WORK IN PROGRESS..
What are skinks?
The 1200 species-strong skink represents the largest group within the lizard family. They resemble roughly like true lizards, but most species have no pronounced necks and sport relatively short legs. The way skinks move are generally akin to that of the serpent than other lizards.
Blue Tongue Skinks.
Blue tongue skinks belong to the genus Tiliqua. They are among the larger species of skinks around. Blue tongue skinks have a rather unusual body proportion - big head, long body and very short and small feet. The skinks have scales that are smooth to the touch and are not rough or slimy. The most apparent feature of this odd lizard is the cobalt-blue coloured tongue inside a bright pink mouth; hence the name Blue Tongue Skink!
Blue tongue skinks tame down very easily and are among the most docile of lizards around. This makes them appealing to even the ladies and kids. The personable blue tongue skink is known as the Cadillacs of the pet lizard world. These skinks may even tame down enough over the years to be lounging with you in your living room while you have a cup of coffee and watch the stupid box. We came up with the name The Lizard's Lounge from this.
Blue tongue skinks' range covers a wide area of localities which include sub-humid tropical forests to arid scrubs and grasslands. They are found in the small islands of Indonesia, Northern Irian Jaya, New Guinea, Tanimbar and Australia. Although these animals carry similar characteristics and physical attributes, each subspecies within these small pockets of habitats are quite distinctly different.
We are currently working with skinks from the Indonesian, Irian Jaya, Tanimbar & Northern Australian varieties. There is now a drive to add a few more subspecies that will cover more species and localities next year. All this, in the hope to make the local pet skink scene a more interesting one in a couple of years time.
The shape and structure of blue tongue skinks' blunt teeth are signature characteristics of an animal feeding primarily on invertebrates, rodents and other small mammals. In the wild, blue tongue skinks have also been seen foraging on fruits, eggs and nestlings. There have been sightings of skinks feeding on carrion.
Here at TheLizardsLounge.com, we follow the Andrew Seike recommendation for blue tongue skinks' diet. This diet has been working excellently for Andrew over the past 23 years. The following list describes Andrew's recommendation -
"1. A high grade cat or dog food.
2. Vegetables (greens) - if you like some occasional fruit
2. Rep Cal with D3 and Herptivite
Ratio: a. 0-12 months: 90-100 dog/cat food, 0-10% - a spoonful every other day to a tablespoon.
b. 1 year - 2 years: 80% dog/cat food, 20% plant - Two tablespoons to 2.5 tablespoons every third day
c. 3 years+: 60-70% dog/cat food, 40-30% plant - three tablespoons every third to fifth day "
For added fibre and minerals, we also include JBL Agivert into the mix. We also add feeding pinkies weekly to gravid females to help boost nutrition for the growing embryos.
Metabolic Bone Disease (Hypocalcemia)
Metabolic bone disease (MBD) is the most common health related problem in blue tongue skinks. I would rather call this condition a disorder rather than a disease. MBD encompasses the entire list of abnormalities of bone structure formation. In blue tongue skinks, the major contributions for well defined bones are calcium intake and metabolization (absorption) of calcium. This condition often occurs in the early years of a skink’s life, mostly related to the exponential growth in body mass during the first year compared to the bone density and.
The general consensus is that MBD in blue tongue skinks is brought about by one key reason – that being, inadequate variety of diet. The basic building blocks of good bone formation are a good balance in the intake of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D3. Phosphorus and calcium work in a homeostatic manner – there has to be a balance between the two. Aside from the minerals and vitamins mentioned, blue tongue skinks being basking reptiles require UVB in order to help with metabolizing calcium.
The common symptoms of MBD to look out for are abnormal/unnatural leg movement or an unusual ‘hump’ formation on the spine.
It is important to understand that MBD is not a reversible condition. However, by identifying the underlying reason for MBD and offering a correct diet, the keeper can the situation from worsening. If not treated, the brittle bones face a real danger of warping further eventually causing partial paralysis or even to the point of endangering the life of the unfortunate animal.
Depending on how early MBD is detected and
treated (especially in the very early stages), a lot of skinks do grow up well
and lead an almost normal life despite being the humpback of the pack.
Tail Loss (Caudal Anatomy)
Among the most commonly asked question I get from curious friends and potential keepers is whether a skink can detach its tail like a house gecko or a garden skink does. The answer is yes. However, a skink’s tail doesn’t break easily.
Blue tongue skinks can lose its tail under
distress from predation. The broken tail can be regenerated but will never look as good as the original. Tail loss is an extremely stressful experience for a skink and can easily be avoided by refraining from handling the animal by its tail.
Why Blue Tongue Skinks?
Blue tongue skinks
Beginners 101 - Preparing Your Newcomer =)
What to Expect?
Considering Blue Tongue For A Pet.
1. Wildcaught? - Is the animal wild caught or captive bred? Where possible, always go for a captive bred skink over wildcaught ones. Captive bred skinks are generally healthier as they are not directly exposed to parasites/ diseases from the wild as well as from the storage and shipping of these animals as they are taken from their habitats and delivered through their customers and end buyers. This chain of supply leaves the animals highly susceptible to parasites from the lack of practice of hygiene & disinfection of the recycled containers used to house the animals. Captive bred animals also generally are more tolerant to handling and have a better demeanor compared to wild caught ones. This being said, there will be a lot of occasions when we have to resort to buying wild caught specimens in order to establish them in captivity. A good amount of patience and lots of TLC will help when acquiring animals that are wild caught. Wild skinks do tame down and make good pets as well, despite having a testy temperament to begin with.
2. Species - Blue tongue skinks are seen much less in the local reptile keeping hobby when compared to other reptiles especially colubrids, pythons and geckos. The knowledge on identifying species within the genus is also not very well established here. Identification of species is absolutely important when it comes to breeding. Interspecies breeding is common in captivity when unethical breeders/keepers pile up to 10 animals in a single cage without having a clue of the species they have themselves. The result is the birth of 'mutts' (babies with no proper species identification - from crossing parents of different species). These intergrades or hybrids are unacceptable as they do not retain species-specific characters and are a resultant of uncontrolled breeding. Do a quick background check on the lineality of the animal you wish to purchase with your seller each time before comitting to making the deal.
3. Date of birth? - This bit of detail will tell if the seller is just another reseller/ wholesaler as well as if the animal is wild caught. Keeping records is essential to breeders. Records such as the lineality (parents) of the younglings, date of birth, species etc. sets a breeder apart from an average reseller. But of course, anyone can claim to have bred animals and dubiously feed you with these details.
4. Current diet? - When buying a new animal, always ask for the current diet regiment. You will want to stick to the current diet as much as possible. If there need be some changes, make the changes in the diet gradually to avoid complications such as loss of appetite and shocking the digestive system & cycle.
4. Mites? - Always check for mites.
5. Guarantees - What are the health guarantees provided by the seller. Remember that it is very easy to give guarantees to gullible first time buyers. Sellers who are had to contact and don't spend the effort and time to answer your questions thoroughly will not be there when you need help. I have personally gotten into many a bitter fallouts with unethical sellers who claim the sky when selling but fail to secure their promises when the troubling cloud covers the silver linings.
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