Merauke Blue Tongue Skink 101 – Care, Size, Lifespan, Diet & More

Merauke blue tongue skinks are docile creatures and easy to care for. They make great pets and are low-maintenance creatures. They enjoy being handled and make an excellent choice for beginner reptile owners. This article will inform you about what makes these pets unique and what is care required for these lovable beings.

The Merauke blue tongue skink commonly known as the giant blue tongue skink, is one of the longest in the skink’s species. They are native to Indonesia and New Guinea. Blue tongue skinks might not look appealing to their other species but are known for their large size. These reptiles are commonly found in the wild but are difficult to find in several pet stores.


Merauke blue tongue skink is native to the Merauke region in southern Papua, Indonesia. They are docile and easy to care for, thus their huge popularity among reptile enthusiasts. Blue tongue skinks are the largest among the skink species and can grow up to 24 inches in length. They have a blue-colored tongue that fends off predators by making them think they are poisonous. 

Their appearance might be a little basic, as compared to their other species members. Blue-tongued skinks are gray or brown and have a darker band all over their body. They also have a blunt and thick tail that they use to attack if they feel threatened. Blue-tongued skinks are also known for their large heads and powerful jaws that they use to hunt their prey.

Blue-tongued skinks spend most of their time on the ground and are generally active during the day. They are also omnivorous and their diet includes plants, vegetables, and small insects. Blue-tongued skinks are also known for their scavenging abilities and feed on carrion.

The Merauke blue tongue skink diverged from other skinks approximately 4 million years ago. They have evolved due to various environmental factors, such as rainforests, lowlands, and savannas. Blue-tongued skinks are also considered threatened species due to loss of habitat and other human activities.

Key AspectsInformation
Common NameMerauke blue-tongued skink
Scientific NameTiliqua gigas evanescens
HabitatGround-dwelling in lowland rainforests and savannahs of southern Papua, Indonesia
Size24 inches in length and 1.5 pounds in weight
Lifespan20 years in captivity
DietOmnivorous, feeding on a variety of plant matter, and insects
ReproductionCan give birth to 3-15 young skinks after a gestation period of 3-4 months
BehaviorDocile and easy to care for, active during the day
ThreatsHabitat loss, over-collection, and other human-related activities
Conservation StatusThreatened species
HousingLarge enclosure with ample space to move around and burrow
TemperatureThe basking area ranges from 85-90°F, and a cooler area ranges from 75-80°F
Diet in CaptivityLeafy greens, vegetables, fruit, and protein sources such as insects
HandlingCan be handled, but should not be picked up by the tail
Health ConcernsRespiratory infections, parasitic infections, and obesity
Care LevelIntermediate
Legal StatusNeed a permit to be kept as pets and are illegal in some parts of the world

What Does a Merauke Blue Tongue Skink Look Like?

merauke blue tongue skink

The Merauke blue-tongue skink is known for its unique appearance and large size. This species is known for its distinctive blue tongue, big head, powerful jaw, dark stripes, and thick tails. The species can grow up to 24 inches in length and weigh over 1.5 pounds. This is a unique aspect as other species of skinks like peter’s banded skink, fire skink, red eye crocodile skink and blue tailed crocodile skink are relatively smaller in size. 

Blue tongue skinks also have flat bodies with short legs, which are adapted for ground-dwelling behavior. They are usually gray and brown and have dark stripes or spots all over their body. These patterns and coloration help them to blend in with the environment and act as a survival ability.

One of the most striking features of these creatures is their tongue. It is bright blue and can be up to two-thirds of the length of their body. The blue coloration of the tongue also helps them to survive predators as they can be perceived as poisonous. 

Merauke blue tongue skink is also known for its robust head. The size of their head is quite large, and are equipped with powerful jaws that are used to tear and eat flesh. Their eyes are also wide apart, giving them peripheral vision. You might not locate their ears as they are small and hidden beneath their skin.

Editor’s Note
Blue-tongued skinks also have a blunt and thick tail which is used as a fat reserve for the creature. This helps them survive starvation and is used as a defense mechanism against predators.

Size and Growth Rate of a Blue Tongue Skink

merauke blue tongue skink on owner's hand

Blue tongue skinks are relatively larger compared to other species of skinks. They can grow up to 18-24 inches in length and weigh over 2 pounds. Young blue tongue skinks are 4-6 inches in length and have a rapid growth rate compared to adults.

Blue-tongue skinks also reach the age of sexual maturity in 2-3 years and can live up to 20 years in captivity. The growth rate of a skink depends on several factors, such as its diet, health, and genetics. Usually, a blue tongue skink will grow 1 inch per month, and slowly the growth rate will decrease as they age.

You should also provide your skink a well-balanced diet as it can impact their growth rate tremendously. The diet of your pet skink should include all the vital nutrients and a protein source. Overfeeding or underfeeding your blue-tongue skink can result in health problems and illnesses.

The Temperament of a Merauke Blue Tongue Skink

calm merauke blue tongue skink with tongue out

The Merauke blue tongue skink is known for its docile nature and calm temperament. These species of skinks are easy to care for and less aggressive making them a popular choice for many reptile enthusiasts. Blue-tongue skinks are diurnal meaning they stay active during the day time.

They are known to be curious and engaging creatures and love to be handled by their pet owners. Blue-tongue skinks are also quite social and like interacting with their owners. They also tend to recognize and respond to your presence, making them great pets to have.

 You should also know that the temperament of a Merauke blue-tongue skink also depends on various factors such as handling, stress, and illnesses. It is important to respect their boundaries and provide them with a comfortable and peaceful environment to live in.

If your blue-tongue skink is hissing or puffing up their body, it means something is not right. This is a defensive response when blue-tongue skinks are under stress or illness. Prevent overcrowding and keep the tank clean to prevent this from occurring.

Enclosure Requirements for a Blue Tongue Skink

blue tongue skink enclosure

When it comes to housing any reptile, the most important thing to do is provide them with a comfortable living space. You should know about the various enclosure requirements for a blue-tongue skink to keep it safe and comfortable. Here are a few factors that you need to keep in mind to choose a suitable enclosure for your pet.

Enclosure Size

The size of the enclosure is one of the most crucial factors when looking for a home for your skink. An adult blue-tongue skink requires a tank of a minimum of 40 gallons to live freely. You can also opt for a bigger tank in case you plan on housing multiple skinks in the same enclosure.

Editor’s Note
The enclosure should also come equipped with a lid, which will prevent your pet from escaping and provide adequate ventilation. The enclosure should also be escape-proof to avoid accidental hazards with other pets or children.

Lighting Requirements

blue tongue skink enclosure with lighting

Blue-tongue skinks need additional UVB lighting to maintain their bone health and metabolize calcium in their body. The lighting should be turned on for 10-12 hours per day, and the bulb needs to be replaced after every six months.

You should also equip the tank with a heating lamp which will help maintain the basking temperature inside the enclosure. The basking spot should be around 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit and should be maintained at the optimal range(basking spot should be however around 85-90 degrees in case of pink tongue skink). This is important for your pet skink as they need it to regulate their body temperature.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

Like many other reptiles, blue-tongued skinks require a temperature gradient inside the enclosure. They require a cool side inside the tank with a warm end. The cool side of the tank should remain between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit, while the warm side at 90-95 degrees. 

You should also maintain the humidity levels inside the tank. The humidity levels should remain between 40-50 percent. You can use a misting spray or reptile humidifier to make sure the levels remain at optimal levels.

A thermometer or humidifier can also be placed inside the tank to keep a note of the environment you provide to your blue-tongued skink. Not providing an optimal environment can lead to several health problems and illnesses.


blue tongue skink enclosure substrate

The substrate inside your blue-tongued skink’s tank should be easy to clean, absorbent, and safe for the skink to borrow in. Some safe substrate options include reptile carpets, coconut coir, and cypress mulch. You should avoid using substrates like sand, pebbles, or walnut shells,  as they can be eaten by the pet and cause damage.

Unsuitable substrates can cause your pet to have digestive problems such as impactions and indigestion. Provide your blue-tongued skink with a safe and comfortable environment to live in.


It is important to maintain proper hygiene inside your blue-tongued skink tank. Clean the tank regularly and replace the dish utensils from time to time. This will keep your pet skink in a healthy condition and prevent it from catching any illnesses such as respiratory infection and parasitic infestation.

You should remove any unwanted food from the enclosure after every feeding session and clean the feces regularly. It is also important to change the substrate every month to ensure your pet skink stays healthy and has a hygienic environment.

Provide your pet with clean drinking water and change the water after every feeding session. You can also have two separate dishes for your pet skink to eat and drink from. This will lessen the chance of them catching any illnesses.

Editor’s Note
You can use a reptile-safe disinfectant to clean the tank and remove any bacteria or germ buildup. You should avoid using any harmful chemicals as they can affect the health of your pet skink.

Diet Plan For Your Merauke Blue Tongue Skink

merauke blue tongue skink with tongue out ready to eat

Blue-tongued skinks need a well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients and protein to thrive. You should know about the food and water requirements for your Indonesian blue-tongue skink before deciding to keep them at your home. Skinks are omnivorous creatures and can eat a variety of food, such as fruits, vegetables, and insects. In their natural habitat, their diet includes insects, small animals, fruits, and vegetables. 

It is important to serve them a diet that includes animal protein and plant matter. Some suitable choices to provide animal protein to your blue-tongued skinks are dog food, ground chicken, boiled eggs, and small mice. You should avoid overfeeding them as it can lead to obesity and various health problems.

It is also important to give your skink with leafy greens, such as collard greens, kale, and dandelion greens. You can also occasionally serve them fruits as treats including small berries and melons. It is important to note that you should never offer them fruits that are too big for their size or contain seeds. This can result in health problems such as digestive issues and impactions.

You should provide your blue-tongued skink with a wide variety of food to maintain a well-balanced diet. Avoid feeding food that is high in fat, sugar, or salt content as this food can deteriorate the health of your pet skink.

Indonesian blue-tongue skinks require access to clean drinking water at all times. Provide them with a  shallow container that they can soak in. You should also change the water after every feeding session and clean the dish to prevent bacteria buildup.

You can also mist the tank from time to time to maintain humidity levels inside the tank. Although, you should avoid over-misting the tank as it can affect your pet’s health and cause them to face health problems.

DayAnimal ProteinPlant Matter
MondayDog foodChopped kale
TuesdayGround turkeyDandelion greens
WednesdayBoiled eggSliced berries
ThursdayPinkie mouseCollard greens
FridayChopped squashMelon cubes
SaturdayDog foodSweet potato
SundayGround chickenSliced apples

Shedding in Merauke Blue Tongue skink

merauke blue tongue skink shedding

Merauke blue-tongued skink goes through a shedding process like many other reptiles. Shedding usually occurs every few months and is important for your pet to grow. It happens when their skin becomes too tight and needs more space to grow in. During this process, your blue-tongue skink will shed its withered-out skin and generate a fresh layer underneath it.

Signs of shedding include a dull appearance of your skin, loss of appetite, and loose patches of skin on the body. You should avoid handling your pet during the shedding process as they might be stressed and agitated. Provide them with a humid environment and plenty of water and food to get through the stressful period easily.

Editor’s Note
You should never pull off the loose skin attached to your skink’s body as it may cause an injury. These wounds become the suitable spot for bacteria and germs to grow in and get infected.

How to Identify the Sex of Your Blue-Tongued Skink

To identify the sex of your Indonesian blue-tongued skink, you should know about the physical differences between males and females. One of the most reliable ways to identify their sex is to look at their vent area. A male skink will have two hemipenes on their vent and are visible on either side of the vent. Whereas, a female blue-tongued skink will have no hemipenes but an opening for reproduction and excretion.

Another smart way to identify your skink’s sex is by its shape and size. Male blue-tongued skinks are known to be more muscular and larger than female skinks. They also have broader heads and tails as compared to the other gender. Females are smaller in size and slender in shape. Although, the shape and size are not reliable ways to identify their sex. 

If you are unable to determine whether your pet skink is a male or female, you can also bring them to a vet and seek their advice. You can also ask your pet store for their general information or the breeding company you bought them from.

How to Properly Handle a Blue-Tongue Skink

owner holding merauke blue tongue skink

You should always know the correct way to handle your pet skink before picking them up. The first thing that you need to do is wash your hands to prevent any exchange of germs or bacteria. Now approach the skink slowly and hold them gently, do not apply any access pressure as they might consider you as a predator and act out. Use both your hands to support their body, and do not hold them by their tail.

Avoid any sudden moments or loud noises that might startle your pet and perceive you as a threat. Observe their body language and respect your blue-tongued skink’s boundaries. Always keep the handling session short and return them to their tank safely. 

If you feel your pet skink is hesitant to be held give it some days to establish trust and give them treats to assure them they are not in danger. If a blue-tongued skink is going through stress, illness, or shedding, you should avoid handling them till the underlying issue is solved.

Common Health Issues in Blue-Tongued Skinks

Like any other pet, blue-tongued skinks can also fall ill and get health issues from time to time. Some common health issues in blue-tongue skinks include parasitic infections, respiratory infections, and metabolic bone disease.

Your pet skink can develop respiratory infections due to poor hygiene inside the tank. Provide them with optimal temperature and humidity levels to prevent this from occurring. You should also make sure there is enough ventilation flow inside the tank.

Parasitic infestation is another common health concern for blue-tongued skinks. Internal parasites such as nematodes and coccidia can enter your skink’s body and cause various health issues. They can also be affected by mites which can irritate their skin.

If there is not enough UVB lighting inside the tank, your pet might develop metabolic bone disease. This disease can make your blue-tongued skinks bone brittle and weak. Ensure your pet skink is not calcium deficient and provide UVB lighting inside the tank.

Lastly, poor hygiene and injuries to the mouth can lead to bacterial infection. If you do not treat this problem in the early stages, it can develop into a mouth rot. This disease can prove to be fatal for your pet and you need to get it treated by a vet immediately.


To breed your blue-tongued skink, you need to provide them with the right environment. Provide them with a large enclosure with plenty of room and hiding spaces. The temperature and humidity levels inside the tank should also be at optimal levels.

Ensure both the male and female skinks are healthy and do not have any illnesses. Breeding blue-tongued skinks involves putting a male and female skink inside the same enclosure. Mating happens in the breeding season and depends heavily on the species and location.

After the breeding season, the female skink will lay plenty of eggs, which can be carefully removed and stored until they are ready to hatch. It is important to monitor the temperature and humidity gradient during the incubation period. You should avoid keeping multiple males with a female inside the same enclosure, as it may hamper your breeding and cause male skinks to fight with each other.

How Much Does an Indonesian Blue-Tongued Skink Cost?

The cost of an Indonesian blue-tongued skink depends on several factors, such as their age, size, and where they are purchased from. On average, a baby blue-tongued skink costs between $150-$500. Whereas, an adult skink can cost about $600 or more depending on the store or breeder you buy them from.

You should also keep in mind the additional costs, such as the cost of the enclosure, food, and other care requirements, before making the final purchase. It is mandatory to provide your pet skink with proper husbandry and a comfortable environment to keep them healthy. You will also need to schedule a monthly veterinary appointment to monitor their health and provide them with the best care possible.


Do blue-tongue skinks bite?

Blue-tongued skinks are docile creatures and are easy to care for. They will not bite till they are provoked or under a lot of stress. Proper husbandry and a comfortable environment will help avoid any accidental bites from occurring.

Are blue-tongue skinks beginner friendly?

Yes, blue-tongue skinks are beginner friendly as they are easy to care for and docile. They love to interact with their owners and do not mind being handled from time to time.

Final Thoughts

The Merauke blue-tongued skink is the largest of the skink species. They are docile creatures and make an excellent choice for beginner reptile owners. Blue-tongue skinks are known for their unique blue-colored tongue and are extremely hard to find. You will also need a large tank to house them due to their magnificent size and large tails. Keep a note of their specific care requirements to prevent any illnesses and provide them with a safe and comfortable environment to live in.

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