Skinks in natural habitat questions?

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Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby xxmonitorlizardxx » Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:35 pm

What do they eat? (What type of insects, vegetation, and carrion)
Also when they burrow, do they ever make actual burrows? Or do they only tunnel underneath of stuff?
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby Richard.C » Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:34 pm

They generally use other animals burrows,or dig into loose substrate ot under things,diet wise the eat anything they think maybe palatable,vegetation,bugs,snails,pet animals food,dried dog poop,carrion,what evers available at the time
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby xxmonitorlizardxx » Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:56 pm

In this topic you say that they dig a network of tunnels:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=21266&hilit=burrow
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby Spindown » Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:31 pm

Did you start this thread just to nit-pick ML? Your tag line should be in ALL CAPS, in red letters, with WARNING in front of it.
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby El Lobo » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:33 pm

The actual statement Richard made was:

Richard.C wrote:Thats very common norm,the network of tunnels leading to sleep spots with blotchies,the easterns do it as well,but sleep spots usually better protected,eg xompost piles of grass clippings,under corrugated tin sheets ect,they dont generally dig deep burrows like monitors,but rather a shallow depression in soil alot of the time there back being exposed at ground level


It was me who made the initial reference to a network of tunnels with a picture illustrating what I meant by a tunnel. Such tunnels are not dug through the earth as is the case with other genuine tunneling or burrowing animals; rather they are areas where the plants have been pushed aside to allow access. With constant use the plants retain that position whilst they still continue to grow. In horticulture this is sometimes used to keep fruit trees within reach by espaliering their vertical growth. In the BTS example It allows them to move about without being exposed.
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby xxmonitorlizardxx » Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:36 pm

Thanks El Lobo :)

About the bugs that they eat, do you know what type of bugs specifically?
I remember isopods being mentioned.
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby Scotts1au » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:45 pm

This article has been around for a while, but it is a goody. Note that the results are fairly consistent between species in that insect larvae make up a large part of the diet.

None of this is suprising but worth considering for those who want to turn their blueys into vegetarians ;-)

http://www.rzsnsw.org.au/Volumes%20of%2 ... %20vol33(3)/Shea%20G%20M%20Diet%20of%20two%20species%20of%20bluetongue%20skink,%20Tiliqua%20multifasciata%20and%20Tiliqua%20occipitalis%20(Squamata%20Scincidae).pdf
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby Lea » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:38 pm

What skinks are you particularly interested in? They vary between species and what's common here, is quite different in the north of Australia, not to mention, Indonesia.

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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby Scotts1au » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:30 pm

There was an interesting posting that someone put on an Aus herp site a couple of years ago where they studied a female Alpine Blotched bluey, showing the tracks that she had made and where she used sphagnum moss to move around as a cover by making tunnels through it as pathways. Her home appeared to be under a sphagnum moss pad. Seems that such paths through long grass etc are a strategy used by different species of blueys. It is common to find blotchies in a small excavation, in the grass but never encountered them making a tunnel or burrow as such.

If anything, Easterns will dig under a log, or edge of a concrete slab to make themselves a home.
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby xxmonitorlizardxx » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:05 pm

Scott your link usnt working
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby Scotts1au » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:19 pm

If you do a quick google search you should be able to find it. There is a problem with links on this site.

Diet of two species of bluetongue skink, Tiliqua multifasciata and Tiliqua occipitalis (Squamata: Scincidae)
Glenn M. Shea
Faculty ofveterinary Science, BOI,University of Sydney, N S W 2006.
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby xxmonitorlizardxx » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:13 pm

Found it!
So they eat mostly vegetation, beetles, and crickets/grasshoppers.

What skinks are you particularly interested in? They vary between species and what's common here, is quite different in the north of Australia, not to mention, Indonesia.

Tiliqua Gigas Sp (anything from Indo)
But since it's hard to find indo sources/info I was going to convert Australian diet to Indonesian diet.
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby Scotts1au » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:26 pm

Mmm mostly bugs, particularly larvae in amongst forest litter, grassy thatch, etc. it is rare to find an obese looking bluey in the wild largely because of there activity levels and the energy expended looking for food. A large part of their natural diet is made of high fat items eith mot larvae ranging from 10-20% fat. I believe of most species other than t.rugosa this would hold fairly consistently. However just because this is what they would eat in the of course doesn't necessarily mean that this is best for a sedentary captive bluey. I think however these facts are useful to understand.
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby xxmonitorlizardxx » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:44 pm

The skink in the sphagnum, was it in the sphagnum, or underneath of the whole patch?
Also I wasn't planning on my skinks to live sedentary life styles (although it's not my decision).
I was going to have a nice basking spot with different layers of temps to regulate their temps (retes stack) and have 4-5 inches of dirt substrate with leaf litter on top with a little area of grass to hide in. Along with cork bark, branches, water bowl, etc.
How does that sound?
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby Lea » Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:52 pm

Just make sure to have good ventilation if you are growing live plants or grass. They can drastically alter humidity and increase the chance of mould or fungus, such aspergillus and candida, which often do extensive damage to reptiles before they are even detected, especially the lungs. Carefully consider the use of live plants in an indoor enclosure.
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby Scotts1au » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:18 pm

I don't like the idea of dirt substrate indoors. The comment is often made about blueys living in wet conditions,in contact with soil etc but you are talking about an enclosed space, a very good incubator for pathogens, particularly if kept moist. Accepted wisdom is to provide a substrate that can be routinely replaced and is well aerated. There have been several people who have thumbed there noses at these conventional wisdoms on this site over the years, needless to say they don't post here anymore since their blueys died.

in their natural habitat, alpine blotched for example live in areas with exceptional drainage,in elevated sandstone or granitic areas. They also don't deficate where they sleep.
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby Spindown » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:20 am

I've tried dirt as a bluey substrate...its hard to keep the right dampness, too wet/too dry issue, its MESSY, it gets in their noses, etc. I hated it, and immediately changed it. I also cooked my soil before using it.
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby xxmonitorlizardxx » Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:57 am

What temps do you observe them basking in, in the wild?
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby El Lobo » Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:59 pm

I think you need to be more specific as to species when seeking this type of information. There are a couple on Indonesian members but they don't post a great deal. Otherwise, with Australian members seeing blueys in their natural habitat reporting will vary greatly. My observations of Highland Blotched would be vastly different to Lea's with Shinglebacks. Lea's region is more coastal and much hotter than where I am at higher altitude with variation from dry sclerophyll forest through heath and swamplands to temperate rainforest. Blotchies will more likely be found in the dry sclerophyll and heath whereas the denser forestation of rainforest and closed forest is more the domain of pink-tongued skinks.

The variables of available light from all these different habitats will determine the basking/photo periods for the different species. Blotchies because they are predominantly black appear to need less exposure time to direct sunlight, fitting more correctly the description of crepuscular; it is rare to find one basking or even being active in the middle of the day.
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Re: Skinks in natural habitat questions?

Postby hurricanejen » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:35 pm

What a delightful thread guys :)

Just a chime in on dirt substrate - it's tough to get it dialed in right, but it can be used successfully in indoor cages. Super popular with monitor keepers, but I personally wouldn't like it so much for blueys. The observations here seem to support that they don't so much excavate burrows in dirt or sandy soil as many monitor species do (which is why dirt works so well for them) but they do shuffle around in pre-made burrows or create walkways through grass and loose plant matter. Using a loose substrate that will also hold burrow shapes (so cypress/shredded aspen) mimics this fantastically (bum bum bummmm why its recommended so often I betcha :) ) - and also be great with the "conventional wisdom" mentioned earlier, that a substrate that is easy to clean and well aerated to prevent bacteria buildup etc.

While the retes stack/monitor style enclosure is an interesting idea, I think what may work better for what you're thinking is to create a more zoo-exhibit like enclosure, and perhaps use the soil etc to create burrows that you line with hay or aspen, and thus can clean easier. I've done something similar on a much smaller scale with burrowing species of geckos and for young uromastyx by using ZooMed excavator clay (which hardens into shapes) and then lining burrows with sand/compressed coconut which can be easily replaced to keep it clean. Worked awesome for those, but for the scale it would be needed for a bluey, we're talking a huge enclosure with elaborate fake burrows you wouldn't be able to switch up or change at all to provide any enrichment. It's a complex and complicated undertaking, to be sure.

Again though, the point is made that the skinks in the wild with these kinds of burrows etc are wandering relatively large distances compared to captive conditions and are rarely coming back into contact with their own feces on a regular basis. While not truly naturalistic, the use of a loose shredded wood substrate, most often aspen, is often the most ideal for a myriad of reasons, where its only major flaw seems to be that it doesn't look very 'natural'. :)

Anyone else give their blueys hay to burrow in from time to time? My parents have horses, and when I go up to visit I like to snag bagfuls of the loose hay to give to my chinchillas - during the summer my blue tongues frolicked through that like a kid through snow on Christmas morning.

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