I acquired a northern blue tongue skink from a breeder about a month ago. She has been eating great, she’s healthy, I see her out basking and she seems to have gotten used to her environment. The one problem I have with her though is her feeding response. It’s a bit ravenous. Unless she’s out of her enclosure (where I never feed her) she assumes my hands are food if I stick a hand in to spot clean a bit or change the water, she’ll try to take a strike at me even if she’s inside a hide. This is great during meal time as she’ll absolutely down anything you put in her bowl or give her off tongs, but it’s pretty inconvenient when I’m not feeding her. Any advice on how to control this feeding response? Thanks!
Stop tong-feeding her. Feed her only out of a bowl. It will take a while for her to catch on, but this works well with a number of different types of animals.
I had the same issue with my Tegu…I resorted to feeding him outside the viv! It took some time, letting him free roam with no food, putting him back, letting him out again, no food, getting him out and then offering food…basically, they don’t know when they are going to get fed! Food aggression in the viv is totally normal so your not doing anything wrong it’s just about changing habits! If the only time you let them out for food the will be expecting it, again if only feed them in the viv, every time you go in they will expect food! Change it up they smart little buggers!!!
@lillycrow Thanks, I’m used to dealing with ball pythons and hognoses which are…less mentally gifted I’ll definitely start doing this.
@westridge Thanks for the advice. I will feed exclusively out of a bowl now if that will help her not associate my hands with food
Ahhh they are easy compared to lizards…although my hognose can be a twat at times!! My BP is perfect, standard food behaviour, feeds once a week on cue!
I also have beardies and frilled dragons, although not food aggressive…still try’s my patience when scheduling to feed on a rota basis!!
Yeah, I’m mostly a snake guy. The only other lizard I have is a crested gecko. Most likely won’t be getting any more lizards for a while.
Don’t get me wrong, beardies and Frilly’s are amazing!!! Awesome pets…but when you have 9 beardies and an adult plus juvie frilly it can get frustrating when they don’t all eat on the same day…even the juvenile frilly, which will give me the stink eye when I offer her food, which is on a daily basis!! Give me babies any day…they will eat, poop, shed on a timely manner!! Gotta love them all :))
My tegu…is spot on now!! He’s like the puppy dog of reptiles :)) it just takes time!
One other option is Target Training. Basic Idea: Teach them to associate a specific cue with food, so if that cue doesn’t show up, it’s not food time. You can look up Lori Torrini on youtube for how it works, but the general idea is pick something you can show him right before every meal out of his dish. Never let him see it any other time. He’ll learn that thing showing up means food. Ergo, a bare hand? Not food.
I know clicker training is another technique used with reptiles (like target training), but I don’t know if it is effective with BTS. Let us know what techniques you try and how well they work if you have time.
Tegu are smart enough to be target trained for feeding though. It is the easiest way to avoid bites. Basically you take a bright colored object like a frisbee, show it when feeding them, and never let them see it when they aren’t getting fed. Even when they are in their vivs they won’t bite if you do that. Not sure if BTS are smart enough for that…but it is worth a shot?
This is precisely what brought the idea to my mind! I know lizards are said to be pretty trainable by and large.
I am target training my Ball Python because when offered a mouse he’s got a pretty solid lock-on,target and strike feeding response, and I wanna make sure that when he’s older and BIGGER he doesn’t ever nail my hands. I use a long handled bar spoon that’s metallic blue on the spoony end, and it makes a good target.
but it’s to report that Finnley is bigger and he DID nail my hand when I mis-cued him about feeding time. My fault entirely. Boyo is definitely getting continuing target training, but I have a Hungry BP so I can’t complain.