Wild Caught Skink

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Wild Caught Skink

Postby lk1010 » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:22 pm

My 16 year old daughter was gifted a reptile for Christmas and has been researching options heavily. She has fallen in love with the descriptions of blue tongue skink but we have realized that this is not the ideal time to purchase one. We are visiting two reptile stores tomorrow to look at options and are aware that each store has one skink at the moment. They are Indonesian variety (one is Merauke, not sure on the other) so I am assuming they are wild caught but we will be asking more questions at the pet store to get more specifics. Everything I read says to avoid the wild caught so I am wondering if people have positive experiences with these? I am aware of concerns of mites and parasites along with our big concern of being easy to handle. We will ONLY consider if it is easy to handle at the pet store and even then we will be very cautious in the choice. So I am just looking for any advice, or things we should be asking or looking for when we go. We are first time reptile owners but my daughter is very obsessive in her research and plans to go to college for pre-vet studies. We are prepared to look at other options (probably a bearded dragon) if the skink doesn't work out as she doesn't want to wait until summer.
Thanks for any advice you can provide to us newbies.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby Cyberlizard » Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:08 pm

You could take a look at the classifieds/recommended breeder section of the forum. There may be some breeders with some captive breed skinks left from the last season. If you decide to go the route of the wild caught skink just make sure you also find a reputable exotic vet near by and get the little guy checked out as soon as you get him or her. Or wait it out till the 2019 season so you can get a baby skink, cause there is nothing cuter!
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby Yeshika » Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:16 pm

A reptile as a beginner's pet isn't a bad choice, so long as you pick out one that will be a little lenient to first-time mistakes. The blue tongue is an excellent choice! The Aussie subspecies, such as the Northern and Eastern, are pretty hardy and forgiving when it comes to small mistakes. The Indonesian subspecies can be a little trickier to care for, given their need for higher humidity. For some people in some areas, it's a piece of cake to get humidity up high, but for drier parts of the world it can be a bit of a challenge. I don't live in the USA, so I've never had my hands on a Meruake, but I've heard from people who own them that they can be as docile as a Northern, so you don't have much to worry about when it comes to handling. Even slightly more aggressive animals can be tamed down, I had to go through the taming process with my own skink. Be aware that some shadier people will cool the animal down before you come to view it, so that it appears more docile. If it's not warmed up it can't squirm away as fast!
Also, the personality of the animal is rarely best brought out in a pet shop environment. They tend to act shy because there's so many people around making so much noise.
Definitely ask all you can about the animal's history, and if they can't give you straight answers, be prepared to take home an animal that WILL need to be vet checked. It's a good idea to have them checked out anyway, even if you know it's history. Always better to be safe.

Ah, the Blue Tongue or Bearded Dragon debate. As a university student myself, I made the choice to care for a blue tongue over the other available species because I felt that there would be far less time involved maintaining the cage and prepping the animal's food, and a lot more time for just sitting with my lizard as I work. Comparing my own costs of keeping my guy to that of someone I know with a beardie... Yeah, I can definitely say I'm not paying more.
The only major issue I've had with keeping Bel over a dragon has been the vets. It took far, far too long to find someone who would give him check ups, simply because most of the vet clinics around here didn't even know Blue Tongues exist. That may be different in the USA, seeing as you have ever stranger reptiles over there and I can imagine a bigger market for reptiles.

Because your daughter is young, I would highly recommend that the parents also do a ton of research about the species you decide to keep, just in case she needs some support from you (It will happen, trust me, I have been there).

All the best for your search! Please ask more questions if and when you have any, there are people here far more knowledgeable than I about skinks, and everyone here wants to help! :D
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby kingofnobbys » Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:27 am

She's 16 yo so should be old enough to look after a skink. Unfortunately, teenage girls tend to be a boy crazy at about her age , this can mean once the novelty wares off she may not be very interested In caring for her skink , so who will take over these obligations and assume it's care ?

IMO there is no such thing as a beginners' lizard. So make sure you thorouughly research the husbandry and care needs for the species you plan to buy.
Last edited by kingofnobbys on Fri Dec 28, 2018 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby splashy07 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:56 am

Please see James Wilson's post in the classified section. His are second to none.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby lk1010 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 8:35 am

Thanks so much for the responses. She is a very responsible teen so I trust she can do most of the work but I am well aware of the need for me to have to do some of the care so I am making sure to do my own research. She won't be able to bring it with her for the first year of college so I will have to be up for caring for it that year at a minimum.
I am going to have her call our area vets today to see if they have any experience with BTS. I know we have 2 near by that handle reptiles but want to check about the BTS part.
I am sure I will have more questions after we go for our look today but I certainly appreciate the initial advice.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby splashy07 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 8:48 am

Highly recommend captive bred, you can eliminate the vet visits and high costs of such. Most vets have minimal experience with exotics unless specified as an exotic vet. As stated in previous post most if not all BTs in pet shops are imports, and an initial vet visit is mandatory. Add that to the price of the animal and you could have easily bought a hardier captive bred animal that will more than likely never require veterinary care.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby mb606587 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:19 pm

lk1010 wrote:Everything I read says to avoid the wild caught so I am wondering if people have positive experiences with these? I am aware of concerns of mites and parasites along with our big concern of being easy to handle. We will ONLY consider if it is easy to handle at the pet store and even then we will be very cautious in the choice.

To answer your first question honestly, yes I have had positive experiences with wild caught skinks. Many of the ones I own were wild caught. Indonesian species of BTS are noted for being docile despite the fact that they are wild caught. In fact, nearly 25 years ago, the heavily imported Irian Jaya Blue Tongue Skinks were more popular than the CBB Northerns due to them being perceived as the tamer of the two. With that said, in your position, I would ONLY consider an animal that was healthy, regardless of how easy it may be to handle at the pet store. To be honest with you, if I'm holding a wild caught skink at the pet store and its not trying to escape from my hands and thrashing around, I'm going to be a bit concerned. Either the animal is not being provided with the proper heat and is lethargic or its just not healthy and doesn't have any fight left in it. A dying skink is going to seem like a sweetheart unfortunately. For every success story I've heard about buying from the pet stores, I've heard a horror story to match it. There have been quite a few of those in the last month just on this forum alone. I advise you read some of those threads that have been posted in the last 6 weeks that have detailed vet trips to treat parasites and even deaths of their skinks in one or two cases.

Do not rely on asking questions and getting reliable answers from pet store employees. In many circumstances (not all), they will not be able to answer your questions properly or they'll flat out give you bad advice. I wouldn't even rely on them accurately labeling this skink as a Merauke. Most importers don't properly identify their skinks and unfortunately, pet stores are going to rely on the information they are provided from these importers when receiving their animals and then selling to you. You should be able to go in confident that you will know more about this skink through your own vast research than any employee there. If you can't, then I wouldn't recommend you do.

In regards to taming, I have had success taming all of my wild caught skinks, as have many others. There is no guarantee that you will have equal success. Some species of BTS are known for being quite agreeable to handling, (Meraukes, Irian Jaya, Northerns), some are noted for being naturally defensive (Tanimbars). Its also not a guarantee that a CBB BTS will become puppy dog tame either. Some CBB Northerns are known to have feisty temperaments and have proved difficult to tame down also. However, the important thing is they are healthy, which can't always be said for the imports. Proper vet care can be challenging to find for this species and quite expensive. A routine check up can easily run you a few hundred dollars, and then you may need to keep following up with additional treatment. As I've said in previous threads, sometimes the price of buying an imported skink and nursing it back to health will far exceed the price of purchasing a CBB skink.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby mb606587 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:45 pm

Quoted from another thread advising about signs to look for to assist in identifying issues commonly found with imported skinks in pet stores.

mb606587 wrote:Some suggestions I would have to avoid potential problems would be to ensure that the animal is kept in proper conditions at the pet store. Is there a basking spot where temperatures are between 90-110 degrees? Are the humidity levels AT LEAST 50%? Is the enclosure proper size and does it appear its been regularly cleaned? Is the animal eating? Ask the pet shop owner if you can observe during feeding time to ensure. Is the animal a healthy weight? Judging by what I saw, it appears to be. It doesn't appear to have any issues around the mouth from what I can see, which can be common. Is there any discharge coming from the nose or mouth or does it appear to have difficulty breathing, which would be caused by a respiratory infection? Is there what appears to be tiny reddish insects the size of pinheads in the enclosure or on the skink's body (reptile mites)? Is there stuck shedded skink that has not been able to properly come off or is it missing toes? That would be indicative that the animal hasn't been kept in adequate humidity levels. Be advised, missing toes are fairly common and as long as they have healed over, it shouldn't pose a future problem but as I said is a sign that the animal has been kept in poor conditions.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby lk1010 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:49 pm

Thanks so much for everyone's advice. The shopping excursion was somewhat successful and somewhat disappointing. We were able to see 2 skinks at 2 different locations. The first one was at a decent pet store but it carried EVERYTHING you could imagine and I question their reptile knowledge and they weren't able to answer my questions well. When I asked how long they had had the skink, she first said a few months and then changed to about a month. I was not happy with either of those answers and the size of the skink made it obvious that it was older. My daughter was able to hold it but it was very hissy. If it was young I wouldn't be as concerned but being older I worry about being able to tame it.
The second shop we went to was a reptile only store where they obviously knew what they were doing and were experts on their animals. I observed them interacting with a number of customers and was impressed. They had a much smaller skink that has been in for 2 weeks, said it was a Maraukay, but who knows. His habitat was very nice and appropriate. My daughter held him and he was adorable. Calm yet curious. Crawled on her arm and sat in her hands. To say she fell in love was an understatement. Bad news, it sold yesterday:-(.
We interacted with a few cute bearded dragons but my daughter is pretty much sold on the skink so now we wait and search and see what happens. She is setting up the habitat to get it just right. The reptile store owner is making some calls to see if anything is available. I see some online for sale but am a bit skeptical about ordering online. So we will see how the search goes.
Any more input or advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby mb606587 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:54 pm

lk1010 wrote:I see some online for sale but am a bit skeptical about ordering online. So we will see how the search goes.

While I would agree that I would be skeptical about ordering from certain online reptile distributors and companies, I would absolutely NOT hesitate to order online from certain reputable breeders. In fact that may be the safest and most effective way to obtain a high quality skink short of actually purchasing the skink from this breeder in person, which is not always realistic. I will second the recommendation for the baby skinks found in the Classified section from James Wilson. He is HIGHLY reputable in this hobby and has been producing fantastic Northerns for many years. In my opinion, skinks produced from a breeder of this caliber will ALWAYS be the better option as a pet than rolling the dice on an import, even from a reptile specific pet shop, and hoping for the best. Nothing in life is a guarantee, but purchasing pet quality skinks from guys (and gals) like James Wilson, Ray Gurgui, Jeff Green, Austin Molyneux, TC Houston, this forums Sue Bee, or other similar breeders is as close to a sure bet as you can get.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby lk1010 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:16 pm

Thank you. I did email James about his listing. If the babies were born the end of August is there worry that they would be too old to form a good bond/connection? Obviously we would love a baby but I realize if we aren't willing to wait until summer our options are limited. I do appreciate the good recommendations, which would make me feel better about things.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby Yeshika » Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:56 pm

Blue Tongue skinks are very long-lived animals, so don't worry about it not being a 'baby'. You will most certainly be able to form a bond with a new skink, no matter the age. It's the personality that will be the most influential in regards to whether or not the skink is super tame and cuddly, and the way you go about taming it :D
Skinks are considered young for their first couple of years anyway. James' skinks look quite young still!
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby mb606587 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:21 pm

Well depending on your definition of a good "bond or connection", then yes, at a few months old, those skinks would definitely be young enough to become a great and docile pet for your daughter. Or as you put it best "calm but curious."

Now as to your definition of a "bond" between skink and owner. Now remembering that these are reptiles, if you are expecting them to be like puppies and crave your attention, then you will be left disappointed. Most BTS (and reptiles on a whole) will tolerate handling but also will do just fine being left alone. I know some people will disagree with me, but I don't believe that BTS form super meaningful bonds or become overly attached with their owners the way other pets do and I wouldn't advise over-handling even the tamest of skinks. I think the best bond that you can ask from them is one of trust where they will come to see you, the owner, as a sense of security, the person who feeds and provides for it and hasn't attempted to harm it, thus allowing it to become relaxed and comfortable in your presence. It may even "snuggle" up to you in an attempt to hide when brought out of its enclosure (his security blanket) until it builds the courage to explore its surroundings. I would say the best bond I currently have with one of my BTS is with one that I bought as a WC adult, thus proving that even an adult is not too old. While most of my other BTS are laid back and anybody can handle them, this one wasn't when I got her. I had to handle her with thick gloves for quite some time and she ran for cover every time I came into the room. Eventually, she came to realize that I am not a threat, stopped retreating, and even stopped lunging at my hands anytime they came anywhere close. Now I can pull her out of her enclosure and handle her comfortably and she is loose and relaxed with me. However, a few weeks ago, my wife tried to hold her for the first time, and she violently lunged at her the moment I handed her over. To me that's a sign that while I have become a sense of security, others have not gained that trust or formed that bond yet.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby kingofnobbys » Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:50 pm

Well, it comes down to rearing and nurturing …. all my skinks and dragons have wound up very strongly bonded to me, and actually do seem to really love being with me , on me (snuggles) , chilling with me (on the chair next to me) and even seek me out and follow me if I leave the room (same with my wife).

Even my rescues have become very much like this.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby mb606587 » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:19 pm

Well I'd love to see a video of that :lol: . I've seen a few videos of reptiles following their owners around like puppy dogs, in most cases, the pessimist in me thinks it comes down to the reptile being hungry and being intelligent enough to associate the person as the one who feeds it, but I won't discredit the possibility of affection. Personally, I feel that if I was to drop dead tomorrow, my skinks wouldn't care less as long as their basic needs were attended to. That's not to say that WE don't form incredibly strong bonds with our own reptiles, even if the feeling can be a bit one sided, and to me that's what's most important. I have no doubt that your daughter will form an incredible bond with her new little guy, and most amazingly, if grandchildren are in your future, they will also be able to form this bond. As a child, I was able to interact with some of my father's reptiles that he had owned since he was young, and I thought that was so cool.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby Yeshika » Sat Dec 29, 2018 4:41 pm

Whilst I can't say my skink has followed me out of the room, I can say he does march on over and stare me down if I make an appearance outside his viv. I've never really left him on his own in a room before though, I worry too much about what he might do to himself :shock:

As far as the whole 'bonding' thing goes, I'm fairly certain that they can recognise specific people. There are some behaviours my skink shows around my that he definitely doesn't around other people. It'd be too much of a coincidence not to be his actual reactions.

Blue Tongues are not pack animals like dogs, who seek out a leader, and they aren't like cats who sometimes form colonies and have familial bonds, so we can't really compare their behaviours. Just because your lizard isn't a typical pet doesn't mean they can't be a great one. :)
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby kingofnobbys » Sat Dec 29, 2018 9:13 pm

Yeshika wrote:Whilst I can't say my skink has followed me out of the room, I can say he does march on over and stare me down if I make an appearance outside his viv. I've never really left him on his own in a room before though, I worry too much about what he might do to himself :shock:

As far as the whole 'bonding' thing goes, I'm fairly certain that they can recognise specific people. There are some behaviours my skink shows around my that he definitely doesn't around other people. It'd be too much of a coincidence not to be his actual reactions.

Blue Tongues are not pack animals like dogs, who seek out a leader, and they aren't like cats who sometimes form colonies and have familial bonds, so we can't really compare their behaviours. Just because your lizard isn't a typical pet doesn't mean they can't be a great one. :)


Actually , there are some species of skink who are very good mothers , and who will form colonies.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby Yeshika » Sat Dec 29, 2018 9:28 pm

kingofnobbys wrote:Actually , there are some species of skink who are very good mothers , and who will form colonies.


I am well aware of those kinds of skink/reptile, I have a few myself. Point was, blue tongues shouldn't be held to the standard that many pet owners expect from the fuzzier animals. Lizards are just a whole separate kind of creature, with their own quirks and thought processes.
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Re: Wild Caught Skink

Postby kingofnobbys » Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:37 am

Yeshika wrote:
kingofnobbys wrote:Actually , there are some species of skink who are very good mothers , and who will form colonies.


I am well aware of those kinds of skink/reptile, I have a few myself. Point was, blue tongues shouldn't be held to the standard that many pet owners expect from the fuzzier animals. Lizards are just a whole separate kind of creature, with their own quirks and thought processes.


I agree, BLUETONGUES are best housed separately.

My easterns come when called by name , follow us about, seek us out, and love being handled and snuggles and being petted. Were raised by me from about 2 months old with lots of handfed food treats, and quality contact time , simply chilling on the lounge next to one of us.

I chose my two because they were the two most outgoing and friendly of the dozen siblings I was shown by their breeder and they both voluntarily climbed out of the tub onto my lap ( like they were saying " pick me !! " ). I think the skink's personality is key to this , some will never become as "friendly" as others.

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