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Blue-Tongued Skink

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Because of the large size body and the shortness of its legs, the blue-tongued skink does not raise itself to walk. Instead, it slides on its belly as it moves. Surprisingly, this animal is capable of fast movement over short distances, allowing it to catch and eat live prey.

The blue-tongued skink defends itself by flattening its body and hissing loudly. Some scientists believe that this is an attempt to mimic the poisonous death adder snake, Acanthophis antarcticus, which does share some of the skink's range. Both animals can have similar coloration and size, and the blue-tongued skink's legs could cause an animal to mistake it for a death adder.

The blue-tongued skink is not dangerous at all, and it becomes tame in captivity. It will learn to take food from your hand, and it will even come to the front of the tank when you approach.

The blue-tongued skink inhabits forest, woodland, grassland, and semi-arid areas in Australia, so a substrate of bark, aquarium gravel, newspaper, or indoor-outdoor carpeting will suit it nicely.

Because of the skink's large size, a 40-gallon aquarium (with a screen cover) is recommended. Include several hiding places, a large rock for climbing, and a medium-sized water bowl, and you will have a good basic environment.

The general temperature of the terrarium should be maintained between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a 75-watt red spot bulb focused on one end of the tank to maintain this temperature and to provide a warm area for basking.

Leave a full-spectrum fluorescent light on over the tank for 10 to 12 hours each day. The lizard's food should be powered with vitamins to ensure the proper levels of calcium and vitamin D3.

Feed the skink a variety of foods, including crickets, young mice, romaine lettuce, snails, cottage cheese, dog food, grated squash, strawberries, broccoli, and melon. To supply a balanced diet, vary the lizard's diet as much as possible. Fresh food should be offered 3 to 4 times a week.

The blue-tongued skink's nails can be quite sharp, and if you trim them, do it carefully. Have a vet that specializes in lizards so you the proper method.

Although the lizards tail is prehensile (adapted for grabbing), it can be lost. Never grab this lizard by the tail; hold the lizard firmly to prevent falls and unnecessary tail breakage.

Because Australia does not allow export of its native animals, the captive-bred blue-tongued skink can be quite expensive. There are a number of breeders of this animal, and the blue-tongued skink's adaptability to captivity and its gentle disposition make it one of the beat reptile pets, despite its high price.

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