-tongued skink helps with easily taming it. They enjoy being talked to, and some owners compare the skink’s eyes with human eyes, showing feelings and emotions. With this reptile’s long lifespan and personality traits, it is easy to see why blue-tongued skinks have become such a popular pet.