Blue Tongue Skinks

Are Blue Tongue Skinks Poisonous?

Blue tongue skinks are an amazing little reptile. With their unusual body shape and distinctive blue tongues, it’s no wonder people may think, are blue tongue skinks poisonous? Well throughout this article we will delve into all the things you need to know about blue tongue skinks, and if they’re dangerous to own.

The blue tongued skink is not poisonous but don’t tell that to it’s predators. Aposematism is nature’s way of announcing danger. Animals that are dangerous to eat are often brightly colored. Thus, when a predator sees the blue tongued skink’s blue tongue it assumes the skink is poisonous. However, with this particular skink, it’s just a trick as they are ultimately not poisonous.

The blue-tongued skink, a lizard, is the largest member of the skink family. It’s most often identified by it’s very long and brightly colored, blue tongue. Due to its similar appearance to the death adder, a highly poisonous snake, the blue tongued skink is often killed by humans.

Skinks are not pack animals. They are friendly but prefer to live in solitude. They are not fast runners which often make them fall victim to larger and much quicker predators.

Skinks can live for many years and breed during the spring and winter months. Unfortunately for the female skinks, male skinks can be very aggressive during mating season and sometimes injure the females while they try to fight with other males for breeding ground.

Once a female skink has mated fully, there is a likelihood that she will give birth to a range of 10-20 baby skinks. Skinks aren’t considered to be fully mature until they are 3 years old.

Are Blue Tongue Skinks Poisonous?

If you live on a suburban farm or have a large garden or lawn, it’s understandable that you’d want to know more about poisonous animals that could be lurking in your yard. Blue tongued skinks are often found in areas with a lot of available open land and ground cover.

However, they are safe to have on your property.

Most often found in Tasmania, New Guinea, and Australia, skinks enjoy a dry climate. They reside on the ground and enjoy the heat. They’ll dig a hole to hide from predators or the sun on overly hot days. They also like to burrow to protect themselves.

If you bring skinks inside, they will ideally have a large cage with a great deal of access to ground covering so that they can hide away when they want.

Skink Attributes

Blue tongue skinks are lizards which means they can drop their tails. This may seem like a weird defense mechanism but it’s very helpful.

For example, this comes in handy if a predator has the skink trapped by it’s tail. The skink can release the tail and escape. The process of losing its tale is referred to as autotomy.

The skink is not the only animal that does. The skink, unlike a snake, also has four legs.

Are Blue Tongue Skinks Poisonous To Eat?

People often confuse the terms poisonous and venomous. A venomous animal is an animal that stings you or bites you in order to inject you with toxins. A bee, for example, is venomous. A poisonous animal is one that releases toxins into the predator’s body as it’s being eaten.

While the blue tongued skink has plenty of natural predators it’s not poisonous. Thus, another animal simply eating the skink will not be cause the predator to fall ill (unless the skink is sick). Of course, if you find that your dog has eaten a skink, you should keep an eye on it for signs of illness.

Anytime your dog or cat consumes something that it shouldn’t, you should keep an eye on it. It doesn’t matter if the animal is poisonous or not. If it’s a foreign substance, watch for signs of illness and contact your veterinarian if needed. It’s always possible the skink ate something that then made the dog or cat sick.

Are Blue Tongue Skinks Poisonous To Other Animals?

Blue tongue skinks are not poisonous to other animals. For this reason, they can be good pets to have in a multi-pet household.

Of course, while this means that it’s safe for the pets in your house to have the skink around, that doesn’t mean it’s safe for the skink to have your other pets around.

Further, while it’s safe to have other pets around, skinks are relatively solitary animals. This means they would not be happy in a cage with hundreds of other skinks or other reptiles.

Why People May Think Blue Tongue Skinks Are Poisonous?

People are often scared of snakes. There are plenty of snakes that are neither poisonous or venomous but that doesn’t put most people at ease. Scaley and long, the variety of snakes out there makes it difficult to keep track of which ones are actually dangerous.

A bite from the wrong snake can be deadly.

Because of it’s coloring and shape, skinks are sometimes confused for snakes. It has a solid build and a big head. Skinks can grow to be two feet long and weight almost a full pound. However, they move differently than snakes and have limbs that allow them to climb and grip on. A snake does not.

It’s understandable why someone would confuse a blue tongued skink with a snake based on its shape and scales. However, this unfortunate but sad reality means that blue tongued skinks are often killed even though they are considered harmless.

If you find yourself in the garden questioning whether or not what you’re looking at is poisonous, your best bet is to simply get away from it.

Are Blue Tongue Skinks Dangerous?

Blue tongued skinks are not dangerous. However, they are often in danger especially in the presence of Cane Toads. Cane Toads are a highly invasive species and their toxins are lethal to the skink. This means that the toxins will kill the skink.

Dogs and feral cats are also a danger to the skink and will hunt them down. Of course, just because a cat isn’t feral doesn’t’ mean it wouldn’t chase one but typically a house cat is not wandering the yard and thus is less likely to find itself alone with a blue tongued skink.

In order to protect itself, when approached a skink will try to make itself look bigger and it will make noise. This is common behavior in the animal kingdom.

The blue tongued snick  will also hiss and flick it’s blue tongue. All of these make it seem threatening to potential predators. It can also confuse someone who isn’t paying attention closely and may make them think they are looking at a snake when they are really just looking at a very large lizard.

While the skink has plenty of other predators, it is not dangerous, unless you own a garden and don’t want your leaves chewed on.

Are Blue Tongue Skinks Safe Pets To Own With Children?

Blue tongue skinks are safe pets to own for children. They are easy going and can be friendly with regular handling. They eat a variety of foods including plants and insects.  

If skinks are not handled regularly, they can become withdrawn and shy. It’s important to gently and frequently handle your skink so that it becomes accustomed to being held. This is part of its training and is a good way to keep it feeling comfortable.

Leaving a skink alone in its cage frequently will make it want to hide anytime someone approaches them. If the only interaction they have with you is you opening its cage and tossing food in, then you can expect it to be very reluctant to be held by you or any other human.

They may recognize that you are the person that feeds them regularly but unless you also handle them frequently, it will not be enough to make them comfortable with you.

Children and Skinks

Skinks can be a fun way to introduce children to nature and the cycle of life. Children can help catch insects to feed to the skink. Baby skinks take approximately 3 years to mature and can live as long as 15-20 years. This means that a childhood pet could be around well into adulthood.  

Since this pet is relatively easy to take care of, it can be a good way to introduce responsibility to children without risking too much extra work on the parents or a great deal of risk to the animal. Unlike a dog for example, a skink doesn’t need to be walked.

Walking a new puppy can be fun but the novelty wears off fairly quickly when it has to happen multiple times a day. Introducing your child to a skink, rather than a dog, is a great test of their willingness to be responsible.

Plenty of parents allow their kids to keep skinks inside and feed them. If hunting for insects in the garden is not something your child is interested in, you can purchase food at a pet store or grocery. Since they eat meat, you can feed them chicken or turkey and vegetables. It can be easy to gather food from them when you cook dinner. Beyond that, mealworms and insects can be bought.

Blue tongued skinks can be bought for anywhere from $150-$250.00 but that can vary depending on overall coloration and size.

Are Skinks just for kids?

Skinks aren’t just for children. Plenty of reptile enthusiasts enjoy keeping skinks because of their unique personalities. They are easy to raise but difficult to breed which makes it appealing to a wide variety of reptile lovers.

Female skinks are pregnant for 100 days. They do give birth, rather than laying and hatching eggs like many other reptiles. Instead, the eggs hatch inside of the skink.

Conclusion

Happiest in a warm climate with places to hide, the blue tongued skink is one of the least dangerous pets to own. Whether you catch them in your garden or purchase them from a reputable reptile breeder, skinks are easy pets to raise.

It can appear shiny due to it’s dark banding. Relatively not any more interesting to look at than any other lizard, the blue tongued skink will still catch your eye with it’s flicking. With it’s bright blue tongue, it’s easy to assume that it is poisonous but as we’ve discussed today, it’s all just a trick to ward off potential predators.

The skink has a number of self-defense mechanisms. In addition to flicking it’s tongue out at predators, the skink will hiss in hopes of chasing away whatever is chasing it. It will also try to make itself look bigger. Easy to feed and to take care of, this lizard can make an easy pet for children or just for keeping in your garden to ward off insects.

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