Everything You Need to Know About Blue Tongue Skink Care

If you’re a reptile enthusiast or even a fan of reptiles in general then you’ve probably heard of the Blue-Tongued Skink. This is a reptile you’re going to want to learn about, and even if you know a little about them already, you’ll find this article helpful.

The Blue Tongued Skink

Today, we’ll be doing everything in our power to show you everything you need to know about the Blue-tongued Skink. If you’re curious about taking care of one or just want to learn more in general, you’ll definitely want to pay very close attention.

Blue Tongue Skink at Snake Hacks
Hello you!

The Blue-Tongued Skink is a small to medium-sized reptile that is an Australian native, in many cases, and as the name suggests has a very blue tongue. That blue tongue is exactly why they’re such a sought after species of lizard, but to be quite honest with you, that blue tongue is one of the coolest things you’ll ever lay eyes on.

Therefore, with all of that being said, today we’ll be breaking down this topic into some easy to read sections for you:

  • What is a Blue-Tongued Skink?
  • How to take care of a Blue-Tongued Skink
  • Their price and breeding
  • Morph breeds
  • Halmahera vs Merauke
  • A brief recap on everything we’ve gone over today

Now, we know there is a lot to discuss today, so we won’t waste any time. For most of this article, we’ll be going over traits within the northern Blue-Tongued Skink, so unless we say otherwise, it’s safe to assume that the Australian Blue-Tongued Skink is the breed we’re talking about. This is due to the popularity around that particular breed, and we’ll have more for you on eastern (Indonesian) breeds as well.

Let’s take a look at the Blue-Tongued Skink.

A blue tongue skink with a bearded dragon.
A blue tongue skink with a bearded dragon.

What is a Blue-Tongued Skink?

The Blue-Tongued Skink is a fairly large lizard that is native to the Australian region, but some species can be found in Indonesia as well. With that being said, not only do Australians love them as pets, but they can also help out in the garden. This is due to their behavior, diet, and temperament, which we’ll definitely be covering for you in just a moment. To keep things simple, all that you need to know at first glance is that Blue-Tongued Skinks are fairly large lizards that possess a blue tongue (hence the name).

The Blue-Tongued Skink ranges in size, but they tend to be about 20 or so inches long (some breeds can even reach up to 24 inches). While that might not seem big at first, have you ever seen a two-foot-long lizard? Well, if you haven’t, you’ll definitely be in for a surprise. Now, aside from their base length, their tongue is a whole different story. This is due to the fact that their tongues, all while being blue, are also a few inches long.

How long do they live?

The lifespan of these lizards will definitely vary, but if you’re looking for a friend that will be with you for a food chunk of your life, look no further. The Blue-Tongued Skink will actually live for over 10 years, and in some cases, these snakes can even make it to 20 years old. So if you take care of your Blue-Tongued Skink properly, you won’t have to worry about any sudden deaths unless their health declines.

What is their behavior like?

The first thing you’ll want to know about a reptile, well before you purchase one, is their temperament. This is important because you don’t want to end up on the wrong side of a nasty bite. Luckily, despite popular belief about most large lizards, these lizards are relatively docile creatures. This means that you won’t have to worry about all too much, but there are still some things that you should definitely know about.

While they won’t nibble on your arm for fun, if they do become provoked, they can definitely end up biting you. If you ever notice that your Blue-Tongued Skink is hissing at you with its blue tongue, well, chances are it’s in defense mode. Therefore, while these lizards may be docile for the most part, if they do become provoked they may end up biting. When they’re young they’ll be on the guard quite often, so you’ll always want to handle the younger ones with delicate care.

The Blue-Tongued Skink does not have the most powerful jaw, but it can still do some damage. There is no venom for you to worry about, but a bite can still cause quite a bit of pain. You might be impressed by the pain because by looking at their mouth, you’ll notice that their teeth are actually rather small.

Where do they live in the wild?

Before we dive right into the captivity portion of this article, it’s important to understand where these lizards come from and their origin. This is due to the fact that knowing their natural environment can help you customize your enclosure to mimic that, which will lead to a much happier lizard. While we mentioned that they come from Australia and Indonesia (depending on the subspecies), that’s really only scratching the surface.

Australia is a hot place, most of the time at least, so these lizards definitely love the heat. There is a lot more to it than just heat because these lizards prefer the ground. Sure, some species of lizard definitely love to climb all around different surfaces, but for the Blue-Tongued Skink, the ground is where they thrive. Now, with that being said, their love for the ground really makes them easy lizards to care for in comparison to some other species.

You may find this article interesting although the Blue-Tongued Skink isn’t one of them: 9 Pet Lizards That Stay Small and Can Live in a 10-Gallon Tank Their Entire Lives

A pet blue tongue skink stays close to the foliage.
A pet blue tongue skink stays close to the foliage.

Are they widely available?

The thing about these lizards is that it depends on the region you’ll be getting them from. Northern-based Blue-Tongued Skinks are available on a seasonal basis, with the peak times being right after the summer. Therefore, if you want to get your hands on a Blue-Tongued Skink, you might want to begin searching in the warmer months of the year if you want a northern breed.

The opposite is true of breeds that hail from the Indonesian area. Therefore, if you’re looking to obtain a Blue-Tongued Skink tomorrow, it might be a bit easier to get your hands on an Indonesian based subspecies. While that may be more accessible, that doesn’t mean they’re better, and as you read on you’ll find out exactly why.

The Blue-Tongued Skink makes a great reptile companion for reptile enthusiasts at every level. They live a long life, are easy to handle, and won’t cause you much harm. While there are some variations in regard to subspecies, we’ll have more on that for you in just a moment. Plus, you won’t have to wait around long, because they’re fairly accessible.

How to take care of a Blue-Tongued Skink

If you want to learn about how to take care of a Blue-Tongued Skink, well, this is definitely the place you want to be. Luckily, despite the fancy name, these lizards are actually very easy to take care of. Therefore, in this section, we’ll be showing you everything you need to know about caring for your very own Blue-Tongued Skink lizard.

Their enclosure

The first thing you need to consider when caring for any lizard is the type of enclosure that you’ll be setting up for them. This is important because this is where your lizard will be spending the majority of its life. It’s important that you know some of the basics, and we have you covered in every area.

To begin, you’ll be needing a tank that’s at least 36 inches in length, and at least one foot tall. Aside from length and height, it’s also a good idea to make sure the cage is at least 20 inches wide.

Remember how we said they don’t like to climb? Well, for the purpose of their enclosure, make sure they have plenty of ground to cover.

Now, once you have the tank, you’ll need to make sure your lizard feels like it’s safe and sound at home. For the substrate or bedding, you can start to get creative. With that being said, we’ll lay out some of the best tank customization ideas for you in the substrate department:

  • Aspen substrate
  • Paper-based substrate
  • Fire bark
  • Dry Cypress mulch will also work

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Aside from substrate, you’ll obviously want to add some life to the enclosure, and you should feel free to do so. You can place tree branches, leaves, and all types of designs, but make sure they’re not too high up. Blue-Tongued Skinks are not very versatile, which can lead to them falling.

The blue tongue skink makes a great pet lizard!
The blue tongue skink makes a great pet lizard!
Three terrarium lighting domes with full spectrum lighting.
Three terrarium lighting domes with full spectrum lighting.

Heating the tank

When it comes to keeping the tank at an optimal temperature for your lizard, the first thing you’ll need to know is that they’re a cold-blooded species. This means that they heat their blood with the sun, so if you’ll be caring for one, you’ll need to make sure that you emulate this process to the best of your ability. To do this, you’ll need heat lamps, and you’ll need to use two different temperature levels. Also, any light source that is UVB enhanced will definitely be appreciated by a Blue-Tongued Skink.

This might seem complicated, but we’ll make it seem really simple for you:

  • Keep most of the enclosure heated around 78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Designate an area of the enclosure to keep a bit hotter, so your lizard can bask, and keep that section close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Always be sure to keep the lights on during the day, but switch over to nighttime lamps after 8-12 hours (infrared works really well for this)
  • If you want to go the extra mile, you can also try placing a heating element underneath the enclosure, which will make it easier to turn the lamps off at night

Cleaning the tank

Lizards may seem like they don’t use the bathroom that much, or that they’re relatively clean, but that’s not true at all. You’ll definitely need to clean the tank, which will mean that you’ll need to replace the substrate at least once every week. This will make sure that there is little to no contamination, and will keep your lizard free of infections from their substrate. As for the other objects, make sure you remove them while you clean, and only use bleach mixes ranging in the 3% level. If you have the time, cleaning out the tank every few days will be a much better option.

Their diet

The Blue-Tongued Skink is a little different than regular skinks, and this is due to the fact that their diet is a little bit more carnivores than other species. While they’re still omnivores, these lizards definitely love eating their fair share of smaller prey. Therefore, when it comes to feeding your lizard, you’ll want to feed it foods such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Mealworms
  • Super worms
  • Cat and dog food will work (premium only)
  • Cooked turkey
  • Collard greens
  • Blueberries
  • Mangos
  • Snails

As you can see, the diet of these lizards is very simple, and when it comes to feeding them, you only need to feed them about once every two or three days. You can also utilize protein or vitamin supplements if it’s not growing the way it should be. Make sure that you create a good balance of protein so that your lizard can grow.

Hydration

Hydration is going to be important for any pet that you have, but when it comes to the Blue-Tongued Skink, the process is really simple. While you may not have to feed them all of the time, you’ll still need to make sure that they have plenty of fluids. Therefore, to be quite honest with you, it’s always a good idea to make sure they have a full water dish at all times.

You should also be very careful with the size of the water bowl because if it’s too deep, your lizard can end up drowning. Unfortunately, these lizards are not the best swimmers, so always make sure that they have the ability to escape if they need to.

Humidity

The last thing you’ll need to know about caring for a Blue-Tongued Skink is the level of humidity to keep their enclosure. This is due to the fact that most reptiles need humidity, and finding a balance between heat and humidity can be tedious. With that being said, for most northern Blue-Tongued Skinks, you’ll want to keep the humidity level to about 40-60%. This will ensure there is enough moisture for your little friend. If you’re having a hard time with the humidity, you can always give the lamps a rest for about 20-30 minutes.

Taking care of the Blue-Tongued Skink is not exactly difficult, and while they’re low maintenance lizards, you’ll still need to pay attention. Make sure the tank is clean, your lizard is fed and hydrated, and you’ll have a very happy lizard.

How much do they cost, and what does the breeding process look like?

Now that you know everything you need to know in order to take care of your own Blue-Tongued Skink, we can start to dive into the more technical aspects of this article. While the word technical may frighten you at first, you’ll soon discover that the process of breeding is really not all that complex. After all, the lizards do the hard work, right?

How much do they cost?

Before we get into breeding, you’ll need to know how much these lizards will cost. Plus, even if you just want one as a pet, you’ll still want to know the price. Now, with that being said, these lizards are not the cheapest lizards out there. This is obviously due to their blue tongues, but luckily they won’t cost you a fortune either.

Blue-Tongued Skinks will typically cost you about $150 for most basic breeds if you get them from when they’re born. Unfortunately, if you wait until they’ve matured, they can end up running you about $250. So if you’ll be picking up a Blue-Tongued Skink as a pet, you might want to make sure you seek out the babies.

While that’s the going rate for standard breeds, that’s not to say that’s the only price. While most of these lizards will cost you under $200, there are some breeds that can cost you well into the thousands. For example, the Centralians will run you about $1,500, and can even reach prices above $5,000. So when it comes to picking up a Blue-Tongued Skink, make sure you know what you’re looking at. If you’re up for it, or in this business, these prices are what make breeding so profitable.

This blue tongue skink enjoys a frolic through the grass in the daytime.
This blue tongue skink enjoys a frolic through the grass in the daytime.

How do they breed?

Breeding with reptiles may seem strange to us because it’s now how we do things, but certain conditions still need to be met nonetheless. The optimal breeding time for these lizards is going to be between December and April (Eastern lizards), and December and January (Northern lizards). Therefore, when it comes to breeding, make sure that you pair these lizards in the early winter months, this way there is no room for error.

You’ll obviously need a male and a female lizard, and while you may be in a rush for results, be sure to never put two males in the same tank together. Also, if the male and female fight, be sure to place them in separate tanks as well. Once the two snakes begin the breeding process, you’ll need to wait about 5 months for them to actually give birth. So from start to finish, you’ll need some degree of patience, because this is quite a lengthy process.

Breeding is fairly simple, but please keep in mind that some of these lizards may need time before they can breed again. While some females can breed once per year, some females might actually take a break for a year. Remember how we just spoke about patience? Well… this is why you need it. Luckily, other than the waiting, it’s not too difficult to mate these lizards.

When it comes to mating, you always need to make sure that both the male and female are properly fed. If you fail to feed them enough they might not mate at all, and if they do, the recovery period may take even longer.

Merauke or Halmahera… what’s the difference?

Now that you’re well versed in the basics, we can start to dive into the question of Merauke or Halmahera. These two Blue-Tongued Skinks are a bit different than one another, but the care is not all that different. This is due to the fact that they’re both the same species, and the main difference is a regional one. Remember how we kept mentioning northern and eastern breeds before? Well, that’s where this comes into play.

The Halmahera (eastern)

The Halmahera breed is native to Indonesia, which is a bit more humid than the mainland of Australia. Therefore, at first glance, that already tells us that the level of humidity is going to need some slight adjustments. With that being said, if you’ll be caring for a Halmahera breed, you’ll want to make sure that you keep the humidity levels around 70% at the least. You don’t need 100% humidity all of the time, which makes 80% humidity recommended safe level.

When it comes to lighting, fixture size, and substrate, the same rules really apply. Now, aside from the humidity and environment, you should also know that these lizards are a bit more aggressive than their Merauke counterparts. So if you’re concerned about a bite, or if you’ll be housing one around children, it might be a good idea to avoid the Halmahera breed of Blue-Tongued Skink.

The Merauke subspecies (northern)

The Merauke breed is the subspecies that we’ve covered throughout most of the article already, which means that you already know most of what you need to know about it. As the baseline, this is a breed that we compared the Halmahera subspecies to, so think of this lizard as the norm for this article. These lizards are commonly referred to as northern Blue-Tongued Skinks, and while they are maybe a little less available, they’re going to make a better pet overall.

Now, if we’re talking beginner-friendly, you’ll definitely want to consider the Merauke. This is due to the fact that they’re a little bit less aggressive, and when it comes to humidity levels, that 50% level is much easier to achieve and maintain. So to be quite honest with you, if you’re new to the world of lizard care, you might want to start with the Merauke. These lizards are also a bit more durable, so you won’t need to worry about illness as much either.

Both lizards are very similar, and when it comes to care it’s mostly the same thing, but the Merauke is a bit easier to take care of due to humidity levels.

Blue-Tongued Skink morph breeds

A morph breed sounds like something combined together with something else, right? Well, to put it simply, that’s what a morph is. In this case, morphs are not combinations of two species, but instead, this combination occurs at the genetic level. Therefore, a morph breed is just a genetically mutated breed. In the case of reptiles, these morph breeds are usually classified by color, so for today, that’s what we’ll be going over.

If that definition is confusing, just think about a morph breed as a different type of color variation. You have standard breeds and colors, and then you have a class of different colored breeds out there as well. Pretty simple right?

What’s the difference?

The main difference, as we mentioned before, is the color that these lizards will have. This has created a huge market for a huge variation in different colors, but that’s really only the main difference. So when it comes to taking care of a morph breed, the process is going to be the same deepening on whether or not they’re Merauke or Halmahera. So to give you the simple answer one more time, it really just comes down to the color of the lizard.

Breeding

Now we know that we went over breeding once already, but breeding morphs is a bit different. Yes, the process is going to be almost identical, but you need to pay attention to a few more details. This is due to the fact that dominant genes are easier to pass on than recessive genes. Therefore, before you start breeding morphs, you need to understand the genes that your morph breed has.

For example, if the color orange is a dominant trait, then if you mate that breed with a normal breed, the offspring will still share the orange color. On the other hand, if the orange color trait is recessive, then the offspring will not share that color.

So when it comes to breeding morphs, you need to know a bit about the morph you have. Luckily, most of the hard work has already been done, do a quick google search will show you which traits are dominant and recessive. You don’t need to be a scientist in order to breed morphs, but you should understand the genetic basics that we just went over for you.

Whether you’ll be breeding or caring for a morph breed, they make beautiful pets. Not only do they have so many vibrant colors, but sometimes you can even happen upon a new breed all on your own.

Conclusion

We know that we definitely went over quite a bit of information today, and while we did try and break it down for your convenience, sometimes that’s not always enough. So if you ever find yourself a bit lost, or even confused, please feel free to refer back to this article as a guide.

The Blue-Tongued Skink is not a complicated lizard, and if you’re looking for a great pet there is really no better option. Plus, not only are they good pets, but you’ll find that breeding them can net you some serious profits if that’s your business.

The Blue-Tongued Skink is a great pet for beginners as well, so if the name has been keeping you away from your first lizard, please feel free to give this lizard a shot. Their easy to maintain, live quite long and don’t require too much attention either.

Now that you know the facts, we hope that you dive deep into the world of Blue-Tongued Skinks, and find a great deal of happiness along the way.

Photos kindly provided by scratch_squirt_and_squirmy

Everything You Need to Know About Blue Tongue Skink Care

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