Some call Blue Tongue Skinks the SUPERIOR pet lizard compared to the popular Bearded Dragon. These animals have an easier care and are considered a lot more forgiving. In the pet trade, there are both captive bred and wild caught animals available depending on species and locality. This also means there are a variety or color and patterns to pick from!
Locality and Sub-species
The most common captive bred Blue Tongue Skinks are Northerns (Tiliqua scincoides intermedia). These Australian animals are readily bred in captivity in the USA. Other Australian Blue Tongues are Easterns (Tiliqua scincoides scincoides) Westerns (Tiliqua occipitalis), Centralian (Tiliqua multifasciata), Blotched (Tiliqua nigrolutea), and Shingleback (Tiliqua rugosa). These are not commonly kept in the USA as they are more difficult to breed and we cannot Import animals from Australia. Of all of the Blue Tongue Skinks, Northerns make the best pets.
Other Blue Tongue Skinks that are not commonly bred in captivity and are usually wild caught or imported are the Indonesian species of Blue Tongues. These animals usually are a bit more defensive and require a higher humidity than the Australian species. There are a bunch of these different localities and subspecies in Indonesia like Halmahera (Tiliqua gigas gigas), Ceram (Tiliqua gigas), Kei Island (Tiliqua gigas keyensis), Tanimbar (Tiliqua scincoides chimaera), Merauke (Tiliqua gigas evanescens), and Irian Jaya (Tiliqua sp). These different specimens are found in different areas and islands of Indonesia.
Though Indo and Australian Blue Tongues are different in look and in care, there are some basic rules that you can follow to give the proper husbandry for your pet skink. Babies can start off in a 20 gallon tank and move into a 4 x 2 enclosure into adulthood. They are better kept individually as they can hurt one another if they do not get along. I recommend Coco mulch, Cypress, or ReptiSoil for bedding as these guys will frequently burrow and do not do well on dusty substrate. You may decorate the tank as needed because foliage and places to climb will give your animal enrichment. You will also need a food dish and water bowl.
These animals need a basking spot of 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Ambient temps should be in the mid 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The main difference between Australian and Indo skinks is the humidity level. Australians do well on ~60% humidity, where Indos will need closer to 70% humidity. Though some Blue Tongue breeders breed their lizards in racks, UVB is recommended for proper growth.
Blue Tongue Lizards are omnivores so they eat just about everything! A staple that is fed in captivity is wet dog or cat food. You can also mix in a variety of veggies, non citrus fruits, eggs, insects, and even small rodents! Babies feed every day and will feed less as they grow into adulthood (1-2 times a week). For proper growth, you can add a calcium and multivitamin powder.