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This comprehensive care guide will show you how to look after a Blue Tongue in 3 easy steps

Fast Facts:

How long will my Blue Tongue live? They can live from 15 - 20 years

How big will my Blue Tongue grow? They will grow 40-60cm

What size of tank is recommended for my Blue Tongue? They require an enclosure of at least 90 x 45 x 60cm

What does a Blue Tongue eat? - Live food, pellets, fruit and vegetables

How easy is it to look after a Blue Tongue Lizard? They are a medium maintenance pet

Blue Tongue Housing

Blue-tongues are active, diurnal reptiles that spend considerable time basking and foraging for food during the day. Blue-tongues are solitary animals and should generally be housed on their own. Having more than one blue-tongue in an enclosure may lead to dominance and aggression issues.

For one adult blue-tongued lizard a glass or timber enclosure of at least 90x45x60cm is suitable, however a 120x45x60cm enclosure is also ideal. It is important that the enclosure has sufficient ventilation as well as a secure, lockable door.

The enclosure can be furnished with a low basking log (blue-tongues are not great climbers) or rock, background, artificial plants and a water and feed dish. An absorbent substrate is also important such as coconut fibre or artificial grass repti-mat.

Blue Tongue Care

Blue-tongue lizards have a very specific set of requirements in regards to general care, however if all of these elements are provided they thrive in captivity.

Providing adequate temperature gradients within a blue-tongue’s enclosure is essential for their health and wellbeing. Blue-tongues require a basking spot maintained between 30-35˚C. They should have access to an elevated piece of flat timber or rock ornament to allow them to bask closer to the heat source. The cool end of the enclosure should be maintained between 24-26˚C and should not drop below 18-21˚C at night.

Temperatures should be checked daily and must be regulated with the use of a good quality thermostat. Recommended sources of heat include the use of incandescent, halogen and ceramic (night time) globes along with a heat mat as a secondary source of heating.

Ultraviolet light (UV) plays an important role in a blue-tongues growth and development. A 5.0 UVB tube or compact globe must be used as a source of artificial UV lighting in the blue-tongue’s enclosure. Blue tongue’s should also have access to unfiltered, natural light at least once or twice a week. They also require a ‘day and night’ cycle with heat and UV lights running for approximately 10-12 hours each day, set on a timer.

It is important to maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene within the blue tongue’s enclosure. Daily ‘spot checks’ should be carried out cleaning substrate to remove any faeces, shed skin or uneaten food. A full substrate change should be carried out every six to eight weeks (depending on what substrate is used) and the enclosure thoroughly cleaned with a reptile-safe disinfectant.

Blue Tongue Feeding

Blue-tongue lizards are omnivores and feed on a range of live insects and plant matter.

In captivity, blue-tongues should be fed a variety of both live foods and fresh fruits and vegetables (50:50). Live foods include; snails, crickets, woodies, mealworms (in moderation) and silkworms.

All live foods should be dusted with a calcium and multivitamin powder before being offered to the blue-tongue. Blue-tongues are relatively slow-moving and may have trouble catching faster insects such as crickets and woodies.

Blue-tongues can also be fed small amounts of tinned dog food (beef or chicken) with added calcium powder as well as boiled egg. Fruits and vegetables that can be offered include apple, pear, melons, pitted stone fruits, berries, banana, squash, carrot, endive and kale.

Commercially available lizard pellets can also be mixed through the chopped fruits and vegetables to provide extra nutrition to the lizard. Juvenile blue-tongues should be fed daily and adults can be offered food every second day.

Fresh water should be available to the lizard at all times and changed daily.

 

Blue Tongue Licensing

All native reptiles are protected in NSW and a Reptile Keeper's licence must be obtained from the Office of Environment and Heritage to own one as a pet.
You can apply for a licence online through the OEH website or alternatively, our specialist reptile staff would be more than happy to assist you in applying for your licence in-store.

Blue Tongues In Your Garden

What do you do if you find a blue tongue in your garden? First off - don't panic, they are not poisonous and they greatest defence is bluff!

Blue-tongue lizards are an asset in the garden as they keep the numbers of snails, caterpillars and other pests down.

It's not hard to make your garden blue-tongue lizard friendly. They just need is plenty of shelter and food. Lots of rocks and logs on the ground, piles of leaves, mulch, ground covers and low shrubs are ideal as beetles, spiders, snails and other critters will like the many moist and protected hidey-holes too.

Using snail Pellets is a no no if you have Blue Tongues in your garden. Blue tongues love snails and can't go past them. If a lizards eats the poisoned snails, they will die as well. The snail population will recover, the lizard population won't.

Leave the snail control to the lizards, they will eventually catch up. Don't panic if you see a few snails. You need a few or the blue tongues will go hungry. It's also much safer to not have snail pellets around if you have dogs or kids.

Be aware of Lizards hiding int he grass when you are mowing as the noise will not scare them away. Rather they will turn around and threaten the lawn mower with their blue tongue, which in this case is somewhat ineffective.

To help protect these amazing Lizards, keep your cat indoors (which you should anyway), teach your dog to share its food (a good poke in the ribs whenever it looks in a lizard's direction can work), and of course, watch out for Blue Tongues sunning themselves on your driveway.

We have created a Shopping list to show what you need to look after a Blue Tongue:

  • Enclosure; 90 x 45 x 60cm minimum
  • Water bowl
  • Feed dish
  • Flat basking log or rock ornament
  • Substrate
  • Hide
  • Background
  • Artificial plants
  • Heat fitting and globe
  • UV fitting and globe
  • Thermostat
  • Heat mat
  • Thermometer
  • Timer
  • Reptile disinfectant
  • Live food
  • Tinned dog food
  • Lizard pellets
  • Calcium and multivitamin powder
  • Fruit and vegetables

Common health issues in Blue Tongues

Intestinal Parasites (worms): Blue Tongues are susceptible to worms, including the potentially fatal coccidiosis organism. Faecal checks and worming can be carried out by an experienced reptile veterinarian.

Dysecdysis (Abnormal Shedding): Low humidity levels can sometimes result in a dragon having an ‘incomplete’ shed.

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD): Calcium or vitamin D3 deficiency as a result of incorrect diet and/or lack of or incorrect UV lighting.

Red flags

Is your Blue Tongue showing any of the signs of disease or illness? If yes, please consult your reptile vet.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Retained skin around toes or tail tip
  • Abnormal movements
  • Disorientation
  • Twitching/tremors

       


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