The Blue-Tongued Skink
The Eastern Blue-tongued lizard
Species: tiliqua scincoides
Subspecies: Tiliqua gigas gigas, tiliqua scincoides.
The blue-tongued skink is endemic to Australia where it is widely spread. Their coloration may vary depending on the habitat.
It is a terrestrial species that can be found in dry areas. The skink prefers sandy soil and scrubs.
The blue-tongued skink is quite large; in captivity it can reach 45-50 cm long. In the wild these skinks can get even bigger, up to 60 cm long.
It is a large lizard with smooth dull scales. The skink’s body is long and wide, but flattened in order for the lizard to move quickly in flat areas. It has a big head with powerful jaws. Like all other skinks, this species has short and thick legs with 5 fingers on each and a short and thick tail.
The coloration can slightly vary depending on the habitat in order for the lizard to hide from predators and from the prey. Usually the skinks are gray-brown with contrasting stripes on the back. The signature feature of this species is a brightly blue tongue that gave the lizard its name.
The blue-tongued skink makes a great pet. It is easily tamed and then can enjoy being handled. However a wild skink can bite. A tame skink appreciates interaction with its owner and especially likes being patted on the head. Each skink has an own unique personality, but you can find approach to every lizard.
The blue-tongued skinks should be kept alone. Males can be aggressive towards each other and fight, which can lead to serious injuries. A male and a female can get on, but they may fight too, so you should be ready for that and have an extra enclosure to separate them. It is more convenient to interact with the skink and to tame it if it is kept alone.
The blue-tongued skink needs a large tank: at least 90x45x30 cm, but the bigger the better since it is a big lizard. The tank doesn’t have to have high walls: those lizards are terrestrial but it is important that the bottom area is large. Apart from hiding places, the tank should have a hiding place (e.g. a stone cave) and a basking area (a big stone under a heating lamp or a reflector). The water bowl needs to be big in case the skink would want to get into it. The water has to be changed daily. It is best to have in the tank sand as substrate.
You shouldn’t have real plants in the tank; the blue-tongued skink is a large lizard and will simply destroy them. You don’t need to have too many stones or logs in the tank, because skinks love space. UV lamps are compulsory for the prevention of rachitis and problems with shedding. The skinks need 12 hours of light per day.
The ambient temperature should be around 23*С at night and 25-28°C at daytime, reaching 33-35°C in the basking area.
The air humidity should be from 25 to 40%.
The skinks need moderate light of UV and filament lamps.
The blue-tongued skinks are easy to feed. But they need varied and nutritious diet in order to stay healthy.
They can eat various fruit and vegetables, small rodents and big insects; the ratio should be 50% plant feed, 40% protein, 10% fruit.
Young lizards are fed daily, then every second day. Adult skinks can be fed every second or third day. You should take away uneaten food immediately so that it doesn’t rot. You will have to add calcium supplements and vitamins to the food.
The blue-tongued skink is easy to feed and to feed; it is a great choice for beginners.
They can get tame and then they are willing to interact with people.
Wild skinks can bite.
Males tend to be aggressive to each other, and sometimes even to females.
It is a healthy species which rarely get ill under proper care.
The lack of calcium and UV light can cause rachitis. Its symptoms are lethargy, loss of appetite, distortion of limbs. The treatment is calcium injections that should be done by a vet.
It is almost impossible to tell apart a male and a female, so it is very difficult to form a couple. In the zoos experts define the sex with the help of Xray. Amateurs simply put two lizards together and look at their behavior: if they hiss at each other, they should be separated immediately. If they stay calm, they are probably a match. In the wild mating occurs in autumn, so in captivity you should breed skinks in autumn too. During copulation the male holds the female’s neck with its teeth.
The blue-tongued skink is an ovoviviparous species (the eggs develop in the lizard’s body and after a while the young lizards hatch). The shell resolves in the female’s genital tract. Normally a female has litter every second year. The pregnancy lasts for 4 months, and they give birth to up to 25 hatchlings about 13-14 cm long. With proper feeding the hatchlings grow quickly and reach the length of 50 cm already by the age of 8 months.
Average life span in captivity is up to 15-20 years, and under proper care it can be even longer.