This care guide is only for and should only be used for Northern Blue Tongue Skinks (Tiliqua scincoides intermedia) and is based on my personal experience and should be used along with other sources of information.
Scientific Name: Tiliqua scincoides intermedia
Common Name(s): Northern blue tongue skink, Common blue tongue skink
The northern blue tongue skink is a heavy bodied lizard, medium sized lizard endemic to northern and eastern Australia that is usually around 18-24 inches in length. They are diurnal (active during the day), terrestrial lizards that can make amazing pets for many people. They are moderately available and make great reptiles for beginner keepers. They usually have great temperaments however they can be a bit huffy. I would recommend setting aside at least $750 as the lizards can cost anywhere from $250- $400 for the skink alone. They can be very hard to sex and breed and the price reflects that. Also remember, they are very long lived and can live 20-30+ years.
- this is going to be pretty different from what other people will say but temperature fluctuations in both directions isn’t a bad thing at all and in my opinion a good source of enrichment and more natural than a completely steady temp. My basking spot has gotten up to 120 before and when I noticed my skink out and basking more than normal, I checked the temp and it was out of the ordinary range. I would not recommend keeping it this high for more than a few days however he wasn’t acting like he was stressed and trying to get out, but almost like he “enjoyed” the bit of extra heat. I would try to keep the basking spot at around the 110 mark which will allow for expected fluctuations.
- this is more standard and accepted temp for the hot side. if you are having trouble keeping the temperature, I have found using a slate tile can keep the ambient hot side temp up.
- I personally keep my cool end in the 75 degree range because I provide the fluctuations I mentioned in the basking spot section.
- A lot of people will say that as long as the temp stays above 60 degrees that you skink will be fine. I personally don’t agree with this as it can very easily lead to respiratory infections (RIs). If you have issues with keeping it in the desired range, using a slate tile at the basking spot will help keep up the temp as it retains heat very well. You can also use a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) or deep heat projector (DHP) at night to keep up the temp. I personally use a slate tile and CHE as my house can get quite cold in winter.
- This is also going to be somewhat different than what most people say but it can fluctuate pretty greatly away from the more standard 40-60%. In the wild, northern blue tongue skinks are constantly on the move and can go between many different environments (tropical, dessert, subtropical, etc.) in a short period of time. While they will thrive in 40-60% and it is probably the most ideal, it is ok for it to be out of the range. For example if you live in a place that needs a decent bit of heating, a humidity of 30% in winter won’t hurt, just bump it up while in shed. If you constantly have high humidity and would like to lower it, CHEs are really good at reducing humidity.
- Northern blue tongues are pretty active and require a decent bit of space. A 4ft by 2ft by 2ft is the absolute bare minimum. I would recommend this enclosure as it is good and affordable. A lot of people will recommend a 40 gallon (36 in x 18in x 18in) as a minimum but in my experience, will not be a good enclosure. It could work for a younger skink under 18 inches, however they grow very quickly and will most likely out grow it in a few months. When you get your skink, I would personally put it into its adult enclosure as long as it is 3 months of age or older which will help to prevent extra expenses and stress to the skink as they do well in large spaces even as youger and smaller skinks. If you have the space, I would definitely recommend a 6x2x2 enclosure.
- Northern blue tongue skinks will benefit greatly, and in my opinion need, from a thick substrate layer. I would recommend at least 3 inches of substrate at the front of the enclosure and even more towards the back. You can use other options but I have found/heard that cypress mulch/hardwood mulch, coco husk, coco fiber, reptibark, or a 60/40 topsoil sand mix are the best options. In my opinion, mulch or the 60/40 topsoil sand mix are the best and most cost effective options. I personally have been the using garden pro cypress mulch blend, however I plan to switch to the garden pro hardwood much or the topsoil mix as I recently found that the cypress mulch blend has pine mixed in with it which isn’t a good option for reptiles. I would like to mention I haven’t noticed anything concerning I am just airing on the side of caution.
- They are very inquisitive and in my opinion, they require more enrichment than something like a leopard gecko or bearded dragon. Along with the at least 2 hides, I would provide lots of plant cover for them to explore, branches for them to climb on/over, and other enrichment items.
- UVB is a must! This is a little controversial but I believe that they cannot thrive without it. I also recommend that over head lighting- flood bulbs, halogen, DHPs, CHEs, Etc. are used over under tank heating. if you use a slate tile on the basking spot, it will provide heat from above and below just like in nature. if you are using a 2 foot high enclosure like i recommend, an Arcadia 12% linear desert bulb (at least 24 inches or longer) attached to the inside of the enclosure will provide ample UVB. I would also get a lamp fixture with a dimmer so the temps don’t get out of control and check the temps frequently.
45-55% vegetable matter- squash, mustard greens, dandelion greens, collard greens, green beans, endives, arugula, cactus pad
5-10% fruit- Apple, banana, blackberries, raspberries, blue berries, watermelon, fig, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, mango; they should only be used as an occasional treat
Dog food and cat food with vegetable matter mixed in and Repashy Bluey Buffet can make a good staple. Make sure to switch it up! variety is very important for them.