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Fun & Important Facts

Did you know? Have you ever seen your skink itch the side of his head with his hind leg like a dog? It's an incredibly funny site, but your skink is actually in discomfort. With every shed, your blue tongue sheds little 'ear bags'. Sometimes, these little pockets get stuck inside the ear, and don't make it out with the shed. If you see your skink itching his head with incredible accuracy, get a good grip, and very carefully and slowly, remove the 'ear plug.' They look just like little sacks or bags. Typically, they almost always will make it out on their own. Since BTS are diggers and burrowers by nature, dust and dirt inevitably finds its way inside the ear. The forming bag inside the ear canal catches these particles, and when shed time rolls around, out pops the little bag full of dirt! See picture. We've been trying to catch the scratching they do on video for almost 10 years, and finally, Dragontears on our forum captured it late one evening. See video.

Did you know? Concerned about your skink's frequent sneezing? Don't be—it's completely normal. The most simple way to put it—they're just clearing out the nostrils. They're constant burrowers, and they use their nose to scoop, push and dig. If sneezing becomes TOO frequent however, and you see mucas leaking from the eyes and nose, these are signs of a respiratory infection. It's very important to get the appropriate treatment right away, which will typically need to come from an experienced reptile vet. Also be alert of 'weezing'. Don't get heavy breathing and weezing mixed up—it's normal for them to breathe a little heavier after a big meal. Weezing will scare you.

Did you know? Once in a great while, an ALBINO blue tongued skink is born with the litter. It's a rarity, a treat, and a sight to behold. It's really no different than the white tiger, and many other animals. It's just a freak thing that happens once in a while—breed two blue tongues, and once in a blue moon, you may receive the highly coveted snow white albino blue tongued skink. Theoretically, unlike snakes, the breeding of an albino blue tongued skink has never been successfully accomplished. This is mostly in part due to their extreme rareness and unavailability. Their colors can vary from completely white, to faint yellow and orange stripes. The eyes are also cloudy and reddish. Albinos also have PINK tongues! Visit the one and only Blue Tongue Skink Albino page on the NET.

Did you know? We all love our blue tongue's cute little so called "arms" and feet. Keep a watchful eye while shedding—it is important to make sure that no scales or shedding are left on the toes or tip of the tail. This can lead to toe constriction, loss of toenails, or even complete toe loss. Same goes for the tip of the tail. See picture of damaged tail. | See picture of toes. (Special thanks to Susan Latch for submitting this picture). Also, be mindful when 'helping' with a shed. The blue tongue's toes are extremely delicate, and if you were to pull too hard in attempt of helping, you could very well damage or break a toe, or even pull one right off. Use caution. Don't ever pull or force the loose scales off. They'll come off when they're good and ready. If it's just scale residue (on the toes), be sure to remove that. Use your fingernail. Also, remove any cat or dog food that might be left on your skink's rostrum. The large majority of blue tongue's are friendly and will let you, even though they usually rub their faces themselves when finished eating.

Did you know? Have you ever noticed your blue tongue's underbelly turning from a brilliant orange to a cloudy creamy white? It only means that they will begin shedding within 1-2 weeks. Color usually returns to normal 1-3 days prior to the actual shed. Remember to let your skink shed on his own. They have their own natural routine, and it's best to leave them to it.

Did you know? Many skinks and lizards can lose their tails as a defense mechanism. This includes blue tongued skinks. Never hold your blue tongue by the tail, or grab the tail if it's trying to get away. It can break or pull off! It will regrow/cap off slightly, but it will never be as nice as the original. See picture of regenerating tail.

Did you know? Many blue tongued skinks are 'cliff-divers'. NEVER leave them unattended in a high place. They are without fear, and will most certainly jump right off. A low couch is usually ok, as they slowly 'creep' down the side with their claws, and onto the floor. Never leave them in a high location such as a countertop or table. Of course this could be said about any reptile, but blue tongues are big and heavy animals unlike many snakes and geckos, and they can't grip or hold on to anything. Those stubby little legs and feet aren't used for much!

Did you know? It has been said since the olden days, and in traditional folklore and legend, that blue tongued skinks are venomous. It certainly does appear this way at first considering their big blue tongue, but it is of course untrue. The only venomous lizards are the Gila Monster and the Mexican Beaded Lizard. They are found in deserts in Arizona, and down into Mexico. It is also untrue that a blue tongued skink bite wound will reappear on the anniversary of the bite (old legend).

Did you know? Blue tongued skinks have come to be known as "Cadillacs of the Pet Lizard World."

Written by Zach @ bluetongueskinks.net

Click here for a printable version of this page

Question & Answer - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: "Can I put my blue tongue skink in water?"
A: Blue tongue skinks are not strong swimmers, and are not meant to swim. Water does not hurt them however, and there is nothing wrong with placing them in shallow water. It's actually a humorous sight! They attempt to swim by straightening their legs to their bodies, and wiggling their tail. They look like an eel!

Q: "My skink has had diarrhea for a while, any suggestions?"
A: This is not uncommon... Just try feeding your skink more solid foods for a while. Broiled white chicken is a good example (thanks to Edward). Avoid slushy foods like kiwi. A case of the runs does not necessarily mean your skink is under any kind of health risk.
Q: "My skink won't eat! Help!"
A: One of the most common questions. Many blue tongued skinks cease to eat completely for 3-4 months during the winter period. This is especially the case if they are cooled down for breeding, but they will often just naturally stop eating without any interference at all (usually around the months of November-February). If you don't plan on breeding, keep offering food about once a week whether he eats it or not. One method to get them eating again is offering a few crickets or even a fuzzy mouse. After not eating for so long, plain food might not look appealing. However, something running & moving gets the skink's attention, and sometimes boosts him back into the eating mode. This won't always work, as some skinks are just stubborn. If your skink is a picky eater, and only eats fruit for example, try taking away the fruit and offering many varieties of vegetables mixed with soft cat food. Blue tongued skinks often only like certain things! Trial & error is often mandatory to find out what is liked, and what isn't. It's important to keep a balanced diet though either way. Read more on the caresheet.
Q: "I want this particular species! Where can I find it?"
A: This entirely depends on where you live. If you live in Australia, then all blue tongue skinks reside in different parts of the continent, and you're likely to see any species loose in the wild. If you're in the United States, the most common blue tongues (starting with the most common) are: Indonesian, Irian Jaya, Merauke, Northern, Eastern, and the Tanimbar. The first four are virtually equal. The rarest would be the Western, Centralian, and Shingleback. Blotched are also very scarce as is the Kei Island. The Kei is actually a resident of Indonesia, so it's not that uncommon when you think about it to find a wild caught one in a pet store. The management of course would have no idea what they had, and would likely sell it for around $150. I actually just met a lady in Canada who did just that! There was a group of THREE Indonesians for sale at a pet store. Two were indeed Indonesians, but the other was its rare sub-species, the Kei Island. Update: The Kei Island just took a major nose-dive in value as hundreds have recently been imported into the country.
Q: "My blue tongue never basks, and is ALWAYS on the cool end, or in its water bowl. What's up?"
A: It's very likely that your entire tank is too hot. Be sure you have a large tank, and a wide temperature gradient—90-100 degrees on the hot basking end, and a 70-80 degree cool end.

Please visit the forum for help on any topic!
Other Blue Tongues and Similar Lizards
The Slender Blue Tongued Skink (cyclodomorphus branchialis, Günther, 1867)
This species looks like a blue tongue skink, and even has a blue tongue! But it does not belong to the genus Tiliqua. This species is listed as 'Vulnerable'.

The Pink Tongued Skink (Hemisphaeriodon gerrardii)
This species also looks like a blue tongue skink, but actually has a pink tongue. Although it is usually born with a blue tongue, it also is not part of the genus Tiliqua. It is often talked about as being in the genus, but is not.

The Galliwasp (Diploglossus monotropis)
Contrary to popular belief, The Nicaraguan Galliwasp is not part of the skink family. They belong to Anguidae, which translates to "alligator lizard." These guys are uncommon in the pet trade, and command a hefty price tag.

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Venomous Lizards (Heloderma)
These are the only two toxic lizards in the world. The Gila Monster, and the Beaded Lizard.

Visit the GILA RANCH for details!

Skinks with green blood?
The Yellow-Footed Green Blooded Skink

Papua New Guinea is often billed as ‘The Land of the Unexpected’ and it is certainly that. Five small species of skinks with green blood are found here, the only green-blooded land vertebrates in the world. But why would these small inoffensive lizards evolve green blood? In 1968 research into the blood of green-blooded skinks determined that the colouration was due to the presence of a biliverdin-type pigment, like that found in bile. Mark has a theory that this may make the lizards taste bitter and deter predators, a once tried, never repeated experience for lizard-eating birds. Dr Chris Austin is the only scientist in the world currently studying green-blooded skinks and he has an alternative theory, one that if correct, might lead to a cure for human diseases like jaundice, or even malaria. Mark and Chris set out to scour the mountains and WWII wreck strewn jungles of PNG in an attempt to locate three of the five known green-blooded skink species and obtain blood samples for analysis. But whose theory is closest to the truth?