The Complete Blue-Tongued Skink Care Guide

Blue-tongued skink care

Blue-tongued skinks are a common household pet among reptile and animal lovers. They are grey-toned lizards with a blue tongue that gives them their name. If you’re looking to buy a blue-tongued skink of your own, or you already have one and want to know more about their care, it’s important that you are aware of how to care for your pet. This blue-tongued skink care guide will cover the basics of what you need to know when caring for these amazing reptiles. 

Blue-tongued skink care requires a good level of dedication and time, as does the care of any domestic animal. They require a special diet, specific enclosure requirements, vitamins and supplements, and lighting for their cage. The exact information on these categories is laid out here. 

If you’re ready to take the plunge into caring for this adorable little reptile, there’s still a lot to learn. Luckily, you don’t have to go far. This guide will explain exactly each part of blue-tongued skink care that is specifically tailored to them and their needs. Read more to learn about the habitat, diet, watering needs, and more for this specific breed of skink. 

Blue-Tongued Skinks Size and Appearance

Blue-tongued skinks are unique creatures. As a skink, they are slightly different than a regular lizard. A blue-tongued skink has a long tubular body that includes a long bulky tail that can shed and regenerate. Its legs and arms are small. 

The skink’s body is made up of rough scales that can differ in color depending on the type of blue-tongued skink you have. The sizing can also differ. Here is a chart that shows the difference between the types of blue-tongued skinks: 

Type of Skink Length in inches  Color Unique Characteristic
Blotched Blue-Tongue Skink Can reach 20 inches in length at its largest. 14 inches at its smallest.  Chocolate brown or black with pink, yellow, or beige spots on its back. Has a blue tongue.  Found in wet and dry woodlands and swampy areas. 
Eastern Blue-Tongue Skink Can reach 23.3 inches in length at its largest. Is usually around 14-16 at its smallest. This is in full-grown length/weight.  Silver-grey body with dark black or brown stripes/spots on the body. Has a blue tongue.  Eastern skinks near the coast tend to have a black stripe from their ear that goes down their neck a short distance.  
Northern Blue-Tongue Skink  Can reach 26 inches in length at its largest. It is usually around 16 to 18 inches at its smallest fully grown length.  Silver or beige with brown or black stripes. Has a blue tongue.  This skink is the largest type of blue-tongued skink that exists. They are also the best choice for a pet in many experts’ opinion. 

As you can see from the chart, there are many types of blue-tongued skinks. There are even rarer types, but these are the most commonly adopted as pets. They’re originally from Australia, but nowadays breeders breed these skinks in other countries as well. You can adopt them from a reptile breeder. 

Blue-Tongued Skink Lifespan 

When a blue-tongued skink is born, he will probably be born in a litter of about 6 to 20 other skinks. The childhood of a skink is about 2 to 3 years until they reach full size. The full size of your skink will depend on its breed and age.

Northern blue-tongued skinks can grow to about 26 inches at their largest. The males are more likely to be larger than the females. This can vary, however. 

Once a Northern skink has reached about 16 inches in length, they are considered an adult. This can take 3 years, but some owners have reported their skink has reached full size in a shorter time. 

Keeping your skink with a great diet, all of the vitamins and supplements he needs, and a proper tank with enough space will allow your skink to grow properly and live longer. 

If there are no health problems and the skink’s care is very well-managed, your skink can live up to 30 years. Most blue-tongued skinks have a lifespan of around 20 or 25 years of age. This is a long time, and more than a cat or dog, so it’s important that you know that investing in a blue-tongued skink is a lifetime investment! 

The Temperament of Blue-Tongued Skinks 

These skinks actually make an excellent reptile pet, especially for beginners. They do tend to be larger than some other lizards recommended for beginners, but they have a very excellent temperament and are fairly well-mannered. In fact, they are ranked number 4 in my top 15 pet lizards for kids and beginners. Many owners report that their skink likes to be patted on the head and held. 

Blue-tongued skinks tend to be quite sweet, quiet, and well-behaved. As long as they are given the care necessary, they do not tend to feel threatened and are easygoing. If your child is interested in a lizard, they might be a good first choice, as long as you are overseeing their care as well. 

Some of the traits of blue-tongued skinks include: 

  • Sweet and gentle mannerisms 
  • Can be comfortable with being handled often 
  • Likes attention 
  • Consistent personality 

When you first get your skink, allow him a few days to acclimate to his new home and get to know it. If a skink is overwhelmed, just like any animal, he might bite out of fear. A skink bite can hurt, as they have powerful jaws. 

If your skink starts biting out of nowhere or acting fearful when he was previously fine beforehand, it might be best to take him to the vet. He may have a medical problem that you’re unable to see or diagnose yourself. 

Make sure to also give your skink plenty of space, the correct amount of food, the proper type of lighting, and enrichment toys. This will make sure he doesn’t get stressed and aggressive due to the stress. 

Blue-Tongued Skink Handling Tips 

As mentioned before, blue-tongued skinks are fairly friendly creatures. When handling your skink, make sure that you wash your hands before and after. 

If it’s your first time picking up your skink, make sure you’ve given him a few days in his new home before touching him too much. It might stress him out. 

Here’s how to handle your skink:

  1. Wash your hands before anything else. 
  2. If you’re not comfortable holding your skink yet, you can wear gloves for safety.
  3. Judge by your skink’s behavior if he’s comfortable being picked up right now.  
  4. Use two hands to hold your lizard.
  5. Put one hand under his front, underneath his arms. 
  6. Put your other hand under his back legs to support his heavy tail. 
  7. Do not be aggressive or move too quickly with your lizard. Move him where he needs to go and don’t hold him for too long, he may get distressed. 
  8. You can pat or give light scratches on his chin or head. Blue-tongued skinks are said to enjoy this at times. 
  9. Use the same method to return him to his cage. Make sure he wasn’t injured. 
  10. Wash your hands again as any animal can carry bacteria. 

If you follow these steps, you’ll create a good and trusting relationship with your skink and feel safer handling him when you need or want to. 

If you’re unsure how to follow the guide, this video on YouTube from the NWS department of education shows you exactly how to do it. 

Do keep in mind that skinks don’t like to be handled too much so don’t stress out your pet. 

Blue-Tongued Skink Diet 

A proper diet an essential part of blue-tongued skink care. These types of skinks tend to eat what other lizards eat, but you have some choices. These lizards are omnivores. Their diet should include both meat and vegetables. 

It is a good rule of thumb to feed your skink 50 or 60% vegetables and 50 or 40% proteins. You can feed them fruit as well but in more moderate amounts. Younger skinks will typically enjoy more protein than fully grown adults. 

Common Skink Foods

These are the most common skink foods that are generally safe for your pet to eat. Many skink owners feed their pets these things. 

  • Calcium worms and larva 
  • Locusts
  • Roaches
  • Snails
  • Silkworms
  • Earthworms
  • Turnip Greens 
  • Mustard Greens 
  • Collard Greens 
  • Most types of squash
  • Prickly pear 
  • Carrots
  • Bell peppers 

Make sure to vary your pet’s diet, and do not give him too much of one high-calory food such as carrots or certain types of worms. If you feed your pet a diet of only worms, they will get overweight and can have health complications. 

Foods to Not Feed to Your Skink

The following food should not be fed to your skink, as they are considered toxic and can make your pet very sick and can even cause death. 

  • Avocado 
  • Onions 
  • Toxic flowers 
  • Eggplants
  • Potatoes 
  • Tulips 
  • Rhubarb 

If you’re unsure about any food, make sure to look it up before feeding it to your skink. It’s better to be safe than to have something bad happen to your pet. 

How to Feed your Skink 

Skinks should be fed at different times and in different amounts depending on their age. Here is a handy chart that can help you know when and what you should feed your pet. 

Skink Age Time of Feeding  What to Feed 
0-6 months of age  Feed daily  A small portion of insect meat and a small portion of greens. Do not give too many vegetables. The worms are more important at this stage. 
6-12 months of age  Every other day. Check with your vet or animal nutritionist first. If your skink is underweight, he may still need to be fed every day.  Your skink can now eat all of the approved foods. This can include worms, veggies, and greens. 
12 months and up  2-3 days per week if you have verified with a vet or animal nutritionist that your skink is healthy. Some skinks will only eat 1 time a week and this can be normal. Check with your vet if you’re not sure.  Your skink can continue to eat approved foods. This includes worms, veggies, greens, and other approved foods. Some people feed their skink dog or cat food, but this is something you should only do with a vet’s advice if you’re not an expert in blue-tongued skink care. 

As you can see from this chart, skink feeding can vary depending on age, weight, size, and type of food. You need to make sure that if you’re not 100% comfortable with knowing what to feed your skink, you are talking to your vet or animal nutritionist to verify that your skink is healthy. 

An overweight or underweight skink can lead to health complications which can cause diseases and even death. 

Water for Your Skink 

Some people may think that lizards don’t need much water as they tend to live in drier climates. This isn’t true for all lizards, and it’s not true for all skinks. Many skinks live in dry and wet climates and require water to survive, just like any animal. 

With this being said, blue-tongued skinks cannot swim and can drown if their water is too high in their dish. Do not give them a pool of water or a dish that is deep enough to drown them. 

Make sure to keep a shallow water dish available with clean filtered water every single day. Your skink will drink as they wish, and it’s important to keep them hydrated.

Make sure the water bowl can’t be tipped over, this will ensure your skink’s safety and will prevent them from getting a respiratory illness from too much water in their bedding. 

Your skink’s cage should also contain a humidity of around 40 and 60 percent. This will ensure your skink is still being hydrated in a way that is safe for them. 

Vitamins and Supplements for Blue-Tongued Skinks

Just like with humans and other animals, vitamins and supplements are an important part of a skink’s diet. This is because their food does not always contain exactly the right amount of what is needed to keep them healthy. 

The most important vitamins and supplements are listed below with reasoning for why the skink should take them and how much should be given. That said, consult with your veterinarian first before implementing a supplement program. 

Calcium supplement – Skinks need a calcium supplement to support their growth and supplement their diet which is low in calcium. Choose a product that does not contain Vitamin D. 

According to the Lafeber veterinarian files, vitamin D can be toxic for the skink in large quantities. 
Lightly brush a layer of calcium supplement on the skink’s food before feeding 1-3 times a week. 

Reptile Multivitamin- You can find pre-made reptile multivitamins at many pet stores and retailers. These often include Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, and other important vitamins that your pet needs. Often these are vitamins that might be lacking in the normal diet.

Offer this vitamin once a week. 

If you’re following these guidelines, your skink will most definitely feel and look healthier and more energetic. It’s important that you don’t overdo or underuse the vitamins and supplements because lizards are sensitive to their diet. 

Blue-Tongued Skink Enclosure Size And Requirments 

All lizards and skinks require a proper enclosure to be safe, dry, comfortable and contained. When it comes to blue-tongued skinks, they are quite a bit larger than a regular pet lizard might be. For this reason, they will need a larger tank. The general requirements are outlined below. 

Enclosure Item Size Type 
Tank/Main enclosure  The skink’s tank should be at least 55 gallons, but it’s better to get larger. There’s nothing too large as long as it’s safe and the skink can access everything within.

A larger tank allows for your skink to get more exercise and explore more. 
You don’t need too high of walls for your tank as blue-tongued skinks are not good climbers. 
Glass is the most preferred material for a skink tank, but other materials can be used as long as they’re approved by your vet. 
Top for enclosure  It should fit securely on top of the main tank. Usually, lizard/skink tanks come with a top that has room to put a light and a filter.  Most commonly used is sturdy mesh. It is breathable and allows the placement of a lamp and other items. 
Make sure the top of the tank is secure and cannot come off. Flimsy plastic, paper, or other lightweight materials aren’t breathable and aren’t a good idea. 
Substrate  There is more information on this later in the article, but the substrate is an important material for the tank. It should fill the entire bottom of the enclosure, but not too much that it covers everything inside.  Newspaper, burrowing material, paper, reptile cage lining, and mulch if changed frequently. 
More information on the types of lining to not be used can be found in the substrate section of this article.  
Cage Items and Enrichment Items  These items should be big enough for the skink to fit in or use and not small enough for the skink to choke on or eat. 
Any items with water or lighting should be checked for temperature and safety before adding to the tank. 
Many of the materials mentioned above are safe for skink enrichment items as well. 
More information on the types of enrichment or lighting items or furniture safe for a skink’s cage can be found in the décor section of this article. 

As with everything, if you’re not sure what a skink’s cage should contain, it never hurts to ask an expert. Your skink’s breeder or pet store might have some information on what you should buy. Also asking an associate of a credible pet supply store is a good way to find more information. 

Best Substrate For The Blue-Tongued Skink 

Your skink’s enclosure should be lined with a substrate. When it comes to this material, it’s extremely important that it is safe for your skink and cleaned out frequently. Dirty or unsafe material can hold bacteria and moisture and can give your skink diseases or respiratory illness. 

The safest materials to line your skink’s cage include: 

  • Reptile paper bought from a credible pet supply store 
  • Bedding material bought from a credible pet supply store 
  • Reptile bark and mulch 
  • Zoo Med Forest Floor Is A Great Choice 

If you do use reptile bark or mulch, make sure to change the bedding often as the materials can trap moisture inside. Completely remove and add new mulch once monthly. Clean up dirty spots every couple of days near the food and bedding. 

If you use reptile carpet bedding, wash it every couple of days and make sure it’s dry before re-adding it to the cage. 

Here are some of the bedding materials to never use: 

  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Sharp materials 
  • Absorbent blanket material 
  • Cedarwood shavings
  • Moss
  • Corn material 
  • Alfalfa 

Do not use these bedding materials as many of them hold moisture and bacteria and others are sharp and unsafe for the reptile’s feet or can be ingested and cause blockages in the animal’s intestines, which can cause fatal injuries. 

Tank Décor 

The décor of your skink’s enclosure is important! It’s the skink’s only home, and it’s where they will spend their entire life, so it’s important to include everything the skink needs to be happy and healthy and rest well. 

Make sure to include the following in your tank: 

  • Food and water dishes – these should be separate dishes and should be shallow, so the skink doesn’t get stuck or drown. 
  • Sleeping area – it’s best to give your skink a bedding area that is underneath a wood overhang or rock where they can hide and get shade from the lighting of the cage. Skinks are shy animals and like to have privacy. 
  • Toys – Skinks enjoy enrichment items. Something good for them might be a large ball that they cannot choke on, large pieces of wood to hide under, or PVC pipes that they can crawl into. 
  • Plants- If you’re going to add plants to your enclosure, make sure it’s a very large enclosure and that you choose non-toxic plants. Skinks need space and too many plants will add another element of moisture that could cause illness if not measured properly. 
  • Basking Area- Add an area in your skink’s cage directly underneath the heat lamp where they can bask. If you live in a hot area, you can leave your skink’s cage near the sun during a hot day to provide some extra basking heat for them, but make sure to check the cage temperature. 

If you keep this in mind, your skink will most likely be happy and healthy until its final days. Do not add too many items in a small space. Give your skink space to walk around and explore too.

Make sure to clean out old non-used items and dead insects the skink has not eaten. 

Blue-Tongued Skink Temperature and Humidity

Skink enclosures should not be too hot or too cold. Your skink requires a certain amount of temperature regulation to stay happy and healthy. Here’s what’s generally required. 

Your pet’s cage should never be under 75-degrees Fahrenheit. Your cage can go up to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. The only exception is providing a basking area that reaches temperatures of 90-98 degrees. One side of the enclosure should be warmer than the other side.

This way your blue-tongued skink can choose where they want to be during the day. It is also a good idea to place the water on the cooler side of the enclosure as well. 

It’s extremely important to keep the heat in their cage, as they are lizards and require light to live. They do not regulate their body heat as humans do. 

You can use both a UV lamp and an under-tank heating area in the basking section of your pet’s cage to provide a good amount of heat for them to lay in. In the cooler section of the cage, such as the bedding area, the temperature can get down to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Put thermometers on two sides of the cage to ensure that you know what temperature your skink is in at any given moment. 

Cage Lighting Requirements 

Just like heat and humidity, it’s important that your skink has the proper lighting. The light is what provides a lot of the heat for your skink’s enclosure, so you must have the correct one and it must be turned on and working. 

A UV light is essential for the skink to maintain their health. You can find these lamps at most pet retailers as well as a mounting device to add it to your pet’s cage. Make sure it’s not too far or close to the cage when setting it up. 

When you have your light set up, wait for a few hours to check the temperature in the cage before adding the skink. 

The gradient of the light should range between 3.0 to 5.0 UVI in their basking area and can be 0 in the shaded areas under their rock or wood platforms. 


Blue-tongued skinks are easy, friendly, and lovable pets for anyone passionate about reptile care. They can be a great beginner pet to get into the world of reptiles.

With that being said, it’s extremely important to remember that they live many years and you’re dedicating a big portion of your life to the care of this animal. Never take on an animal that you cannot care for. 

Using the steps from this guide, you should now feel much more prepared to take on a blue-tongued skink of your own. As always, if you’re not sure, consult a vet or reptile expert for more information. These people are experts for a reason

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