Blue Tongued Skink Care (Tiliqua spp.)

Deanne Strat, DVM
​Photos and edited by Susan Horton, DVM

Common Species
Pygmy blue tongue skink (T. adelaidensis)
Indonesian blue tongue skink (T. gigas gigas)- gray or gray brown with irregular narrow bands of dark brown across the back
Central blue tongue skink (T. multifasciata)
Blotched blue tongue skink (T. nigrolutea)- black with yellowish, irregularly spotted and striped pattern
Western blue tongue skink (T. occipitalis)- compact with short tail ; reddish brown with light crossbanding
Shingleback blue tongue skink (T. rugosa)
Eastern blue tongue skink (T. scincoides scinoides)
Northern blue tongue skink (T. scincoides intermedia)
Tanimbar blue tongue skink (T. scincoides chimaerea)

Natural History
Most often found in Australia , Tasmania , Papua New Guinea , Indonesia . They are terrestrial and depending on subspecies they may be found in open woodlands, margins of forests and fields or semi-deserts.

Special Characteristics
They are a stocky reptile with small legs and delicate toes. They have broad, blunt triangular heads with a blue tongue. They are ovoviviparous, which means they produce live young.

Longevity
Up to 30 years in captivity

Size
12-24 inches; 280-510 grams

Behavior
Diurnal, in the wild they spend their day foraging and basking. They are docile and are easy to handle in captivity. If threatened they will puff up and hiss loudly.

Handling
Wash your hands before and after handling. Be sure to support their long body when picking them up so they don’t get nervous.  Do not pick them up by their tail as they can drop their tail, though it can regrow.

Captive Cage Requirements

Lighting
Ultraviolet B is required to maintain healthy skinks.   The best source of UVB is the sun, but this is difficult to provide in captivity since glass filters out UVB light. Instead, a special fluorescent light bulb can be purchased from a reptile shop.  This bulb must be placed no more than 12 inches from the basking site (with no glass or plastic between), and should be on a timer to provide about 14 hours of daylight and 10 hours of darkness. It must be replaced every 6-12 months, because even thought the visible light is emitted, the UVB fades.  Light bulbs with a screw–in attachment end (even those sold as “full spectrum” bulbs) provide heat, but not UVB.

Temperature
The daytime temperature of the tank should be between 75-85° F with a basking spot of 90-105° F.  A heat lamp should be placed over one end of the tank, providing a temperature gradient with one side of the tank warmer than the other.  Select the wattage of the bulb to provide the proper temperature within the tank. Under tank heaters are useful to gently raise the overall temperature of the tank, but should be used with a thermostat or rheostat to accommodate changing ambient temperatures.  Also be cautious as skinks like to burrow and so there is increased risk of thermal burns if there is no barrier between the glass and heating pad. At night the temperature should drop to 70-75° F.  When room temperatures are below 68° F at night, use an under tank heater or a red (infrared) bulb.  Obviously, at least two thermometers must be in use to monitor these temperatures, and care must be taken to prevent burns to the lizard.  Heating elements can be dangerous if not used properly, and a smoke alarm is recommended.

Humidity
Good ventilation is essential, and a hide box with slightly damp substrate (sphagnum moss, loosely piled damp towel) is good for promoting healthy skin shedding.  Low humidity will cause improper shedding (dysecdysis), which can cause toe damage.

Water
Provide a water dish that is large enough for the whole skink to soak its body.  Lizards often defecate in their water, so it must be replaced daily and the dish disinfected at least once a week.

Enclosure
Adults require at least a 40-55 gal tank, but the longer and wider the better. Substrate can be reptile carpet or towels but they like to burrow so soft woods such as aspen (no pine or cedar) bedding, cypress mulch or recycled newspaper products (Yesterdays Newstm or Carefresh tm) can be used. Be sure that it is not an abrasive substrate for burrowing as it can cause irritation to the skin.
They enjoy exploration, so provide enrichment by offering low braches and logs for them to climb. They also prefer snug hiding areas so be sure to include a half-log or rock cave.

They can be placed outdoors in warmer weather as long as they have access to sunlight, shade and dry areas. They can and will dig so the enclosure should include a fence 50cm below ground.

Feeding
Blue tongue skinks are omnivorous. Their diet should consist of 60% plant material and 40% animal matter. Examples of plant matter include mixed vegetables (i.e. beans, squash, carrots, parsnips), thinly sliced greens (i.e. collards, dandelion, escarole). Berries and fruits (blueberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, pears, banana) should also be provided.

Hatchlings can be started on mealworms, small crickets and pinkie mice. As they grow increase the size of the prey to earth worms, fuzzies and snails. Juveniles are generally fed daily to every other day and adults can be fed once to twice weekly.

Supplements
Food should be dusted with a calcium supplement, without phosphorus. A weekly supplement with a multi-vitamin should be used monthly.

Common illnesses
Parasites, dysecdysis (especially toes), respiratory infections, thiamin deficiency (frozen diet), Metabolic Bone Disease

Sources
Kaplan, Melissa. Herp care Collection, Blue Tongue Skinks. 2009.
Exotics DVM, Vol 8 Issue 6. 2007.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (502) 241-4117.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  OPENING HOURS

Sunday - Saturday

8:00 a.m. - Midnight

OUR VALUES

We believe in nurturing the human-animal bond and creating a harmonious relationship between people and animals. You can expect to be greeted by a courteous receptionist, clean exam rooms, friendly doctors, and caring technicians. We appreciate the role we get to play in your pet’s health care.
The Cat Friendly Practice® program is leading the movement to make veterinary care less stressful for cats and their caregivers.
Accreditation by AAHA means that an animal hospital has been evaluated on approximately 900 standards of veterinary excellence.
Fear Free provides unparalleled education on emotional wellbeing, enrichment, and the reduction of fear, anxiety, and stress in pets.

Make An Appointment

Please click the link to complete the request an appointment form. Please also note that availability will vary depending on your request. Your appointment will be confirmed by phone by a member of our staff. Thank you!

BOOK AN APPOINTMENT

Contact Us:

PAY YOUR BILL ONLINE

At Vision VetCare, LLC we are just as passionate about our team as we are about pets. As a Vision VetCare, LLC employee, you will have a wealth of resources – from competitive compensation to generous benefits, as well as the flexibility to maintain a healthy work/life balance. With a generous combination of benefits like flexible/part-time schedules and paid time off, we empower our team members to get the most out of their career. Combine all of this with our team-oriented culture and the opportunity to work with some amazing animals and people and you will quickly discover why Vision VetCare, LLC is a great career choice.

APPLY NOW!

    Proudly Supporting: