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Blue Tongue Skink Habitat Setup

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Blue tongue skinks can be found roaming the tropical forests of New Guinea, Indonesia, and Australia. It is essential that your blue tongue skink habitat setup mimics the natural habitat as much as possible to ensure you provide a healthy environment that allows normal behaviors while reducing the risk of injury.

Enclosures

Blue tongue skinks can grow to a large size relatively quickly, which is why you need to pay very close attention to the enclosure you select. Baby tongue tongues can be housed in tanks up to twenty gallons, but as they start to grow, you will need to look for a large enclosure which should measure no less than forty eight inches by twenty four inches by eighteen inches, which is eight square feet of living space, such as the Carolina Custom Cages Terrarium, Extra-Long Deep 48Lx24Dx18H. The Carolina Custom Cages Terrarium is very easy to assemble and comes with a deep waterproof base. Double doors in the front provide easy access for setting up, cleaning and handling your reptile. It comes with the convenience of a security lock.

There are three materials you can choose from that are excellent at helping to maintain high humidity levels, which are essential to ensuring the well-being of your blue tongue skink. Wood is popular for its heat holding abilities, but they do stain and can grow mold. Ensure if you choose wood, you avoid cedar and pine and any wood is chemically treated. Glass is easy to clean and can be an attractive choice, but it is heavy. PVC is the leading choice for humidity. It is also lightweight and very easy to clean.

Further reading

Lighting and Temperatures

UVB is a radiation that is naturally emitted from the sun. This is essential for blue tongue skinks, helping them make vitamin D3, which is essential to their bone strength. Deficiencies in vitamin D3 can result in metabolic bone disease. The UVB light should span half the length of the enclosure. Ensure you provide twelve hours of sunlight per day, you can use a timer to make this easier.

The blue tongue skink is cold-blooded and as a result, they need a gradient in temperature so that they can self-regulate their own temperatures. The basking temperatures being between 85 to 95ºF (30 to 35ºC), with the cool side of the tank at between 70 and 80ºF (21 to 27ºC). Night temperatures should never drop lower than 65ºF (18ºC). The only accurate way to measure the temperature is with a digital thermometer, putting you in control and ensuring you provide the best habitat setup for your blue tongue skink. The Zoo Med Digital Thermometer is an affordable way to monitor your temperatures with confidence. This thermometer offers an LCD readout in Fahrenheit or Celsius. You can mount the probe inside the enclosure using suction cups. Batteries included. Suitable for dry and humid conditions.

Basking stones are a great way for your skink to reach the heat of the basking light and soaking up the welcome heat from the stone. The stone absorbs the heat, which allows your skink to soak up the heat easily. Do not use a heat rock. Heat rocks are not basking stones. Heat rocks are heated from the inside and can be very dangerous. They can short in the humid tank conditions and they are known for burning reptiles.

Humidity

Skinks love humidity. The right humidity levels will help your skink shed with lease while reducing the risk of disease and illness such as respiratory infection. You will find that the Indonesian species love high humidity levels of between sixty and eighty percent, while Australian species prefer a lower forty percent humidity level. The humidity requirements of your skink are determined by the blue tongue skink species you have.

Further reading

The safest way to ensure you monitor the humidity levels accurately is with a digital hygrometer, such as the GXSTWU Reptile Hygrometer Thermometer. This is a high-quality hygrometer and thermometer offering precise temperature and humidity levels inside the enclosure. Stylish design complete with the option of Fahrenheit or Celsius, this quality guaranteed hygrometer can help you ensure you keep your blue tongue skink happy and healthy in the long run.

Maintaining humidity can be done by ensuring you have the right substrate; you mist regularly and you supply a good water source in the enclosure. When supplying water, look for a large shallow bowl that is sturdy and cannot be knocked over. Remember skinks are not the best swimmers, but water is fantastic in keeping humidity levels high.

Substrate

It's important when selecting the substrate that you bear in mind that your blue tongue skink is a burrowing reptile. That means you want a thick layer of substrate, at least six inches deep, which will allow safe burrowing. This means that you will want a loose substrate without any sharp edges.

A mixture of coco husk and moss seems the preferred choice for most blue tongue skink species. Your Australian species will enjoy a mixture of bark and moss, creating a natural substrate, Indonesian blue tongues enjoy mulch and moss. It's important you do not use pine or cedar bark or chips. Sand is a dangerous substrate for this species. When burrowing it can get in their eyes and in their mouth. They can also accidentally digest it while eating, which can result in impaction.

Sphagnum Moss is exceptionally useful with blue tongue skinks, helping to maintain excellent humidity levels in a natural and environmentally friendly way. Sphagnum moss offers moisture-holding properties and is mold resistant. It can hold moisture up to twenty times its weight.

The bioactive substrate has grown in popularity with blue tongue skink owners, it is useful in maintaining humidity. The focus of a bioactive substrate set up is that it is self-sustaining. A small ecosystem that works on its own. Substrates have a number of layers, which can include topsoil, mulch, moss, and gravel. Small insects are introduced to keep the system operational and reducing maintenance.

Remember when selecting a substrate, you want to choose a substrate that will not get stuck to food and cause impaction. You also want to ensure that the substrate selected will aid in maintaining humidity levels. The product you choose should be affordable, easy to clean and dust-free. Keep your substrate well maintained, bearing in mind your skink will spend most of its time on the ground.

Futher reading

Decorations

You will want to keep your skink stimulated and healthy, which means adding a few decorations that will mimic its natural habitat while encouraging it to burrow, as it would in its natural habitat.

Hides

Hides are an essential part of your blue tongue skink set up. It helps them fulfill their burrowing nature while giving them a place to hide, offering security and privacy. You will want two hides, one of the warm side of the enclosure and one of the cool side of the enclosure. The one on the warm side should be a flat-topped surface, which allows your skink to climb onto with ease and bask under the warm lights. Hides made of log and heavy stone are great natural additions to the enclosure, such as the Zilla Reptile Habitat Décor Shale Rock Den. This rock hide offers a place to hide and a great basking platform above. Made from a non-porous material, it reduces the risk of bacterial growth, while being quick and easy to clean.

Further reading

Climbing

Yes, it's true that skinks are not the greatest of climbers, but you want to keep them stimulated and entertained. Branches, logs, and rocks are great tank decorations They not only encourage natural behaviors, but they help create a natural-looking enclosure for your reptile. The Zilla Reptile Habitat Décor Hideouts Bark Bends offers a place to climb and hide, making it suitable for either the cool or warm side of the enclosure. This log is non-porous and can be easily cleaned while offering your skink stimulation and privacy.

Plants

​​​​​​Fake and real plants can be a welcome addition to your skink enclosure. Ensure you choose durable plants, which can handle your skink walking over them while offering some privacy for your reptilian pet. The Exo Terra Plastic Terrarium Mandarin offers a realistic looking plant that offers a hiding place for your reptile while being easy to clean and hang. Use it anywhere in the tank to create a natural finish.

Background

The right background can complete your enclosure design, especially with enclosures made from clear glass or acrylic. The BNS Reptile Habitat Background is available in a full range of sizes, this deep in the jungle background is a great addition to your blue tongue skink enclosure. It is scratch and water resistant, can be taped to the back of the enclosure and offers a realistic look.

Ensure you bear in mind that your blue tongue is not the best climber and therefore when placing decorations, take falls into consideration. This is important when stacking rocks inside the enclosure. Also, ensure that rocks are secure and stable, remember your blue tongue skink is going to burrow and you don't want the rocks collapsing on them.

When selecting decorations, remember your skink is going to love spending time soaking up the sun. They also love to feel the warmth of their bellies, so choose a basking area that can absorb the heat, such as heavy artificial ornaments or slate. Check they do not get too hot to cause burns to your pet.

Blue Tongue Skink Habiat Setup - Putting it All Together

Blue tongue skink habiat setup

With everything in front of you, you can now start putting your enclosure together and getting it ready for the arrival of your blue tongue skink.

Start by positioning the enclosure where you want it to be placed. Do this before you add your substrate and decorations, making it lighter and easier to move. You can now add your substrate in a thick layer of at least six inches. Make it slightly deeper on the cool side of the tank, enabling natural burrowing if it gets too hot.

Place your cool hide on the cool side of the enclosure and your warm hide on the basking side, ensuring there is ample space for your blue tongue skink to climb up and soak up the heat and UVB rays.

You want to maintain humidity, which is why you may want to place a large sturdy water bowl in the center of the enclosure. Finish off your design with some plants and branches.

Place your basking light above your basking area, measuring the temperature to ensure it doesn't get too hot. Ensure you use your thermometer and hygrometer for a couple of days before bringing your blue tongue skink home to ensure you have accurate temperatures to provide a comfortable habitat.

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