Blue Tongue Skinks Behaviour – Friend or Foe
The blue-tongued skink, scientifically known as Tiliqua scincoides, is commonly found in tropical areas of Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia. If you were to keep one as a pet, you should ensure that their environment mirrors their natural habitat as much as possible. This article discusses the blue-tongued skink’s usual behaviours, temperaments, changes in behaviour, and treatment options. But what is a blue tongue skinks behaviour?
What Is a Blue Tongue Skinks Usual Behaviour?
As with most animals, blue-tongued skinks thrive in the right conditions, such as a large terrarium with plenty of space, rocks for hiding, and the correct lighting, temperature, and diet.
Generally, blue-tongued skinks can be quite shy, and they enjoy hiding under shelters. The owner’s job when the animal is in captivity is to provide as much similarity as possible to their natural habitat so that the animals can behave normally.
You should try to find extra items that you can place in their vivariums, like stones and rocks, and branches for climbing. As they tend to feel most comfortable in hiding, you should also provide an appropriately sized cave that they can explore.
Blue-tongued skinks also like to dig around and burrow, as they would in their habitat. You’ll need to add substrate, i.e. floor covering, to their vivarium. This could include materials like reptile-safe sand, particularly for the Australian species, and coco bark and coconut noir. You SHOULDN’T use indigestible substrate materials as these could be potentially harmful to them if ingested.
Providing them with opportunities for natural behavior, firstly means that they’re more likely to feel safer and more trusting towards their owner, and secondly, it allows them to have a fulfilling life where they can be themselves.
Blue-tongued skinks aren’t capable of maintaining a constant body temperature and therefore have to use the sun’s heat. You may often find them in the heat as they enjoy warmer areas. During the day, blue-tongued skinks are more active and like to explore, and at night, they find their shelter.
The most significant behavioral change in blue-tongued skinks is during the winter months. As it begins to get colder, they become less active and will typically hibernate until the conditions start to become warmer.
Are Blue Tongued Skinks Friendly?
Overall, blue-tongued skinks tend to be friendly. There are some species, however, like the Tanimbar Island blue-tongued skink, that can be extremely aggressive. These types of skinks shouldn’t be kept as pets and they are certainly not recommended to families with children.
Whilst some blue-tongued skinks have been labeled as more aggressive than others, most blue-tongued skinks are labeled as ‘docile’ creatures that are typically submissive to their owners. The only time when they may divert from their docile nature is if they feel threatened, in which case, they could retaliate.
Whilst blue-tongued skinks are friendly, but when you first bring your pet home, they are going to be initially shy. You should set up their vivarium and run it for at least a week before introducing them to their new home. This gives you time to get used to the correct settings and allows for your new pet to settle in as much as possible when the time comes.
Once you’ve begun to look after them, you should allow them to have a settling-in period. Ensure that you provide them with all their necessary requirements, but refrain from handling them too early on. You should wait for about a week before trying to handle them.
Even during the settlement period, you can start to build a relationship with your new pet by adding new rocks and other items that allow them to properly explore.
After this, if blue-tongued skinks are handled often, then they’re more likely to maintain their friendly nature. They should be handled at least every few days, otherwise, they become more anti-social and retaliate when you want to handle them again. As they become more familiar with their owner, the friendlier they tend to be.
Although blue-tongued skinks are friendlier with humans, they don’t necessarily deal too well with others of their own kind. If you are considering buying more than one blue-tongued skink, then you should note that they should be kept separately. As blue-tongued skinks have an extremely territorial nature, they like to be dominant in their space, and if this is threatened, it leads to further issues.
Blue-tongued skinks have been known to become aggressive towards each other, including both male and females, and in some cases, has even led to death. Therefore, if you do decide that you want multiple skinks, it’s best to keep them in separate vivariums and allow them to live alone.
Do Blue Tongue Skinks Behave Nicely Towards Children?
As blue-tongued skinks are quite docile reptiles, they do behave nicely towards children. However, it’s important that they’re handled correctly.
When getting a new pet, it’s understandable that sometimes children can be over-excited and become a little rough. They’ve got a new friend and they want to get hands-on as soon as possible.
However, for skinks, it’s important that they’re allowed this settling-in period to ensure that they feel comfortable in their new environment. When the settling period is over, it’s vital that adults teach their children how to properly handle them.
Whilst they’re typically friendly, blue-tongued skinks don’t like to be grabbed as this can cause them stress. Instead, they should be scooped up using both hands and ensure that all of their legs are supported.
If handled too heavily, they’re likely to feel threatened. Be aware that blue-tongued skinks DO bite, which can be quite painful. To prevent this from happening, children should avoid provoking them and they should be always supervised by an adult.
Does a Blue Tongue Skinks Behaviour Change When Hungry?
Depending on a variety of factors including age, size, physiology, and health, blue-tongued skinks can go for 3-6 months without food.
Adults can last longer without food in comparison to baby skinks. As the baby skinks are growing and developing, they need to eat more regularly for survival.
The larger the body of the skink, the longer that they can survive without food. Generally, blue-tongued skinks can survive without food for 3 months, but if the skinks have more fat, they use it to sustain them for even longer, particularly during hibernation periods.
In their natural environment, at times, there would’ve been a lack of food available. Due to this, blue-tongued skinks are able to suppress their appetite and can function without food for a long period of time without having any health complications.
Skinks must have good health in the first place in order for them to be able to survive without food, i.e., the healthier they are, the longer they can survive.
Skinks don’t tend to get hungry as they are able to train their bodies for survival mode like they do in the wild. Therefore, their behaviors are unlikely to change.
What Are The Signs That a Blue Tongue Skinks Behaviour Has Changed?
At times, when blue-tongued skinks feel threatened, they’ll pull away, and they may use their body to show physical signs to indicate that they’re uncomfortable.
So, what signs should you look out for?
If they’re distressed, blue-tongued skinks will curl into a C shape, puff up their bodies, stick out their blue tongues, and hiss. Similar to other lizards, when they feel at risk, they have the ability to lose their tails.
When they puff up their bodies, it gives the illusion that they are larger than they are and the blue tongue is used as a warning that they could potentially be dangerous. They closely resemble death adders and with similar coloration, other predators stay clear from them.
Therefore, you should note that when they do this, it’s merely a defense mechanism as they are used to this territorial conflict in their natural habitats. When this does happen, it’s best to leave them be for a while.
Once they have returned to their natural form, they may still be on the defense so you may want to hold back a while before handling them again.
What Are The Treatments For Blue Tongue Skinks Behaviour Changes?
In order to prevent your blue-tongued skink’s behavior from changing, there are a few things that you may be able to do to make it feel more comfortable in their environment.
When handled correctly, blue-tongued skinks thrive off the interaction. They’re friendly and sociable creatures who like to be petted. It is often from the lack of interaction that causes the behavioral changes in the first place.
As a result, they can retaliate or become antisocial again. Therefore, by regularly handling them, you’re building up a bond with your pet and this will help to prevent any further behavioral reactions.
Like other lizards, blue-tongued skinks are ectothermic, which means that they use the environment around them to change their temperature. In order to ensure that they can properly do this, you should put a heat source at one end of their vivarium and a cold source at the other. This way, they are able to change their temperature accordingly.
According to PetMD, the ideal temperature for blue-tongued skinks is between 86-95 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.
As blue-tongued skinks come from the wild, it’s essential that the humidity levels in their vivarium are correct. Failure to do so will mean that they won’t have enough ventilation. Depending on where your pet has originated from impacts how high or low the humidity levels should be.
By ensuring that they have the right temperature and humidity levels that are suitable for them, they’re more likely to be content in their environment, and therefore compliant and refrain from behavioral outbursts.
To conclude, are blue-tongued skinks friends or foes? Well, typically, they’re going to be your friend. Like most pets, if you provide them with the necessities, as well as a few other things for them to play with, they’ll make an excellent new friend.
It’s essential that you supply blue-tongued skinks with an environment as similar to the wild as possible. Supply them with open spaces, rocks, logs, and branches, and your pet will feel comfortable and free.
If you’re thinking about your little ones with this pet, you shouldn’t be too worried. Of course, you should definitely find out a little more about the specific species to see if any of these factors change, but most commonly, they’ll be fine with children.
Just remember that you should handle them with care, and children should always be supervised.
Whilst they require a little more than some other pets, regarding lighting, temperature, humidity, special diets, etc, if you’re willing to provide for them, then they’ll give back to you.
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