First Time Skink Owner Questions

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Kevin142001
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First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby Kevin142001 » Wed May 27, 2020 6:24 pm

Hey guys another one of these posts. I just got a BTS, from a big commercial petstore. Believe it was a petco, otherwise petsmart.

And yes I know. All of my research said Nothing about big chain BTS being Wildcaught most likely until I found this amazing resource being you guys, after I bought him.

He visibly looks healthy as far as i can tell. Eyes tongue mouth look like what I'd expect a healthy reptile to look like. All those hes always getting his mouth dirty with this coconut eco earth and I think im Changing it for sure next time.

I'd say he's 8-10 inches long. Havent measured him yet. Definitely looks like an Irian Jaya, which is consistent with wildcaught big chain skinks. I dont see any specs or dots on any of his scales that might indicate mites.

I'm not an expert in anything though so if these things are hard to tell, definitely don't take my word for any of it.


So he huffs and puffs alot at me. Had lunged at me a couple times but hasn't bit. I'm on day 4 right now. All 4 days hes hid in the substrate entirely. Day 1 and 2 ive kinda found him and pet him a little just to get him used to it. Day 3 my anxiety was getting me and I just went for it and picked him up after petting him until he stopped huffing. He didn't lunge didnt bite didnt even run. Sat in my arm well supported closing his eyes the entire time.

Wouldn't eat when I put some brand approved grain free cat food in a spoon around the tip of his mouth. Finally I set him on the basking tile became he seemed cold to me and I havent seen him actually bask once. I then put the spoon down with a chunk the size of his head in it next to him on the stone. He licked it once and as soon as he did he gobbled it. He sits on the stone for about 10 minutes then goes and burries himself in the substrate.

Day 4 was going to attempt to pick him up again, but he 100% refused even me touching him. He huffed and puffed and burried himself some more. Offered him more cat food on spoon in habitat and he refused.

I'm at the wnd of day 4. Initial thoughts, I am so relieved hes eaten. Because it tells me he most likely isn't seriously ill and is probably healthy. It also tells me he's not so angry/scared at the situation as to burrow until he becomes malnourished. I really just needed to see him eat so I can relieve my own anxiety. Now I need to see him poop/urine.

I havent seen him do the business yet. Or if he has its in the substrate because he did it while burried. I have eco earth coconut husk. Average depth of 1 inch in habitat. Sphagnum moss on top. He has a slate stone tile underneath his main basking lamp which is 100 watts at 18 inches height. With the fan in my room off its usually 103. Fan on its like 101. I have a secondary basking lamp of 75 watts when theyre both on the stone goes to 104-106. So far I really am not using the 75 watt because I think it might not be nessescary.

A laser reads the substrate is 80 on the cool side. The temp/humidity read on middle of tank reads 90degrees. Was averaging 50 humidity at first but its been gradually going down and hit 35 this morning so I missed the hell out of the hot side and its back at 50 (hes not basking over there anyways)



My immediate concerns. The substrate is dry enough that I've seen him unintentionally eat it when he comes up and licks the air because his face is basically coated in dust. Ive also seen him do what appears to be him rubbing his head or eyes on the glass. Im wondering if dusty eco earth is a problem for his eyes. They looked normally and healthy though and he held them open just fine after doing this. I want to see him poop. Like really bad. Just want to make sure he's doing it. I'd love to see him actually drink water. Not sure if ill see that for a while.

He didnt seem interested at all in dehydrated meal worms or some fruit. Ill have to start mixing veggies fruit into his cat food.

Thermostat I believe gets set to 70 at night. He stays burried so I think this is fine. Its 75 during the day.

Is there anything I definitely should or shouldn't be doing at This point? Or things I should be watching for? I don't know his age but his size seems consistent with right between baby and adult. Im not certain of the gender. I think i need to leave him alone more but honestly I'm really nervous about doing something wrong. Beardeds are so much easier at this point in that they don't hide in the ground leaving you to wonder whats going on, they also have no problem basking all damned day, whereas my BTS has been burried in the substrate on the hotside but also on the coolside. And I think he spends more time on the coolside not because he's hot but to avoid me.

If hes skittish his whole life like that's fine. My worry isn't that he doesn't like me. My worry is that I'm some how doing something wrong and he'll stop eating or get sick. Sorry for the long post. Hope it reads well and makes sense. Would love and appreciation any and all advice. And yes I've been reading like everything on this site. Definitely the best BTS resource.
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby Stixas » Wed May 27, 2020 11:16 pm

What kind of substrate are you using if he seemed dusty?

Also I believe 50% for an IJ is a bit on the low side which depending on the substrate you use now isnt too hard to fix.
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby Kevin142001 » Thu May 28, 2020 6:12 am

EcoEarth coconut husk with sphagnum moss thrown around on top. It just seems dusty because when I get him out if his burrow his face is covered in really dry dirt.

I read that I should be keeping humidity between 40-60% with bursts up to 70 occasionally. dont seem to be able to mist it past 60% it'll basically go to like 55-57ish

Contemplating getting a mister or maybe a waterfall or something. So its now day 5. Im trying to feed him every other day and he ate 2 days ago.

Should I disturb him from his burrow and try to put some food in front of him? Or should I just leave him alone for the entire day (I'm pretty sure he won't come out at all if the past few days indicate anything) he seems more concerned with hiding than basking on his stone.
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby splashy07 » Thu May 28, 2020 6:22 am

For the first week, especially with imports, I would leave alone. IJs need 60+ humidity and a basking area of 95+. Leave food and water in there and just observe. In a few weeks when he gets used to his new surroundings you may start limited handling. Let him be for now, as long as you are sure he doesn't have mites or anything else. A good way to check is a damp white paper towel wipe down, and if you see moving black specks it's time for the vet. A vet check and a fecal exam is always a good idea anyway with an import. Do not rush him. You've got 20+ years.
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby Kevin142001 » Thu May 28, 2020 6:47 am

What am I wiping down with a damp white paper towel? The top of his body?
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby splashy07 » Thu May 28, 2020 6:55 am

All of him, mites could be anywhere.
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby mb606587 » Thu May 28, 2020 1:16 pm

Post a photo of your skink. Most of the skinks sold out of large chain pet stores are Halmaheras which need much more humid conditions than Irian Jayas to thrive.
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby Kevin142001 » Thu May 28, 2020 2:22 pm

I cant get the humidity past 60. As you can see by looking at the slate tile I've obviously poured water around it (i dont plan on doing this again just trying to get it to stay up before I replace substrate) I've misted the entire thing.

I think my hygrometer is garbage and also probably I need to cover half of the top of the enclosure so that less humidity escapes.

Looking at pictures of a Halmahera now I can see it being that. Either way I'm definitely having humidity issues. And im putting ridiculous amounts of water into this thing. Im going to get a new hygrometer and I think a mister

Thanks for the replies guys!

Does it look like a Halmahera to you?
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby Kevin142001 » Thu May 28, 2020 2:25 pm

More pics
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby mb606587 » Thu May 28, 2020 3:06 pm

Yes as I suspected, you have a Halmahera. You're right, that hygrometer is garbage. Get yourself a digital hygrometer either at a hardware store or as Splashy brilliantly advised, a cigar shop. Cover your screen top. I'd even go so far as to say cover it almost entirely. Leave just a bit for ventilation. And go with a fogger over a mister.
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby Kevin142001 » Thu May 28, 2020 4:14 pm

Thank you for the info and advice. Have it 3/4s of top covered. I think there's enough space around the heat lamp/uvb for ventilation.

I have a Fogger unit on the way. looks like it sits outside and you fill it up and the hose goes into tank and suction cups to glass, from Amazon along with a digital hygrometer. Those should both be here Tomorrow.

Should the hygrometer be place on the fogger side or the opposite side or in the middle?

I'm shooting for 70% I believe with bursts up to 100% occasionally for a Halmahera?
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby mb606587 » Thu May 28, 2020 6:47 pm

I usually keep my hygrometer on the cool side of the tank. The heat from the light tends to dry out that portion of the tank a bit quicker. You may find that the humidity is more easily maintained overnight after the lights go out. That's typically the time your humidity should peak over 90%. Fogger will make life a bit easier. If you don't have one already, pick up a timer, preferably one that is dialed in at 15 minute intervals. If the fogger is run constantly, it'll empty quickly. I tend to run all of my foggers about 15 minutes each hour. But you can adjust that accordingly if needed.
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby Kevin142001 » Fri May 29, 2020 6:32 pm

Dudes getting blasted right now. Fogger coming in from the hot side. Because I've read hot humidity is better than cold. Cold wet will get him sick.

The gage is on the cool side of the tank because that number should stay more consistent than the hot side.

Were at 61% now. I just want that number up a bit before I turn this off.

I'm hoping the humidity holds. I think that probably depends alot more on the substrate i use. But this guy wants a rainforest and even with constant misting this setups been conspiring to be a desert.

Today's the second time he's eaten. Wont come out for the cat food left in. But if I dig him up, hold him for a second while he puffs. Set him down. Near the heat and put the spoon of food in front of him. He gobbles it down.

Otherwise he'll stay hidden, no doubt he still hasn't figure out my intentions yet lol.

I'm turning this off at 70% for now. Just so hes not inhaling clouds. I want the humidity to kind of settle and disperse and see how it reads.

But already since he's been getting blasted hes left his hide and actually had wondered around. Either hes liking it. Or hes like what the hell this is new dude.


Soo more questions. In your experience is it okay to leave this thing off at night? When I first hit 70% I turned it off and the thing very quickly dropped back down to 60% like within 10 minutes id say. So I ran it again. This might be due to the substrate being dry?

I dunno. I'm afraid if its ran long enough to keep the humidity up for a while. Ill end up with wet dirt in there. I'm not sure if thats okay?

Do you think I need a tigher seal up top? Obviously the foggers blowing fresh air. I'm using tin foil. And a shirt to cover the crack up left by the hose.

Will it balance out more as I fog it more and more?

Should I just blast it on high 10 minutes out of every hour like you said? And thats as good as it'll get while maintaining heat and some fresh air flow?
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby mb606587 » Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:48 pm

Sorry for late response. Are you still having trouble maintaining?
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby Kevin142001 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 4:50 am

I have the timer. 15 mins on 45 off. Friend told me that putting wet washcloths/towels/shirts up top in place of some of the foil helps significantly.

Mostly stays at 60 on the low end and bumps up to 78-83% when foggers running. I adjust the knob on the fogger. I max it if I feel like that numbers getting lower than 60. I put it on low overnight because it'll stay 70% minimum all night. Im sure it's 80-90% when running.

ALSO got a second hygrometer digital. Same exact one but this one is on the hot side close to the fogger hose, but behind it not infront of it. Why? Because trying to measure the humidity on the farther side is a pain in my ass.

I'm always reading provide choices he'll do what he needs. So of its humid on onside thats all I care about. He'll pick where he needs to go. And I'd rather the humidity be on the hot side anyways. Less likely to get bacterial/mold growth in between cleanings? If the lamps are cooking the damp material?


If i go by the hygrometer on the far side of the tank itll be a *darn swamp where the fogger hose is at. The substrate already looks soaked underneath the hose from condensation on the glass.

Other news I took him out against his will again. And this time he huffed and puffed and actually ate car food off of a spoon off of my chest while eyeballing the hell out of my eyeballs.

Ever since hes not been hiding. This was the third hand feeding attempt. Other two times he ate was after i put him back in and put the spoon next to him. He's basked multiple times since this moment, he's found his waterfowl and drank alot. He also ate some dehydrated meal worms out of his food bowl.

He spends less time in the substrate now and more time inside the hide thats on the basking stone (he climbs on top of it to bask)

Hes also now in the middle of a shed so I gave him a warm water bath which he tolerated very well only huffed when I splashed water on top of him. (Hes a baby and I dont eant skin stuck on his toes which is high risk for babies)

I came into the room fast once. And he hauled ass off of his basking rock into the log tunnel hide, did a uturn then went into his basking rock hide. So damned fast I was like WHAT. Otherwise he sits on his basking rock and watches me.

I havent found poop yet but with his activity and water drinking/food eating I know its bound to happen.

He seems very normal and healthy now and pleased with his environment but unsure of ke and my intentions haha.



My only concern now is, and I think this is normal, his breathing. It sounds normal, but dude if a humans chest moved that way, itd 100% be accessory muscles. There's nothing else to indicate any problems. Just the way his body moves, but ive read thats normal and it does scare alot of first time owners.

Behind his arms expands out from the sides. You see his neck/chin expand and contract with this. Theres no audible sound unless he's puffing/huffing. No mucosa. Eyes look normal, i think. They look funny when they arent all the way open. Like hes got an inner and outer eyelid or something. Sneezes but mostly when the fogger comes on and just like once. Read this is very normal.

I think everything is good. I still 100% appreciate any and all advice you guys have towards anything. First time skink owner. First time reptile owner even though I've helped raised beardies and pythons.
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Re: First Time Skink Owner Questions

Postby mb606587 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 8:55 am

Yeah the breathing you described is normal. If you see him gaping to breathe or hear wheezing that's a sign of potential infection, but it sounds like your skink is doing fine. Your humidity seems under control. I think your skink will thrive from here on out.

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