If you are into your lizards then you may well have seen a blue tongued skink before and though “what an awesome looking lizard” with its bright blue tongue.
They are an amazing looking reptile and one that is becoming ever so popular to own as a pet, all over the world.
However one of the first questions potential new owners of blue tongued skink ask is, do they bite? This is almost always followed up with, does it hurt? So these are the questions we are going to be answering in this article.
Along with that we will teach you some safe handling techniques and ways that you can avoid getting bitten altogether.
If you are planning on getting a blue tongued skink for your reptile collection this article is for you!
Do blue tongued skink bite?
Well we might as well get into the first question and get it out of the way, it is no doubt what you have come here to read about.
So do blue tongued skink bite? Yes blue tongued skink do bite. They have teeth and are more than capable of defending themselves should they feel they are in a threatening position. They also have a strong set of jaws which can give a large bite. However they are quite docile and friendly lizards so bites are rare.
Does a blue tongued skink bite hurt?
Ok, so we have established that blue tongued skink have the teeth and jaws needed to bite even though it is usually quite a rare occurrence. However, how bad is a blue tongued skink bite.
Do blue tongued skink bites hurt? Yes a blue tongued skink bite can really hurt. It is a medium sized lizard and as such has quite large teeth. This means that it is more than capable of drawing blood if it does bite. Luckily the blue tongued skink does not posses venom or poison.
As I mentioned though blue tongued skink are very a very placid species generally speaking. They do not seem to like to bite and if they do they will have a valid reason for it.
This is good as it means they are not malicious and with the rest of this guide you can find ways in which you can avoid being bitten.
Why do blue tongued skink bite?
There is a number of different reasons why your blue tongued skink may bite you. I will list some of the main reasons below and then give you some ways to avoid it.
Reasons why a blue tongued skink bites its owner.
- Rough handling is possibly the main reason why someone gets bit by their pet blue tongued skink. This is usually the case when a child is involved.
- Trying to handle your pet lizard at feeding time can often result in getting nipped.
- Not using the correct pick up method and instead grabbing the skink quickly from above.
- A new blue tongued skink that is not quite comfortable yet in its new environment may be stressed and scared, this can cause it to lash out with a bite.
- Your pet skink may be feeling frightened, threatened or just plain worried about what is happening.
- All blue tongued skinks have different personalities, just like us. Some prefer to be handled less frequently.
The above list are just a few of the reasons that your blue tongued skink may bite you. Nearly all of the reasons can be worked on to reduce the chances of you receiving a bite from your pet lizard.
How to avoid being bit by a blue tongued skink.
As I mentioned before bites from pet blue tongued skinks are quite a rarity but they can and will happen. I have let you know the common reasons why a bite situation may occur and now I will tell you how you can handle a blue tongued skink so that you do not get bit.
Avoid rough handling.
This is by far the most common reason that you will get bitten by a blue tongued skink. Unfortunately it is usually children who receive a bite for rough handling as they do not know how to correctly handle the lizard. The best thing to do is teach your child from the start about how to handle the skink and let them know that they are quite delicate and will bite if they are handled roughly. You can teach them the safe pick up technique below.
Pick up your pet lizard correctly.
Blue tongued skinks are usually quite happy to be handled and almost appear to be relaxed. However it is important to pick them up out of their enclosure correctly as this moment can be where bites happen.
The best approach is to let the skink see that you are approaching and slowly place your hand in front of it with an open palm. You can now guide the skink onto your open palm using your free hand.
Never try to pick up the lizard by grabbing it from above. This simulates an attack by a predator and your skink with feel threatened which in turn will lead to it defending itself.
Do not try to handle a blue tongued skink that is eating.
I don’t know about you but for me I love my food and do not like being disturbed when it is food time. Lizards are the same and are quite protective of their meals, it is an animal instinct.
With that in mind it is best to not try handling your pet skink when it is eating. Otherwise it may think you are trying to steal its meal!
Another tip is to wash your hands after feeding your pet skink. It is not unknown for a blue tongued skink to mistake a finger for a meal if it smells of its food.
Take things slowly and learn your skinks personality.
When you get your new pet blue tongued skink it can be quite exciting and naturally you are going to want to get it out and handle it. This can sometimes cause new owners to get bitten. It can take time for your new pet to adapt to its surroundings and to get used to you.
Give it time and do not try to handle it too much at the start. As you learn your lizards personality you can gradually start handling it more if it appears to respond well to handling.
What to do if a blue tongued skink bites you.
Ok, so you have followed the above advice and unfortunately you have still been bitten by your pet skink. Try not to panic and follow the below steps:
- After you have been bitten try not to panic. I know it is hard if it is the first time but keep calm to reduce the chance of getting bitten again.
- Slowly and carefully place your skink back into its enclosure, you don’t want to stress or injure your pet.
- Once the skink is in a safe place check the wound and have a look for any puncture marks or blood.
- If there is no blood or puncture marks wash the effected area with antibacterial soap and then you can can on with your day.
- If the bite has broken the skin you need to thoroughly wash the area with antibacterial soap and then clean again with an alcohol based hand cleaner.
- Keep an eye on the wound and if you notice any severe swelling or signs of infection seek medical advice.
Blue tongued skinks make great reptile pets as they are so chilled out and relaxed. The chances of getting bitten by one is very slim and with the above advice it can be minimised a lot. However there is always the chance of a rogue bite.
Try not to let these incidents put you off handling and caring for your skink because they do deserve good care and handling.
Are blue tongued skink venomous? No, Blue tongued skink are not venomous or poisonous. This is a little bit of a myth and more than likely originates from the colour of the skinks tongue. Usually wild animals show that they are dangerous with bright colours and the skinks tongue certainly fits into the bright colours group. But rest assured there is no venom or poison.
Do blue tongued skink have teeth? Yes, blue tongued skink do have teeth. They have quite a few teeth actually and the are quite big and dull. They use these teeth for crushing things such as snail shells and beetles. They also have large powerful jaws to go with the teeth.
My blue tongued skink has bit me and won’t let go, what do I do? Unfortunately this is quite common when a bite occurs from a blue tongued skink. They can lock on and are hard to get off. If this happens you need to stay calm as hard as it is. One of the best ways to get a locked on skink off believe it or not is with strong alcohol like vodka. Just try to get a very small amount in the skinks mouth and it should repel away from it releasing you in the process.
Why not read some more of our helpful lizard articles?