Captive Born Northern Blue-tongue skink

The Captive Blue-tongue Skink Diet — An Overview

Neonates to 3-Months of Age

I start my baby skinks with a high-end canned cat food such as Neumann’s organic. I prefer this one because the profits go to charities and most importantly, the skinks love it!

  1. Canned chicken or liver, etc. paté style cat food — High quality, no grains, etc. The cat food constitutes about 75% of the total volume of the ‘salad’.
  2. Lightly sprinkle in a Calcium & D supplement and stir vigorously.
  3. A sizable portion of thawed green peas (5-10%). This is the one vegetable (technically a legume) that the skinks actually seem to enjoy. Babies often pick out the green peas first to eat.
  4. Raw or scrambled egg (5-10%)
  5. Chia seed powder or soaked chia seeds: a few tablespoons (less than 5%) adds bulk and roughage plus nutrients to the blend.

Best to be moderate and sparing with fruit but blueberries, grated apples, diced grapes, etc. can be mixed in, too. (10%)

I usually make up a big batch of this skink manna, and freeze it for later use.

Every few batches I add cod liver oil — a teaspoon or two — to the batch.

When the baby skinks get a bit larger I mix in ground up raw chicken necks. I have a food processor just for this purpose. I buy the chicken necks at Whole Foods — grind up a big batch and then freeze it. I sometimes mix in about 25% of this ground up chicken neck “meal” into the above skink mix for both adults and babies once there about two months old. Chicken necks have tons of soft bone and cartilage — skinks seem to grow well on it. (Now having trouble finding chicken necks in Arizona! They seem to as rare as yak brains here in the Sonoran Desert.)

I buy snails in a can to occasionally feed the skinks. (I purchase human grade snails from Indonesia or France but soak and rinse several times to remove salt and flavoring.)  I have used live garden snails, too, if I am confident no insecticides have been used in the area. Snail pellets would probably kill the skinks, too. Snails (Helix aspersa) are probably the NUMBER ONE favorite food overall for blue-tongue skinks.

When the babies get larger — I start feeding them on thawed pinkie mice, waxworms, crickets, etc. (They quickly learn to take pinkie mice when offered right off a hemostat.) Larger skinks love ‘superworms’ but overfeeding these to skinks can cause dietary deficiencies such as metabolic bone disease.

Adult Blue-tongue Skink Diet

The stew mix for older blue-tongue skinks is similar to that for babies, but I switch from cat food to dog food and increase the variety of ingredients.

Other foods that I add intermittently to the basic skink chow:

  1. Grated carrots and zuchini
  2. Organic canned pumpkin (from Trader Joe’s)
  3. With the larger skinks I switch to canned dog food — as the cat food is expensive. I use
    Blue Wilderness Turkey and Chicken Grill puppy food mainly. However, many brands of high quality grain-free dog food will work fine. I usually stick with patés and avoid ‘sauces’ and ‘gravy’ style canned dog food.
  4. Finely diced kale and lettuce; chia seeds; tomatoes; peas; bananas; papaya;

Besides the skink stew, I feed substantial quantities of fresh thawed rat pups and medium-sized mice to my blue-tongue skinks. It probably comprises 20% of their total diet. Sometimes I dip the rodents in raw egg (especially the larger furred mice) to stimulate interest and facilitate swallowing.

I have concerns with many of the suggested blue-tongue skink “menus” and chow mixes that I find on the Web and in some reptile books. The ratio of vegetables seems far too high. Many if not most care-sheets recommend 40% or even 50% veggies as a total portion of the diet.

In contrast, I recommend a protein rich diet for Tiliqua scincoides. I have never had a blue-tongue skink willingly eat kale or lettuce — you have to chop it up and disguise it with tastier foods. They respond to plain salads with the same lack of enthusiasm as most children do.

Notably, the few studies of wild Australian Blue-tongue diets that have been conducted indicates that they are more inclined to opportunistic coprophagia than dining out with the rabbits at the salad bar! In the wild, it appears that beetles, larvae, mollusks, — even carrion — probably constitutes the bulk of the diet. These are protein rich foods contrasted to kale and grated squash.

Blue-tongue skinks are omnivores and practice predation on smaller creatures, including snails, roaches, and beetles. Given the opportunity, they can pillage bird nests for eggs and chicks if they the find the nest of ground-nesting birds. Chicks and eggs also occasionally fall out of trees, where they will turn into meals for ground-hugging BT skinks.

Similar to the behavior of Gila monsters and many species of snakes, blue-tongue skinks will raid mice and rodent nests, devouring hapless youngsters.  

In captivity, blue-tongue skinks will lap raw egg and eat quail chicks; they are also very fond of thawed mice and rat pups. I offer a diet of around 30% thawed mice of various sizes; for some of the skinks, rodents dipped in raw egg are their favorite delicacy. 

Other Food Options?

Although, I have not tried monkey/primate biscuits; Repashy BT jello; or parrot biscuits yet with my blue-tongues — I hope to experiment with some of these commercial foods in the future.

Vegetable Loving Skinks

Corucia zebrata, commonly known as monkey-tail skinks, are very fond of soaked ‘monkey chow’ with their greens. Related to the genus Tiliqua, this is an amazing species evolved to eat primarily a vegetable diet consisting of greens, non-green plants, flowers, and some fruit.

Shingleback skinks (Tiliqua rugosa) are also quite different from the majority of blue-tongues. They probably should be eating 80% or 90% greens, flowers and seeds. In captivity, one of their favorite foods is dandelion flowers and greens.