Reptiles - Blue Tongued Skink

 

Skinks are lizards that are native to many parts of the world. They generally have triangular heads, robust bodies with long tails and small legs. Some varieties have brightly coloured tongues, such as the Blue-Tongued Skinks of Australia. Most Blue-Tongued Skinks grow to around 15-19 inches long when mature. They make interesting pets that are easy for all members of the family to handle.

General Skinks are generally docile lizards. They are easily tamed and can be handled by children, if supervised. They do have claws, and although they do not use them to scratch, the sensation can startle those who are unused to handling them. Precautions should be taken to prevent accidental falls. To avoid the lizard mistaking your fingers for food it is best to wash your hands before handling your pet, and it is always good practice to wash your hands afterwards too.
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Housing The size of the housing depends on the size of the animal. A hatchling would want about 24 x 12 inches, this allows it to find its food easily. Adults require 36 x18 inches. This can support up to three animals (1 male, 2 females). Hides could be decorative piles of rocks, bark tubes or cardboard boxes. The substrates which can be utilised are sand, bark chippings or sawdust. Humidity may be maintained by spraying the vivarium twice a week UV light is required occasionally even if calcium and D3 supplements are given.
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Diet Skinks should be offered a diet of 60% vegetables, 40% animal sources. Some people feed a processed mixture of carrots and peas, together with dog food. Mealworms, killed Zoophorba worms and prekilled mice are also suitable. Calcium supplements can be benficial, sprinkle on top of fresh foods, such as green beans, squash, carrots and fruit chopped up fine. Fresh water should always be available.
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Cleaning Clean out soiled substrate regularly and replace with fresh. The food and water bowls should be washed out daily and fresh water provided.
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Health Locate an experienced reptile veterinarian before you have an emergency. Be observant and consult the vet of you notice any unusual behaviour or signs.
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Fertility If raised properly, captive bred blue tongued skinks will breed at about 2 old. The animals must be healthy, they have a good fat store in their tail. Females may be kept together in breeding groups, but only one male should be present. Males, generally have wider heads and their bodies when viewed from above has straight sides Females have a less bulky head and more rounded sides This is not often obvious and the only sure way is to wait and see give birth. The breeding season is January early spring to induce breeding they should be cooled for 2 months. Mating will take place within a few weeks of warming. The males often become aggressive during mating and fights may break out. It is usually better to keep the animals separate and bring them together to mate. This will usually occur immediately and the pair can be separated again. It is better to reintroduce the animals on a regular basis as single matings are seldom successful. During mating the male bites the female around the neck, this will result in bite marks and torn skin. The male will twist his tail under the females to enable mating to occur.
Blue-tongued skinks produce live young. The size of the litter varies according to the species, but usually produce around 5-12 babies, the larger the adult the larger the litter size.