Pink tongued skinks (Hemisphaeriodon gerrardii) are a medium sized semi-arboreal lizard native to the forests and woodlands of Eastern Australia. They generally reach a size of around 15-18 inches in length, about half of their total length is a thick prehensile tail that enables them to hold onto branches and balance while climbing. Babies are often flighty and nervous but tend to relax once they reach a more handleable size, these inquisitive and active skinks can make wonderful pets and entertaining display animals. While babies are born with a blueish purple tongue, as they age the pigment of the tongue changes to a nice bright shade of pink.
Babies and juveniles can be kept in 10-20 gallon sized enclosures, preferably focusing on less floor space and more height. Here at LFGH we use 22"x16.5"x24" enclosures by D.W. Geckos, they work wonderfully for adult pairs and groups of juveniles. These semi-arboreal lizards will enjoy a variety of branches and vines for climbing as well as multiple hiding spots. Cork bark, coconuts, and moss hangers are wonderful options for hides. Humidity should be maintained around 50-60%, this can often be accomplished by misting every 1-3 days given your climate and providing a decent sized water bowl. Moss, leaf litter, and plants provide additional hiding spots and can be aesthetically pleasing for a variety of enclosures.
Babies and juveniles can be kept in groups, but keeping adults together should be closely considered as males will fight. Groups of females and male/female pairs can typically be housed together provided enough hides and decor are provided for both animals.
Pink tongued skinks are avid burrowers and will thrive in a bedding that enables such behaviors. Soil, cypress, bark chips, and coconut fiber are all great options that will help maintain humidity and allow for burrowing. At LFGH we use a mixture of coconut husk chips and Eco-earth soil and this has worked very well for a variety of tropical and temperate species.
Lighting and Heat
We recommend providing pink tongued skinks with both incandescent and ultraviolet lighting. The basking area should be kept around 90º-95ºF while the ambient cage temperature should range from 75º-85ºF. Pink tongues can tolerate cooler temps far better than hotter ones, so keep that in mind when developing a temperature ranges within the enclosure. Basking should be provided at a higher point in the enclosure along with UVB, as this will allow lower levels to provide cooler temperatures if needed.
In our enclosures we provide a 50-75 Watt incandescent bulb for basking and Exo Terra Tropical 5.0 UVB. As with any heating source, a thermostat is always recommended. Thermostats regulate temperature and ensure that temps do not reach unsafe levels, here at LFGH we use both Vision and Spyder brand thermostats on all our racks and enclosures.
Pink tongued skinks are opportunistic feeders in the wild and will typically take a wide variety of foods in captivity, Baby pink tongued skinks will do well on a diet of wet dog/cat food and baby food purees as well as small insects. Variety is key for a balanced diet as well as enrichment and a strong feeding response. Babies should be fed daily with juveniles being fed every other day, adults should eat 2-3 times per week at max.
Below is a list of readily taken foods;
-Live and canned insects
-Snails (frozen, often found at Asian markets)
-Wet cat/dog food (grain free diets)
-Eggs (in moderation: raw, scrambled, or hard boiled)
-Boiled meats (turkey and chicken)
-Rodents (as occasional treats only)
-Repashy Diets (Bluey Buffet and Grub Pie have been a huge success here)
-Baby food (we like to add some into other foods, especially for babies, Gerber turkey is a huge hit with babies)
-Fruits (in small amounts; banana, mango ,and papaya are appreciated)
We feed our skinks on paper plates or shallow dishes, feeding ledges are also available on many sites (LLLReptile and Pangea) and work very well for more arboreal setups. Supplementation is very important for pink tongued skinks and should be done at least 2-3 times per month. Here at LFGH we use a combination of Repashy Calcium Plus and Miner-All and dust every other meal We also provide all our reptiles with a monthly dusting of probiotics and have had great success with Bene-Bac Plus Bird & Reptile.