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Keeping Blue Tongued Skinks as Pets

Basic Care of Blue Tongued Skinks

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blue tongued skink

Blue Tongued Skink

Lianne McLeod
Introduction
  • Several species of blue tongued skinks, but the most commonly found in the pet trade are subspecies of Tiliqua scincoides, especially Tiliqua scincoides scincoides, the common or eastern blue tongued skink (information on this page refers primarily to this species).
  • Fairly large at mature size of around 20 inches (snout to vent length of 12 inches).
  • Life span of 10-20 years.
  • Ground dwellers with a flattened, elongated body (somewhat resembles a snake in appearance).
  • Quite docile and gentle, and quite easily tamed and handled.

Care

  • Need a large enclosure such as a 40-55 gallon tank.
  • Being ground dwellers they don't need branches for climbing, but still need a secure lid.
  • Substrate: aspen wood shavings, cypress mulch, or even newspaper. Make sure they are not ingesting wood substrates.
  • Temperature: gradient from 75-85 F (24-29 C) with a basking spot of 95 F (35 C). A combination of undertank heating and a basking light on one side of the tank works well. Make sure the appropriate temperature gradient is provided by measuring temperatures in various spots around the tank. Night temperature can drop to about 70 F (21 C).
  • Light: in addition to the incandescent basking light, provide a full spectrum UVA/UVB light for 10-12 hours per day.
  • Water: provide a large shallow sturdy water dish. Skinks like to bathe in their water but often defecate there so frequent cleaning is required for the water dish.
  • Hides: a couple of sturdy hiding spots should be provided for skinks, which like to burrow and hide. Cork bark, wood, rocks, PVC pipes, or other hides can be used. Make sure wood pieces or rocks are firmly places so they will not fall on the lizard. A humidity hide (e.g. a plastic storage box with moss or cypress mulch to holds moisture) will help with sheds.

Feeding

  • Skinks are true omnivores, which should be reflected in their diet.
  • Variety is the key to providing a nutritious diet, and a calcium/vitamin D supplement should be added to the food.
  • Melissa Kaplan recommends a balance of about 60% vegetable/fruits and 40% meat items.
  • Vegetables/fruits: beans, summer or winter squash, carrots, parsnips, leafy greens. Can be shredded or pureed and added to meat portion of diet. Fruits can include strawberries, bananas, melon, etc.
  • Meats: low fat canned dog food is a good staple in the diet. This should be supplemented with other items such as superworms and pinkie mice (larger for adults).
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