Pet Skinks

 

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In response to many requests for information concerning the captive care of this popular pet lizard RainForest Adventures is providing the following suggested guidelines for the captive care and breeding of the pet Blue Tongue Skink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this article we will address the basic needs and requirements to successfully keep and breed  pet Blue Tongue Skinks. The primary areas that will address here are:

 

Choosing Your New Blue Tongue Skink

Today virtually all Blue Tongue Skinks available in pet shops, online, and else where were born and bred in captivity.  In many cases they are literally dozens of generations in captivity, some could begin to argue that this little lizard is becoming domesticated!

There is an immense amount of interest in breeding this lizard by both professionals and amateurs alike.  Many unique and highly variable color patterns (or morphs as they are known) have emerged. 

There are several species of Blue Tongue Skinks available, the seller should be able to identify the species or sub-species for you.   

Ideally you should try to obtain a very young Blue Tongue Skink, possibly a newborn, if one is  available.  While older animals are sometimes available you may have a difficult time determining age, previous diet as well as other unknown factors.   Blue Tongue Skinks live on average about 10-14 years in captivity, so purchasing an adult greatly increases the chances that your skink is no "spring chicken"

One question that may arise in your early purchasing process is the question of a boy or a girl?? Males and females can be difficult to sex at a young age.  An expert can generally invert, or expose, the hemipenes of a young male.  While this may not always be possible it can be accomplished a good percentage of the time.  Older animals can generally be sexed by viewing the head and body width.  Male skinks tend to be much broader in the head than the females.  Females tend to be much heavier in the mid section than the males do. 

 

 

Blue Tongue Skink Housing

Temperature and UV Lighting

Blue tongue skinks love heat and require temperatures under the heat light to range from 90-95 degrees and night time temperatures can range from 75-80 degrees.  Proper temperature allows the blue tongue skink to properly digest food and the immune system to function normally.  Blue tongue skinks require 10-14 hours a day of UVB light.

 This light enables the skink to produce vitamin D3.  The vitamin D produced by UVB metabolizes the calcium in the lizards’ diet.  In general it’s what makes a blue tongue skinks bones hard and without it they usually die.  This process of inadequate UVB and calcium is called Metabolic Bone Disease.  Also it is very important to change your UVB light every 6-8 months, after this time the light stops producing adequate UVB.  If you’re not sure if your UV light is still producing UVB, bring it in and we’ll be happy to test the light for you.




Baby blue tongue skinks can be kept in a 29 gallon cage but they grow quickly and will soon need larger housing.  Adult skinks should be kept in a cage that is at least 36” x 18”.  You should also provide some type of hiding place to help your skink feel more secure.

The terrarium should be cleaned as necessary. Any fecal matter or left over food should be cleaned out several times a week. The bedding should be completely changed once a month and fresh clean water should be provided at all times.  The inside of the terrarium can be cleaned out with an appropriate reptile cage cleaner, we recommend Natural Chemistry’s Healthy Habitat.  Blue tongue skinks can be handled on a daily basis and usually tame down quite well.  Always wash your hands before and after handling them.

 

Bedding

 Our recommendation for bedding is bark or some type of mulch. This type of substrate holds moisture very well, allowing a higher humidity.  Cages that are too dry can cause dehydration and shedding problems.  When your lizard is shedding we recommend that you mist the cage with water once a day to increase humidity.  Dry shed is the result of low humidity and dry skin can cause the loss of toes if it is not removed.  The bedding should be deep enough to allow your skink to dig and bury itself.


   

Blue Tongue Skink Diet

 Blue tongue skinks are omnivorous feeding on mice, rats, snails, hard-boiled eggs, crickets, super worms, night crawlers, beef heart, fruits and vegetables.  Ideal fruits and vegetables are: apples, bananas, strawberries, figs, peaches, mango, papaya, cantaloupe, grapes, blackberries, blueberries, collard greens, mustard greens, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, hibiscus leaves and flowers, green onions, spinach, green beans, zucchini, and frozen mixed vegetables. A mixed diet of these food items, four to five times per week, is ideal and will ensure proper growth and health.

  Blue tongue skinks also require a calcium and vitamin supplement. This supplement works with the UVB light allowing the lizard to receive the proper amounts of calcium and vitamins. This should be used every day as babies and reduced to 1-2 times a week as adults.  Calcium is sold in a powder form and is sprinkled on the crickets, fruits, and vegetables that you feed your skink.  When you feed your skink rodents no supplementation is needed.  You should apply a very light coating to the food items, being careful not to waste any excess powder.

 

Blue Tongue Skink Breeding  & Reproduction