Shedding is a common phenomenon in most reptiles, including blue tongue skinks. These adorable skinks lose their old skin and develop a new one to accommodate their growing body and to get rid of any parasites. Moreover, the frequency of shedding depends on your blue tongue skink’s age.
Juvenile blue tongue skinks shed once in two to three weeks whereas adult blue tongue skinks sometimes shed once in five months. Before shedding, their skin becomes pale and develops a clear film. They also become moody and refuse to eat. The shedding process can take anywhere between a few hours to three days.
If you’re a concerned blue tongue skink owner and wish to know everything about the shedding process, this elaborate guide can help you out.
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Do Blue Tongue Skinks Shed?
Blue tongue skinks (BTS) shed their skin just like other reptiles. It happens due to two main reasons.
- A lizard’s skin doesn’t grow as their body grows. So, they might not fit in their old skin and require new skin to accommodate their body.
- Through shedding, they get rid of external parasites and protect themselves.
Blue tongue skinks form a new layer of epidermis below the old layer. Once the new epidermis layer is developed fully, the body releases enzymes that cause the old layer to separate from the new layer, and fall off.
Note that the shedding process is complicated, and your BTS requires additional care and attention during this time.
How Often Do Blue Tongue Skinks Shed?
There is no “fixed frequency” of shedding in blue tongue skinks. You will have to consider various factors here such as:
- Age of your blue tongue skink
- Body growth (how quickly your BTS is growing)
The table below gives a general idea about how many times blue tongue skinks shed.
|Approximate Age||Frequency of Shedding|
|Juvenile (under 12 months)||Once every two to three weeks|
|Sub-adult (12 to 18 months)||Once a month|
|Adult (18 months or older)||Once in two to three months (can go up to five months too)|
Owners have reported varying levels of shedding in their BTS. So, if you feel like your BTS is shedding too often or too less, consider visiting a veterinarian to rule out the possibility of any ailments.
How to Know If My Blue Tongue Skink Is About to Shed?
Shedding doesn’t happen suddenly in blue tongue skinks. You will observe several changes in your BTS when they are about to shed. Let’s take a quick look at some of the obvious changes.
When your BTS is about to shed, its body undergoes certain physical changes. These include:
- The skin suddenly appears dry and dull.
- The underside (or the belly region) has a milky appearance a week before the shedding process takes place.
- The skin is covered with a clear film all over the body.
Apart from the physical changes, you should look out for certain temperamental and behavioral changes as well.
- Change in eating habits, such as refusal to eat or drink
- Sudden irritability
- Irregular pooping
- Constantly rubbing against a substrate, enclosure walls, or other surfaces
If you notice any of the above physical or behavioral changes in your blue tongue skink, then they’re about to shed.
Things to Remember When Your Blue Tongue Skink Is Shedding
If your blue tongue skink is about to shed, remember the below-mentioned points.
1. Ensure Proper Humidity
Providing proper humidity is extremely necessary if you want your blue tongue skink to shed properly. If the humidity is too less, your pet might struggle with shedding. They may also encounter a problem of a stuck shed.
The humidity requirements of blue tongue skinks vary as per the species. As a general rule, Australian species require around 40% humidity to thrive, whereas Indonesian species require 70% to 80% humidity.
The table below gives an exact idea of the humidity requirements of different BTS species.
2. Do Not Disturb Them
Blue tongue skinks are solitary reptiles and don’t like a lot of interaction. However, when they’re shedding, they become even more aloof and moody.
Ensure that whenever you see any signs of shedding, you leave your blue tongue skink alone. Don’t try to handle them as excessive handling can stress them out and cause problems in shedding.
Moreover, don’t try to force them to eat as their appetite also decreases during the shedding period.
3. Look Out for Any Stuck Shed
After your blue tongue skink is done shedding, you need to examine them for any stuck shed. Several times the shed skin gets accumulated near the toes, limbs, tail, or ears. This can constrict the blood flow and lead to the loss of toes or even the tail.
If you notice any stuck shed three to four days after your BTS is done shedding, try to remove it gently using your fingers or Q-tips.
How to Tell If My Blue Tongue Skink Is Done Shedding?
When blue tongue skinks are shedding or are about to shed, you should leave them alone. During this time, they are more irritable and don’t like any interaction.
However, you can interact with them (in a limited manner) once they’re done shedding.
Given below are a few signs that show that your BTS is done shedding.
1. Skin Remains
Always keep an eye on your BTS’ enclosure when they’re shedding. Once they’re done, you’ll find several pieces of shed skin in their enclosure.
Note that, unlike snakes, blue tongue skinks don’t shed one entire piece of skin. Instead, they shed several pieces of skin.
Note: Sometimes, you won’t find any shed skin as some blue tongue skinks consume their own skin remains.
2. Willingness to Eat
Most blue tongue skinks abruptly stop eating during the shedding period. So, once they’re beginning to eat normally, they’re done shedding.
3. Active Behavior and No Irritability
Blue tongue skinks can become lethargic and irritable when they’re shedding, or are about to shed. Once they have shed their skin, they return back to their usual active behavior.
So, if your BTS is roaming about its enclosure during the day again, then they are out of their shedding period! Keep in mind that they should also look calm instead of irritated.
4. Appearance of New and Shiny-Looking Skin
When your BTS is undergoing shedding, the skin develops a clear film and looks dry and dull. However, after the shedding process is complete, it looks new and shiny.
The reappearance of glossy-looking skin is a huge indication that your BTS is done shedding.
Why Is My Blue Tongue Skink Not Shedding?
You need to keep in mind that the frequency of shedding in blue tongue skinks changes as per age.
Juvenile blue tongue skinks (below one year) shed more often (once or twice a month). On the other hand, adult blue tongue skinks might not shed for even up to five months or more.
So, if you have an adult blue tongue skink that hasn’t shed in a while, don’t panic. Try to wait for at most five to six months since their last shed. If they still don’t shed, look out for the possible problems listed below.
1. Low Humidity
Low humidity is one of the top reasons why blue tongue skinks don’t undergo proper shedding. It may also lead to related problems like a stuck shed.
Blue tongue skinks, just like other reptiles, are cold-blooded. They cannot regulate their body temperature by themselves and rely on environmental conditions.
So, when you don’t provide proper humidity and hydration to your BTS, the physiological functions, like shedding, can easily get affected.
2. Poor Diet
Apart from improper humidity levels, a poor diet can also cause difficulty in shedding.
Reptiles like blue tongue skinks require several nutrients – ranging from proteins to minerals to vitamins. Typically, low levels of the B group of vitamins can affect shedding as these vitamins are linked with enzyme activity.
Enzymes are an integral part of shedding as they cause the old skin to disintegrate from the new one. If they don’t function properly due to the lack of nutrients, your BTS might face difficulty in shedding.
Blue tongue skinks can get stressed due to a variety of reasons, which can further lead to difficulty in shedding.
Some signs that your BTS is stressed include:
- Breathing with an open mouth
- Constant aggression (such as hissing at you)
- Frequently hiding
- Pooping problems
- Glass surfing
If you notice the above signs, try to find out why your BTS is stressed. The most common reason include – the presence of other tank mates, loud noises, repeatedly holding them, sickness, or even the use of colored bulbs.
On the other hand, if your adult blue tongue skink is shedding a lot (more than once in six weeks), always examine them for any skin diseases.
Should I Help My Blue Tongue Skink In Shedding?
Unless there is a situation of a stuck shed, you shouldn’t help your blue tongue skink in shedding.
Blue tongue skinks are quite capable of removing their shed by themselves. The process is natural and doesn’t require human intervention.
Keep in mind that the shedding process can last anywhere between a few hours and three to five days.
Additionally, you shouldn’t remove your blue tongue skink’s shed using tweezers or similar tools, as their skin is extremely sensitive during shedding.
If you end up pulling it apart harshly, it can cause infection or bleeding.
How to Help My Blue Tongue Skink Shed?
If you notice any stuck shed on your blue tongue skink’s body (around toes, limbs, ears, or tail) three to four after the shedding process is over, you might have to help them out.
1. Spray the Affected Area and Massage Gently
First, find the area where the shed is stuck. Then, pour some water into a sprayer, and spray the affected area. Finally, you need to gently massage the area to remove the stuck shed.
Again, make use of your hands, and don’t use a tweezer or similar tool for extracting the shed.
2. Give a Lukewarm Soak
If the stuck shed won’t come off easily by massaging, try soaking your blue tongue skink. Follow the below-mentioned instructions.
- Use a spacious container or a bathtub. Fill it with lukewarm water. (the water temperature should remain below 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit)
- The water levels shouldn’t go above your skink’s shoulders.
- Allow your blue tongue skink to soak in the water for around 30 minutes.
- Take them out of the water, and try removing the shed by massaging the affected area using your fingers or Q-tips.
You can also check out this video to see how to bathe a blue tongue skink.
3. Increase Humidity and Misting In the Enclosure
A lack of sufficient humidity can cause complications in the shedding process. So, try to increase it. Here is what you can do:
- Spray the tank with water, along with your blue tongue skink.
- Try using an automatic humidifier.
If you’re using an automatic humidifier, try increasing the levels in the evening. Turn them down during the day again.
This way, the humidity won’t increase too much and lead to subsequent problems like mold or respiratory issues in your BTS.
4. Introduce Supplements In Your Blue Tongue Skink’s Diet
Introducing supplements in your blue tongue skink’s diet can help them in shedding as they contain essential vitamins and minerals.
You can simply dust the food (like insects) with the supplements and feed it to them.
There are several reputable supplements available in the market for blue tongue skinks. Some of these include:
|Zilla Vitamin Supplement Food Spray||Vitamins A (beta carotene), C, B1, B2, B6, B12, D3|
|Exo Terra Multi Vitamin Powder Reptiles Supplement||Vitamins, calcium, and minerals|
|Zoo Med Reptivite Reptile Vitamins||Calcium, Vitamins like D3, minerals|
However, you need to take care of the dose. The table below gives a rough idea of how many times to feed supplements to your BTS as per their age.
|Baby (0 to 2 months)||2 days per week|
|Juvenile (3 to 12 months)||One to two days per week|
|Adult (above 12 months)||One per week|
Here are a couple of questions we get asked often when it comes to BTS shedding:
Do blue tongue skinks eat their sheds?
Blue tongue skinks might occasionally eat their sheds. However, it mainly depends on your blue tongue skink, as not all of them eat their shed.
Do blue tongue skinks stop eating when shedding?
Blue tongue skinks undergo physiological changes when they’re about to shed. During this period, they tend to focus their energy on the shedding process and don’t prefer eating food.
Do blue tongue skinks shed one piece?
Blue tongue skinks don’t shed one piece like how snakes do. Instead, they shed several pieces.