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Blue Tongued-Skink---a lizard --maybe not quite as cute as Blue Footed Boobies..but interesting!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. The different species found variously in open woodlands, at the margins of forest and field, semi-deserts. Heavily build, broad bodies set on small legs with delicate toes. Broad, blunt triangular head typical of skinks. Deep, berry blue tongue vividly offset against the deep pink interior of mouth.

Blue-tongue skinks are very docile, curious lizards.
They tame easily and are handleable by careful small children.
They do develop claws, and while they don't particularly scratch, it can be startling and scary to someone who is nervous holding them, so always supervise people closely when first handing the lizard to them.
Like many omnivorous and carnivorous lizards, blue-tongues find that wriggling human fingers look an awful lot like small wriggling mice...and may try to eat one if they are hungry. As with all such reptiles, it is best to wash your hands before handling them if you have been handling anything they normally eat.

Blue-tongues are omnivores, consuming both plant and animal matter. Their diet should be about 60% plant and 40% animal. A basic mixed vegetable salad can be prepared similar to that fed to green iguanas. Along with the salad, thinly sliced greens (collards, dandelion, escarole) can be mixed into the mixed vegetables.

Frozen vegetable mixes are either mostly corn and carrots, or mostly cauliflower and broccoli. Neither are particularly good for skinks and other animals. Corn and carrots convert quickly to sugars, and carrots have oxalates, which bind calcium, preventing its uptake. Cauliflower and broccoli contain goitrogens which bind iodine, leading to impaired thyroid function. In additional, the thiaminase in frozen green vegetables and greens destroys the thiamin (B1) in the plant; when fed regularly, this leads to a thiamin deficiency. If you use frozen vegetables or freeze your own fresh salad.

Many skinks seem to relish berries and juicy fruits, so think about keeping a supply of frozen blueberries and cherries around, as well as fresh berries, peaches, nectarines, and pears during the season. A bite or two of banana is generally not refused, either.

Hatchling skinks can be started on mealworms, redworms, small crickets, and pinkie mice. As they grow, increase the size of the prey (small earthworms, Zoophoba larvae and pupae, fuzzies and crews).

Feed the skinks ad lib, that is, however much they want to eat, when they want to eat. Feeding frequency will taper off as they grow, so you may find that you are offering food 2-4 times a week. Blue-tongues are pretty eloquent when they are hungry (they clearly fixate on your hands and any other perceived movement, often with their mouth open and body ready to charge or pounce), so they are unlikely to go hungry for long so long as you keep an eye on them.

Fresh drinking water should always be available for the skinks.

I was introduced to the blue-tongued skink at our town Nature Center. Often at town functions the Nature Center would bring some of their animals to show and let people hold.

Info is from here: www.anapsid.org/bluetong
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