Common Blue-Tongued Skink

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Species group:

Other common names: Eastern Blue-Tongued Skink (T. s. scincoides); Northern Blue-Tongued Skink (T. s. intermedia); Tanimbar Island Blue Tongued Skink (T. scincoides chimaerea)

Scientific name: Tiliqua scincoides

The basics:
The Common Blue-Tongued Skink has grown immensely in popularity in recent years, and with good reason. Suitable for novices yet interesting enough for advanced hobbyists, it makes a hardy, responsive pet that is impressive in appearance and adjusts well to gentle handling.

Three subspecies of the Common Blue-Tongued Skink dwell in northern and eastern Australia and Indonesia. T. scincoides scincoides inhabits eastern Australia, T. s. intermedia is found in northern Australia, and T. s. chimaeria is limited to the Indonesia’s Tanimbar and Baber Islands.

Australian populations inhabit relatively dry, open woodlands, thorn scrub, brushy grasslands and suburban parks and gardens. Indonesian animals inhabit similar but often slightly more humid habitats.

Appearance / health:
The 16 - 24 inch-long body is stout and somewhat flattened, and sports tiny legs. The smooth scales are colored in various shades of gray or brown, and dark bands circle the body and tail. During threat displays, the mouth is held open to reveal the startlingly blue tongue. Breeders have produced a number of color morphs and crosses between the various subspecies.

Well-cared-for Blue-Tongued Skinks are quite hardy, with captive longevities occasionally approaching 30 years. Respiratory diseases can take hold if your pet is kept in a damp terrarium, and intestinal blockages caused by ingested substrate are sometimes a concern. Dry sheds, indicated by old skin adhering to the toes, tail tip, and other areas, may occur if a soaking bowl or cave stocked with moist sphagnum is not available.

Tanimbar Blue-tongued Skink: (T. s. chimaerea)The scales of the Tanimbar appear to shine. Their color pattern has less contrast than the other subspecies. They have pale to white mouths and chins.

Behavior / temperament:
Once accustomed to their surroundings, most Blue-Tongues take handing in stride. Although they tend to threaten more than bite, their snail-crushing jaws are immensely powerful – careful handling is a must. The smooth texture of the scales and relative “stiffness” of the body can render Blue-Tongued Skinks difficult to control.

Youngsters can be reared in 15-20 gallon terrariums; a single adult requires a 55 gallon or larger tank. Aspen or cypress mulch may be used as a substrate. Captives sometimes suffer intestinal impactions from substrate swallowed with food. This can be avoided by feeding in large bowls, or by housing your lizards on newspaper or cage liners.

While many pets have been raised without UVB exposure, providing it is a safer option. Mercury vapor bulbs broadcast UVB over greater distances than florescent models, and provide beneficial UVA radiation and heat as well. Caves and cork bark serve well as retreats; one hide-away should be stocked with moist sphagnum moss.

A temperature gradient of 75-82 F and a basking temperature of 90-100 F, with a dip to 70-75 F at night, should be established. Large enclosures will allow your pet to thermo-regulate by moving from hot to cooler areas. This behavior is important to long-term health, and is usually not possible in small cages. Humidity should be kept at 25-45 %, and the substrate must remain dry. A water bowl large enough for soaking should be provided.

Males cannot be housed together; females will establish a dominance hierarchy, so groups must be monitored carefully.

The natural diet includes flowers, foliage, seeds, fruit, spiders, beetles, grasshoppers, and other invertebrates, with snails being a particular favorite. Smaller lizards and nestling rodents may be taken on occasion.

Salads comprised of greens and vegetables should make up 60-70% of the diet. Kale, bok choy, string beans, collard and mustard greens, squash, dandelion, carrots, tomatoes, squash, beets, and other seasonally available produce should be included. Do not feed spinach, as it binds calcium, rendering it unavailable to your pets. Figs, apples, banana, oranges, kiwi, papaya and other fruits should be fed in moderation, i.e. as approximately 10% of the diet.

Animal-based protein can be provided by canned monitor lizard diets, canned or live snails, locusts, butter worms, crickets, sow bugs, roaches, hornworms, and other commercially available species. Insects should themselves be provided with a nutritious diet for 1-3 days before being offered to your pets. Mealworms have been implicated in intestinal blockages, and should be avoided or used only when recently-molted (white in color. Powdered calcium and vitamin/mineral supplements should be used 1-2 times weekly for adult lizards, and on most meals provided to juveniles.

Females selected for breeding should be at least 2 years of age, males 1 year. The sexes can be difficult to distinguish. Males generally have a thicker tail base than females, but this is relative. Mature males may exhibit a bulge (indicating the hemipenes) at each side of the cloaca.

Breeders should be chilled to 60-65 F for 1-3 months during the fall (after a 2 week fast), at which time the day length should be reduced to 10 hours. A basking spot of 80 F can be provided for 2 hours daily, but many breeders dispense with this. Once temperatures return to normal, introductions must be made carefully, as either sex can attack and injure the other. Pairs should be watched during this time, and the female removed after mating occurs, or at day’s end. Mated females give birth to 6-25 youngsters after a gestation period of 90-150 days. The young should be removed from the female’s enclosure and reared separately or in compatible groups.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


great family pets, personable intelligent, brilliant starter reptile, big calm lizard


poor health, semi-large tank, health problems


brilliant teaching tools, evolutionary link, pretty good beginner, pickyfuzzy mice

Common Blue-Tongued Skink Health Tip

Common Blue-Tongued Skink

From Skinkerdoodles Feb 28 2017 7:10AM


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