Few newbie questions

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Alby66
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Few newbie questions

Postby Alby66 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:05 pm

Hello all! I have been considering getting a lizard for a few weeks now. I won't be purchasing my new friend for several months to a year still, but I like doing my research and making sure I've accounted for everything. With that being said, I think I've settled on a BTS, preferably a Northern.

I've read through the caresheet and tried Google but I still have a few questions.

1. How much do BTS tend to hide and burrow? I've had hamsters who required deep substrate and was disappointed I could only see them at night when they were actually awake and "upstairs." I just don't want another pet that I can't see a fair amount of the time.

2. Does keeping a lizard with the proper heat bulbs make a bedroom warmer? I like my room cool and it's not quite the size of your average master room.

3. How often should you give calcium and multivitamin supplements? I might have missed it in the care sheet, my apologies if so.

Thank you for any insights! The more I read and look at these animals, the more excited I am to get one. Bonus question: has anyone tried the Zen Habitats Enclosure for their BTS? The bearded dragon community seems to really love them. Again, thanks in advance for any help!
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mb606587
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Re: Few newbie questions

Postby mb606587 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:19 pm

Welcome, this is a great site to learn and prepare yourself for what could be a 30 year commitment so thank you for doing the research.

1. Unlike hamsters which are nocturnal, Blue Tongue Skinks are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day. With that said, it is hard to predict activity levels for all BTS, as behavior can vary by individual. While most are naturally inquisitive and will spend alot of time exploring, especially if you rearrange their enclosures from time to time, you will find some shy ones that prefer to remain hidden. That's not to say that these shy ones can't be handled or worked with but its just a reality. I think buying CBB (Captive born and bred) skinks will increase your odds of finding a more social one. Obviously if you are presented with the opportunity to pick between several different baby skinks, going with one that seems indifferent to you and doesn't flee or become defensive would be more ideal. Although even the most social skinks tend to disappear on you during the winter and enter a state of hibernation called brumation.

2. No not at all.

3. I feed my BTS canned dog food as the staple diet. Because of this, I do not supplement with multivitamin powders since most commercial dog foods have the proper nutrition already added. I do supplement with a light sprinkling of calcium w/d3 powder once per week. Again, most dog foods already have a fair amount of calcium added, but it doesn't hurt to ensure they are getting enough. Now, some people prefer not to feed dog food for personal reasons and would rather feed ground turkey, chicken, beef, or live insects as the staple protein source. If you decide to go this route, which I do not have any experience with, it becomes much more important to supplement with calcium and multivitamins as these foods alone do not contain the necessary amount. I'm sure somebody else could better guide you on how they do that. Furthermore, the vitamin d3 helps your BTS absorb the calcium from its diet. Now UVB light naturally helps them synthesize this calcium, but if you aren't providing them with UVB, then it becomes more necessary to ensure they are getting the vitamin d3. Personally, I use the calcium w/d3 once a week regardless of whether UVB is provided or not.
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Re: Few newbie questions

Postby Alby66 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:45 am

Thank you so much for the information! That helps assuage some of my concerns. The more I learn about them, the more I look forward to a bluey as a long term xompanion. I was considering a bearded dragon for a while, but blueys seem to have many of the pros without the need for multiple feedings each day and lots of live feeders.

Could I ask how often you handle your BTS and let him out for free roam time? As you said, they can live up to 30 years and that's a big commitment. I want to make sure I'll be able to give him an enriched life. Thank you again!
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Re: Few newbie questions

Postby mb606587 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:23 pm

Well considering I have 7 of these guys right now, I might get each one out once a week, twice for the ones that seem to not mind the handling so much. A few of mine don't really like to be bothered so I tend to let those ones be. As far as handling goes, no Blue Tongue Skink likes to be picked up. Some will tolerate being held, others will squirm around until you put them down. Keep in mind, they are not adept climbers and are uncomfortable being off the ground so I tend to limit the time I actually have to hold them. If you are looking for something that does better climbing all over you or is a bit more comfortable in your hands, then a Bearded Dragon would probably be a better choice. Bearded dragons also tend to be more active in the enclosure and less likely to hide.

As far as my free roaming, I'll usually let them out individually for half an hour on the ground and let them explore. You can sit on the floor and they may come to you eventually and climb over or under your legs but I leave them to their own. Keep in mind your temperatures. During the winter, my basement where they free roam is around 66-70 degrees so I won't keep them out long. In the summer when it gets a bit warmer down there, I'll usually let one out for an hour or two while I watch a baseball game and then switch it up and let another one out. Or better yet, I take them outside and let two run through my garden bed (I have a divider that keeps them separated), while I sit on the front porch and watch. I live in the middle of the city so I worry more about unleashed dogs wandering around then I do about other wild animals, but you have to keep in mind that predatory animals are out there. But as I said they do best when left to their own, and its good to note that they should be left in their enclosures for a few hours after they eat. Also baby and newer BTS shouldn't be handled as frequently as it is stressful to them. As I said before, no matter how long you've had your BTS or how comfortable you think they are, it is stressful and unnatural to them being picked up into the air. Ones that have been given time to acclimate to your captivity will be able to handle this, other newer ones may not and will stop eating. Stress in reptiles has been fatal for many.
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Re: Few newbie questions

Postby Alby66 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:54 pm

Thanks again for your input and knowledge! Seven skinks, sounds like a bit of a handful, but also lots of fun. I think I would be alright with only handling for a few minutes once or twice a week, I have a fairly busy schedule. Free roam time does sound fun though, I think it would be enjoyable to watch them explore and I imagine it's pretty enriching foe the animal to get out of the cage and go where it pleases. Do your BTS tend to have their preferred bedtimes, or do they wind down after you turn off their lights for the evening? I usually work until 8 in the evening so I'd like to be able to keep them awake until 9 or 10, if possible.
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Re: Few newbie questions

Postby mb606587 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:45 am

Mine are usually all asleep by that point. My lights all shut off around 8 pm. I work late also and usually get home around 11 pm to midnight so the only one that's awake is the Monkey Skink (nocturnal). And they tend to be pretty cranky if you wake them up. Last night one of mine opened his mouth and hissed at me when I woke him up by accident while checking the temperatures. What you can try is adjusting their photoperiod slightly. Having the lights set up on a timer to turn on at 9 AM and shut off at 10:30 PM might induce it to stay out a bit later as opposed to how I do my lights from 6:30 AM to 8 PM.
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Re: Few newbie questions

Postby Alby66 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:59 pm

Ohh, okay, that makes sense! Sounds like it could work out pretty well for me then. Thanks again for your help. I'm going to keep doing my research into BTS and maybe other lizards to find the right one for me. I want to make sure I can give it a proper forever home.
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Re: Few newbie questions

Postby splashy07 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:59 pm

I do 12 hour photo periods, lights on at around 6am and off at 6-7 pm. (Timers aren't exact). As far as free roam time, I don't do that unless it's as warm in here or close as it is in their cage. A 20 degree sudden temperature drop is not going to make them happy. I will take them out to check after a shed or general check up (I have 15!) once in a while but not much in winter when my indoor temps are not to their likeing. If you are planning on free roam time, block off a section of the room for them, as they can take off pretty fast on a carpet and get themselves into trouble. And remember to sit on the floor with them and not to come from above as a predator would. I find them to be the most rewarding reptile pets I have ever kept, and I've kept many. I used to keep and breed bearded dragons, but their lifespan just isn't long enough. They are awesome pets too, but blueys are an easier keep. BTs are literally a lifelong commitment. Have fun looking!
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Alby66
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Re: Few newbie questions

Postby Alby66 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:34 pm

Thanks for the info, Splashy! I can't imagine having 15, but I guess it must be addicting once you find out how much you love those animals. I went to Brian Barczyk's Reptarium earlier and one of his blueys was roaming around his enclosure, it was so adorable. I was glad I got to see one up close. It is a bit intimidating thinking of having a pet reliant on me for up to 30 years, but their relatively simple upkeep as adults makes me optimistic. And I love that picture of your babies! So precious. I've never kept a reptile before but I heard BTS are intelligent and inquisitive, they just seem so fascinating and foreign to me until relatively recently.
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Re: Few newbie questions

Postby splashy07 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 6:26 am

Good luck and all the best with your choice for a reptilian pet, thought the picture of my last year's litter would sway you towards a Northern BTS! If seriously considering a BTS, a Northern would be your best choice. They are much more forgiving of beginner's mistakes and IMO are the hardiest of them all.

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