If you’re interested in owning and caring for a blue-tongue skink, but are unsure of what specific species works best for you, fear not, because I have created this quick guide JUST for you.
Now, this quick guide is going to assume that you are already know that skinks can live for decades, and that you understand that this is going to be a long-term commitment.
I’m also going to assume that you understand that all blue-tongues require some very basic things in order to live a flourishing, healthy life, such as:
Now that that is out of the way, let’s get right down to it.
In order to make the most out of this guide, I would recommend that you scroll down and only read the sections that are applicable to you. If a section isn’t applicable, or you answer “No“, then you can ignore it and move past.
Have You Ever Owned & Cared for a Pet Before?
Big caveat here. Dogs and cats don’t count. 🙂
I know I’m being a little specific here, but I specifically mean pets such as:
- other types of lizards
- insects such as spiders
These types of pets are caged and require a different, more specialized type of care than nearly every dog and cat out there, which you just generally let roam around the house and let do their own thing.
If you answered “No” to this question, then I would only recommend one (and only one) species; the Northern blue-tongue.
- the Australian species are a tad bit hardier
- Northerns are chiller and more relaxed
- real, true Northerns are easy to get
Now, I want to explain each of these points a bit.
1. Australian species are a tad bit hardier
Blue-tongues in general are quite hardy species. This just means that they can take quite a bit before succumbing to illness (or injury) in the wild.
They are omnivore generalists, which means that they eat just about anything, including foraging around through people’s trash and eating dead, decaying animals.
They can lose fingers and limbs and carry on.
They are generally pretty good against contracting diseases.
They can survive in inclement weather in the outdoors.
The Australian species, in particular Northerns, seem to be a tad bit hardier than the non-Australian species, for whatever reason. Probably this has to do with the fact that the bulk of Indonesian species are taken straight from the wild and dumped onto the pet market, parasites, diseases and all.
The next point.
2. Australian species, in particular, Northerns, are chiller and more relaxed
There is a big reason for this. The most important of which is the fact that Northern blue-tongues are native to Australia, and the government there has quite stringent animal export laws. In Indonesia, home to the Indonesian species (Irian Jaya and Meraukes), it’s quite a bit easier to smuggle out animals.
So, what happens is that a ton of the Indonesian species that you see in North American, European and Asian markets are actually illegally-obtained, wild animals caught in the jungle.
It’s a lot harder to export wild-caught Northerns, as there are big penalties and punishments involved.
Basically, this means that there is a much higher chance of an Australian being captive-born and bred, and captive-born and bred skinks are miles and miles tamer, chiller, more relaxed around humans.
3. Real, true Northerns are easier to get
The above facts basically imply that it’s a lot easier to obtain a genuine, captive-born and bred blue-tongue than an Indonesian species.
Now, that’s not to say that captive-born and bred Indonesian species don’t exist, because they do, just that they are a bit harder to find. You really need to go through a reputable dealer, and you really need to ask questions regarding the skink’s parents, their history, where they get their skink supply from, etc.
All that being said, if this question just doesn’t apply to you, then any skink species is still open for your consideration.
Do You Want to Conserve a Bit of $$$?
By “conserve a bit of money” here I mean do you want to own a blue-tongue skink, but aren’t exactly flush with extra cash?
If so, the Northern or Eastern blue-tongue skink is your best bet.
The difference in price between a true, genuine Northern or Eastern and the other captive-born and bred species can be quite dramatic.
For a genuine, healthy blue-tongue from a reliable breeder you will often pay around the neighborhood of $200 to $300 for one.
That jumps up quite a bit for specialized blue-tongues (that look a certain color) and for more exotic species, such as albinos, which can easily cost over $1,000.
Genuine, healthy captive-born and bred Indonesian species are often a tad bit more than Northerns (probably because it’s just easier and cheaper to get the illegal, wild-caught ones).
Basically, if this is the case, just go with a Northern.
Do You Want Something Exotic or Unique?
If you answered yes to this question, then any common Northern is out of the question, as they are super common.
You’ve got a few choices here:
- Meraukes or Irian Jayas
- Albinos (of any species)
Meraukes and Irian Jayas aren’t quite as common as Northerns, but they are still relatively easy to get. You will probably have to dig around a bit more to find a genuine captive-bred and born, but they are out there. You may just have to wait a while after contacting a breeder as sometimes batches sell out quickly.
Albinos are insanely expensive. Over a $1,000 typically. They are also really, really rare. I haven’t personally seen one myself.
Blotcheds and Centralians are also quite rare (at least in North America), and seem to be a bit harder to find than Meraukes and Irian Jayas, but that may just be my experience.
Shinglebacks are impossible to find, and I have yet to come across one, so this is out of the question.
Pigmies are illegal to export, so good luck finding those.
Personally, if you have had a little bit of experience with some type of pet before, and want something a bit more unique or exotic, I would recommend a Merauke or Irian Jaya.
The captive-bred and born ones are awesome to deal with, and they look really exotic. Blotcheds look very cool as well.
Basically, to sum everything up:
- If you don’t have any experience with a caged animal but want a blue-tongue, get a Northern or Eastern species from a reputable breeder
- If don’t want to spend a ton of money, get a Northern or Eastern species
- If you want something a little more exotic, get a Merauke or Irian Jaya, but also consider a Blotched or Centralian