Being omnivorous, a decent proportion of any blue-tongue skink’s diet needs to consist of vegetables, particularly leafy greens. Here are the best to feed your pet.
Blue-tongue skinks are omnivorous creatures.
That means that they need to eat both meat and vegetables to remain at optimum health.
And what vegetables in particular are best for blue-tongues?
Leafy greens are super healthy, not just for blue-tongued skinks, but for humans as well. They are chock full of nutritious vitamins, minerals and more. Examples include:
- Kale, mustard greens, cabbage and broccoli
- Dandelions, red clover, watercress
However, I haven’t found a whole lot out there that tells you EXACTLY which leafy greens are best, and WHY they are the best.
So, what’s the quick and short answer?
The absolute best leafy-green that you can give to your blue-tongued skink are dandelion greens as well as escarole (or endive). Both of these vegetables are high in calcium, low in phosphorus, and low in goitrogens and oxalates, so you can give them to your pet as a daily staple vegetable.
Now, a number of online blue-tongue skink resources say that:
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
…should be considered staple leafy green vegetables. And while all 3 of those are generally healthy, they should not be given on a frequent basis to your pet.
I’ll explain why.
The Makeup of a Good Leafy Green Vegetable
In order to qualify as an excellent, healthy staple vegetable for your skink, any leafy green needs to meet the following requirements:
- It must have an excellent calcium to phosphorus ratio.
- It must be low in goitrogens.
- It must be low in oxalates.
- It must be nutritious.
Here’s what all of this means.
Calcium vs. Phosphorus
Both calcium and phosphorus are minerals critical for the healthy of blue-tongued skinks. These minerals help with things such as:
And it is important that blue-tongue skinks get both, they need a whole lot more calcium than they do phosphorus.
- The formation and development of healthy bones and teeth.
- Proper muscular function.
- Helping send messages along the skink’s nervous system.
Why? Because phosphorus binds to calcium.
If there is too much phosphorus in your skink’s system, it will start to draw calcium from its bones and teeth. This can eventually lead to something such as metabolic bone disease.
Ideally, your blue-tongue should receive at least two parts calcium per 1 part of phosphorus. Even more calcium is better.
Leafy-greens with good calcium-phosphorus ratios:
Leafy-greens with bad calcium-phosphorus ratios:
- Arugula – 3:1
- Beet greens – 3:1
- Dandelion greens – 2.8:1
- Endive – 1.9:1
- Romaine – 1:1.3
- Red leaf lettuce – 1:1.2
- Red cabbage – 1.2:1
Goitrogens are chemicals found in plants. Consume enough of them, and they will soon begin to affect your thyroid.
The thyroid basically secretes hormones and is critical towards the maintenance of a bunch of different metabolic processes.
Basically, you want to avoid feeding any food high in goitrogens to your skink on a regular basis.
These are foods such as:
- Collard greens
- Green and red cabbage
Like goitrogens, you also want to avoid feeding food high in these too often to your pet.
Think of oxalates as sort of a natural pesticide. They play a small, but important role in helping plants defend themselves from being eaten.
The problem though is that oxalates bind to a bunch of different minerals, the most important of which is calcium. Too many oxalates, and they start to draw out the calcium from your skink’s body to form calcium-oxalate, which forms kidney stones.
Here are some vegetables high in oxalates:
- Romaine lettuce
- Green beans
A high oxalate count is usually found most often in fruits, and while this isn’t the subject of this article, fruits should make up somewhere around 10% of your skink’s diet. So, you’ll want to avoid giving fruits such as on a daily basis:
- Star fruit
So, besides the fact that dandelion greens and endive are:
- Low in goitrogens
- Low in oxalates
- Have good calcium to phosphorus ratios
…what else makes them healthy?
If the entire purpose of feeding your bluey is to ensure that it gets a good vitamin and mineral profile, then it would probably be a good idea to know why you are feeding it the foods that you do.
When most people think of dandelions, they probably think of those pesky weed-like flowers that spring up everywhere in their yard.
But believe it or not, they are super nutritious and healthy, and I believe they are the absolute best leafy-green vegetable to feed to your skink.
The health benefits of dandelion greens are numerous:
- They contain high amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium.
- They are good sources of vitamin A, C and K.
- They are rich in antioxidants and can help fight inflammation.
Not only are they super nutritious, but there is an even bigger bonus, they are free!
That’s right, you can simply pick them from your yard, give them a good rinsing off and feed them to your bluey. Usually, the best time for picking them is in the spring.
This is why I’m actually a big proponent of feeding them dandelion-greens; they are something that blue-tongued skinks will naturally eat in the wild. And, one of the best things you can do to promote your skink’s overall health is to replicate their diet in the wild as best you can (which interestingly, is why dog food is so good for them.)
Endive or Escarole
Endives, or escarole, is the other leafy-green that I would call a “super food”.
There are 2 types of endives:
- Belgian or Californian endives
- Regular endives
The regular type basically looks just like lettuce. Escarole looks very similar. Belgian or Californian on the other hand, are usually yellow in color, tightly-packed and look like a giant walnut.
Both types of endives as well as escarole are super healthy for your blue-tongued skink, because:
- These leafy-greens contain tons of vitamin A and C.
- Contains good amounts of folate as well as fiber.
It’s just an all-around awesome super food.
Now, although in my opinion dandelion greens and endives are the best leafy-greens to give to your blue-tongued skink on a daily or regular basis, that doesn’t mean that you should limit your pet to just those 2 specific types of vegetables. Here are some other leafy-greens that I would recommend feeding to your bluey on an infrequent basis (as in once a week or less):
- Bok choy
- Chicory greens
- Mustard greens
All of them are very healthy and nutritious, but they are just not quite as good as dandelion greens and endives when it comes to being a staple leafy-green.
- Vegetables should make up around 50% of your adult bluey’s diet.
- Leafy greens should be fed daily or on alternate days as a staple food.
- The two best leafy-greens to feed to blue-tongued skinks are dandelion greens, escarole and endives.
- The reason for this is that all three are highly nutritious, have good calcium to phosphorus ratios, are low in goitrogens and low in oxalates.
- Other nutritious leafy-greens such as mustard greens can be fed, just not as often as the dandelion greens, endives and escarole.