With their easy-going nature and striking blue tongue, there is no doubt the blue-tongued lizard is a great reptile addition to your family. They do have unique and special requirements that you should be aware of.
Life span – 12-15 years
Size – Up to 45-55cm
Diet – Plants, slow moving animals, fruits and veggies
Home – 100cm x 50cm x 26cm enclosure
Care and maintenance
These beautiful native lizards make a fantastic family pet, as they’re active and are incredible to learn more about. While they have quite specific needs, if you cater to them, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing pet. Blue-tongues thrive in a generously sized, spacious enclosure. Depending on the space and materials available to you, you can house your blue-tongue in an indoor or outdoor home. If your climate is similar to a blue-tongue’s natural habitat, set them up in an outdoor enclosure where they have unlimited space to roam and bask.
Blue-tongues will shed their skin up to 10 times in their first year of life and will still shed a few times a year once reaching adulthood. Prior to shedding, your lizard may show a loss in appetite and become increasingly thirsty. When their skin begins to appear dull and starts to crack it is best to leave them be; blue-tongues can be moody when they shed.
Blue-tongues will also enter a process called brumation. Brumation is the equivalent of hibernation and is a natural process your lizard will go through to avoid cool conditions. While the temperature of their enclosure will be monitored and they may not necessarily be exposed to cold conditions, your lizard may still enter a dormant state for up to four months. They will not engage in normal activities, like eating or basking, and will generally recoil into a dark spot to sleep.
Use a glass aquarium, wooden box or plastic tub to house your lizard and consider their adult size. Talk to your local Petbarn team member about what size enclosure is sufficient. Use sand, gravel, or newspaper to create a suitable substrate.
Keep branches low to the ground and stable. Your lizard will also need a dark place to retreat to. Use a wooden box, hollow log or pipe. Also include an immovable object with a rough surface, like a rock, for them to rub against when shedding.
The cool end of your enclosure must sit between 24–28°C and have a basking spot that’s between 30–35°C. Visit your local Petbarn to find the right UVB lighting and heating sources.
If you’re building an outdoor habitat, the best material to use is tin, and there’s no need for artificial light or heat. Walls should be 5–8cm high with at least 100mm of the tin being secure underground so your pet doesn’t escape. Provide them with a lot of shelter from the elements and remember to have a clean water bowl in the enclosure at all times.
All Australian lizards are protected species in Australia. In order to legally house a blue-tongued lizard, you must register with your local government by applying for a ‘Companion Animal Keeper Licence’. This varies from state to state, so find the relevant information on your government website. For example, in NSW, the ‘Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Reptiles’ keeps you up to date with the rules and regulations relevant to keeping your new pet. You can then apply for your licence online or call the provided number.
Blue-tongued lizards are omnivores. Garden snails are their ideal food, but they will also enjoy most varieties of fruits and veggies. For a treat, feed them crickets and mice which you can buy at your local Petbarn store.
Blue-tongues usually eat from late morning through to midday after getting some sun. It’s fine to leave food in their enclosure for them to eat over the course of the day, but if left unfinished it’s best to throw it out after a day.
Baby lizards should be fed five times a week (once to twice per day) and once a full-grown adult, only two to three times a week. Investigate how much food you should give your lizard by using a process of trial and error. If food is often left, your pet probably isn’t hungry.
When handling your blue-tongue, support all their limbs rather than holding their torso. When travelling, wrap them in a towel or blanket and use a hot water bottle. Transport them in a small plastic container, pet carrier or cardboard box, making sure there are openings for air.
When choosing your new lizard it’s important to ensure they’re fit and healthy. Healthy blue-tongues should be active and alert, responding to movements with their tongue or head. Make sure their nostrils and eyes are clear, there is no sign of excessive pieces of skin from shedding and their scales are free from abrasions, swelling or scarring.
It’s important to be aware of the diseases or infections that put your reptile at risk. Conduct regular health checks, as early detection means a quicker return to health.
Check for blisters, sores or abscesses to avoid any skin ailments and make sure there are no unwanted flakes of skin after their shedding process. Be aware of any mucus around the eyes and mouth, heavy breathing or sneezing – blue-tongues aren’t immune to conjunctivitis or respiratory infections. It’s crucial you check your lizard’s faeces as well. Runny, discoloured or especially pungent faeces could mean your lizard has an internal parasite.
If you notice any symptoms or changes in your blue-tongue, refer to your local Greencross Vets.
Pet safety tips
Monitor your lizard by keeping a record of their habits and weigh them on a regular basis. This means it will be easier to find what is wrong with your lizard if they fall ill.
Make sure that any naturally sourced elements that come into contact with your lizard, such as snails or plants, are chemical free. Food sources from your backyard that may seem innocent could be affected by pesticides.
Tip: Be sure to check your heat lamps every month
Blue-tongue lizard checklist
Check each item off your list by shopping reptile supplies online or in-store at Petbarn.
- Ventilated screen lid
- Heat lamp
- UVB light
- Water dish
- Food dish
- Basking rock
- Tin for walls
- Water dish
- Food dish
- Basking rock
- Leaf litter
- Feeder insects