In the wild, Blue Tongue Skinks will jump at the chance to eat meat, even if it’s rotting and decaying. That led me to wonder; if it’s good enough in the wild, is raw meat OK in captivity?
The truth is, although Blue-Tongues often eat raw meat in nature, as a pet, it is strongly recommended that you do not feed them any type of raw meat whatsoever. Excluding canned dog food, it’s better that you just avoid it altogether.
Why Should You Avoid Raw Meat?
While it is true that Blue-Tongues eat carrion (the decaying flesh of dead animals) in the wild, that doesn’t mean that it is safe.
Wild animals are often stricken with a host of different parasites and bacteria, and when they are eaten those parasites and bacteria are then often transferred to the predator’s stomach and body. This sometimes has an adverse affect on their health, obviously.
Now, you might think that the raw meat that we eat; chicken, pork, lamb and beef, may be different from dead, wild animals, and you would be right, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for your Blue-Tongue to eat.
A lot of the meats that we eat are processed in unsanitary slaughterhouses and farms and are pumped full of hormones. Thus, the type of meat that you would be feeding them is fundamentally different from what they can expect to eat in the wild.
Thus, the 2 most important reasons why you should avoid raw meat is that it can potentially be unsafe, uncontaminated, as well as often be chock full of potentially harmful preservatives, and that it is not at all the same type of meat that they would eat if they were free.
Moreover, a lot of fatty meats, such as lamb and pork, are hard on the liver of Blue-Tongues.
If Raw Meat is Bad, Why are Pinkie Mice OK?
This then begs the most obvious question, if raw meat is probably not the best thing to feed a Blue-Tongue, then what about pinkie mice?
For starters, Blue-Tongue Skinks do not eat meat on a regular basis in the wild. According to stomach analysis done, the overwhelming source of protein for wild Blue-Tongues are insects. This makes logical sense, as insects are far more plentiful, and a lot easier to catch and eat for slow-moving blueys.
But that doesn’t answer the question, does it?
The reality is that pinkie mice are not a staple food for Blue-Tongues, and are generally given only as a treat. Live pinkies are often given to blueys so that they have something that mimics the prey in their native habitat. However, they are often very fatty, and as such, some people just use them to fatten up a malnourished or thin-looking bluey.
Some people claim that they give pinkie mice to their Blue-Tongue for calcium purposes (because of their bones), but pinkie mice are generally not very developed anyways and are not a good source.
Basically, pinkie mice are OK to be given as a treat, probably a maximum of once or maybe twice a month and that’s it. They are way too fatty, don’t have a lot of calcium and just are not a good source of protein verses a lot of other foods (such as gut-loaded crickets or canned dog food).
What is the Best Alternative to Raw Meat?
Excluding canned dog food and insects, the next best source for good, healthy protein is lean, cooked meats.
It needs to be lean because as I noted above, Blue-Tongues’ livers cannot handle a lot of fat. It also needs to be cooked to eliminate any contaminating bacteria and parasites that it may have.
The best lean, cooked sources of meat are:
- lean beef
- ground turkey
- egg whites
- cooked organs such as gizzards and hearts
Lamb and pork should probably be avoided due to their high-fat content.
Any of these will be safe, provided they are thoroughly cooked, but that being said, you would be wise to only use meat…
…that you know where it came from, that is high-quality and free of any preservatives.
Thus, whatever choice you make, just make sure that it’s free of any seasoning, preservatives and oils.
Can I EVER Feed my Skink Raw Meat?
Let’s say that in some hypothetical, imaginary world where all of your stock of insects and canned dog food was depleted, and you, for some unknown, impossible reason just could not get anything else….would it be OK to feed your Blue-Tongue raw meat?
The answer to that question is of course.
Raw meat isn’t going to kill your bluey, and chances are it will pass through your skink without any problem. It’s just that there are simply better protein sources to use.
If, for instance you are squeamish about feeding your Blue-Tongue a pinkie or a rat pup, frozen or alive, and prefer to feed him or her some raw beef, it’s not going to be the end of the world.
The bottom line here is that the negatives far outweigh the positives with raw meat, but that doesn’t mean the stuff is poison.
Are All Raw Meats Equally Bad?
Of course, that now begs another question. If raw meat can be given (but is not recommended) to your skink on a rare occasion, what is the best raw meat to give?
After all, not all raw meat is the same.
Generally, I think you need to look at a few things here:
- The fat content of the meat. Very fatty meats such as lamb and pork are not going to be healthy for your Blue-Tongue. While their protein content is high, their fat content will be a little rough on their livers.
- Organic meat is probably going to be a lot better than any raw meat where the animal was injected with hormones or steroids. Now, I’ve probably consumed a truck-load of hormone-injected beef and pork throughout my life, but that doesn’t mean that my bluey can handle it as well as I have (I hope!).
So, if you are going to feed some raw meat to your Blue-Tongue as a treat, you might as well splurge just a little bit, and get something like grass-fed beef or something all-organic, just to be on the safe side.
As far as what specific types of meat would be best here, raw lean beef would probably be the best choice. I would avoid raw chicken due to potential salmonella poisoning, and probably steer clear of any other type of raw meat as well.
So, just to sum up here:
- Don’t feed your Blue-Tongue raw meat, as well as any type of cooked meat that is high in fat, such as lamb and pork, as it is very hard on skinks’ livers and doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value
- The best type of meat is cooked lean beef, chicken, venison and rabbit, but you should use them in less quantities compared to insects and perhaps canned dog food
- If for some unforeseen reason you absolutely have to feed your bluey raw meat, your best choice will probably be some organic, grass-fed lean beef