Blue-tongue skinks breed at different times of the year, but it depends on where they are located. Think you know the reason why?
If you said “Due to the differences in seasons of Australia and Indonesia vs. North America and Europe.” or something to that effect, bingo!
When do blue-tongue skinks breed?
The answer is that blue-tongue skinks typically breed after coming out of their brumation, which in Australia occurs from June to July, and in North America and Europe, from November to February.
How long do they breed for? And are there any differences between the species in this regard?
Here is what I found out.
When do Blue Tongue Skinks Breed?
As a general rule of thumb, male blue-tongue skinks will search for mates in order to breed sometime in the months after their brumation.
For the common blue-tongue skink (tiliqua scincoides) this generally occurs between the months of September and November in the Australian wild.
In North America and Europe, as the seasons are the exact opposite, this will naturally happen at a different time of the year.
Moreover, as blue-tongue skinks are not native to North America and Europe and instead are subject to the wishes of their owners, theoretically there is a bit of leeway in terms of when breeding can take place.
In general however, in North America and Europe, most owners attempt their breeding after their brumation period from November to February, typically in the “normal” spring months of March and April.
Although Indonesian blue-tongues do not brumate to the extent that the Australian species do, they also tend to slow down a bit during the “wet” months of their native lands.
In Indonesia, the “wet” or “monsoon” season occurs from November to March.
Like the common blue-tongue skink, Indonesian males will start to become more active and look for and mate with females when the dry season starts to take shape.
As far as how often they breed, some blue-tongues are able and willing to breed every year. However, many owners often skip a year. This also occurs in the wild, as blue-tongue often skip a year between litters.
Although mating in the natural world is (obviously) a natural thing, it can be quite dangerous for blue-tongues, in particular the females.
It is incredibly common for female blue-tongue skinks to suffer from injuries, sometimes severe, during the mating process.
These animals tend to be solitary, and only come into contact with each other willingly during the spring mating months.
When that happens, the male will mount the female, bite her neck and copulate. However, a lot of times a male will bite her head or limb and even scratch her, sometimes leaving quite serious injuries.
The gestation period for most blue-tongue skinks is 3-4 months in general.
Here’s a bit more info on that.
How Many Babies Do Blue-Tongue Skinks Have?
Although all blue-tongue skinks tend to mate in the spring months after brumation, how many babies they have is totally dependent on what species they are.
First of all, blue-tongues don’t lay eggs as they are ovoviviparous.
This means that they give live birth. Their babies are surrounded by a membranous sac that they burst out of after arriving into the world.
Here’s some rough guidelines for how many babies the different types of blue-tongues drop on average.
Bear in mind though that there is still a lot about blue-tongue skinks, particularly in the wild, that scientists don’t know.
Common Blue-Tongue Skinks (tiliqua scincoides): Eastern and Northern Blue-Tongues have by far the largest litters of all the blue-tongue species.
They average about 10 babies per litter, but have been recorded as having as many as 20!
They have a gestation period (how long the female is pregnant for) of between 3 and 4 months.
Indonesian Blue-Tongue Skinks (tiliqua gigas): Like tiliqua scincoides, Indonesian blue-tongues can also give birth to some large litters, though seemingly not quite as large as their slightly larger, southern cousins.
Indonesians often have litter sizes ranging from 4 to 15, and have a similar gestation period of between 3 and 4 months as Northerns and Easterns.
And you would be right! Irian Jayas give birth to 5 to 15 babies, and have a 3 to 4 month gestation period.
Centralians (tiliqua multifasciata): Centralians, native to Australia, aren’t commonly found in the North American and European pet market, but they are there if you look.
Their average litter size is a little bit smaller than tiliqua scincoides and gigas, with female Centralians giving birth of 2 to 10 babies.
Blotcheds (tiliqua nigrolutae): Blotched blue-tongues give birth to varying sizes of litters, depending on whether they live in the highland, more hilly areas or the coastal areas of Australia.
For the former (highlands), litter sizes of 5 are common, whereas with the latter (coastal areas), average litter sizes are larger, at 10 to 11.
Shinglebacks (tiliqua rugosa): Shinglebacks tend to have the smallest litter sizes, with females birthing generally only 1 to 4 young.
They do tend to be a bit larger than other species at birth however.
Do Blue Tongue Skinks Lay Eggs?
Like I noted above, blue-tongue skinks, although they are lizards, do not lay eggs.
You may be surprised to hear this, but laying eggs is not something that is necessary to being classified as a reptile.
What binds all reptiles together are 2 things:
- being ectothermic or “cold-blooded” (as opposed to endothermic or “warm-blooded” as mammals are)
Boa constrictors, another reptile, are also like blue-tongues in that they do not lay eggs, and instead give birth to live young.
Both of these animals have placentas, in which the embryos grow and develop during gestation. After they are born, the young eat and push through the membrane, and within a few days are ready to go on their own way.
There is a skink that does lay eggs.
It just isn’t a blue-tongue skink.
Yellow-bellied three-toed skinks (what a handful of a name!) that live in the colder, higher mountainous area of New South Wales lay eggs. Interestingly enough, these same animals, if they instead reside along the coast, give birth to live young.
It’s a startling example of how freaky mother nature can be!
Can You Cross Breed Blue-Tongue Skinks?
As all blue-tongue skinks give birth to live-young, and many species are quite similar to each other, this begs the question.
Can you cross breed two different species of blue-tongue?
I’m going to give a very definitive answer on this.
Can you? Yes.
Should you? Absolutely not!
Now, I want to be clear here.
Cross-breeding to some extent does occur in the wild, but that isn’t what I am referring to here.
For instance, in the wild, if two extremely similar species live in the same region, or come into contact with each other, sometimes different species will mate and breed.
For instance, this does occur in Australia with easterns and blotched blue-tongues.
This is not what I am referring to here.
What I am talking about here is taking two dissimilar species, such as tiliqua scincoides and tiliqua gigas, which live in different areas of the world, in different climates and in different conditions, and breeding them together.
For starters, there are health problems.
Tiliqua gigas and tiliqua scincoides evolved to be able to thrive in quite different conditions, ie: the harsh, but dry climate of Australia versus the humid, wet climate of Indonesia.
A cross-breed between the two would simply create an animal that is not particularly suited for either climate.
Secondly, it dilutes the genetic pool.
The cross-bred offspring of these animals are effectively worthless in terms of retaining the genetic variety of the blue-tongue skink community in North America and Europe. You won’t be able to breed them, and it’s just going to drown out bluey gene diversity.
Thus, I would implore anyone reading this to refrain from attempting to cross-breed two wildly different species of blue-tongue, both for the sake of the offspring that would result as well as for the general pet bluey community in North America and Europe.
To sum up everything:
- Blue-tongue skinks breed after brumation
- This occurs at different times of the year depending on if you are in Australia (September to November) or North America or Europe (March and April).
- Blue-tongue skinks do not lay eggs, and give different litter sizes depending on what species they are
- You should not cross-breed your blue-tongue skink