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Environmental Enrichment

Posted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 8:51 am
by saisaac ... HIS142.pdf

Above is a rather interesting article that addresses something I am sure each of us has considered at one time or another: keeping our reptiles healthy both physically and mentally.

What do you guys do to keep your skinks active and healthy? I've been trying different setup layouts and what not to keep Chewy interested in his surroundings. Whenver I change things up he seems to act as if the whole world around him is new walking around tasting everything and climbing all around. He shows not interest in active food, so that hasn't proven to be a way to stimulate him.

Re: Environmental Enrichment

Posted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 4:34 pm
by Lauriek
Interesting article. I often take my skinks out of their cages for walk on the grass but I've observed all of them head towards 'the dark' meaning they seem to be attracted to the shadows - a survival instinct I think. I had a large pile of dried grass on the lawn. All the blotchies explored it, then curled up and went to sleep underneath the dried grass! The shingles will do the same. Sometimes I put a handful of clean straw in their cages and all the skinks will investigate. They can be trained to a certain extent, or habitualised. They recognise me coming near the cages. Generally it means food for them. I've not actually tried to train any of them as such to 'do' certain things.

Re: Environmental Enrichment

Posted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 8:03 am
by saisaac
I have been participating in a similar discussion over at Reptile Forums Uk: ... hment.html

I'd love to hear more ideas from the bluey experts here on the forum especially those that have some more experience with them in their native environment.

Re: Environmental Enrichment

Posted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:15 pm
by Dood
I'm certainly no BTS expert but my skink is let out to roam a 20x30 family room several times a week.

I also put out food (ie snails, meal worms, worms) for him to hunt for around the room and he gets to interact with my well trained dogs and house rabbits, except one doe who tries to kill him :hehe:

I got the idea from this article - ... 3/art00007 as I've never thought of giving enrichment to my milk snakes or turtles but now I wonder :noknow:

Ideas for enrichment activities - ... 25,AR.html

Re: Environmental Enrichment

Posted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:54 am
by saisaac
I'll have to take a look at those.

Chewy was not a fan of me making getting to his food a game. I tried putting some light branches over the food bowl so that he would have to move them in order to get his beloved egg, but he simply got bored or frustrated and went back to basking! Lazy, spoiled skink! I bet if I waited longer between feedings he would be a more active participant. He does seem to enjoy hunting down a few grubs from time to time if I toss them into the substrate, but he won't eat out in the living room. Digging around in a large dog bed certainly got his tongue flicking about and after a while he popped back out from under the cushion and walked right over to me.

One of my dogs couldn't care less about him walking around the room, but Chewy is fascinated by him.

Re: Environmental Enrichment

Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:43 pm
by hurricanejen
Enrichment is huge. I think captive bred skinks are better candidates for enrichment through being out of their cage, but imported animals should have their enclosures looked as their primary opportunity for enrichment.

My big male Northern, for example, gets extremely frustrated being in his cage constantly (probably my fault for letting him out in my old apartment so much). He'll rub his nose raw if he is not taken out, which was why I'd often take him to work with me on weekends. The females care a whole lot less about it, and seem happy to stay in their enclosures.

Adding new decor items, such as hides, is an excellent way to provide enrichment. Thick layers of bedding to burrow in. Hide favorite foods in places the skinks have to work at to get them. Let them chase things such as roaches or worms. New food items.

My northerns will steal dog bones and rawhides and drag them under couches to attempt eating them any time they're out near the dog stuff. My male northern in particular was incredibly fascinated by a jangly cat ball toy, but the other skinks were less enthused.

Putting gizzards and hearts inside cat toys (those balls that are basically an open frame instead of a solid ball) is one way to keep them entertained. I used to do this when I kept monitors, and did it a couple times for my skinks, though not in a long time. The monitors were better at the ball "game" - they used feet as well to try and get into the ball, and would really persist in rolling it around.

Re: Environmental Enrichment

Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:51 pm
by Lauriek
Monitors are actually very clever. There's been some interesting research on them.

Re: Environmental Enrichment

Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:25 pm
by Richard.C
Monitors certainly are persistant buggers,unlike skinks they are always up to something

Re: Environmental Enrichment

Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:28 pm
by hurricanejen
Yoop, I miss keeping them. Super smart

Re: Environmental Enrichment

Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:27 pm
by saisaac
I had thought about using a small dog sized Kong interactive toy and stuffing it with something for him.I have a couple that I use for my dogs. I tried a "Furchin Cookie" dog toy, but he didn't seem interested unlike my dogs who adore them. Chewy is a pretty big jerk when it comes to my attempts to make feeding a game or simply a little more difficult. Typically he just doesn't eat then.

However, I have been getting him out more, which he clearly enjoys, and I have partially buried his cork bark hides into the substrate and then I block up the opening partially so he has to dig his way in and that has kept him working at it. He seems to enjoy the hides more now too. Perhaps he feels more secure since they are more closed off than before.

I also tried putting strange items into his enclosure for him to investigate such as slobery dog toys, leaves from pesticide free house plants, a sterlized antler, etc. Some items he really responds to. Others seem to invoke no interest.

Re: Environmental Enrichment

Posted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:32 am
by critterguy
I don't have any experience with monitors but I will say I think bluetongues are pretty intelligent. Probably not as interactive and responsive as say turtles/tortoises but...

I've managed to target train both of mine. It is not full-proof...they will sometimes mistake a hand or something else for the target. They also tend to get excited and bite the targets when very hungry. And of course motivation is a difficult thing. But I bet you could achieve great results with consistent training and a large portion of the animals food offered this way. I think bridging them with clicker training would be a good strategy. This would be great enrichment for both skink and owner.

I bet one of those wiffle balls filled with treats that tumble around and fall out every so often would keep a skink busy for a long time.