What Do Blue Tongue Skinks Eat?
Blue Tongue Skinks are omnivorous reptiles, in the wild, they eat a varied diet of dead animals, live bugs, fruits, vegetables, berries, blossoms and other foods that they may happen to come across. Wild skinks do not always have the most healthy diet, but in captivity, we can ensure that we offer them only the best foods that will keep them healthy. As pets, we can give them live bugs, fresh meat, dogs and cat food, vegetables, fruits, and various plants, as well as supplements that enable us to maintain their health and vitality.
How Much Should I feed My Skink?
Blue tongue skinks generally thrive on a diet of around 40-45% protein, which is mostly made up of small feeder insects with some fresh meat and some canned dog/cat food added. Fresh vegetables and greens should make up roughly 50% of their diet, with around 5-10% fruit making up the rest. Baby and juvenile skinks (up to 8 months old) should have a little more protein in their diet, 50-55% of their diet should be protein made up mostly of live feeder insects that have been gut-loaded and supplemented, with 40-45% fresh veggies and greens and about 5-10% fruit. Each serving of food should be equal to about 1-2 tablespoons.
When Should I Feed Them?
Their nutritional needs change as they grow, baby (up to 3 months) blue tongue skinks need to eat often, and should be fed 2-3 times per day for 6 days per week with one day of no food. As they age, your skink will need to eat less, as juveniles (3-8 months) you should feed them 3 times per week. As adults (8+ months old), they only need feeding 1-2 times per week.
The best time to feed you skink is 1-2 hours after they have woken up, this allows them to warm up and will help them to digest the food they eat as their digestion is quite slow. You can put all their food in a large bowl to let them eat it unless it is live bugs which you can hand feed, place in a feeder dish or let them catch in a separate feeder tank. Just make sure to remove any old food after a few hours to prevent it from rotting and smelling.
Staple live feeder insects:
- Dubia roaches – Best staple
- Hornworms – Best staple
- Silkworms – Best staple
- Black soldier fly larvae (Nutrigrubs) - Best staple
- Discoid roaches (also called False death roaches)
- Ivory head roaches
- Turkestan roaches
- Six-spotted roaches – high fat
- Fruit flies – very small
- Waxworms – high fat
- Butterworms – high fat
- Dog food
- Chicken – breast, heart (cooked only)
- Lean beef or goat meat – heart, ground (only cooked)
- Lean turkey meat (cooked only)
- Pinkies (fuzzy mice, neonate mice, or rats) – fatty, offer once a month or less.
TOXIC INSECTS - VERY IMPORTANT
- Fireflies (lightning bugs)
- Monarch butterflies and caterpillars
- Ants (not all but the bites of some can cause severe allergic reactions)
Using supplements to dust your live feeders is an essential part of maintaining the long term health of your pet skink. Some insects are higher or lower in various nutrients, and dusting your feeders will ensure that your blue-tongued skink gets plenty of these nutrients in their diet.
The three main supplements you will need are calcium powder and a multivitamin powder. Here are some great ones to use:
Vitamin D3 is not usually needed to supplement your skink as their diet should provide this and their UVB, however, there may be certain circumstances where you would need to use Calcium plus D3 if the UVB is insufficient and they need a boost, which you could use this:
You only need to use a small pinch of supplements, sprinkled on their bugs. Their supplement schedule should look something like this:
- Baby blue tongue skinks (0-3 months) - dust with pure calcium 3-4 times per week, multivitamin - 2 days per week.
- Juvenile (3-8 months) – dust with pure calcium 2-3 times per week, multivitamin - 1-2 times per week on separate days.
- Sub-adult and adult blue tongue skinks (8+ months) - dust with pure calcium 2 times a week and multivitamin 1 day per week on separate days.
Gut-Loading Your Feeder Insects
Gut-loading your feeder insects is a vital aspect of your skink's diet, which is separate from supplementing, that helps to maintain their health and wellbeing. To gut-load, your feeders simply feed them with staple salad items that you would feed your skink for a couple of days before you feed them off. You can also use certain pre-made products that have been formulated for this purpose, such as:
Feeding Pinkie Mice to Your Skink?
Yes, your blue tongue skink can eat pinkie mice. But pinkies are not to be confused with fuzzies, fuzzies are slightly older and have developed bones and hair that your skink will find difficult to digest.
You can use pinkie mice if your pet skink needs a calcium boost, for example, if they are recovering from an illness or they have just laid eggs. There are alternative ways you can also supplement the diet of a blue tongue skink without using pinkie mice such as by using well gut-loaded feeder bugs, or even canned dog or cat food. If you choose to use pinkie mice to feed your pet, it is suggested that you do not offer them more than once or twice every couple of weeks as these are high in fat and can cause obesity and other related health problems.
Feeding Raw Meat To Your Blue Tongued Skink
While skinks are in the wild, they can eat raw meat. They are known scavengers and eat meat that has gone bad and is rotting, that doesn't necessarily make it the best for them to have in captivity. Rotten meat contains all sorts of bacteria and parasites, and consuming this can make them very sick. Of course, the raw meat that we use isn't rotten, but it still isn't the best thing to offer them as it can still pose a risk to their health. The meat we eat is often treated with additives and hormones that the skink would not encounter in their natural habitat and could harm their bodies.
It is better to use the recommended foods for them, such as gut-loaded insects like dubia roaches and superworms, you can also offer them canned dog food as a treat once every couple of weeks. Instead of raw meat, you can use cooked meats such as lean beef, ground turkey, chicken, duck, or venison. Cooking renders the fat in the flesh, which makes it leaner and more healthy for your skink, which will lessen the risk of obesity and other related health issues from eating meat. As skinks are omnivores, you can also offer them fresh vegetables that are found safe for them to eat as well.
Feeding Cat/Dog Food To Your Blue Tongued Skink
Cat and dog food can be fed to your skink as a healthy addition to their diet. However, you need to know which ones to use, and also, it should only be offered occasionally. Once per week for babies and juveniles is fine, and once every two weeks is fine for adults.
Cat food is higher in protein than dog food, and feeding too much protein in their diet can lead to gout, so it is best to stick with dog food generally. Cat food can be offered to young skinks, but once they are adults, you should only give them dog food. When choosing the right dog food, only stick to high-quality premium brands that use real ingredients. These tend to be made with just meat and vegetable products, so provide a natural balance of what your skink would eat in the wild anyway.
Generally, you should try and stick to live feeder insects such as Dubai roaches and the other best staples listed for the majority of your skink's protein intake.
Can Blue Tongue Skinks Eat Eggs?
Yes, blue tongue skinks can have eggs; eggs are high in fat and cholesterol, which can cause obesity and other related health problems, so they should only be offered occasionally. Once every month is fine. When preparing eggs for your reptile, you should always ensure that you never use salt, pepper, oil, butter, milk, or any products containing dairy. Skinks are lactose intolerant, so they cannot process dairy, and this will make them very sick if you feed it to them.
You can prepare the eggs by boiling or scrambling; whichever is easiest for you, your skink may prefer one or the other. Raw eggs can be given, but it should be ensured that there is no shell present as the shell is sharp and can cause them damage internally if ingested. Be aware that raw eggs can make them sick as well, so it's best not to take the risk.
As well as proteins, nearly half of your pet skink's diet needs to be plant-based, which makes it vital that you know what you need to feed them to maintain their health and wellbeing throughout their lives. See below for a guide on what are the best and worse fruits and vegetables for your blue-tongued skink:
Staple vegetables and greens
- Acorn squash
- Alfalfa (fresh)
- Arugula (rocket)
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Mustard greens
- Mulberry leaves
- Nasturtium flowers
- Scallop squash
- Spaghetti squash
- Summer squash
Occasional vegetables and greens
- Bell pepper
- Pinto beans
- Snap peas
Rare vegetables and greens
- Beet greens
- Bok Choy
- Brussel sprouts
- Green peas
- Swiss chard
Vegetables or plants to avoid
- Avocado - Toxic
- Chives - Toxic
- Corn - Extremely high in phosphorus
- Eggplants - Toxic
- Garlic - Toxic
- Leeks - In larger quantities can cause anemia and organ failure.
- Mushrooms - Potentially toxic
- Onions - Toxic
- Rhubarb - Toxic
- Spinach - High in oxalates
- Soybeans - Causes hormonal imbalance.
- Tomatoes - Very acidic
- Prickly pear
- Asian pears
Fruits to avoid
- Bananas - Very high in phosphorous
- Dried fruits - High sugar, low water content
- Fruit seeds - Toxic
- Green or purple grapes, raisins - Liver and kidney issues
- Kiwis - Very high in oxalates
- Star fruit - Very high in oxalates
- Pineapple - Very acidic
- Oranges, lemons, tangerines, clementine, grapefruits, kumquats, navel, anything citrus
Why Are Some Vegetables & Fruits Better Than Others? (Oxalic acid/oxalates, goitrogens, and calcium absorption)
Some vegetables and fruits are better for your blue-tongued skink; there are various reasons, some more obvious than others. High acidity will cause stomach upset, and high water content can cause diarrhea. Some foods are high in goitrogens; in higher quantities, goitrogens can bind iodine in your pet's body, and this will eventually lead to thyroid malfunction, so foods high in goitrogens should be limited or avoided altogether.
Some foods are high in oxalates, and these bind calcium in the body, which will inhibit calcium absorption. Your skink needs calcium to grow and maintain healthy bones and a healthy body, so any foods that are high in oxalates should also be limited if not avoided altogether.
Giving Water To Your Skink
Water should always be made available to your pet skink; they will drink from a water dish when they are thirsty. Use a large water dish that is bigger than your pet as they sometimes like to climb in to soak. The water should be changed at least once per day, or whenever the water is soiled, your skink will sometimes poop in their water dish, and this should be cleaned immediately to prevent sickness and promote cleanliness and sanitary conditions inside their enclosure.