Blue Tongue Skink Facts
Scientific name: Tiliqua
Size: 36 inches maximum
Lifespan: 15 – 20+ years
Wild Population: 7,000+
Primary Colour: Black, Brown, Cream
Difficulty of Keeping: Easy
Optimum environment Temperature: 95°F hotspot with ambient temp of 80°F
What do they eat? Omnivore
Eggs or Live birth: Egg baring Lizard.
Venomous: Not venomous/ Not poisonous
Are they kept in captivity? Blue tongue skinks are brilliant pet lizards and very common in the reptile community.
Ease of keeping as a pet: Very easy, low maintaince lizard.
Cost: Ranges between £100 – £3,000 dependant on locality.
Do They Make Good Pets?
Yes absolutely, weather you are a beginner or experienced reptile keeper, a blue tongue skink is a fantastic pet. Due to their increasing lizard keeping popularity, breeding blue tongue skinks is also a fun experience seeing your baby blue skinks hatch.
Skinks are classed as a small lizard, growing to a manageable size as adults, this further adds to the ease of keeping. The most difficult part is getting all the equipment and setup you need to get started, keep reading as we will explain everything item you need.
Coming in different sizes, colours and localities means there is a skink to fit most people’s budget. If you are new to reptiles or lizards, we recommend the northern localities, as they tend to be hardy, meaning their requirements are less strict to remain in a healthy condition.
How Big Do Blue Tongue Skinks Get
This varies between different genetics and ancestry but on average, skinks will grow up to 26 inches.
The northern blue tongue skinks are among the largest growing species, so you do not have to worry about any huge growing skink surprises.
Lifespan Of A Blue Tongue Skink
In captivity, 14 – 16 years seems the most common area, but we have met owners who’s lived to the ages of 22. So, despite being easy to care for and easy to handle, some would find keeping a pet that could live over 20 years too big of a commitment.
In the wild, skinks do not live nearly as long. The average lifespan is reduced by around 20% – 40% in comparison to the captive kept blue tongue skinks. This reduction is thought to be from skinks being vulnerable to predators and also infections in open wounds.
Housing a Blue Tongue Skink
3 – 4ft in length is the largest vivarium you can expect to fit in your house. 90% will be more than happy with a 3ft housing space. The depth of the terrarium should measure anywhere between 1 – 2ft, adding depth vastly increases the floorspace volume within the cage. Finally, is the height, again 1ft is perfectly fine, as they are not arboreal (live off the ground).
Baby blue-tongue skinks do not require a cage this big to start, there are plenty of plastic terrariums online that are perfect for the first 12months. We recommend an adequate housing space but as it is only going to be less than 12 months of use, getting a wooden option is unnecessarily expensive for the time period.
You can also house them straight into and adult size caging but to reduce stress, add a partition and as they grow remove or incrementally make the vivarium larger. Blue skinks are best kept in singles only, sometimes you can get away with housing 2 females together but ensure that a male is ALWAYS kept on their own.
Due to be territorial lizards, they can decide they no longer want another male or female lizard near them. So while they look fine, when you leave things can change at the flick of a switch.
What You Will Need
First and foremost is the most important piece of equipment that ANY reptile enthusiast has, a thermostat achieves the temps that you set and keeps it consistent throughout the day. Lizards health is highly reliant on their ability to regulate their temperature.
A thermostat probe is place in the vivarium and monitors. This should be placed on the warm side of the enclosure. We recommend for any keeper that thermostats last forever and are a more than worth the initial investment. A dimming stat is the best type for blue tongued skinks.
Heating & Lighting
So, you have your thermostat, now for finding the right heat source. First the heat bulb or mat is placed on one end of the vivarium. This allows the other side to be cool. A blue skink will regulate how hot or cold they want to be by moving between the two areas.
Now sometimes like anything recording probes can fail, so within their environment, add a thermometer on each end as this will have the added reassurance of the temps being on point.
So, we use infra-red bulb in our pet skinks, the red colour makes for an amazing night-time viewing. There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to which Watt bulb is needed for the caging. Go for one that is slightly higher than you need, as your heat bulb is on a thermostat, it will reduce the amount of power that is being used, so the savings with a low watt bulb will not be noticeable.
Bulb… check, now you will need a bulb guard, these prevent your pet skink from coming in contact with the bulb and burning itself. The most common reason reptiles go to the veterinary is due to burns, protect your lizard.
The temps should have a basking area set to 90 – 95 degrees F. The cooler side should not drop below 70 at any point. If you set the basking area correct the cooler side will naturally achieve a nice temp balance within the cage.
Skinks will benefit from a UVB bulb, but many keepers do not use them and keep skinks successfully. If you want to add a UVB lighting into their enclosure, only keep it on for a maximum 12-hour cycle.
If left on for longer than 12 hours this will disturb their sleeping and cause a lot of stress for the animal, smart plug work fantastic for when you are not around to turn it off.
Blue tongue skink bedding options
Skinks do not require a high humidity level, so drier based substrates work better and are easier to clean.
Aspen is by far the best option for its combined qualities, it is nice looking, easy clean, fairly cheap and readily available to buy.
Secondly, if you want to add a little humidity to the cage or live in a very dry climate, cypress mulch is brilliant, but is slightly more expensive.
Newspaper is an increasingly used bedding but makes the caging area look ugly in our opinion, you can flair it out slightly by getting a shredder which will fluff the bedding up a bit.
Be careful if you are thinking of any other substrate as cedar, walnuts and many others are toxic to blue-tongue skinks. It is safer to stick to the listed three options listed.
They are relatively clean lizards, so cleaning the cage is simple spot checking and cleaning. Every 1 – 2 months the vivarium’s must have a complete clean and disinfect the cage.
Hides & Decoration
Since they are not keen on the idea of going up into the air and climbing, concentrate your efforts on making their floorspace the most optimal. This is where you can let your creative juices flow.
The only recommendations we would make regarding this is a hide on each side of their enclosure so they can be left undisturbed when sleeping or nervous.
Blue-tongue skinks do like little barks and other things to wander over, climbing is not completely out the question, they also like to run on them during the shedding period.
What Do Skinks Eat?
Just like humans, skinks are omnivores. So, a well-balanced diet is needed to keep them from getting fat whilst giving them the right amount of protein, calcium and other essential nutrients.
As you get to know your skink, you will notice if their diet or something is wrong as they will become less active or you will notice they are a bit of a fatty.
The ratio that is proven and test to have the most health benefits for a blue tongue skink is 50% vegetables, 35% protein-based foods and the final 15% being fruits.
Fruits are so misleading and are the equivalent of a cake for humans, so don’t pack their diet with too many fruit-based meals.
Blue-tongue skinks are not stupid by any means, they know and get used to when they get fed and their body adapts to this routine. Baby skinks are fed every other day and adults 3-4 times per week with appropriately sized meals.
After the food is given, leave them to it for around 1 – 2 hours most and return to the cage to see if they have finished, this is the time to remove ALL the uneaten food from the cage to prevent bugs and germs from spreading with the heated cage.
- Canned dog food
- Insects in a can
- boiled eggs (Cool down before feeding)
- Lean ground beef
- Pinkie mice (occasionally)
Fruits and Veggies:
- Collard greens
- Turnip greens
- Mustard greens
- Brussel sprouts
Disclaimer* this care sheet covers the most common pet blue tongued skink (Northern) another localities care may differ slightly.