Blue Tongue Skink Care Page

Prepared by ReptiFiles

Blue tongue skinks are a group of diurnal (day-active), omnivorous, ground-dwelling lizards found throughout Australia and parts of Indonesia. Depending on species, blue tongue skinks may measure between 15″-24″. Average lifespan is 15-20 years, although individuals as old as 35 and potentially beyond are becoming more common as captive care standards improve.

There are many different subspecies of blue tongue skinks, but this care guide will focus on the two most common types of pet skinks in the United States: Northern/Eastern Australian (Tiliqua scincoides) and Indonesian (Tiliqua gigas). These subspecies come from two distinct habitats and have slightly different, but important, husbandry requirements.

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This Care Guide been curated by ReptiFiles.

ReptiFiles is an online database of comprehensive, science-based reptile care guides created by reptile husbandry specialist Mariah Healey. ReptiFiles’ primary goal is to promote a higher standard of animal welfare within the reptile industry.

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Blue Tongue Skinks at a Glance

Here are some core facts about blue tongue skink care:

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BTS
Photo by Reptile Mountain™

Quick Facts

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Size

15″-24″

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Active During

Daytime

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Lifespan

15-20+ years

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Nutritrion

Omnivorous

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Humidity

Moderate to High

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Habitat

Terrestrial

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Basking Temp

100-110°F

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UVB

Recommended

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Availability

Common

Natural Habitat

Australian woodland

Forest, Grassland, Semi-Arid Desert

Blue tongue skinks are naturally found all over Australia and Indonesia.

Handleability Score

4 out of 5: Good Handleability

Blue tongue skinks are extraordinarily curious lizards that get bored easily, with above-average needs for mental as well as physical exercise. They generally tame down well and their moderate size makes for safe, easy handling.

Care Difficulty

Intermediate

Expected Weekly Dedication: 1-2 hours minimum

With a pet blue tongue skink, daily chores may include preparing food, replacing water, and spot-cleaning. Misting 1-2x/daily may be required, depending on subspecies and local climate/weather. Food and water dishes should be disinfected weekly, as well as any soiled surfaces.

The amount and frequency of cleaning required will depend on whether your enclosure is bioactive or not. We'll cover these respective chores in the Enclosure Enrichment section.

What’s great:

  • Hardy
  • Handleable
  • Easy to feed

Things to be aware of:

  • Large enclosure
  • Can have specific humidity needs
  • UVB strongly recommended

Enclosure

Blue tongue skinks need at least a 4ʼx2ʼx2ʼ enclosure, preferably larger.

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BTS Enclosure
Photo by Reptile Mountain™

Reptiles aren’t like dogs and cats that can simply roam around your house. They are very sensitive to their environment, and need their own enclosure set up according to their specific needs. This guide covers everything you will need to care for your pet blue tongue skink properly.

Enclosure Size Requirements

Blue tongue skinks should be housed in an enclosure that is no smaller than 4’L x 2’W x 2’H. This is the bare minimum, calculated according to the reptile’s average length and activity patterns.

However, if you can provide an enclosure with more floor space, do it! 5’x3’x3’ is becoming the new ethical standard for blue tongues. Housing your skink in a larger enclosure will encourage it to be more active and demonstrate more natural behaviors.

Skinks are extremely active and love to explore, so bigger is better. Even baby blue tongue skinks can be housed in an adult-sized enclosure as long as they have lots of hiding places to help them feel secure.

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Can multiple blue tongue skinks be housed in the same enclosure?

No. Never house more than one blue tongue skink per enclosure, as they can fight and severely injure each other.

But if possible, position the enclosure in a relatively mainstream area of house where s/he can see you. Skinks like to watch you just as much as you like to watch them!

Blue Tongue Skink Enclosure Examples

Mariah Healey
Mariah Healey

Photo contributed by Mariah Healey

Substrate Options

Substrate is the material that you use to cover the floor of the enclosure. Blue tongue skinks are burrowing lizards, so they require at least 4-6” of deep, soft, loose substrate. However, which kind of substrate you need depends on your subspecies of skink.

Best substrates for Northern/Eastern skinks:

DIY mix of roughly 60% untreated topsoil + 40% play sand. Scatter some leaf litter on top to help hold humidity.

You can also use a pre-packaged substrate, though this can be more costly. Depending on the brand, you may still need to add some topsoil (if too dusty) or sand (if too muddy) to reach desired consistency. Here are some recommended commercial substrates appropriate for Australian blue tongues:

Best substrates for Indonesian skinks:

DIY mix of roughly 40% untreated topsoil + 40% Zoo Med Reptisoil + 20% play sand. Scatter some leaf litter on top to help hold humidity.

You can also use a pre-packaged substrate, though this can be more costly. Depending on the brand, you may still need to add some topsoil (if too dusty) or sand (if too muddy) to reach desired consistency. Here are some recommended commercial substrates appropriate for Indonesian blue tongues:

Note about DIY substrates:
Mix well, soak until muddy, then pack it firmly at the bottom of the enclosure. Let it dry out for a day or 2 before introducing your skink to the setup. A DIY substrate is cheaper and often better suited to the reptile, as you can more precisely control the ratios and texture. However, reading your topsoil ingredients is a requirement! Soil must not contain any fertilizers, manure, or perlite/vermiculite, as these can be dangerous to burrowing reptiles.


Bioactive
Another option is a bioactive setup. While traditional housing depends on the keeper for maintenance, bioactive setups are more or less self-sustaining, miniature ecosystems. A bioactive substrate needs more than just one or two components; it has layers. Bioactive substrate can be used for both Australian and Indonesian skinks, although the components will differ between subspecies to account for humidity requirements.

For example, an Australian skink bioactive might include topsoil, play sand, some moss, and leaf litter (e.g. BioDude Terra Firma bioactive kit). On the other hand, Indonesian skinks require a more humid bioactive substrate that may include topsoil, sugar cane mulch, more moss, and leaf litter over a drainage layer of gravel (e.g. BioDude Terra Fauna bioactive kit).

What makes bioactive work is the “cleanup crew,” or bugs. They clean up uneaten food, fallen leaves, and fecal remains, making bioactive substrates incredibly low maintenance. All you need to do is wipe off the glass and remove large pieces of waste.

Springtails and isopods (wood lice) make a good starter cleanup crew. For a quick and easy way to set up a bioactive substrate for your blue tongue skink, check out The Bio Dude.

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Unsafe Substrates for Blue Tongue Skinks

These substrates are particularly dangerous to blue tongue skinks because they pose major health risks. Avoid the following substrates at all costs and stick to the list in the previous section.

  • Pine/fir/cedar - irritates eyes/lungs & can cause neurological damage
  • Rodent bedding - doesn't hold humidity or burrows
  • Aspen - doesn't hold humidity or burrows, molds easily
  • Sand - doesn't hold humidity or burrows, possible health risk
  • Reptile carpet - harbors bacteria, can rip out teeth/claws & break toes
  • Shelf liner - produces dangerous VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
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Quarantine Substrate

When you first bring your new blue tongue skink home, you will need to quarantine for at least 1 month. This means keeping the enclosure as sterile as possible and closely monitoring the skink's health.

Paper towels are the best substrate for quarantine, as they can be frequently replaced and make it easier to observe feces and other potential health issues. Paper towels should be fully replaced at least once a week and any soiled areas must be replaced daily. Once your skink has shown a clean bill of health, you can introduce your long-term substrate to the enclosure.

If you already have other reptiles in your home, you should extend the quarantine period to 3 months, keep the enclosure in a separate room if possible, and make sure not to share any tools or decor between your new skink and other pets, unless fully sanitized between each use.

Environmental Enrichment

Reptiles are much more intelligent than we humans tend to give them credit for, and that means they need things to entertain them. Otherwise they exist in a state of perpetual boredom, which makes them dull, inactive, and overall less interesting as pets. When reptiles have objects to interact with in their enclosure, they become less stressed and more engaged with their environment. This practice is called environmental enrichment.

It’s important to choose enrichment items (a.k.a. enclosure décor) that are appropriate to your pet’s natural behaviors. Skinks are natural burrowers, so providing a deep layer of substrate as well as plenty of hides and sturdy climbing objects is essential for this species. Here are some other objects that serve a vital function in a skink terrarium:

Hides

Skinks like to hide, it’s part of their burrower nature. You’ll need at least 2 hides, one cool dry hide and one warm humid hide, to help them feel secure and comfortable. Put one hide under the heat source and fill it with sphagnum moss, kept slightly moist at all times using a hand mister. This hide can have a large flat top to double as a good basking area. On the opposite (cool) side of the enclosure, add a dry hide. However, you don't have to limit yourself to the 2 required hides, skinks like to have options!


Water dish

In addition to drinking water, skinks like to have the option to soak every once in a while, especially when they’re preparing to shed. Provide a water bowl large enough to accommodate most of your skink's body, shallow enough that they aren't going to drown, and heavy enough that it won't tip over.


Climbing Objects

Large branches, logs, cork bark, and rocks are excellent for varying the terrain and giving your skink things to climb on/in. If you collect these items from outside, give them a good scrub and soak in a disinfectant compatible with porous surfaces, such as Clean Break or F10SC. You can bake wood in the oven at 250°F for about an hour, but NEVER bake rocks, as they may explode!


Deep Substrate

We’ve already covered the importance of a substantial substrate layer for skinks, but this aspect of your enclosure can pull a double duty of enrichment by giving your skink an opportunity to satisfy its natural instinct to dig and burrow.


Plants

Both live and artificial foliage can be used to enhance your skink's enclosure, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. Fake plants are easier to clean and tend to withstand being climbed on better than their live counterparts, but they may off-gas chemicals. Live plants are less sturdy and higher maintenance, but safer for your lizard's health. However, be warned: blue tongue skinks will bulldoze all but the most resilient of plants! Make sure live plants are nontoxic to reptiles and artificial plants are sanitized before adding to the enclosure.


Background

Aside from helping your setup look nice, a good background can help your skink feel more secure if the terrarium’s made of glass. The background should cover three sides of the enclosure.

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How do I keep my enclosure clean?

To control the growth of pathogens and keep your blue tongue skink’s enclosure hygienic and odor-free, it’s important to clean it regularly.

Non-Bioactive Enclosures:
Spot-cleaning should be performed daily. This is the routine removal of uneaten food, feces, urates, and contaminated substrate. Soiled surfaces, food dishes, and water dishes should be scrubbed with reptile-safe disinfectant and rinsed at least weekly. Substrate should be completely removed and replaced every 4-6 months, depending on how diligent you are about spot-cleaning. This is also a good time to completely disinfect the enclosure with an animal-safe disinfectant like F10SC or chlorhexidine.

Bioactive Enclosures:
If you have a bioactive enclosure, “cleaning” will be more like periodic maintenance: watering the plants, adding biodegradables, and feeding the CUC as needed. Substrate does not need to be replaced. Some spot-cleaning will still be required for urates and soiled surfaces. Food and water dishes should be disinfected weekly.

Lighting

Blue tongue skinks need 3 types of lamps in their enclosure: A UVB lamp, a 6500K daylight lamp, and cluster heat lamps.

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BTS Lighting
Photo by Reptile Mountain™

UVB is important for enabling vitamin D3 synthesis (which allows them to metabolize calcium in their diet), strengthening the immune system, and encouraging proper organ function.

UVA is important for allowing full-color vision, because blue tongue skinks can see UVA wavelengths (humans can’t!). It is sensed by their pineal gland to regulate a circadian rhythm and is suspected to play a role in mental health and appetite.

The 6500K daylight lamp provides extra illumination at a color temperature that is similar to sunlight. As diurnal reptiles, blue tongue skinks are highly stimulated by having a well-lit environment during the day. Bright daytime lighting is likely to encourage more activity, better appetite, and better mental health.

Infrared radiation (i.e. heat) is important for reptiles' thermoregulation. As ectotherms, they rely on the heat of the sun to warm their bodies and stimulate their metabolism, digest their food, and stay alert and active. The shorter the wavelength, the deeper it can penetrate their muscle tissue. In captivity, we can provide this with specific heat bulbs that emit the most beneficial infrared wavelengths (IR-A and IR-B).

All light and heat should be kept on a regular schedule using outlet timers or done manually. This allows for a predictable day/night cycle which the lizard can follow, allowing for natural hormonal rhythms and good mental health. We recommend the following schedule for blue tongue skinks, based on their natural environment:

SEASONON/OFF SCHEDULE
Spring12hrs ON / 12hrs OFF
Summer14hrs ON / 10hrs OFF
Fall12hrs ON / 12hrs OFF
Winter10hrs ON / 14hrs OFF

UVB/UVA

Blue tongue skinks benefit greatly from a UVB lamp in the enclosure. They are capable of surviving in captivity without UVB if they receive sufficient supplementary vitamin D3 in their diet, but simply surviving is not thriving. D3 supplement dosing is extremely imprecise and less efficiently absorbed by the body. Experts don't know much vitamin D3 skinks actually need, but they do know how much UVB is needed for them to self-regulate their own D3 production, so providing a UV lamp is far more natural and beneficial to promote optimum health.

UVB Output
Blue tongue skinks should have anywhere from a 5% to 12% UVB output T5 lamp, depending on the setup. The best output for your enclosure is calculated by the distance between the lamp and the basking surface (see our chart below).

We recommend an Arcadia or Zoo Med brand linear fluorescent tube, as these brands produce the best and most reliable UVB lamps on the market. This lamp should be roughly half the width of the enclosure and placed on the same side as the heat lamp. So if your enclosure is 4’, you will need a 22” T5 HO UVB bulb.

Best 5-6% UV lamps for blue tongue skinks:

Best 10-12% UV lamps for blue tongue skinks:


Distance and Mesh
The bulb you choose will depend on your enclosure setup. The strength of the UVB lamp’s output varies according to distance from the bulb — stronger when closer, and weaker when further away. If you are using a Solarmeter 6.5 to measure your UVB lamp’s output, the UVI (UV Index) reading should be between 3.0-4.0 on the basking platform and down to 0 on the cool side.

If you don't have a Solarmeter, here is an estimate of how far away your basking platform should be, based on which bulb you are using and whether the lamp is mounted above or below mesh:

BULB TYPEABOVE MESHBELOW MESH
Arcadia ProT5 6%6-9”11-12”
Zoo Med T5 HO 5.06-9”11-12”
Arcadia Desert 12%12-15”17-18”
Zoo Med T5 HO 10.012-15”17-18”


Fixture
To optimize your UVB bulb’s performance, you will need a high-quality reflective T5 HO fixture. Some lamps come in kits that already include a fixture, such as the Arcadia ProT5 kit. Otherwise, Zoo Med and Vivarium Electronics make various fixtures for T5 bulbs.


T5 bulbs last 12 months before requiring replacement, as their UVB output decays over time. Off-brand UVB bulbs are likely to have shorter lifespans and unreliable output. Avoid “compact” and coil UVB bulbs, as these cannot properly distribute a UV gradient across the enclosure.

Daylight Lamp

Since blue tongue skinks are diurnal, it’s helpful to provide plenty of “sunlight” (i.e. visible light) to stimulate activity, appetite, and general wellbeing. Aside from using a UVB tube, this can be accomplished by using a ~6500K LED or fluorescent light of the same length as the UVB. Here are some daylight lamps we recommend:

Australian species are likely to appreciate brighter light than Indonesian species.

Heating

Blue tongue skinks need access to a variety of temperatures within a certain range in order to properly regulate their metabolism:

Australian blue tongue skinks (Northern & Eastern):

  • Basking surface: 105-110°F
  • Warm side ambient: 90-98°F
  • Cool side ambient: 70-78°F
  • Nighttime: 68-75°F, but no lower than 65°F


Indonesian blue tongue skinks:

  • Basking surface: 100-105°F
  • Basking air temp: 85-95°F
  • Cool side ambient: 70-80°F
  • Nighttime: 65-75°F, but no lower than 65°F


All heat lamps should be turned off at night and kept on a regular day/night cycle that matches the same schedule as the UVB and daylight lamps, allowing for a natural temperature drop and a healthy circadian rhythm.

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Heating Equipment

The best way to create a nice hot basking area for your blue tongue skink is with a cluster of 2 or more 90-100W halogen heat bulbs, such as:

The exact wattage that will work best for you varies based on the distance between the bulb and the basking platform, as well as local room temperature. Using a dimming thermostat or an on/off thermostat plus plug-in dimmer allows you to adjust it to the right temperature and keep your skink safe. Keep in mind that all heat sources should be regulated by a thermostat, so for a cluster of lamps, you will either need separate thermostats for each fixture or a multi-outlet thermostat like the Herpstat2. Place the thermostat probe directly on the basking surface below the heat source.

You will also need lamps to put your bulbs in. You can use several separate dome lamps, a combo dome, or internally mounted fixtures, as long as they have a ceramic socket to make sure that the bulb doesn’t get too hot for the lamp (risking electrical fire).

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Unsafe Heat Sources

These heat sources are particularly dangerous to blue tongue skinks because they can pose major health risks and cause stress. Avoid the following heat sources at all costs and stick to the bulbs we recommend above.

❌ Colored bulbs
Red, blue, purple, and other colored light bulbs are inappropriate for almost all reptiles. They can wash out your skink’s vision and make it harder to hunt and move freely. In fact, blue lights are known to potentially damage reptiles’ eyes!

❌ “Nighttime” bulbs
The idea that reptiles can't see red, purple, or “black” light is a myth! They may not be able to see the color, but they can still see the light. Using any lights at night can interfere with your skink’s day/night cycle, causing stress and poor health.

❌ Heat rocks
Heat rocks (also known as hot rocks/rock heaters/etc.) are notoriously unreliable and many reptiles have lost their lives due to severe burns caused by these devices. They’re also not a good choice for heating your enclosure, as it only warms the rock’s surface, not the surrounding air.

❌ Mercury vapor bulbs
Mercury vapor bulbs and other heat+UVB combination bulbs (Zoo Med PowerSun, Exo Terra Solar Glo) are very powerful and can be tricky to use with blue tongues, who need a slightly higher heat to UVB ratio than other diurnal species. These bulbs cannot be used with thermostats or a dimmer, so they must be regulated by adjusting the height of the lamp, requiring a tall enclosure and a Solarmeter. It's much easier and safer to provide and control your heat and UVB separately for blue tongues.

Measuring Temperature

To track the temperatures in your blue tongue skink’s enclosure, you will need a good thermometer. Temp gun-style infrared thermometers are useful for measuring surface temperatures anywhere in the enclosure. However, digital probe thermometers are useful for being able to track local air temperatures at a glance. It's best to have at least 2 thermometers to measure temps on each end of the heat gradient. Here are some devices we recommend for measuring temperatures:

Humidity

Maintaining the right humidity is important for helping your skink shed easily, as well as prevent illnesses like respiratory infections. The required humidity range will vary depending on what species you have:

  • Northern Australian: 35-60%
  • Eastern Australian: 30-50%
  • Classic Indonesian: 60-80%
  • Halmahera Indonesian: 70-100%

A simple hand mister can be used to bump up humidity when it drops below the required range. A proper loose substrate, adequately sized water bowl, good cross-ventilation, and overhead heating will all help to stabilize the enclosure's humidity levels.

You can measure humidity with a hygrometer like the Zoo Med Digital Combo Gauge linked in the Measuring Temperature section. Hygrometers should be placed within 12” above the substrate towards the cooler end of the enclosure to give you an accurate idea of average humidity levels (or one on either side if using a thermo/hygro combo meter).

Brumation

Certain subspecies of blue tongue skinks, such as Easterns, are known to brumate instinctively during winter. Although this is a survival mechanism that enables them to live through times of cold weather and scarce food in their natural habitat, this instinct still manifests in captivity as part of their natural cycle, and is perfectly healthy.

For information on how to brumate your bearded dragon safely and effectively, go here.

Feeding Guide

Blue tongue skinks are omnivorous, which means that they require both animal and plant-based foods for a balanced diet.

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BTS Feeding
Photo by Reptile Mountain™

Here is a basic feeding schedule for pet blue tongue skinks:

AGEFEEDINGS
Hatchlings (0-3 months)1x a day
Juveniles (3-8 months)3x a week
Adults (8+ months)1-2x a week


Each meal should be roughly the same size as the skink’s skull. Skinks under 1 year of age need 70-80% of their diet to be protein. Adults older than 1 year should get roughly 50-60% protein.

The key to a healthy, balanced diet is variety, so make sure to provide as many different kinds of foods in your skink’s diet as possible!

Protein:

Insect Options:

  • Dubia roaches
  • Discoid roaches
  • Grasshoppers
  • Locusts
  • Black soldier fly larvae
  • Fresh/canned snails
  • Hornworms
  • Silkworms
  • Earthworms
  • Superworms (TREAT ONLY)

Meat Options:

  • Eggs* (raw, boiled, or scrambled)
  • Ground turkey, chicken, duck, rabbit, lean beef, venison, lamb, etc.
  • Organ meats: heart, liver, gizzard, etc.
  • Pinky rats and fuzzy mice (TREAT ONLY)
  • Frozen/thawed chicks (TREAT ONLY)
  • Whole fish, in bite-size chunks (TREAT ONLY)

All live feeder insects should be gutloaded with fresh veggies for at least 24 hours before feeding. Feeders should be captive bred, don’t feed bugs from your backyard — these can make your pet sick! Some sites we recommend to buy safe, captive bred feeders are DubiaRoaches.com, PremiumCrickets, Luna Roaches, and Beastmode Silks.

Frozen whole prey items must be prepared correctly before feeding. Thaw it out in the fridge the night before feeding day, then about 15-30 minutes before feeding, stick the prey in a BPA-free plastic bag like a Ziploc and submerge in warm, almost hot, water to thaw completely. Reptilinks is a great source to order whole prey food for your skink.

*Raw eggs should be limited as they contain avidin, an enzyme that can cause vitamin B7 deficiency over time, impacting scale and skin health. Cooking eggs neutralizes this enzyme.

Produce/Plants:

Vegetable Options:

  • Squash
  • Bell peppers
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Leafy greens (turnip, collard, dandelion, mustard)
  • Grape leaves
  • Mulberry leaves
  • Cilantro
  • Escarole
  • Dandelion flowers
  • Rose flowers
  • Hibiscus flowers

Fruit Options:

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches (without pits)
  • Cherries (without pits)
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Nectarines (without pits)

Fruits should comprise no more than 10% of a skink’s diet.
Do not feed blue tongue skinks avocado, onion, eggplant, buttercup flowers, azalea flowers/leaves, daffodil flowers, lily of the valley, marijuana/hemp leaves, tulips, citrus fruits, rhubarb, seeds, or pits. These fruits and vegetables can be toxic to skinks.

Prepared Diets:

Blue tongue skinks can also eat specially formulated diets made for omnivorous reptiles, or even dog and cat food! Make sure to use canned food rather than kibble (although kibble is alright occasionally if water is added), and avoid formulas containing artificial colors/flavors or fish.

Dog/Cat Food Options:

  • Castor & Pollux
  • Darwin’s
  • Halo (avoid their vegan formula)
  • Zignature
  • Whole Earth Farms
  • Evolution Naturally
  • Nature’s Variety
  • Instinct
  • Merrick
  • Wellness CORE
  • Purina
  • Hills Science Diet
  • Royal Canin
  • Eukanuba

Reptile Diet Options:

  • Repashy Bluey Buffet
  • Repashy Grub Pie
  • Repashy Grasshopper Pie
  • Repashy Mealworm Pie
  • Repashy Superworm Pie
  • Repashy Meat Pie
  • Repashy Veggie Burger
  • Arcadia OmniGold
  • Arcadia InsectiGold
  • Herpavet Lizard Food by Vetafarm
  • Reptilinks 50/50 Omnivore Blend

Cat food is best for juvenile skinks due to its high protein content, but when your skink reaches ~1 year old, it’s time to switch to dog food, which contains more vegetables and is less likely to cause obesity. Keep in mind that dog or cat food will still need to be supplemented by vegetables and leafy greens. Arctic Exotic's "skink chow" recipe shows a great breakdown of the ratios to provide when using dog food.

If you're still not sold on dog/cat food, one of our HappyDragons Breeder Directors, TC Houston, made this video explaining why it can work for skinks!

Calcium and Vitamin Supplements

To make sure that your blue tongue skink is getting all of the vitamins and minerals that their bodies need, it’s important to use calcium and vitamin supplements as part of their diet.

Calcium for BTS with UVB:

Keep your skink’s bones nice and strong with a pinch of calcium powder: 1x/week for adults, 2x/week for juveniles. Here are the calcium powders we recommend for skinks with UVB (choose 1):

Calcium for BTS without UVB:

If you’re not using UVB lighting, you need a calcium supplement that includes particularly high quantities of vitamin D3, 1x/week for adults, 2x/week for juveniles. Here's what we recommend for skinks without UVB (choose 1):

Multivitamin

Provide a multivitamin supplement 1x/week for adults, 2x/week for juveniles. However, multivitamins should NOT be added to commercial diets, dog food, or cat food, as these are already fortified. Adding multivitamin to a prepared diet can potentially cause vitamin overdose! Here are the best multivitamins we recommend for blue tongue skinks (choose 1):

Keeping Your Skink Hydrated

A large, shallow water bowl no more than 3” deep should be provided — 9″x13″ baking dishes work great. Aside from being a source of hydration, this also helps maintain humidity and provides a place to soak while in shed.

Water should be changed daily. And since skinks have the endearing habit of also using their water bowl as a toilet, be sure to disinfect it weekly with an animal-safe disinfectant like F10 or chlorhexidine.

Do not use distilled or softened water! Tap, spring, and even filtered water (assuming that it’s safe for humans to drink) contains minerals vital to your skink's health. You can dechlorinate tap water with a conditioner like ReptiSafe.

Taming & Handling

Blue tongue skinks are extraordinarily curious lizards that get bored easily, with above average needs for mental as well as physical exercise. Taming and regular handling can help fulfill that need for stimulation while also teaching the skink to feel secure in your presence.

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BTS Handling
Photo by Reptile Mountain™

DO:

  • Wait at least two weeks for the skink to settle in before handling.
  • Let it get used to your presence.
  • Offer food via your fingers or soft-tipped feeding tongs to build trust.
  • Use slow movements.
  • Let the skink come to you.
  • Scoop it up from below.
  • Support its whole body across your forearm, including the tail.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling

DON'T:

  • Start handling your skink as soon as you bring it home.
  • Let children handle the skink without supervision.
  • Touch the top of your bluey’s head, they have a shadow-sensitive “third eye” there
  • Grab the skink by its tail

Eventually your skink will start to squirm and scratch to escape. You can increase his/her tolerance for handling by only taking it out for 5 minutes a day at first. When s/he sits still in your arms, increase handling time by 1 minute and build from there.

Blue Tongue Skink Body Language

Blue tongue skinks have a variety of body language cues. When you learn to understand these cues, you can understand your pet’s mood and needs better, and react accordingly.

Short snorting/huffing — Annoyance

Tail flicking/wagging — Irritation/anger

Long huffs/hisses + body tilt/puffing — Aggression

Displaying mouth and tongue — Defense reflex –> “Back off!”

A happy skink walks casually, flicking its tongue and occasionally looking at you. A nervous skink will move in short, quick bursts, with periods of extreme stillness.

Health Conditions

Here are some common health problems to look out for:

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BTS Health
Photo by Reptile Mountain™

The most common illnesses in blue tongue skinks are intestinal parasites, metabolic bone disease (MBD), respiratory infection (RI), scale rot, and spinal deformity. They can also suffer from health issues such as mites and obesity. If your blue tongue skink is displaying potential symptoms of illness, it’s important to take them to an experienced reptile veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment. Do not try to treat them at home, as you could make the problem worse!

Signs of a healthy blue tongue skink:

  • Clear eyes
  • Slender, muscular body
  • Straight spine and limbs
  • Breathing with mouth closed
  • Regular bowl movements
  • Eats regularly
  • Moves freely and easily
  • Alert

Signs of an unhealthy blue tongue skink:

  • Curved limbs
  • Kinked spine
  • Discolored, stiff tail
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Breathing with mouth open
  • Constipation or diarrhea