Species: Blue Tongue Skink
Lifespan: 10 - 15 years on average, but have been known to live longer with proper care and nutrition
Adult Size: 19 - 24 inches in length (Depends on locality)
- Native Habitat: Indonesia or Australia
There a number of different habitat options that work for a Blue Tongue Skink, but the more space the better!
The minimum cage size needed will be a 18" Wide x 36" Long x 18" High or a 40 Gallon breeder. However, we would generally recommend upgrading to something a bit larger. Our favorites include:
- TetraFauna 75 Gallon, 18" Wide x 48" Long x 18" High
- Zen Habitat, 2' x 4'
- ReptiZoo 85 Gallon, 24" Wide x 48" Long x 18" High
Bigger is always going to be better when choosing a cage for any reptile, but blue tongue skinks do grow to a decent size and need ample space. Again, the absolute minimum you can consider would be a 40 Gallon.
In terms of substrates you'll generally use a loose substrate that allows for burrowing. This will depend on the locality since some will need greater humidity than others. Some good options could include Repti-soil, BioDude, or Reptichip.
- BioDude Terra Fauna
- BioDude Terra Firma
- Aspen (last choice)
Just keep in mind you'll need a substrate that holds greater humidity for Indonesian vs an Australian Blue Tongue. Regardless of locality, you'll want at least 3-4 inches of substrate to allow for burrowing.
Diet & Nutrition
Blue Tongue Skinks are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. In the wild they'll eat just about anything they find. That includes leaves, flowers, fruit, insects, small animals, or other reptiles. They're generally not picky eaters, but have been known to shun certain veggies or even live insect feeders from time to time.
Their diet will begin to shift as they age, needing a bit more protein as babies and tapering off slightly as they reach adulthood.
We start our blue tongues off with a diet consisting of about 60% protein, 35% veggies, and 5% fruit. As they reach adulthood the protein to veggies will be pretty much identical, and up to 10% fruit at the absolute max. Some good protein sources will include:
- Dubia Roaches
- Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Calci Worms)
- Wet Grain Free Dog Food
Even as babies you'll still want to provide a fair amount of greens and veggies. By the time they're around 8 months, around half of their diet will consist of greens that include:
- Collard Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Turnip Greens
- Butternut Squash
In all, blue tongue skinks will eat just about anything put in front of them, so finding something that meats their nutritional needs shouldn't be difficult. Insects make a great source of protein, but only those from an insect breeder or pet store. Never feed wild insects as they could transmit parasites and disease.
How Often Should You Feed Them?
The regularity of feeding will greatly depend on the age of your blue tongue skink. As babies (0-3 months) they'll need to eat fairly often, about 2-3 times per day. As they age and grow, they'll need less regular feedings.
By they time they become juveniles (3-8 months) they'll need to feed roughly 3 times per week or every other day. Finally, as they reach adulthood (8+ months) they'll need to be about 1-2 times per week.
Do They Need Supplements?
Other than the right nutritional balance of protein to vegetables in their diet, they'll also need additional supplementation for their long term health. This will mainly consist of:
- Calcium without D3
- Multivitamin powder
The multivitamin powder may not be necessary if you include dog food in their diet as most will be supplemented already. However, calcium supplementation will be a absolute necessity.
This can be done simply by adding a light dusting to their insects or meals. For babies you'll supplement with calcium 3-4 times per week and adults 1-2 times per week.
Temperature & Lighting Requirements
Like most reptiles, Blue Tongue Skinks have specific heating and lighting requirements to ensure proper health and well being. This will include things like basking bulbs to provide heat and UVA as well as UVB bulbs (somewhat debated).
The temperature will be slightly different from hatchlings to adults, but still very similar. Regardless you'll want a temperature gradient from cool to hot so they can properly regulate their temps. If we used a cage as an example, you'd want something similar to this:
- Basking side surface temperature— 90-95°F
- Cool side surface temperature — 80-85°F
- Air temperature gradient — 78-95°F
- Nighttime — 70-75°F
Other than temperature, you'll also need a source of UVB lighting. This is a debated topic within the reptile community, but we generally would rather have it than not. There are many bulbs on the market but you'll want a full cage bulb to provide UVB throughout the entire cage.
Several UVB options include:
- Zoo Med T5 HO ReptiSun 5.0
- Arcadia T5 HO 14%
- Arcadia T5 HO 12%
These each come in a multitude of different sizes to accommodate any size of cage. We typically stick with the Zoo Med 5.0 ReptiSun, but you have several choices.
Please ensure you have proper temperature and lighting at all times and replace your UVB bulbs every 12 months. Just because they are still giving off light does not mean they are providing the necessary amounts of UVB.
One thing that makes Blue Tongue Skinks so fun is how unique you can make their enclosure. You have a lot of different options and setups that work great, but there are a few basic things you'll need regardless. That includes:
- Enclosure: There are many different options for caging depending on your personal preferences. Some of our favorites include Zen Habitats or the TetraFauna 75 gallon tanks. The absolute minimum should be as follows:
- 18" Wide x 36" Long x 18" Tall (40 Gallon)
- The bigger the better.
- Basking Bulb: The 100 Watt Zoo Med basking bulb will usually put off enough heat, but depending on the cage you choose, or the temperature in the room, you may need a 150 watt bulb.
- UVB: Although some still debate the necessity for UVB, we recommend you provide regardless. A Zoo Med 5.0 Reptisun should work just fine.
- Hides: At least one, preferably two, places for them two hide and feel safe within their cage. Anything will be fine whether it be a plastic or rock. Just something they'll be able to fit comfortably inside and feel secure.
- Branches/Rocks: Although they are terrestrial we like to provide as naturalistic enclosures as possible. Including plenty of natural obstacles like branches, cork bark, rocks, and plants for natural cover.
- Water Bowl: Fresh water should be provided at all times. A large bowl to allow they to soak is preferred.
- Food Bowl: No explanation needed
- Food: Refer to the diet and nutrition section, but you'll want to provide a staple diet of protein and vegetables. This could include:
- Dubia Roaches
- Wet Grain Free Dog Food
- Super Worms
- Calci Worms (Black Soldier Fruit Larvae)
- Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Carrots, etc..
- Bedding: You'll want to provide at least 3-4 inches of substrate to allow for burrowing. The type of substrate will depend on the humidity needs of your blue tongue, but we like BioDude Terra Fauna, ReptiSoil, or ReptiChip.
Our Available Blue Tongue Skinks
Blue Tongue Skinks can be an excellent pet for many people. They have calm temperaments, are fairly low maintenance, and are generally a good option for beginner reptile keepers.
However, they are still big commitment and will take up a fair amount of space in your home. After you've done your research and decided to add a blue tongue to the family, you can see all our available Blue Tongue Skinks here.